How to motivate people in differing culturesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : What keeps you up at night? : One Thread
I am working as a change agent across the African region. I have many challenges but the one which keeps me currently awake at night is as follows; For cultural and historical reasons the middle management layer in ICL South Africa have not taken/been given responsibility or accountability for their actions. I am heading up a programme to enable them to do this (they say they want this authority). We have now hit a plateau. When they are out of the business for 2 days they get re-energised and refocused but this diminishes greatly back in the realities of the workplace. How do I get them to maintain their motivation,energy and responsibility without brandishing a big stick? I know from experience that strong discipline works but it reinforces the old hierachical and cultural way of doing things.
Laura Ferguson Director Business Transformation ICL Africa
-- Laura Ferguson (Laura.Ferguson@icl.com), September 26, 2000
What motivates and stimulate them? what shocks and discourage them?
When, managing a team, you have to arouse enthusiasm of the people you lead and avoid to shock them, you should first understand what motivates and what shocks them.
It's a communication issue. The problem of cultural differences is not that they create disagreements. The problem of cultural differences is that they create misunderstandings. Unlike disagreements that are visible, the danger of misunderstandings is that we don't even know or realize that they do exist!
I recommend the following book for a better understanding of south african workplace and management issues. "Ubuntu : the African dream in management" by Lovemore Mbigi
Patrick Ifonge http://homepages.go.com/~rumeur/accueil.html "Only when lions have historians will hunters cease to be heroes."
-- Patrick Ifonge (email@example.com), September 28, 2000.
Laura - Hi - although I don't know enough about your actual situation one of the key issues we find in our work with organisations undergoing transformation is that there tends to be insufficient structural and procedural change to support the new behaviour. For example although staff are told things have changed the organisation often (and sometimes unconsciously) maintains the same old reward systems, uses old decision making processes, does not encourage people to take chances, supports behaviour that is consistant with the "way things were" and doesn't provide enough training to ensure that staff are sufficiently skilled to change.
One of the ways we have supported behaviour change is to ask people what is stopping or hindering them from making the change - often they are able to give a very clear reason. Although its worth noting that this takes facilitation and drawing out - the first response is always a complaint against senior management.
Finally one of the primary demotivators in South Africa are the poor relationships between people within organisations - I would agree with the previous answer and add that building relationships, developing communication mechanisms and dealing with misunderstandings should be a primary concern of any change process. Very often staff do not lack the will, only a safe opportunity.
Iole Matthews IPT - Change Mangement Consultants South Africa
-- iole matthews (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 04, 2000.
Laura look up facilitation skills. I don't "work as a change agent", my job is to let to others do the work of being the change agent. Your attempts at being a change agent must never be full, they must be empty because your job is to allow others to fill themselves and to show them when they are empty.
Whether you have that ability to let go and to trust your process and let the process deliver rather than trying to deliver yourself, don't try too hard to be a change agent. If a change agent is doing someone elses thinking they are not being an agent for change. You don't need permission from higher authorities to turn on someone elses mind or reconnect their minds to their heart, but for those hearts to remain connected, they must feel ownership for the change and feel that they came up with the answers. Even this answer I give you is totally useless if it feels like a cheap gift, but if this answer triggers new thoughts and new directions for you, then you are more likely to build on the magic dust that I sprinkled.
The hardest part of transformation is standing back once you have thrown out your magic dust and let people discover the magic that lies within themselves. There is no pictures, x-rays or books that can tell you what makes the spirit of another person, you can only build the confidence in yourself that within each person, a definitive and unique spirit exists. Since human beings have no intimiate knowledge of knowing each unique spirit, since computer databases can't catalogue it or business models will never determine which way each individual will go, a change agent's greatest asset is the trust that once show someone that they have spiritual wings, you place the trust in them that they will fly.
Of course we can manipulate people, we can advertize to people, we can stir their emotions till you ignite their passions but those fires do burn out and the embers left is the ash of following others rather than following oneself. At the same time their are people in this world who have learned to be helpless and learned helplessness is a crutch I wish no one to have. Sometimes its better to let people sit in their comfort zone because my job is not to save a life, it is show what a life can be for those who have the capacity.
-- Mark Zorro (email@example.com), October 05, 2000.