Although there are an infinite number of management styles, human beings have two basic motivation types. We do things because we fear some type of negative ramification. Or we do things because we seek pleasure.
Every manager should understand this. And every employee should know what type of manager they are dealing with.
The fear motivator
We have probably all known managers who use fear as a motivator. They make threats. They usually yell a lot. They also are not afraid to humiliate people in front of others.
Employees who work for this type of person usually follow a strategy of avoidance. They want to avoid being yelled at, or humiliated. They have mouths to feed at home. So they want to avoid being fired.
This often works for some managers. I’ve spoken to people who say they respond best to this type of treatment. “That’s how my father was when we were growing up.” Is a common response when I ask them why.
The people who respond to this feel that it pushes them to achieve. The fear motivator keeps them on their toes like a drill sergeant in the army. If that manager didn’t yell at them when they did something wrong, they feel they would become complacent. They would get less done.
Others – myself included – see it as demotivating. Workers should be inspired to succeed. Working for a fear motivator creates workers that are more focused on not failing. Some may say that not failing and succeeding are the same thing. They are not.
Not failing also means not taking any chances. Not failing means playing it safe. Not failing causes people to do the minimum required effort to get the job done satisfactorily.
I believe that people who say they respond best to the fear motivator are people who lack self-confidence. They don’t feel they can achieve. They believe that they need that negative push for them to achieve results.
The pleasure motivator
Pleasure motivators build people up. They are complementary of peoples’ skills and abilities. They motivate them with uplifting comments and gestures.
Pleasure motivators have a tolerance for errors. They know that for an employee to achieve great things, they have to take risks. And when people take risks, they’re going to fail once in a while.
Critics claim that this approach makes people complacent. The boss that lets them get away with anything will end up with a team of slackers.
I believe that encouraging a positive environment creates happy workers. Having happy workers generates loyalty. Creating an environment that has a tolerance for errors encourages people to achieve at greater levels.
A hybrid approach
There are some managers that focus only on the negative. There are some that believe only in cheerleading people to success. But most successful managers have a hybrid approach.
If all you do is focus on negativity and criticism, good workers become demotivated. They either stay with the company and deal with low morale, or they leave. Turnover is very high in negative environments.
The manager that focuses only on the positive can end up with people who risk too much. They know there are no consequences to failure and may become careless.
There are times when employees need to be aware of negative consequences. Having a tolerance for mistakes can be a great motivator for achievement. But if people fail to learn from previous mistakes, it becomes costly. Positive managers still have to fire someone once in a while. That needs to be an example to other employees. The message must be that we tolerate calculated risks. But we won’t tolerate carelessness.
Different people respond to positive and negative management styles in different ways. Just as managers have management styles, employees have their own followership styles.
Effective managers need to positively motivate people to strive for success. They also must make sure that employees don’t take advantage of perceived kindness. A strong manager makes sure to positively motivate people, while making them aware of possible negative consequences.
How do you motivate your team?
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