People do Things for Their Reasons, Not Yours
I have a good friend and fraternity brother, Dr. Alan Zaremba, who is a Professor of Communications at Northeastern University in Boston. Many years ago, to stay in shape, he started running. It almost became an obsession with him. He ran so much and so often that he started running marathons. When I asked, “Why are you running so much and why marathons,” he said, “So that I can eat like a pig.” The moral of the story: Everybody is motivated by something different, and, people do things for their reasons, not yours.
As a manager, executive or business owner, assuming all the people that report to you are the same and are all motivated by the same things, is not only stupid, it’s lazy and counterproductive.
Would you assume that all your clients are the same? Better yet, if you have kids, especially if you have more than one, I’ll bet there’s no way you can tell me your kids are exactly the same.
I know my kids, Michael, 23 and Emily, 19 are as different as night and day. Michael is part leader, part non-conformist. He’ll do something just because nobody else is doing it. I’m convinced that if underage drinking and illegal drugs were something high school kids NEVER did, Michael would’ve been stumbling home drunk and high every day. Luckily the opposite was true.
Emily, on the other hand, is a follower, and while she’s gotten much better since starting college, she’s still WAY more comfortable as part of a group. She’s extremely social (alright she likes to party), has had boy friends (notice the plural) since 9th grade, is a member of a sorority, and is far more likely to let someone else lead.
Michael, while a friendly and well-liked person, who maintains a small circle of friends, is a bit anti-social. He has no problem doing things on his own. When he was in college, no way he was joining a frat. He lives by himself in an apartment in New York. He likes to go to concerts, restaurants and movies by himself.
Michael is so cheap he can make a dollar bill yell “Uncle.” He not only supports himself in NYC on an entry level salary, but he’s saving money. Emily has a black belt in shopping.
Michael likes baseball, music and eating (a lot). Emily likes shopping, Broadway musicals, hanging with friends and her boyfriend and going to parties.
Does this make one kid better than the other? No way. They’re both great kids. It just means they’re different and they’re motivated by different things.
When Michael graduated high school, his gift was a trip to San Francisco to see the Giants play (3 games; we won 2), and stuff his face in some great restaurants.
When Emily graduated high school, we took her to London, where she had a great time spending a week visiting with her brother (who was there on a study abroad program), hitting every store on Oxford Street and seeing “Jersey Boys.”
If all your incentives and rewards are the same for everyone, how do you get them all excited about it? Guaranteed there’s a huge percentage of your staff who couldn’t care less about contests you might think are fantastic.
If you’re not willing to invest some time knowing what makes each one of your people tick, the same way you spend time trying to understand the specific needs of each client, why should your people care one bit about the needs of the company or the clients?