Generous salary, three weeks' vacation, free parking, medical benefits and carpeted office with a window. Ideal job? Maybe . . . but don't count on it.
Before reading on, take the motivation test in the box at right. Identify the job factors that make you do your best work. Also, mark down what you think motivates your superiors and/or your subordinates. STOP RIGHT HERE.
Now, compare your numbers with those below to find out if you agree with Dr. Gordon L. Lippitt, professor of behavioral science at George Washington University and president of Project Associates, a D.C. human resource consulting firm, and management consultant Leslie E. This, who designed the test.
Lippitt and This recently tried the check list on more than 100,000 employes, from janitor to chief executive officer, with surprising results. Most employes checked the same items: 2, 3, 8, 11, 18 and 24, differing only in how they ranked the items in importance.
Five years ago, more emphasis was placed on "financial security," "good pay," "good physical work conditioins," "chance for promotion," "getting performance rating so I know how I stand" and "agreement with organization's objectives."
The shift in priorities, says Lippitt, was caused by the life-style changes of the "me generation," with its emphasis on personal growth.
"what people are saying at the present time is that they are much more interested in the quality of work life."
Lippitt foresees more people seeking job security and freedom, reflecting, the state of the economy and employes' job expectations.
Professionals in supervisory training were asked to respond to the six most-chosen motivating factors on the chart -- the key to getting the work out.
2. Respect for me as a person.
"the way a superior talks and acts toward an employe affects the quantity and quality of work produced," says Bonnie Jackson, chief of staff training of the Small Business Administration.
"creating a climate of open communication is all-important. A supervisor should get to know his (or her) subordinates well. Not personally -- in fact, I shy away from that, but as far as the work is concerned."
He or she should know what problems the employe is encountering, says Jackson, and try to help, either through providing resources or coaching on job skills.
By expressing confidence and building up a person, he (or she) will do better work, she says. If a superior shows either verbally or non-verbally -- those huffs and puffs, tsks and frowns -- that he thinks a person can't do the job, the employe will usually live up to that.
3. good pay.
"lower-ranking employes are expected to be more interested in money," notes Lippitt, "but the idea that the executive does not care a hoot about pay is not true." He cares a lot, but "not as much as doing interesting work. Executives might rank pay No. 6 and janitors might rank it first or second, but they all mention that factor."
Good pay may mean different things to different people. For some it might mean better groceries and a few luxuries. To others, it might represent a reward for a job well done or a sense of self-worth.
Why should the "me generation" be interested in money?
"inflation and the energy crisis," says Lippitt. Also, the recession makes jobs scarce. Another reason is that many people have "low expectations of getting what they want out of their jobs. Good pay gives them the freedom 'to do their own thing' outside the organization."
8. Opportunity to do interesting, challenging work
In "the New Supervisor," Martin M. Broadwell says the job itself holds the key to motivation. Aware supervisors use the job to motivate employes, get more work out and look good in the process.
Broadwell suggests that supervisors ask themselves basic questions that affect motivation:
Does my subordinate know exactly what is expected of him? Have I analyzed the job and clearly defined the boundaries of responsibilities so he'll know where his job stops and someone else's starts? Have I given the employe the authority to carry out his respsonsibilities?
Motivation suffers also when an employe is overloaded with less-than-challenging jobs. All employes have some tedious tasks. Yet, too much work below a person's skill level "rarely motivates a person," says Broadwell, "or gives him a feeling of accomplishment."
Sherry Connally, president of her nine-year-old Resource Development Systems firm, advises giving subordinates new assignments so they stay fresh and challenged and can develop responsibilities.
11. Feeling my job is important.
Knowing his job is an indespensable link in an organization will motivate a person to do his best work, says Dr. Bruce Whiting, director, management assistance, Small Business Administration. Recognition for effort and projects completed tells a person that his work is appreciated.
Recognition, believes Whiting, is more important to some employes than to others. "some people have recognition 'built-in' -- completion of the task is reward enough. Others need theproverbial 'pat on the back' or a more more tangible equivalent."
Another "basic tenet of a good relationship," says Whiting, is passing on credit to the people who do the work. "The more you pass on, the more you get out of it yourself."
Representing your staff well and presenting yourself as a winning team by setting goals and meeting targets together is also highly motivating, Whiting has found, and results in greater commitment to the organization.
18. Large amount of freedom on the job.
"let's hold people accountable for achieving goals, without dictating how he gets from here to there or using a manual," says Lippitt. "some companies have manuals on how to use procedural manuals." Whiting tells employes to ask this question:
Can I take a chunk of a job without someone looking over my shoulder every five minutes, trying to get a report and saying: "Don't cross the t that way. Do it this way."?
If you don't have that freedom, says Whiting, you wont be motivated to do a good job.
24. participation in planning and decision-making that affect me.
"The more the staff is involved in planning the better," says Jackson. If supervisors can create the climate that "we are all in this together and we'll share the benefits," she says, they are motivating their employes.
It's a mistake, she says, to isolate yourself with the attitude that I'm up here and you're down there. I give the orders and yo do the work."
Whiting adds that involving employes in decision-making most of the time will allow a supervisor to be dictatorial in a crisis, when there is no time for disucssion. Then a supervisor can say, "Hey, we've got a problem. You do this and you do that." This is acceptable because respect is mutual.
Whiting thinks it is dangerous, however, to go into a new company and to try to change immediately from authoritarian to participative management.
"You'll be killed. You can't jump from one style to another. It has to be introduced gradually so that employes can test your sincerity."
Who's responsible for motivation?
"Employes have to be aware of themselves, know what they want out of the job and where they want to go," ssays Connally.
"They must know the mission of the organization, not only a specific job, but where they fit into the whole picture. They must make their competencies known, look for opportunities and speak up when a chance to move to a more advanced job comes along."
This may mean taking risks.
"Some bosses are threatened if a subordinate takes too much initiative," warns Connally. Watch out, she says, if a boss complains that you are not taking enough initiative, yet whenever you do, he or she puts you in your place.
"Get out. Start looking for a new job."