Category Archives: Employee Attitudes

Workplace Vision in Action: One Example

Employees can bring many things to the office, but workplace vision is not one of them. Vision is an element of organizational culture, and culture derives most directly from the actions and choices of leaders at all levels.

But what does it mean for a leader to instill vision in to a workplace? What does this look like in practice?

You may remember the plant manager, described in a previous post, who so eloquently linked the requirements of a new manufacturing process to the real, human impact it would have on the lives of the company’s clients.

Two years before that episode, that manager had only recently been hired, and was working to drive the new process into the plant through the rigid application of top-down authority.

Offering no real ownership of the process to employees, he faced (or more accurately, created for himself) numerous challenges.

His top-level managers voiced support only because it was politically expedient to do so. His shop workers used his “fancy” system only resentfully and avoided it in whatever ways possible.

And though a few realized the potential inherent in the new process, most awaited the day that the new manager would go away and the plant would return to “normal.”

The story could have ended in disaster, but happily did not. As time wore on the manager began honestly considering his employees’ views of himself, the effects (both intended and otherwise) of his leadership style, and his hopes and desires for the plant.

Reassessing the foundations of his approach to leadership, he began articulating in more understandable and accessible terms the passion for the work that he had had all along.

In doing so, he instilled a far deeper sense of purpose and meaning in the process he was trying to introduce. He created a vibrant vision of the future for his employees to embrace. And as he more clearly communicated and more consiously modeled this vision, he gradually won the commitment of employees from frontline staff to senior management.

Vision can be a crucial catalyst of organizational change, but it always begins at the top. Moreover, it often, perhaps always, demands the kind personal introspection — challenging and sometimes difficult — that this leader was willing to undertake.

What is my below-the-line understanding of vision and the role it plays in the workplace? How is that understanding manifested in my day-to-day choices? How do others perceive the choices I am making?

Vigilant reflection on questions such as these is key to helping your organization become more committed, enthusiastic, and vision-driven.

Job Description vs. Vision

Why do people work? Or, put differently, towards what do people work? Most employees, if asked about their job, will describe the tasks they perform. “I keep the president’s calendar and make her travel arrangements,” they might say, or “I oversee maintenance and repair of the company’s network servers.” If you press further, asking what… Continue Reading

Creating Motivation? Or Creating Conditions Conducive to Motivation?

Countless leaders have wrestled with the issues of motivation. How do I motivate this or that employee? How do I increase collective motivation throughout my office, department, or organization? These questions address important workplace realities. But are the foundations of such inquiry sound? Do leaders actually motivate employees at all? Research has suggested that a… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (3 of 3)

Previously this series examined those environmental factors that most led to motivation and inhibited it. These might seem like two sides of the same coin, but there are indications that the two are less intertwined than one might guess. Research conducted by Frederick Herzberg suggested that, rather than opposing ends of the same spectrum, they… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (2 of 3)

We previously explored research that Frederick Herzberg did on primary sources of workplace motivation —  things like achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, and growth and development. These findings are valuable in themselves, but Herzberg didn’t stop there. He also asked employees to describe times they had been particularly dissatisfied, uninterested, and unengaged in their work.… Continue Reading

What Motivates People? (1 of 3)

Motivation is a central workplace concern. Countless leaders ponder what stimulates it, how can it be sustained, how is it destroyed. Luckily such questions caught the attention of Frederick Herzberg, an American psychologist who became one of the foremost authorities on business management. Herzberg explored the issue of motivation through hundreds of in-depth, open-ended interviews.… Continue Reading

Motivation, Culture and “Bad Attitude” Employees

Almost nothing is more frequently lamented in management circles than “bad attitude” employees, those people it seems nothing can be done with. It’s true that few workplace dynamics are harder to address than antagonism, apathy and hostility. But rarely mentioned is the role that sincere and well-meaning leaders can play in creating such “bad attitude”… Continue Reading

Employees, Donkeys, and Getting Things Done

In some ways, motivation is less complicated than one might imagine. Involving people in decisions that impact them, recognizing the value of their contributions, giving them opportunities to assume responsibility in meaningful ways — study after study has shown the importance of factors like these. Yet countless workplaces fail to supply such sources of motivation.… Continue Reading

Perceptions, Authority, and Perceptions of Authority

Managers today often perceive relatively little hierarchical “distance” between them and their subordinates. Yes, they might shoulder certain responsibilities and make the final call in certain situations. But they generally see themselves as part of the team. That perception, though, is in many ways a consequence of the very authority they hold (and their subordinates… Continue Reading

© Copyright 1999-2012 Management Associates. All rights reserved.