Monday, May 7, 2012

What a Cub Scout contest can teach us about management.

How to KILL your employee’s motivation in 3 easy steps!

I have reviewed hundreds of articles on motivation, inspiration and setting up a positive work environment that helps to reward initiative, creativity and results. There are many ways to do this and my hope is that you will dedicate your time in mastering those. Today, I wanted to share with you a couple fatal errors that one can commit as it relates to motivation. First I wanted to share my experiences as a father when my two boys joined the cub scouts many years ago. One of the big events each year is the “annual pinewood derby”.

The "pinewood derby" is a competitive challenge where the “scouts” are to take a piece of wood and sculpt it into a race car. The kits are given out and the cubbies have a couple of weeks to do the work. My first year was an eye-opener for me. I foolishly thought that this was a challenge where the “scout” would have fun and make the car mainly by himself. I can’t tell you how wrong I was. Anyone who has been to one of these events have seen “world-class” model cars made by PhD level engineers. It would put most toy manufactures out of business. Who made these cars? Mostly Dads who had way too much time on their hands as well as a “I’m better than your Dad mentality”. I also found out that the cars could be purchased completely finished, lubed up and ready to win. This was outrageous to me and taught me a few life lessons about de-motivation! 

To KILL your employee’s motivation – Do the following!

Be a Tyrant! Don't allow your employees to learn or hone their skills.  You believe that winning is the only thing and by golly by hook or by crook, you will get there! Take total control, do not allow your employees to be involved or do the tasks necessary to grow and succeed. Set the rules and allow no deviation from those rules! Micro-manage your people right out the door!

Do not develop your people ~ Don’t take the time to be creative and learn. Do everything yourself or outsource to someone outside of the company. Buy the fastest race car that you can from the mass producers of the "pine wood derby" models. Stifle your employees creativity in problem solving or decision-making!

Do not inspire ownership! ~ Pride in one's work comes about due to involvement!  You foster ownership when you encourage your employees to  have their say in helping to create a vision, a plan for the future.  Without it you are killing your people's pride.  It all comes from having a hand in the outcome. Take it away, and you will demotivate and ultimately destroy your organization.

I will say that the following year, my sons and I were a bit better prepared for the pine-wood derbies.  Our first year, the pinewood race-car looked like Fred Flinstone's car.  No curves, just a rectangular shape with wheels.  No weight adjustment's etc...  It looked as if it was made by a five year old.  It was, our wheel fell off the first trip down the ramp.  It was discouraging and disappointing!  it also brought some tears!  But it taught us a great life lesson!

The following years, we did get better but one thing that we did....we did it together!

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