For as long as I can remember, bosses have assumed the best way to motivate their employees was/is by promising financial gains…..and on the opposite end, threatening with financial losses e.g. your job. BUT a recent article in the New York Times about research in organization psychology strongly suggests that “people are more innovative and more successful when motivated by a desire to help other people.” Really?
The author of the NY Times articles states that over the past 20 years she has interviewed hundreds of successful people – mostly top executies & top salespeople. She starts every conversation with the question “What do you like best about your job?” and in every case these highly successful people respond with some variation of ‘I like helping people’. And this applies to both their customers and coworkers.
The focus of the NY Times article is Adam Grant, the youngest and highest-rated professor at Wharton & one of the most prolific academics in his field of organizational psychology. Professor Grant regularly advises companies about how to get the most out of their employees and how to help their employees get the most of out their jobs. And helpfulness is his credo – both personally and from the academic perspective.
For Grant, helping “is not the enemy of productivity…..it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. The greatest untapped source of motivation, Grant argues, is a “sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.”
Of corporate America Grant says “people do sometimes feel that the work they do isn’t meaningful. And contributing to co-workers can be a substitute for that.” He states that his concern is ultimately for the success and well-being of people in organizations. “To the extent that individual & group accomplishments and quality of work life contribute to profits, I’m happy. But that’s not my primary goal.”
The author of the NY Times story decided to experiment with being more proactive about helping. She started ending emails by encouraging people to let her know if she could help them in one way or another. And she encourage contacts seeking work or connections to see her as a resource. And what did she find?
That by simply avoiding the mental exercise of whether to help or not was…..helpful. She thinks that Grant’s examples presents the opportunity to make a new rule: Unless the person on the other end is a proven ‘taker’ just do it – collaborate, offer up, grant the favor.
Do you collaborate or offer up or grant the favor? Do your colleagues or employees? Does this idea have merit? We hope you’ll share your thoughts on this subject and LIKE & SHARE this blog. And as always – thank you for subscribing to EVERYTHING’S CONNECTED.