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“I had to fight hard but I managed to get your promotion through the management committee” said the senior manager, Raj to Suma, one of his Project Managers. “You must be very happy now. Congratulations on your promotion” he gushed.

“Who wants it?” she replied coldly. “Do you know what the additional responsibilities means to me? I am already struggling to manage my after work life. I have two young children to take care off. This promotion entails far more travel, at a time when it is the last thing I want. I may not work for ever. I am not gunning to become the CEO”

Here we go again. An age old mistake repeated by a manager. He thought that what motivates him the most should motivate everybody else. The world does not work that way. Each of us have key drivers which motivate us to perform. They are different for different people.

If higher responsibilities was a major driver for him, spending more time with her growing children was a major motivator for her. That does not mean she didn’t like her work or responsibilities. Of course she did – but she was in no frame of mind to have the odds further stacked against her in her ongoing battle to balance the needs of the professional career and her family. This is what a promotion to higher responsibilities would invariably mean.

For some, money means everything. For others it is job satisfaction. For yet others it is recognition. Some want status and a place in society.”I don’t care if my pay check is zilch” an up- and -coming manager excitedly once told me ” I simply must have a company car. My neighbours don’t see how much is credited to my bank account every month. But they do see the car I use every day”

Motivators are not static and do change over a period of time for all of us . What is most important for a bachelor at 23 may be well different when he gets married later, has a growing family and so on.

Meeting norms driven by social pressures can be a big driver for some. I find that in a section of our corporate  society, a honeymoon abroad is the done thing. These days, it appears that saying you went to a local hill station is in a sense infra dig. “Where are you going for your honeymoon” asks everyone excitedly. ” Not decided yet” he says sheepishly. “Considering different options” he adds, not wanting to say that they are actually going not very far away. Here the main driver is social recognition. Peer pressure also influences such decsions. It looks silly to go to Darjeeling when your colleagues are going to Switzerland.

Interestingly while everyone speaks of the huge powers of money as a motivator, money by itself means nothing. The driver comes from what you get by spending that money! Be it recognition by being a member of a snooty Club or having material wealth like houses and cars ( which you can’t get without money),

Remember, people are different. What is a major draw for one could actually be repulsive to another. Effective managers understand these differences in managing people and use this knowledge to adopt an appropriate leadership style with them.

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