COPE CopeLine Supervisor

April 2014

A newsletter for supervisors and line managers

Helping Employees Do Their Best

We first introduced Dan Pink's counter-intuitive research on employee motivation last year in his book The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and his now famous YouTube presentation on the same topic. In his new book Drive, Dan delves into the psychology of why motivating people is not a "one size fits all" science and money may only be effective for simple tasks.

Psychology research shows that rewards yield, at most, "temporary compliance": your behavior might change for a period, but you'll probably relapse. As social scientist Alfie Kohn has observed at the Harvard Business Review, rewards like money, vacations, banquets, and plaques do little in the way of changing people's attitudes. For similar reasons offering incentives to quit smoking, or lose weight have a marginal impact at best in making long-term behavioral change. "Incentives do not alter the attitudes that underlie our behaviors," Kohn says. "They do not create an enduring commitment to any value or action. Rather, incentives merely---and temporarily---change what we do."

So What Motivates People?

It turns out that the more connected we feel to the work we do, the more engaged and motivated we are. And a sense of making progress is key to staying engaged. Rather than structuring workdays around rewards, consider a structure that supports continual, meaningful progress. Setting clear goals, providing sufficient resources in a respectful, supportive environment may be the best motivator of all.

What is Softskills Training?

Soft skills are personal attributes that are related to your ability to interact within a larger environment. Soft skills may include your ability to remain organized, inspire and praise employees, communicate effectively, establish productive work habits, be a team player, resolve conflicts or be dependable and conscientious. There is no absolute list of soft skills, yet some, such as effective communication, are commonly referenced.

To determine your soft skills, consider past performance reviews, interactions with others and honest criticisms from those you trust. Consider a workbook on the subject. The most recent offering on this topic (2012) is Soft Skill Training: A Workbook to Develop Skills for Employment by Frederick H. Wentz. If you recognize limitations in areas that you think may be holding you back, consider giving COPE a call. Several coaching sessions can help you in acquiring these skills or enhancing them by getting past roadblocks or challenges that impede your progress.

Cope Incorporated