Anthony Dallmann-Jones, PhD
At the time I never realized what a significant impact my doctoral dissertation would have on my life down the years. Again and again, it provides insight into why organizations are so dysfunctional and even painful as places to work. I begrudgingly admit my advisor was right.
You did a dissertation because you had to. You had to do “original research” in order to earn a PhD at Florida State University. I had a great topic on Democratic Education – Can It Work? investigating schools like Neill’s Summerhill and Rudolf Steiner’s schools. My committee chair killed my proposal. I was crushed, especially because he could not come up with a good reason other than, ‘I don’t like it.’ which I think meant personally, not professionally. It was not until after I had looked around for a topic and HE suggested one – STRONGLY, meaning if I selected it he would approve it. It had merit, so I went with it. In 1968, Florida experienced the first statewide walkout by teachers. It was a massive uproar and I was in the middle of it in several ways.
But let’s get to the point. My dissertation was “Work Environment, Risk-Taking and Teacher Walkout Behavior – A Study of the 1968 Florida Teacher Walkout” In that study I relied heavily on a burgeoning piece of work by a clinical psychologist, Frederick Herzberg. He has many publications and I will list a few below, but I think we can say that his “Two-Factor Theory” basically said, that what you think motivates people in the workplace doesn’t. Money, promotions, status, better offices, etc. just keeps people from being dissatisfied, but they do not satisfy people for long. What does? Let me quote the man directly:
Brilliant Frederick Herzberg
Frederick Herzberg, a clinical psychologist, proposed a brilliant theory on work motivation…called the Two-Factor Theory. Here are three quotes from Dr. Herzberg that tell you most all you need to know about a healthy work environment:
- “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.”
- “It’s the job of a manager not to light the fire of motivation, but to create an environment to let each person’s personal spark of motivation blaze.”
- “Idleness, indifference and irresponsibility are healthy responses to absurd work.”
- “You cannot love an employee into creativity, although you can … avoid his dissatisfactions with the way you treat him.”
- “True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction, and recognition.”
The Key to Genius Managing
There, in #5 is the key! What really gets people eager to be at work is from a sense of achievement, feelings of personal growth, the work itself being meaningful, and being respected and noticed for what you are doing.
It is the creation of an environment where those things can naturally occur that makes a manager a genius!
My point is, for significant and lasting change we need to see what is going on with the people, not the data, or spreadsheets, or big 5-year plans. I am not saying those are unimportant. I am saying they are of LESSER importance than the people involved. We must get to know them, find out what is going on inside them, and discover how we can help them solve their problems and get their needs met by working in our organization.
That is the challenge.
See Dr. Dallmann-Jones’ blog posts at DoctorZest.com