Monthly Archives: September 2009

Pay-For-Performance or How to fail your human resources management

I am the president of non profit organisation which helps children and adolescents to foster the acquisition of knowledge and skills allowing a personal development, a self-esteem and sense of responsibility by working on a barge [2], doing sport and acting imaginatively and creatively through the organisation of cultural events.

As many public administrations we are publicly funded and collect few donations to be used to increase the salary of our team (a coordinator and two animators). We try to keep them motivated, as my HR manager told me more that 5 years ago, but it doesn’t work.

My definition of the motivation is:

  1. Inform honestly on the difficulty of the job (but psychologists say: if you don’t experience it you can’t truly evaluate its difficulty or simplicity – think when you had your first child)
  2. Focus on the dreams of the employees but use their past knowledge and interest (e.g. we had a professor or theatre courses who never gave any classes to our children)
  3. Answer honestly to the questions of the employees
  4. Involve the employees during each discussions when strategic decisions are made
  5. Give a full autonomy to the employees to organise activities with our children

But apparently it is still not sufficient, the work looks too hard:

  • Maintaining a barge of 38×6 square meters
  • Educating children through the work, the sport and the culture
  • Motivating children

On top of that, we had difficulties to recruit new members of our Management Board as people are too busy to dedicate time for a mid-long term commitment; On the contrary, we find easily volunteers for short-term (read semester) commitments in accordance with the school’ schedule (September-June).

The question is: “how could we keep the motivation of our children, employees and members of the Board?”.

Recently I found a definition of the motivation which made by Daniel H. Pink. He is an American writer, author of many books focusing on the world of work.

Below is a talk presenting the gap between what science knows about motivation and what companies apply. Apparently, we don’t need sweeter carrots and sharper sticks, we need a whole new approach, an approach that puts more stock in intrinsic motivation.

Dan identifies three elements that comprise a new way of thinking about motivation [1]:

  • Autonomy: The urge to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery: The desire to get better at something that matters.
  • Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Based on that definition I’ll be able to foster the motivation of our employees and try to keep them proud of them and willing to help children who need guidance during this ‘crisis” era during which the financial bonuses of the individuals have generated one of the biggest economical decline!

let’s watch this 5 stars talk:

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

[1] End of December, Dan will release a new book: “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

[2] Semaphore nonprofit organisation: http://asblsemaphore.skyrock.com/

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