For 4 years I’ve been writing about motivation, incentives, rewards, recognition – and all modes and methods of influencing behavior. I’ve got a pretty good following of subscribers for my niche. Some of the major players in the industry follow this site and I’ve received kudos and recommendations based on the information in this site.
But I still feel I’m tilting at windmills.
Not Much Has Changed
- A ton of people still think money is the primary motivator.
- A raft of people still think competition is the best way to structure an incentive.
- Too many people still think there are “3 Easy No-cost Ways to Motivate A Team.”
- All the people of middle-earth and North America still think there is one ring to rule them all when it comes to engagement, motivation and influence.
- And there are still too many HR Managers, Sales Manager and Marketing Managers running poorly designed and badly managed incentive and reward programs.
End of the World and Aliens are the Root Cause
I know it’s not me. Okay – it could be me a little bit. But consider this.
Ever hear of cults who predict the end of the world? Some make headlines – most don’t.
Ever wonder why after so many cults predict the end of the earth and it doesn’t happen that those types of cults would just fade away? Here’s your answer from the all-seeing, all-knowing Oracle Wikipedia…
Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance.
An early version of cognitive dissonance theory appeared in Leon Festinger's 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails. This book gave an inside account of the increasing belief which sometimes follows the failure of a cult's prophesy. The believers met at a pre-determined place and time, believing they alone would survive the earth's destruction. The appointed time came and passed without incident. They faced acute cognitive dissonance: had they been the victim of a hoax? Had they donated their worldly possessions in vain? Most members chose to believe something less dissonant: the aliens had given earth a second chance, and the group was now empowered to spread the word: earth-spoiling must stop. The group dramatically increased their proselytism despite the failed prophecy.
Dissonance Baby, Dissonance
Dissonance is uncomfortable. It makes us feel bad. We don’t like to feel bad so we find a way to eliminate it.
So we … rationalize it.
We ignore the information that causes us to be uncomfortable and look for reassuring information. Unfortunately, there are always stories and single-data points that can support a belief system. Motivation and incentives are no different than religions that believe in alien overlords.
I can find case histories that show an increase in compensation impacted sales.
I can find studies that show incentives are bad for business.
In other words – if I want to support a position – I can find data to support it. I can eliminate my dissonance and go back to feeling good.
Don’t Feel Good – Feel Bad to Do Good Well…
I like uncomfortable. I like to be a bit dissonant. And so should you.
The only way to truly grow is to challenge your belief system and seek out new information. To boldly go where your competition, your colleagues, your friends won’t go. See out that which makes you go… “Hmmmm….”
Trust me. Believe me. Finding contradictory information will give you a much broader pallet on which to base your thinking.
It’s the old story – if everyone at your executive table believes the same thing you believe – you don’t really need those other people.
I’ll leave you with this…
I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Maslow, and you curse your compensation structure. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Maslow, while elegant, probably isn’t working. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, helps drive performance. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me at that table, you need me at that table. We use words like engagement, motivation, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very enlightenment that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you subscribe to this blog, and read things that make you uncomfortable.