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Why your people do what they do.

Why Your People Do What They Do by Roger E. Herman

Want some easy answers on how to motivate your employees? Most managers do. But there's a problem: You can't motivate other people.

It's true. People do things for their own reasons, not for our reasons. Motivation is internal, not external. No amount of rah-rah or threats will motivate people to perform. The feeling, the desire has to come from inside.

So what's the answer? Simple. Create a working environment where people do what you want them to do but for their reasons. Place your emphasis on their reasons.

The key to doing this successfully is to learn about your people. Understand what makes them tick and what they need to motivate them to want to do what you want them to do.

In 1928, Dr. William Marston published Emotions of Normal People. Marston mapped human behavior in four quadrants on a two-axis system (see the chart). One axis addressed an individual's inclination to use a direct approach versus an indirect approach to situations; the other axis addressed an individual's inclination to be peopleoriented versus task-orientated.

As he mapped behavior on his twoaxis system, Marston noted four fundamental styles. As you look at the chart, you can see that a style in the upper left quadrant would have a stronger tendency toward a task orientation and direct approach. A person with the behavior style shown in the lower right quadrant would be more indirect with a greater concern for people-oriented issues.

In examining these styles, behavior is described through tendencies, traits, or patterns. But be careful. In assessing your employees, don't become too categorical.

Most people exhibit behaviors from more than one of the four fundamental styles. Research confirms that about 15 percent of us could be described as pure type, behaving almost entirely within a primary behavior style. However, 85 percent of us also employ a secondary or back-up behavior from one of the other quadrants, producing a mixed style of behavior.

Looking at the Styles

Building on Marston's work, a number of psychological tests and learning instruments have been developed over the years. These tools help us to better understand an individual's behavior so we can develop a strategy to maximize his or her appropriate performance.

Among the better-known systems is the Performax Personal Profile System.

Dominant. Dominant people are determined and results-oriented. They can be demanding and directive as they exercise their take-charge approach. Dominant people are risk-takers and innovators who enjoy challenges. They like variety in their lives, with the power and authority to get tasks done.

Freedom from controls and supervision is important for dominant behavior types. They like to show their accomplishments. Dominant individuals like quick, direct answers. Careful analysis and weighing the pros and cons is not characteristic of this style, and the social graces may appear similar to the proverbial bull in the china shop.

Influencer. Influencers are peopleoriented. They love being with other people and are positive, enthusiastic, and persuasive. Great talkers, influencers enjoy entertaining people and helping others. They may be emotional and impulsive as they exercise their freedom of expression.

Influencers want freedom from outside controls and from the details of work. They prefer to be the motivators, the initiators, the people who come up with great ideas and inspire others to follow them in the fulfillment of those dreams. It is not characteristic of this behavior style to concentrate on the facts or task completion, to be well organized, or to be highly objective in decision making. They depend more on their feelings and their intuition.

Steadfast. Steadfast behavior style individuals have a high concern for accomplishing tasks in a systematic, predictable pattern. They like security and stability and are patient, loyal, and supportive. Steadfast people are usually good listeners and adept at solving problems in a deliberate and caring manner.

Specialists in their areas of endeavor, individuals with steadfast behavior styles accept sincere, genuine expressions of appreciation for their work. They prefer to work with established procedures and guidelines without abrupt changes. When change has to occur, they are more supportive if they have input and if the changes are well-planned before being implemented.

Cautious. Cautious people are highly oriented toward control, standard operating procedures, rules and regulations, and quality assurance. They are concerned with accuracy, details, research and analysis, and careful deliberation. These conservative individuals are usually diplomatic but insist on complying with recognized standards.

Anxious to see a job done the right way, these conscientious people are firm in their beliefs and can be set in their ways. They tend to resist change. They believe that if it's worked well for 20 years, why change it? They prefer a sheltered environment and reassurance rather than being on the cutting edge of development.

The Internal Motivators

We've been talking about needsmotivated behavior. It's helpful to understand the needs and fears of each of the styles. With this kind of knowledge, you can create the working environment most conducive to high performance for each of your employees.

Considering the information mentioned earlier, give your dominant people as much authority as you can. They like to operate independently; be sure they understand exactly how far they can go without stepping over the line.

Avoid assigning responsibilities with too much routine and repetition-you'll drive dominant people up a wall. They don't like to follow the same pattern all the time and fear being taken advantage of, so be careful not to do so.

Influencers need to be in peopleoriented positions. Give them lots of opportunities to work with others. These individuals can be great public relations people for your organization. Praise them frequently, and make it easy for them to report their activities without too much paperwork.

Your steadfast individuals will perform well in positions requiring routine checks and follow-up. They'll be fine investigators but may need more time than a dominant or influencer to complete a case. Steadfast individuals are the best listeners and get along well with practically anyone.

Compliant employees need strong policies, guidelines, and systems to be most effective. They're comfortable with a routine but want to be accurate and correct. You may need to help them interpret when the rules should be bent. They fear having their work criticized; it's important for them to do a good job.

Be specific in your recognition, and conduct performance appraisals on a dependable schedule. Give them opportunities to plan their work carefully before proceeding; they aren't comfortable with having to make-or respond to-quick, impulsive decisions.

People with different styles approach tasks differently. Help them understand themselves and each other. As much as possible, consider behavioral styles in job design and duties, job assignments, team building, and other aspects of your managerial responsibilities.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Herman, Roger E.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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