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Management is not Domination, but Liberation  (1)

The topic of  “Motivating the employees to achieve the greatest results” is hugely popular among public, and it always tops the rank of best selling chart of bookstore and sharing chart on WeChat.


Recently I am carrying out a deeper interrogation of the subject of “Motivation”, and accidentally discovered that Drucker sees “motivation” and “communication” a two of the most significant managerial tasks. Even though Drucker has a thorough discussion on the importance and concept of communication in his writings on Management, he hardly mentions the subject of “motivation”.


Derived from the Drucker’s theories of the three most managerial tasks, I find the concept of effective working, and helping subordinates attain sense of achievement at work very inspiring.


I stopped acquiring new skills after I started on my first job; however, when the culture of adult learning became popular again in 2002, I followed the trend and started taking the potential development course developed by world-renowned motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, and even became obsessed with the Science of Success of Chen An Zhi.


Even though I find it useful to develop my potential, while at the same time give positive praise, encouragement and appreciation to my colleagues, which helps to motivate my colleagues; however, the best way to fuel the colleagues with passion and creativity at work is not by praising them as the best. I discover that the real motivational factors for thriving excellent performance at work come from work itself.


This year I kick starts my research on “Organizational behavior”, in an effort to figure out the relationship between employees, company and society. When I study the structural management, I put my focus on the questions of how to raise the productivity? What are the factors that affect productivity of employees at work? And I come up with a few new ideas in the process of research. 



Works done by people


Human nature has a profound effect on work efficiency. Let me ask a question from the standpoint of human nature, when does an individual perform at one’s best and worst at work? Comparing human with machine, machine excels at doing simple work tasks repetitively and non-stop, while human beings get tired with keep doing the same task repetitively.  However, once the human grasps one’s own working rhythm, the span of attention will be elongated, and the work efficiency is improved drastically.


Now let’s ask the question from the psychological aspect of human: What will cause pain to human? What will bring happiness to human? When people take pride in their works, they become happy and passionate.


However, people can’t feel sense of fulfillment if they lose their jobs and have to live on unemployment benefits. Why don’t they feel blessed anymore? Although they now have subsidy as their sources of income, they can no longer feel the recognition as a person, sense of being needed, and thus lose the passion for life. 


Self-actualization comes from quest for appreciation, recognition and being needed, and it brings about passion and happiness in return.   


From the aspect of social sustainability, work creates social status and sense of recognition. When we ask, “Where do your work?”, people tend to describe their job nature joyfully out of pride, regardless of the level of income.


Form the social aspect, people are desperate for sense of belonging. People tend to make friends at work, and it’s an enjoying experience to have someone to talk to, communicate with and grow together at workplace. And the joys that are gained from work motivate people to work.


Nevertheless, People feel satisfied with the power that they are given at work, as the power allows them to deliberately decide what to focus on, and what to give up on at work.  


Lastly, from the Economic aspect, work brings income for living. Although Salary means expenditure to a company, it represents human dignity, living security to the employees.


Through study the relation between human beings and work systematically; I realize that the best motivation method for employees hides in the value system. The work of motivating employees is challenging but quintessential, and it can only be accomplished through grasping the right methods.



An inspiring story:


Once upon a time there was a retired professor of Business Management, he bought a mansion and planned to live a quiet and peaceful life ever after.

However, soon after he moved in the mansion, he realized that there was a group of youngsters who came to play and made noise in his garden everyday.


The professor was annoyed with the behaviors of the children, and came up with an idea of getting rid of them. One day he told them, “Please come here and play everyday with all your hearts and efforts. I am going to give each of you 10 dollars everyday as a reward for playing here. Please come here and play everyday!”

Ever since, they became even keener with playing in his garden.


10 days passed, the professor came forth and talked to them sadly, “Because of bad economy, I am so sorry, I can only give each of you 5 dollars from now on, I hope that all of you can keep playing.” Since then the professor kept lowering the amount of reward, and the children started complaining and got angry. Until one day, the professor gave each of them one dollar, and the children erupted in anger and exclaimed, “Shame on the old professor!  How can he treat us like that? We play so hard, and he only gives us one dollar! We will never come back again!”


This is an intriguing and inspiring story. When the professor links up the game with return and income, the joys that the children gained from games are transformed into hard work. This story is a classic example of negative motivation.


Why am I so impressed by this story? Over the past few years, we joined hands with our business partner on spreading the ideology of Structural Management, and encountered the problem of negative motivation. Since then I kept asking myself,

What should entrepreneurs pay attention to when motivating employees? How to elevate the effectiveness of encouragement?


Fredrick Herzberg raised two intriguing questions in his “Two Factor Theory”,

Looking back on your working life, when and where did you perform at your best?

Can you bring up 3 examples to explain what induce us to be fueled with passion?


When we look back on the moments of being passionate and creative, we always mention the motivation factor including meaning of work, sense of appreciation, elevation of rank and possibility of growth, as well as sense of responsibility and accomplishment;  while we hardly mention the wage, benefits, status, safety, working environment, etc. When we dissect the overall job satisfaction sector, we find out that 81% of it is composed of motivational factor, 19% comes from benefits of the job, on the other hand, 69% of the unsatisfactoriness sector is composed of benefits factors, and 30% is of motivational factor.


Based on this discovery, we understand why Drucker never mention motivation in his works. It is because Drucker knows that by letting the employees to gain sense of satisfaction through work, is the most effective way to motivate the employees to perform at their bests.


Looking back on my own working life, I realize I feel most satisfied when the work is challenging and keeps changing; when my authority and responsibility at work is specified, and knowing what level of decision can be made; when there is instruction and feedback from superior when working on the assigned job tasks; when I find the solution to a problem; whenever I am needed by others. All of the above experiences bring me sense of accomplishment. I come to understand employees won’t attain sense of accomplishment, if they are not able to exploit one’s full potential and can’t find joy at work. Sense of accomplishment can’t be given, but be attained. Therefore, in order to help the employees to gain sense of accomplishment from work, all entrepreneurs have to take corresponding managerial actions thoughtfully.



From enlightenment to action, how to actualize?


In order to help the employees to perform at their full potentials, assignment of work tasks to each employee must be carried out carefully


The action of placing all employees in the work positions that best suits them, is the key to positively motivate employees. Managers should grasp the characteristics, abilities and advantages of all subordinates, and pair them up with the work positions and responsibilities that best suit them; in order to help them to perform at their best.  


Employees can easily gain sense of joy, satisfaction and accomplishment, and practice their working skills effectively when they are situated in a positive work environment, which results in better performance at work. 


Keep this in mind, everyone performs at one’s best in the fields that they are confident with and capable of. Employees are able to attain a real sense of accomplishment, when they hold onto the belief that the organization needs them, and they are important to it. 


The utmost important task of a leader is to help the subordinates to perform at their full potential. If a leader fails to place the subordinates in the right work positions, and stops them from performing at their full potentials, this will cause great harm to the subordinates.


Help the employee to get through the obstacles at work, provide support and consultation


At work employees are constantly disturbed, and forced to divert their attention away from the urgent tasks that they are dealing with. This occurs most frequently with knowledge workers.


Entrepreneur, as the boss of knowledge workers, should figure out the most effective way to help the employees to get through the obstacles facing at work. It’s our responsibilities to guide their focus back onto the most important tasks of their works, while give them feedback accordingly. We are responsible for letting the employees see the results of their hard work, instead of claiming the success on behalf of the employees.  


Before I started my research on motivation, I believed that employees have to take responsibilities for their own work efficiency, and I only cared about the results. However, after I read “The Effective Executive” written by Drucker, I realized the boss is the one who keeps interrupting employees at work, which induce to low work efficiency. We tend to keep employees busy, while require them to be simple and obedient, we keep telling them they are “building block of the enterprise, and can be moved to any place where they are needed”; we do not specify the work responsibilities of the employees, instead we keep designing the work positions that require employees to take instantaneous and random orders from the boss.


The utmost responsibility of an entrepreneur is to guide the employee to grasp the essence of their work, focus on the important tasks at work, so as to attain excellent business performance. I strongly believe that, it’s the most frustrating scenario of seeing the superior works as busy as a bee, while the subordinates have got nothing to do.


As a management executive, you should discuss with subordinates about work earnestly: What are our duties? What are the quintessential tasks? What should we focus on in order to attain good results for the project?  And learn to ask the subordinates, what prevent them from finishing the works? How can I assist you at work? These will be the best way to motivate employees. 

Author: Shun Bo

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