Almost eighteen years ago, Dr. Stephen Holoviak, published Golden Rule Management . Dr. Holoviak, a professor at Penn State University- Mont Alto, is an expert in labor relations, small business management, and organizational behavior. His book outlined how applying a simple concept could reduce turnover, plus increase morale and productivity. I had a similar thought this week, and my research confirmed King Solomon’s adage that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Thank you, Google.
The concept has a universal appeal and can be found in all the world religions in various formats. It is based on looking inward and then acting outwardly based on what you know to be true. As a businessman and consultant, I continue to see just the opposite of the golden rule in basic employee motivation thinking. Most motivation seems to be tied to external or outside to inside systems of reward and punishment. That bothers me.
Maybe it’s because I believe motivation is an inside job and comes fully operational inside of every employee. While most management teams focus on external or “extrinsic” motivators such as programs, incentive systems and the like, internal or “intrinsic” motivation requires less programming and delivers a greater bang for the buck. Dan Pink provides the basic case in his book Drive. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer of the Harvard Business School contribute further in their new book, The Progress Principle. They all support Dr. Holoviak’s book.
Productivity requires long term, sustained effort, and internal motivation has the best long term staying power. Long term internal motivators include the a) the desire for autonomy, b) the need for mastery of a skill, c) the desire for challenge, d) the ability to see progress in one’s work, and e) the need for affiliation with a higher purpose than oneself.
Japanese companies, with their focus on continuous improvement (kaizen), and respect for individual worker (hitzokuri), in their lean manufacturing approaches come the closest to matching organizational goals to employee motivators. The recent brake issue notwithstanding, it’s easy to understand whyToyotasurpassed GM as number one in sales, profitability, and perceived quality.
As I thought about designing a better motivational seminar or workshop, the core principle hit me like a ton of bricks. At the heart of every successful motivational program is the Golden Rule. If you start with the premise of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the techniques don’t matter. Just as Dexter Yager observed, “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter;” if the intrinsic motivation is strong enough, the problems don’t matter.
Think about it. If you are motivated by the five “intrinsic” motivators, start a list of everyone you manage who isn’t. Pretty short list.
By following the golden rule, you are sowing trust and respect rather than distrust and suspect. Most “motivational” systems seem to believe that people need carrots and sticks to do the right thing and not the wrong thing. Of course, the people who design and administer these systems, including me, usually view themselves as self motivated.
How do I know? How many designers or keepers of motivational systems are willing to let their subordinates determine their performance review, raise, and promotions? As an adjunct professor, I know that my students do just that. So I apply the golden rule in course design, assignment, and testing.
Why not give yourself a golden rule audit? Look at your problem area and review the incentive programs, job descriptions, and management approaches. Then ask yourself if that is how you would want to be treated. Better yet, ask your employees how they would design their job. The answers will go a long way to helping you evaluate what program you need. Golden Rule Management has some great approaches to guide you.
The leader who first spoke and put into practice the golden rule, Jesus, has a universally recognized track record of success in growing a self motivated organization. His Great Commission plan on the surface offered only long-term deferred compensation. Yet his trust and respect of people earned their unwavering loyalty. Here’s wishing you the same kind of success.