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  • Writer's pictureMaryna Khomich

What's the Difference Between Motivation and Increasing Efficiency?

Oh, hold your horses! We've got a real pickle here, and it's high time we sorted it out. First things first: motivation and efficiency are about as similar as chalk and cheese, and it's pretty outrageous that we've been lumping them together this whole time. It's like calling an apple an orange and wondering why it doesn't taste citrusy. This mix-up is causing a kerfuffle in the business world, where people trying to boost efficiency are scratching their heads over motivation, like trying to solve a Rubik's cube in the dark.


Motivation and Increasing Efficiency
Motivation & Passion

Let's take a detour into psychology land, where the folks have a cheeky joke up their sleeve: "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? None. The bulb changes when it’s darn well ready." That sums it up - you can't force change, folks!


Now, let's chat about our buddy Abraham Maslow, who, by the way, didn’t mutter a word about employee motivation and work efficiency. He was more about finding your inner superhero, not just clocking in and out. He crafted this neat pyramid of needs, but never called it a one-size-fits-all deal.


Maslow was all about the human touch, saying stuff like, "A happy scientist is a better scientist," and "You've got to grow into your humanity." Doesn't sound like someone who just sees people as cogs in a machine, right?


But let's face it, the business world still wants to know how to make the cogs turn faster. Enter stage left: McClelland, Alderfer, Herzberg, Porter-Lawler, and McGregor with their theories on cranking up efficiency. So, we start with Maslow in management classes but end up cherry-picking from these other guys. The result? We've got this bonkers idea that cranking up efficiency is the same as motivation.


Here's why that's as nutty as a fruitcake:

  1. Motivation is about becoming a Person with a capital 'P', not just hitting targets and KPIs.

  2. In motivation, we're the player and the game. But in work motivation, we're just pawns in someone else's chess game.

  3. Our motives are like our personal treasure map, not some carrot dangling in front of us.


Look at Ford, who switched up the workweek and watched productivity soar. Was he playing Cupid, making his workers fall in love with their jobs? Nope, he just let them catch their breath.


And let's talk about the wild ideas floating around to "motivate" employees - like horse therapy. (I mean, really?) Employees don’t need bells and whistles. They’ve got their own drumbeat.


So, what to do? Know your team, offer what they like if you can, but skip the hokey-pokey and horseplay. Remember Karl Duncker's "Candle Problem" and Maslow's warning about the fragile nature of humanity. We might have shot ourselves in the foot by confusing efficiency with motivation, leading to a paradox where we're told to motivate but can't really do so from the outside.


In short, we've made a bit of a muddle by mixing up increasing efficiency and motivation. Now we're stuck in a loop, told to inspire but also reminded that true motivation comes from within. So, what's a leader to do?

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