The Motivation’s Butchers

Monday, 28 November 2016
The Motivation’s Butchers

By now most of the leaders agree that one component that you need in order to succeed in your business is to be able to motivate your people. Having motivated people ensures your access to infinite resources that the human mind can offer.
In theory almost everybody agrees that motivated people will decrease your production costs, will deliver the projects faster, will earn you more clients, will keep your clients happy and, overall will increase the value of your business. But the behaviors and expectations that some of the managers display really makes you feel you are watching an infant trying to eat by himself with a spoon. 
There are the genuinely unskilled leaders, that you might hear telling to their people: “We have a motivation problem? So, motivate yourself!”, but there are also the ones that are just operating outside a familiar culture and by having positive experiences from their own cultures, or from books that were written in other cultures, they KNOW that their style MUST work. You can imagine what they do to the motivation of their people. 
“People Should work for money!, hence by increasing their salaries they should be more motivated and work more” – Working JUST for money already is achieved in some companies, and while this is very convenient for the manager, the company is not capitalizing on big amounts of energy, not to mention that it makes itself vulnerable to the other companies on the market that are inclusive. There are cultures in which getting people to be loyal requires a huge investment, but there are cultures in which being loyal to your leader comes naturally and after a certain level, the benefits (if fair) are not the decisive factor in keeping the talent with you. Trying to Motivate people with salary-increases is the “lazy” leader’s way. Sure it is nice for the people, but it is unnecessary and redundant when the real Motivating factors are missing. 
“Anyway the situation is so hard in Ukraine that you should be thankful that you have a stable job” – Yes. Only “Being thankful” lasts for the first month. After that, Motivation has to replace it in order to fuel the energy of the people. This, coupled with the statement that “Life is hard” are the best examples of how leaders from restrained cultures de-energize their people and bring them to the level in which nothing is worthy doing at work, then people get fired and replaced all the time, Attrition is going up, and the next miss-belief is born naturally as: “All the people from this nation are lazy”. 
The “Apprentice” style or the “Steve Jobs wannabes”. This one as well works very good in some cultures where the name of the company by itself ensures a constant pool of talents at company’s gates. But there are cultures in which people don’t care about the prestige of the company, so there the manager might end up alienating some of his best talents, just because they couldn’t fake a style that he could recognize (as assertive, as cooperative, etc). The first companies understand the local culture and adjust their Organizational Cultures to take advantage of it, usually collect all the talents from the market. 
The “pseudo- coaching” – This is really terrible for the direct report from a hierarchical culture, that has to endure weekly or monthly a 1 to 1 discussion with his boss, that tries to convince him that his values are wrong, that in order to succeed in life he should behave more like him, etc. These coaching sessions, although they start usually with a calibration attempt from employee’s direction, they are transformed into a “Yes, Sir/Madam” discussion, just to avoid fights with the boss, that will inevitably influence the salary increase at the end of the year. 
The “not taking of the monkeys” – This is a good practice in the equalitarian societies in which negotiation is a tool accessible to everybody, but in the hierarchical societies if this is done unwisely, it may end up with the leader “talking to the walls”. 
The most dangerous of all of them is “Treat your people like you would like to be treated”. This is dangerous because this is a very Powerful Motivator in the leader’s culture or in similar cultures but it can be a real de-motivator in cultures with different values. The fact that this is done with the best intentions and with an extra dose of energy makes it so dangerous, triggering sometimes a negative cycle, as the leader feels frustrated that his best intentions are not appreciated, while the subordinates only alienate him more. 
Without proper understanding of the Cultural Differences anyone can become a Motivation’s Butcher. By using Hofstede’s 6D model for Cultural Differences, a good leader can identify which technique is suitable for which culture. Most of the managerial techniques and motivational recommendations come from the masculine cultures and they work very well there, but if the leader looks at Ukraine, a country that scores quite feminine on this Cultural Dimension, the leader can easily remove from his or her toolbox at least the “Apprentice” style and realize that “only the Money” is not enough. Ukraine is a collectivistic culture, so by trying to make people compete individually against each other, an unexperienced leader will lose a good part of the energy he could gain from having his people work in a harmonious environment. Understanding the Cultural Differences allows the leaders to invest their energy in the right places, and avoid wasting it in the fight against the windmills of transforming the local Culture into a “known Culture”. 
Read: In an Interconnected World: will the Cultures converge?

George Lupascu-Pruna
Accredited InterCultural Practitioner by Itim Internationalsh

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