Education without motivation serves no useful purpose.
Last week I wrote about the fact that motivation is not enough, but neither is education. There are a lot of “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.
In March of 2001, the Gallup organization analyzed its massive data base and determined that ABOUT 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 found that 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.
You may think, “Big deal. So what if some of our employees are not fully motivated?” It is a big deal. Their lack of motivation is costing you big bucks.
Gallup, in USA Today, May 10, 2001, estimated that if companies could get 3.7% more work out of each employee, the equivalent of 18 more minutes of work each 8-hour shift, the gross domestic product in the United States would swell by $355 billion, twice the GDP of Greece.
I see a similar motivation problem amongst 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 their students score higher on English tests than American kids. It’s obvious that education without motivation serves no useful purpose.
One father said to his son, “I worry about you being at the bottom of the class.” He 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, said it quite well. 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 seventy defects. By contrast, the Mercedes Benz plant in Europe could turn out a car in one week that had only fourteen 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 ten 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 had simply 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 will not only help your organization make more money, but it will also save you a lot of money. When I was speaking at a construction company, the CEO asked his employees a question. He asked, “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 ten minutes and twenty dollars.”
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 right.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE TRAINING YOU’RE OFFERING TO 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.
It’s like the puddle of water that was on the floor outside the third grade classroom. The teacher gave her students a brief lecture on tidiness, safety, health, and responsibility. And then she asked, “What nice child will volunteer to wipe up the mess?”
No one responded. She just got silence in return. So the teacher said, “All right. Let’s try something. Let’s put our heads down on our desks, and close our eyes. Then perhaps the person responsible for the puddle will be kind enough to clean up the hall.”
The children agreed. They all put their heads down, and all their eyes were closed. Soon there was the patter of little feet going into the hallway. There were the sounds of a bucket, a mop, drips of water, and then things being put away. Finally there was the patter of little feet coming back into the classroom and silence.
“Okay,” said the teacher. “Let’s all look out in the hall and see what a good job someone has done.”
The class crowded to the door and looked out. There in the hall next to the first puddle was a second one. Beside it was a large sign that read, “The Phantom strikes again.”
So you see, education without motivation serves no useful purpose.
Action: Listen to what your colleagues are saying when they hear about an upcoming seminar. Do you hear groans and complaints about having to go? Or do you hear comments of excitement–that people can’t wait for it to begin? What you hear will tell you how successful your past classes have been in motivating people. If you’re not hearing almost unanimous excitement, re-examine the education you’re offering and re-examine those who are leading it. One bad class or one poor instructor can leave a negative legacy for a long time to come.