wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Ken MatejkaKen Matejka


American business school professor and expert in employee motivation (pictured right).


Key book

Why This Horse Won’t Drink (1991)


Effective managers:

  • see other people’s point of view.
  • acknowledge people's uniqueness as individuals.
  • never lose their humanity.


Managers can achieve better employee performance in five steps:


1. Contradictions 

Correcting obstacles to employee performance like:

  • too much bureaucracy.
  • poor learning and ineffective communication.
  • autocratic and macho management.
  • inadequate employee involvement in decision making.
  • employees’ selfish greed.


2. Consequences

Giving employees:

  • clear targets. 
  • rewards linked to effort (e.g. money and job satisfaction).
  • punishment (or the threat of it).


3. Contacts 

Creating mutual trust and agreement through:

  • effective communication.
  • honesty.
  • praise.


4. Contraries

Managers assessing:

  • their own strengths and weaknesses 
  • the behaviour of difficult, under-performing employees.

Managers should be persuaded to change through

  • acting upon their needs.
  • empathy and understanding.
  • training.

If managers don't change, they will have to be disciplined.


5. Commitments 

Putting the creators of employee commitment into action:

  • involvement in decision making (e.g. delegation).
  • empowerment (via respect, responsibility, rewards and information).
  • enthusiasm for work
  • commitment to the organization’s vision and strategy.


Treating employees well is vital because they “treat customers the way they get treated”.


Key quote on management

It’s great therapy for the troops to see their manager as a human being.


Key quote on motivation

Life isn’t always fair, but this doesn’t stop us from expecting it to be.


Key quote on empowerment

Power corrupts. At least that’s what people without power say.


Key quote on unions

Employees don’t vote for a union, they vote against management.

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