Life, Leadership and Business

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Mathimatical Motivation

I was never the most enthusiastic kid in the class when it came to mathematics. I barely scrapped by. It wasn't until I took up art and painting portraits that I began to see the value of numbers. I began to explore the usefulness of mathematics in art and discovered its presence in music. Recently, I discovered that mathematics and motivation have a relationship too.

Before I share the magic of their connection, I just want to define the nature of motivation, and what I understand it to mean. The greatest motivation source is from within. Motivation is a decision we make within ourselves that we will apply our own efforts to achieve whatever success we have focused on. It starts with a decision. Once the enthusiasm of the initial decision fades, we have to rely on commitment and discipline fuelled by our own internal value system to carry on till we achieve our desired outcome. We are our own motivators, and in all reality - our own de-motivators.
Motivation from external sources, from sources outside of our own thinking, is better described as incentives, or as inspiration. This type of motivation plays an important role in keeping us committed and enthusiastic to our original goal. It is the cherry on top, if you will. External motivation cannot replace the role of our own internal value system in achieving success, yet it plays an important role in our drive, especially when it comes to dealing with motivation of other people involved in the process.
I will use an example of the manager and the employee relationship to explain what I mean, as well as introduce the mathematics. In this dynamic relationship there is a give and take. An employee has effort, energy and skill to give in return for salary and promotions. The manager gives those "rewards" of salary and promotions, and takes productivity and expertise. Let's arrange this relationship as a mathematical formula.
 Employee Elements                                                                                                           Manager Elements

Effort + Reward                                                                        =                                      Pressure + Outcome

This "formula" has employee elements and manager elements that need to balance in some way. That's the point of an equation. To make what is on the left to balance with what is on the right. We put an "equals" sign in the middle to say: the one side is equal to the other side.

In the table above, I have placed the Employee's formula elements on the left.  These include Effort and Reward. What Effort is required from the employee in the relationship? Well, they must use physical energy at work. They need to bring some skill or ability and use them to the company benefit in some way, and they must spend time at work. Time is the expensive bit in this equation.

So what about Reward? The employee looks to get something in return for spending their effort for the company. Do they want a salary? Of course! That's the standard reward in such a relationship.  Do they want incentives? Yup, anything added to the package will make the expectation of spending their effort more attractive.

The elements for the Manager include Pressure and Outcome. Pressure for the manager is twofold. The first part is the pressure that is placed on the manager to generate results, to perform to deadlines. The second part is the pressure that the manager exerts on the employee to produce the results. These may be in the form of quality control, or deadlines, or financial targets. The manager may put pressure on the employee in the form of inspections or controls. Pressure relates to the effort a manager must exert to generate the outcome.

Outcome for the manager is seen in the achievement of goals. It is the deadline met. It is the obligations or orders fulfilled. It is the financial target achieved. It may be seen as the bottom line. When I did this formula I realised that the managers "outcome" was very similar to the employees "reward", and I re-wrote the formula to look like this:

Employee Elements                                                                                                            Manager Elements

Effort + Reward                                                                        =                                       Pressure + Reward

In an equation, if there is an element on one side, that is the same as an element on the other side, we can remove that element from the equation. They in effect cancel out each other. So, if I once again adjust the equation to reflect that, it looks like this:

Employee Elements                                                                                                           Manager Elements

Effort                                                                                         =                                                   Pressure

My formula has been reduced to Effort for the employee must be equal to the pressure for the manager. Even though this is a formula, and can be applied to all aspects of motivation, the elements of effort and pressure and not fixed numbers. They are not constant values. Just as people vary and change, as do circumstances and business outcomes, so does the values for effort and pressure.

The lesson in motivation is balancing the dynamic relationship between pressure and effort, assuming that reward is equal and of value to both the manager and the employee. Too much pressure in relation to the effort, will cause the manager to be stressed and unhappy. This will result in an unhappy and unmotivated work environment.

Relaxed pressure from the manager that does not have beneficial reward to both parties, yet has the employee producing great effort - will result in the employee feeling undervalued and un-appreciated. You can be sure that they will leave.

The effort and the reward must be a win for the Manager - yup - the manager. The pressure and the reward must also be a win for the employee. When I wrote that sentence for the first time, i realised that the formula can be further reduced to this:

Employee Elements                                                                                                             Manager Elements

Effort    =  Win                                                            =                                                             Pressure = Win


Win                                                                               =                                                                            Win

The awesome equation of Effort and Reward for the employee is equal to the Pressure and Reward for the manager can be reduced to the simple equation of: Win = Win.

The work environment and reward must be a win for the employee, and the environment and outcomes must be a win for the managers. The situation must be a win for the employee and a win for the manager. It must be a win win situation.

The most effective external motivation principle is a win win situation for both manager and employee. This principle will result in a balanced environment of productive work in a great environment that is worth the effort! A dream place for anyone to work in or manage.
The Golden Motivation Equation!  by John Usher

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