One More Time: How do You Motivate People at Work?

The truth of the matter is that it’s impossible to motivate people at work. The reason is: they’re already motivated. They come to work every day motivated to pursue their self-interest—the satisfaction of needs that are important to them. The only thing the leadership of a business can do if it wants its employees to perform at a high level is to engage the motivation that’s already there—to create a situation where the harder people work toward pursuing the satisfaction of their own needs, the harder they work toward the goals of the organization. Companies with a high level of employee engagement understand this. Instead of trying to motivate their employees with traditional means like authority, rewards and punishment, they’ve created environments where employees are free to be themselves, have fun and follow their passion (the motivation that’s already there inside them). This is why the underlying managerial philosophy at SAS is: “Give people the tools they need to do their job and then get out of their way.” At W. L. Gore & Associates, there are no titles, no orders and no bosses. As company founder Bill Gore once said, “We don’t manage people here, they manage themselves.”


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About Ross Reck

Who am I? I am the author of The Engagement Formula, Turning Your Customers into Your Sales Force, The X-Factor and my popular weekly newsletter: Ross Reck’s Weekly Reminder. I'm also the coauthor of Instant Turnaround!, REVVED! and the best selling The Win-Win Negotiator. I've also spoken at hundreds of meetings, conferences and conventions throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. My consulting clients include Hewlett-Packard, John Deere, American Express, Janssen-Ortho, Inc., Shire Pharmaceuticals, Philip Morris International, the Chicago Cubs, Rolls-Royce and Xerox. I received my Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1977. From 1975 to 1985 I served a Professor of Management at Arizona State University. During my career at ASU I was the only two-time recipient of the prestigious “Teaching Excellence in Continuing Education” award and was identified by the university as an “Outstanding Teacher.” In 1985 I left my position at ASU to search full-time for a new "Management Model" to replace the current model with it's emphasis on authority, control and formal communication channels. Last February, I found it (it's actually a leadership model) and it's featured in my new book, The Engagement Formula: Three Simple Steps that Guarantee Full Employee Engagement.

2 thoughts on “One More Time: How do You Motivate People at Work?

  1. Sarah Coles

    I know that I love where I work, but now I think I know why. So thankful that I work for a company that uses this philosophy.

    Thanks for posting, Ross. I always love your articles!

  2. Ross Reck Post author

    Hi Sarah,

    It’s always good to hear from you. Thank you so much for your comments. I hope things are going well for you. All the best, Ross

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