In the psychological field, Maslow’s pioneering research into motivation demonstrated that every human being is motivated to varying degrees by a series of physiological, safety, security and belonging needs.
One of the many lessons I learned as a psychologist working with youth having severe emotional and learning disabilities was the importance of assessing the client’s needs. After many years of experience I learned that when behaviour is reinforced it is repeated. As a Special Educator, I viewed child and youth behaviour as a desire to have unmet needs recognized and addressed. By determining, then addressing and meeting the client’s needs, I observed an immediate de-escalation of the undesirable behaviour in the treatment setting. By focusing on a Strength Based Intervention Framework, our team believed in “letting the people be different” and we worked carefully at celebrating and nurturing the strengths of all clients and therapy team members.
As part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, I recognized the importance of a positive atmosphere and I realized there are many key understandings about the concept of Motivation that could be transferable to any business environment and would contribute toward the building of positive energy and an enabling environment for all stakeholders.
Why is it that some environments promote learning and growth, while others hinder it?
I believe there are lessons to be learned by entrepreneurs from psychological research studies involving the topic of Motivation. Many studies have shown that students’ feelings of being connected and cared for by their teachers correlate with academic achievement and elevate their sense of worth and these are important factors for increasing motivation and success.
How could Motivation and a Sense of Worth be fostered in your business environment and social interactions?
Even today, there is a mistaken belief that praise will automatically build self- esteem, and many educators, parents and business managers are guilty of not understanding the implications and differences between the concepts of “Praise” and “Encouragement”.
While many people think of praise and encouragement as being the same, I predict there is a valuable interpersonal and business lesson to be learned when there is an understanding and appreciation of the differences between these two concepts. Even though praise works, hopefully I will guide you into recognizing that encouragement works better in a variety of business and life situations.
Praise is a judgment, while encouragement is acknowledgement. Praise uses language that judges, encouragement uses language that notices. Praise is given when the person is successful [“You met the sales quota, I am proud of you !”], while encouragement can be given even when the person is experiencing frustration .[“I noticed you have been working hard on that challenging report, keep it up !”]
Praise and encouragement foster different reactions from the intended recipients. Praise promotes competition by comparing one performance with another, it focuses on the quality of the performance and ignores the efforts or motives. Praise fosters the dependence upon the opinions of others.
Encouragement fosters cooperation and collaboration and focuses on the individual’s effort and progress. The person feels valued rather than evaluated. Encouragement recognizes the individual’s contribution to the common good of the organization. It promotes effort and enables the individual to accept setbacks and mistakes, allowing for more independence and motivation. Encouragement realizes that any learning is a process and improvement is always a possibility. In business and in all aspects of life, anyone can criticize. The art of Encouraging requires people who are sensitive, compassionate and creative.
How will you apply these key understandings to your business and personal interactions?