ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — November 2003

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Corporate Culture and Survival
In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Respectful Confrontation for Superior Results


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Book Nook

Motivational Management: Inspiring Your People for Maximum Performance
by Alexander Hiam
AMACOM, 2002
ISBN: 0-8144-0738-2
Paperback, 256 pages.
List price $18.95
Overall Rating: *** Snail mail it

How enthusiastic do you feel about your work? What motivates you to do your best? What tools can you use to motivate the other members of your team?

This month’s book provides practical answers to these questions and many others relating to workplace motivation. Topics range from creating a positive performance environment to rethinking how we structure work and communicate with others. Tools for recognizing, eliminating, and counteracting those things that demotivate are also presented. Along the way, you’ll learn more about the following topics:

  • The difference between internal and external motivation and which is more successful in the long run.
  • Ways to invite participation.
  • How to assess emotions about work and move from negative to positive and from inactive to active.
  • Requirements for incentive programs.
  • Levels of feedback.
  • How to give control, eliminate unfairness, and manage conflicts productively.
  • Different types of negative attitudes and how to turn them around.
  • Different kinds of work motives and how to match rewards to motives.
  • How to track motivation using seven different measures.

Much of this boils down to mastering five key skills (p. 84):

  1. Give clear assignments. “Everyone knows what they are expected to do.”
  2. Provide sufficient resources. “They know how to do it and have the resources they need to do it well.”
  3. Set achievable challenges. “Nobody has excessively easy or excessively difficult work, since either extreme is demotivating.”
  4. Give rich feedback. “They can track how they are doing with clear scoreboards and feedback from as many sources as possible.”
  5. Communicate meaningful purpose. “They see why their work is important and what goals it helps achieve.”

The book is structured in ways that make it useful for training. An appendix provides learning goals for each chapter and each chapter ends with a concise summary. Thirty exercises provide a variety of assessment tools as well as opportunities to practice the skills presented, and 20 case examples help explain the concepts. To get the most out of the book, readers should take the time to thoughtfully complete each of the exercises.

The book is targeted at leaders and will be most useful to those responsible for creating and maintaining a high level of work group motivation. Leaders are advised that their personal motivation level serves as a ceiling for the motivation of the rest of the team, and they’re cautioned that their own negative attitudes are invariably contagious.

For those who are not leaders, the book provides insight into personal motivation and ideas for improving the emotional environment at work. With some thought, concepts can be extended beyond work situations to other groups of people—family, school, civic or religious organizations, professional associations, etc.

This book will not provide a quick fix for motivational problems. (Remember, there is no “instant pudding” when it comes to long-term, sustainable improvement.) It will, however, provide food for thought, practical diagnostic tools, and useful advice. It also challenges everyone to believe that motivation can be both managed and improved.

CHRISTINE ROBINSON has more than 25 years of leadership experience in quality systems for the process industries. She has a master’s degree in quality, values, and leadership from Marian College. An avid reader, she spends a significant amount of her time with her nose in books and her body at the library.

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