Web Hunter: Free web resources for employee motivation

Motivation is a key tool for any manager in any profession. Take a look at these Web resources from Russ Kratowicz that might get you and your staff fired up to do something about something. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

By Russ Kratowicz

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We’re hearing regular reminders that the civilized and industrial world is going to end abruptly and very soon. The reason claimed is that nobody wants to step up and takeover the jobs being vacated by those of significant intrinsic worth who are now retiring and bailing out of the rat race they’ve built for themselves over so many years.

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If that’s true, then it seems either there’s something inherently wrong with those jobs in the first place or the logical candidates who could fill those slots lack sufficient motivation. But, it can’t be the jobs, can it? It must be insufficient motivation.

One of the nice things about the hard sciences is that jargon words mean exactly what they mean, without nuance or ambiguity. You’re not going to find engineers arguing over the definition of sine wave, tensile strength, horsepower or other equally tangible constructs. That’s how we communicate across cultures and time.

As you explore the motivation-based Web sites highlighted here, though, keep in mind that many of them use the language of psychology. You’re going to be seeing a new world of jargon that might make comprehension difficult for a techie. Persevere. Learn something. Remember that most upper-level corporate leaders have a liberal arts background.

So, take a deep breath while we submerge into the morass we call the Web in search of practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free Web resources that might get you and your staff fired up to do something about something. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

Teaching on the plant floor

The inexorable pressures of global competition demand that you hire the best person you can find and then train the bejeepers out of them just so their performance might let you break even in the evolving industrial landscape. The trick is motivating people to embrace the idea of continuing education without you having to resort to bribes or a baseball bat. Instead, play the role of coach or teacher.
To get in the mood, teach your mouse to go to http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/ and have it enter the term “motivation” in the search bar. This should return, among other things, a link called “Educational Psychology Interactive: Motivation.” When you click that one, you get another page called “Motivation to Learn: An Overview.” That’s where my recommended content resides. It appears to be part of an educational psychology initiative aimed at those going into the teaching profession. Its author, Dr. William G. (Bill) Huitt, is a member of the Department of Psychology, Counseling and Guidance at Valdosta State University in Georgia. Here’s where you can find the factors that give rise to the elusive phenomenon of motivation. You can learn possible reasons a person appears to lack motivation. You’ll learn about the two categories of actions that a teacher can use to motivate a class to get motivated. It’s a link-rich page that should keep you amused for some time.

A tutorial

Accel-Team.com is a British consulting firm from Cumbria, U.K., that claims to help clients improve profitability through training and development resources designed to foster the most effective application of manpower, machines and materials. The company’s Web site offers several online tutorials that support its stated mission. One of them even addresses this month’s topic: “Employee motivation: Theory and practice” is a four-part article buried in the other content. You access this tidbit by going to www.accel-team.com/motivation and clicking the appropriate links found in the left column. When you get to the bottom of the first installment, click the link to advance to the second, etc, etc. In fact, many of the individual articles you can access on the left side of the screen are daisy-chained to the next. If you’re sufficiently motivated, you can spend quite a bit of time at this site reading about the soft sciences.

Source of a theory

Frederick Herzberg was one of the big names in motivational theory. His big claim was that any on-the-job satisfaction and dissatisfaction you might display or feel arises from different factors. It’s not a case of one feeling being the opposite of the other. If the concept seems hard to grasp, you should spend some time with Alan Chapman, in Leicester, U.K. He has a Web site, Businessballs.com, which seeks to provide the resources you need to improve your personal and organizational development in an ethical, practical, innovative, compassionate and enjoyable manner. One of Chapman’s Web pages is dedicated to Herzberg. In it, Chapman explains why the so-called opposites view is wrong and discusses the possible factors involved with the correct interpretation of motivational success. You can check it out at www.businessballs.com/herzberg.htm. Before you leave the site, though, I’d recommend that you scroll down the left frame and read the less ponderous bit about the air traffic controllers.

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