The importance of motivating people


“It is the people who constitute a kingdom. A kingdom without people yields nothing”.

~ (7.11.24,25) Kautilya

It is the people who constitute not only a kingdom but also an organization. Just the way a kingdom without people yields nothing, an organization without people also yields nothing. It is not about just some yield, it is about bringing a good yield, which only motivated people can create. Ultimately motivation is the state of mind and the attitude that determines the quality of work & quality of life.

Let me tell you a story of a king who wanted to know the condition of his people & his kingdom. The kingdom was a very prosperous one. As part of the king’s day-to-day operations, he had regular status checks and had a habit of doing personal sample checks. One day, he decided to venture into the villages to conduct a litmus test and decided to go in disguise so that no one recognizes him. He started riding on a horseback and travelled quite a distance. He then noticed people working tirelessly at a construction site.

He stopped one of the worker and asked, ‘What are you doing?’. The worker responded, ‘Can’t you see, I am doing my job as a laborer, sweating out and you have no sympathy for me, sitting on a horse back asking such questions, please go your way’. The king proceeded a little further, stopped another worker and asked, ‘What are you doing?’, for which the worker responded, ‘Can’t you see, I am working hard. I have the responsibility to feed my children. Please don’t waste my time, I got to go.’ He moved on. Not too far away from there, the King stopped one more worker and asked, ‘What are you doing?’, the worker said, ‘It is my pleasure to say that I am busy contributing my 2 cents in the construction of a temple which I am sure will turn out to be a beautiful structure but will also provide space for people who seek inner peace and happiness. Every second is precious, please allow me to continue my work.’

If you reflect on this short story, all three workers did the same job and the king posed the same question to all of them, and in no uncertain terms the attitude of the third worker was the best. This story clearly signifies the value of a motivated worker. There could be many ways of motivating employees. Let’s consider the top 3 qualities:

Trust in employees ~ Firstly, we should believe that generally people are good at heart. ‘Motivation’ is there in every one of us. It is very easy to identify employees who are self motivated. Such people need to be consciously recognized & encouraged. They have the potential to create wonders for the organization and it is the leader’s responsibility to channelize their energies.
Lead by example ~ Those who expect their people to be motivated, have to demonstrate those qualities themselves. Say, you expect your employees to be disciplined and turn up at the workplace at 9 am everyday. Mind you they are watching every movement of their leader. So, it is important for their leaders to be on time. Alignment of the thought, word and action of the leader is critical and has the power to ignite and motivate employees.
Creating a culture ~ The environment sets the mood, vision sets the direction and the mission brings in the motivation. It is again the responsibility of the leader to have these aspects of the organization clear and consciously create & cultivate the culture that is conducive for the best performance and growth of employees.
My friend William C Miller, joint founder of Values Centered Innovation Enablement Services once shared about his finding from a consulting engagement when a Fortune 100 company engaged him when he was at Stanford Research Institute. He collected data about the projects that failed, met expectations and outperformed customer expectations. He found that there were big skill differences or mismatch of employees when compared between the failed projects and the projects that succeeded. Interestingly, there was not much of a difference in the skill levels between the teams of employees who worked on projects that managed to meet expectation verses the projects that outperformed. It was actually the team that outperformed which really got the context of their work. They were the motivated bunch of people supporting each other very well!

Naveen Lakkur is co-founder & Director at Compassites. Naveen has a track record of 5 successful IT start-up initiatives in his professional career. He is an expert in building IT start-ups and has demonstrated his proficiency in innovating, validating and converting ideas into working business models. He has participated in 30+ successful ideations. He has also gained experience from large enterprises such as Wipro and Digital and has donned several roles. “Converting Creative Concepts into Commerce with Compassion” is a one line intro of Naveen.

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