Through Job Task Assignment

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There is potentially no more powerful motivator than the intrinsic satisfaction

to be gained from using one’s motivated talents. Managers can easily

lose sight of this untapped source of motivational power by getting caught

up in extrinsic factors like pay, bonuses, and benefits. Because so many

workers have never had jobs that are inherently satisfying to perform, they,

too, have come to accept external rewards as their due ‘‘compensation’’ for

the trade-off they have made in job satisfaction.

Your job as a manager of people is to get the work done by allowing

the maximum possible use of your employees’ motivated abilities to

achieve targeted results. This is not an easy task because it means taking the

time to get to know each employee’s unique combination of talents. It also

means trying to dole out the available work so that it matches those talents,

which is not always possible to do in a way that is perfectly acceptable to

all, which can be frustrating.

The job of assigning the right tasks to the right talent becomes even

more difficult when the manager’s own style gets in the way, as when the

manager:

Believes there is only ‘‘one best way’’ to do the job and insists that

the job be done that way.

Doesn’t trust people to make the right choices to reach the end result.

Attempts to ‘‘idiot-proof ’’ jobs by over-prescribing exactly how they

will be done through detailed rules, regulations, and procedure manuals.

Micro-manages employees because of constant fear that they might

be doing the wrong thing or taking advantage.

Exerts pressure on the employee to comply with demands instead of

trying to gain voluntary commitment to performance goals (see Figure

5-1).

Tries to correct employees’ weaknesses at the expense of developing

their strengths.

Doesn’t spend time trying to understand employees’ best talents.

Admittedly, there are some jobs where safety, security, and financial

accuracy dictate that they be done in a certain way, but in most jobs there

is wide berth for the use of an individual’s talent. With that exception,

managers who engage in the above behavior are limiting their own ability

to engage and retain their workers.

Organizations can step in to correct these kinds of management practices

through implementing better processes for selecting managers in the

first place, providing multirater feedback to all managers, training and

coaching managers in better talent identification and people management

Figure 5-1.

Getting compliance vs. getting commitment.