Eight weeks of learning, 30 minutes to tell all (part 3)

None of the theories of motivation that we discussed in the course fully explain why managers play along in the grueling game of chutes and ladders that is the modern-day hierarchy. To be certain, there are aspects of Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory that come into play, in that managers and employees aspiring to be managers see a possibility that if they put in the effort, they will reap the rewards, and in the sense that the rat race behaviors are continually championed and fostered from on high, the organizational rewards are of enough value to make the sacrifice worthwhile.

And there are aspects of Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory which play a part, in that the individual’s internal level of motivation, or intrinsic motivation, is driven largely by the ability to take on challenging assignments and get the appropriate and favorable recognition that comes with such work. Of course, the hygienic factor that includes salary and perquisites also has its place in the motivational formula.

Even Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs only partially explains how a person can stay motivated and tolerate the shenanigans of the ladder climbing ritual. At a certain point, people are either so hungry for the power that comes with the position that they become numb to the effects of the climb, or they are so numb from their experience in the climb that they lose perspective and continue on their quest in auto pilot. Self-actualization may be the professed reason for the continued ascent, but when so many other aspects of personal life are placed in jeopardy, it simply does not make sense.

One area where we saw clear alignment of the effects of motivation on the work itself was in the EMOB exercise “Redesigning Assembly Line Jobs: Hovey and Beard Company.” In this case, employees had been given the opportunity to shape their own work processes, acting essentially as self-directed work teams. They were highly motivated as a result, and felt that their performance was solid. This was further reinforced by bonuses that they were earning that far exceeded the company’s expectations (and budget) and prompted a re-engineering effort to the line which, consequently, demotivated the workforce.

In one of the videos we watched in class, Warren Greshes exhorts the viewer to “see yourself successful.” This visualization can be an effective motivational tool, and many athletes use it to improve their game. He talked about creating a vision, not only for yourself, but for those around you such as employees, clients and others – a great motivational tool.


How to soar like an eagle (in a world full of turkeys)

Technically, tonight’s video presentation was entitled “Beyond Excellence,” a very well done 1-hour (plus) seminar by Rob Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson also happens to be the author of “How to Soar Like an Eagle,” ergo the blog title for what will probably be the last entry for this class, Organizational Behavior.

He began his presentation with the story of Larry Walters, known in some circles as “Lawnchair Larry” because in 1992 he took flight over Los Angeles in a lawn chair, with the help of 45 weather balloons. He was determined to fly. He was determined to constantly improve. Well … he was determined.

When asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, “A man can’t just sit around.”

Maybe that’s what inspired the Disney Pixar movie, “Up” …

Speaking of Disney, Stevenson talked about how at Disney, it’s always “showtime” and all members of the Disney team are cast members who are always on stage. He talked about how in our professional lives we always need to be on stage, because you really never know who it is that you’re dealing with. He shared the example of a commercial real estate agent who was asked for help leasing a 500 square foot space, and because he handled it so well he ended up winning the business for Coca-Cola and ultimately a commitment to lease about a million square feet of space.

Speaking of Coca-Cola, Stevenson then shared the story of how a company lost a 100-truck order that they had “in the bag” with Coca-Cola, right up until the moment that the truck driver rolled up at the Atlanta headquarters and the senior Coke executive saw a Pepsi can on the dashboard. Oops. The company lost the order for the other 99 trucks.

He recommended reading the book, “Good to Great,” and reinforced the point of getting the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off … he also alluded to the possibility of how some people end up in organizations having something to do with the timing of when they were hired. A strong culture will work to get rid of the people who don’t belong there.

How do you create the WOW effect? Astonish people, have a great reputation. Hire for excellence. Example of WOW, Harley Davidson tattoos on the human body.

Stevenson shared the “8/16 rule,” where if you do a good job people will tell 8 others, if you do a bad job people will warn 16 others

MOT = moment of truth. (every point where you come in contact with a customer)

At the beginning and the end of the presentation, Stevenson talked about the importance of a FUBAR list … a list maintained by the company that has the mistakes people have made so others can avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Control, cope or capitalize – CHANGE

CARE trumps everything … care more about the customer than about the sale, commission, etc.


Stevenson used the image above to reinforce the point, “We are what we perceive ourselves to be.”

Who Moved My Cheese?

Tonight’s feature presentation (without popcorn) was a 20-minute video of the Spencer Johnson “classic” book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”

For the record, I did not like this book when I had to read it 10 years ago as part of my undergrad work, and I wasn’t thrilled with this cartoon either. But, okay, I get it: change happens, and we need to be prepared for it when it comes.

The main point of the book, and of this movie, is that people in the workforce need to learn to deal with and embrace change, as today’s work environment is one where change is often the only constant.

Here are the main points from the movie, as shared by Haw in his scribbles:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

We can never assume that things will just remain the same, so we need to avoid becoming complacent. By moving beyond our comfort zones we can remain flexible and adaptive to new conditions, new rules, new procedures, and new cheese. Cheesy!

“The Will to Win!”

In the June 9 class, we watched a video seminar featuring Willie Jolley, a former lounge singer and jingle recording artist who became a motivational speaker due to his unique ability to motivate and win people over. He opened up with a story of his experience on a flight to Japan, where every person in the entire check-in and flight experience was focused on him and providing excellent service. He then began his discussion by saying, “Thank you for letting me serve you today.”

He began with a series of rhetorical questions to the crowd, asking what does it take to win, and to win over and over again, in your career and your life? He said that everyone has the potential, but it takes teamwork and it takes the right blend of attitude, aptitude and appetite.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

The moral:
It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.

He reflected on an opportunity to speak at high school where he was warned by the principal that he should cut his one hour presentation to about 15 minutes because otherwise the kids would start to get antsy and may even throw things. But Jolley checked himself before he went on stage, asking the question “Are you going to do what’s comfortable, or are you going to do what’s necessary?”

He challenged the crowd to never do what’s comfortable or you will never discover your genius.

After speaking to the 200 top managers at Dell, he asked one of the executives why they are spending so much money on this small group of managers. That executive told Jolley that Dell is committed to making their management team the best, and that the best way to grow your organization is to build your people.

Jolley spelled out five key aspects of leadership and explained how Five Star Organizations always start with Five Star People … and if they cannot hire them, they will make them! These topics are:

  1. Leadership Development
  2. Change Management
  3. Teambuilding
  4. Customer Service
  5. Attitude Enhancement

Great teams care for each other, cover for each other, and encourage each other, and great organizations pride themselves on outstanding service. (like Nordstrom)

    “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
    — Maya Angelou

    Jolley also pointed out that even when bad things happen to you, circumstances should not dictate your attitude, and that you can make a choice.