Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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21st Century Skills: You’ve Got to Learn to Samba

Rio de Janeiro panoramaI once got a call from out of the blue, asking me to troubleshoot a project in Brazil.  I’m not entirely sure why the company called me, other than sheer desperation, but this large engineering and construction company (specializing in electrical power plants) made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

My prospective client had been hired by a major energy production company, which we’ll call Rio Bravo, to build an electric generation plant north of Rio de Janeiro.  Since Rio didn’t have adequate electricity at the time, civil unrest was beginning to occur, prompting the President of Brazil to take a personal interest in the project.  The President was pressuring Rio Bravo, which pressured my client, demanding to know “When!?”

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Can You Motivate Employees?

Motivation peopleAccording to a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) white paper, “pay might not matter as much as you think in turnover decisions, as compensation and pay satisfaction are relatively weak predictors of employees’ decisions to leave. Thus, offering pay increases or bonuses to keep people at your organization may not be the most efficient way to address retention.”

This reinforces what most HR professionals have long known – that employee satisfaction and motivation are tied to various factors. The theory of organizational equilibrium, for example, states that employees will stay with an organization as long as the inducements, including good pay, working conditions, and developmental opportunities, are equal to (or greater than) the employee’s contributions of time and effort. In other words, people stay with an organization as long as they feel they’re getting as much (or more) from the company as they give.

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Discretionary Effort Leads to Employee Engagement

Man climbing a buildingIt’s fundamentally important to understand that all human behavior is motivated by something.  Further, motivation is an internal process and highly personal.  A clearly defined goal is the outcome which hopefully those efforts are directed toward, and that requires a conscious exertion of physical, mental and psychological energy.  Okay?  This “Psych 101” blurb is intended to raise your curiosity, so hang on here we go.

Companies for a long time have rejected the notion that human behavior falls within their purview.  But it does.  No work gets done unless there is some human behavior; behavior is the way people conduct themselves and the actions they take.  Most importantly, employees individually have discretion over their own behavior and the achievement of their personal satisfaction, if not their personal success.

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