Spare a thought. Animals are tamed and trained by giving rewards and punishments (carrot and stick). That’s the way it happens in almost all animals because learning by doing for animals will take a quite a lot of time. Humans, having evolved through animals (as long as we still believe the Darwin’s theory of evolution), also have an animal part in them. But we have in us a faculty which naturally facilitates conscious learning.

The purpose of life for animals generally is to survive (eat and drink), reproduce and try and be safe. Humans, as they evolved as a species and created civilisations, have tried to fulfil these three purposes as well. Having a much more evolved brain, this process was far more organised and orderly compared to that in a typical ‘disordered’ jungle. Whether it happened to be an intelligent way of existing or is a topic of discussion for some other day.

Let’s cut to the workplace. The usual ways of motivating employees are mostly extrinsic in nature. Most of the plans hover around satisfying the monetary or social status needs of the employee. Numerous spiritual and philosophical literature combined with a human experience of thousands of years says that the need for money never gets satisfied. Research has also proven that intrinsic motivation motivates more than extrinsic rewards and remains a more sustainable option for productivity and longetivity of the employee in the organisation.

With so much experience and research available, is it wise for organisations to spend so much money and efforts unnecessarily? A thing that comes to mind is that they might be doing it probably because they are getting immediate results and no one has the patience for slow, organic and sustainable growth. The irony is that stress and pressure still remain in the system which is even more costly to manage and that’s why research says that extrinsic motivation is more harmful to the employee and the organisation compared to intrinsic motivation.

So where’s the gap?

The main purpose of coming to the workplace cannot be to earn a living.

The way an employee is treated is surely an issue, even if money is doled out on him. Money meets survival needs and humans are as good as animals if they focus only on that.

So how are humans different or better than animals? If we can channelise our energy on that, probably we can create some new theories of motivating humans or be able to create self-motivated individuals who would not need any other motivation than work itself. 

Work gives meaning to a human life…

Humans can contemplate, introspect, are curious, can solve problems consciously just for the sake of it and not to ensure survival, humans can be challenged, we consciously want to grow and can set goals and plan and strategise for growth, we can work together and leverage the synergy as a team, we can be consciously good givers and help each other, we can be consciously good and caring leaders, we have an analytical brain which can comprehend mathematics, we have a creative brain which can imagine and create poetry, drawing, literature (and jokes), excellent food, a Burj Khalifa or a mobile or the upcoming AI or anything that falls in the domain of the finest microscopes and telescopes.

The list is endless still. But these are areas where we differentiate from animals. We need to up our self respect and live in these areas. All humans will not have mastery in all domains. But even one area is discovered by the leader (tough one for the leader but that’s what they need to be respected for, not their designation), then motivation will be intrinsic. The leader needs to be the torch bearer for every member of his team and help the fellow discover himself.

Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawkings, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Dhirubhai Ambani, APJ Abdul Kalam, Kapil Dev, Dhoni, Virat Kohli, ….oh… the list is endless – they never needed extrinsic motivation. It would have been below their dignity to want a carrot to be pushed forward.

They had an engine inside them, they utilised their Being Human aspect.

This aspect is a ‘factory settings app’. Just bring it on the home page and start using. You as a leader will help your fellows on this just as you as a parent will need to help your kid in the same too!!

Categories: Workplace


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