• http://HumanNatureAtWork.com David Lee

    Excellent article Bob!

    I want to underline two of the important points you made:

    1) Achievement IS a motivator factor – Mastery-i.e. succeeding at a task–is one of THE most powerful human drives. Anyone who has watched a small child unrelentingly work at solving a problem–like tieing their shoe–and looking so pumped when they succeed, has seen the primal nature of this drive. As I say in seminars “You probably didn’t stand 10 feet away from your child with a muffin saying ‘Come here. Come here.’ to get them to try to walk. That drive, the drive to master a challenge and to solve a problem is hard-wired in. Thus, one of THE most important things an employer can do–especially if they want to engage and retain their most talented employees–is to remove barriers to mastery and achievement.

    Harvard Business School’s Teresa Amabile has a fascinating study involving 12,000 knowledge workers showing the #1 source of engagement and enthusiasm was progress towards their goals (i.e. achievement)…not recognition, not bonuses, etc.

    http://hbr.org/2010/01/the-hbr-list-breakthrough-ideas-for-2010/ar/1

    2) Alignment and Accountability – This is one of THE biggest mistakes I see employers making. They throw potentially useful training at their managers, but there’s no explicit alignment with business goals or accountability.

    Thus, training is seen as “a nice thing” by some and an intrusion by many–rather than what it should be seen as: an investment their employer is making in them and their ability to deliver on their responsibilities.

    The logic should flow like this:
    1) Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish: goals, KRAs, initiatives, etc.
    2) Here’s how you and your team contribute to that, and what you’ll be held accountable for.
    3) In order to make that contribution, you need to be adept at these skills and this knowledge
    4) We will help you develop what you need to lead your team to perform at the level they need to, to meet your goals and contribute to our goals.
    5) While we will help you, you are responsible for your professional development and for delivering results, and will be held accountable.

    Rather than thank managers for taking the time out of their busy day and their “real work” to go to training, the message should be “We’re doing our part to help you meet your goals and expectations and you will be held accountable for doing your part.”

    I think that would go a long way towards increasing the appreciation for, and implementation of, management and leadership development.