Education Without Motivation Serves No Useful Purpose
June 1, 2007
There are a lot of formally educated people who achieve very little on or off the job. They know what to do, and they know how to do it. The problem is they’re not motivated enough to do much about it.
The Gallup organization recently analyzed its massive database and determined that more than half (55%) of today’s employees have no enthusiasm for their work. Gallup labeled these people as, “not engaged.” In other words, they didn’t have much loyalty to their organization or much desire to improve their job performance. It also found that nearly one in five (19%) were so negative about their jobs that they actually poisoned the workplace. In fact, those companies would be better off if those employees called in sick. Their lack of motivation is costing you big bucks.
It is estimated that if companies could get 3.7 percent more work out of each employee, the equivalent of 18 more minutes of work each eight-hour shift, the gross domestic product in the United States would swell by $355 billion.
I see a similar motivation problem among many students in schools these days. I work with a lot of teachers and administrators across the country, and as a whole, they are some of the hardest working, most caring professionals I ever meet. But my heart goes out to them because so many of their students aren’t motivated. Perhaps that’s why, according to some studies, our students rank 12th around the world in science and 24th in math. In fact, there are several non-English speaking countries where students score higher on English tests than American kids. It’s obvious that education without motivation serves no useful purpose.
A father once said to his son, “I worry about you being at the bottom of the class.” To which the boy replied, “Don’t worry, dad. They teach you the same stuff at both ends.”
That may be true, but the really successful person is not only educated, but also motivated. If you’re educating or training your employees, but you’re not motivating them to use what they learn, you’re wasting your time and your money.
The famous author, William Butler Yeats, put it quite well when he said, “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” And a more contemporary figure, Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, says, “In the 21st century, organizations have to achieve peak performance through inspiration by unleashing the power of their people – not by teaching them, not by managing them, but by inspiring them.”
If you do both – educate and motivate – you’ll get a lot better results at work. The Mercedes Benz plant in South Africa learned that. For a long time, the managers said their quality problems were due to an unmotivated, lazy workforce. That’s why it took them two weeks to make a car that had 70 defects. By contrast, the Mercedes Benz plant in Europe could turn out a car in one week that had only 14 defects. Then a fortunate accident occurred. After a year of suffering with productivity and quality problems, it just so happened that a car was being made for liberator and president Nelson Mandela. No particular mention or fanfare was made. The vehicle simply went through the assembly line with a tag on it that read, “For Mr. Mandela.” To the amazement of the managers, the car was completed in one week and had only 10 minor problems. A light bulb went off in the managers’ heads. Their workers were capable; they were educated enough to do the job and do it well. They simply had not been motivated enough to give their very best. It was at that point that the Mercedes leadership learned that they had to engage their workers’ hearts, not just their hands.
Are you doing that in your organization? You’re buying your employees’ time. Are you also getting their hearts and minds? Education plus motivation not only will help your organization make more money, but it also will save you a lot of money.
When I was speaking at a construction company, the CEO asked his employees, “What does it cost to put a piece of plywood on the floor? How much does it cost in terms of time and money?”
The employees answered, “About 10 minutes and $20.”
The CEO replied, “Yes and no.” He said that’s what it would have cost if the job had been done right. Unfortunately, an employee slapped down the plywood poorly and didn’t cover a hole properly. The ensuing lawsuit cost the company $450,000. The employee was educated. He knew what to do, but he wasn’t motivated enough to do it.
Take a look at the training you’re providing your employees. Is it really motivating them?
As a speaker, I find that many people in my audiences are quite well educated. They’re filled with knowledge. But sometimes they don’t have enough motivation to use all the knowledge they possess.