Manipulation or Motivation – Which Do You Use?

puppetsPerhaps you haven’t thought of it before, but there is a very small divide between manipulating and motivating your employees. On the surface, a lot of it boils down to employee engagement. There are those employees who really love their job, and get behind the company’s mission. Then there are those who might need a little bit of a push—what management will inevitably call motivation—to get going. Sometimes, that little push can come off more like manipulation than motivation. Perception, of course comes into play here. Managers need to ask themselves three questions to help discern the difference between motivation and manipulation.

1. Who benefits?

Motivation offers incentive, drive, encouragement, and employee engagement. It benefits the employee. Manipulation benefits the manager (most likely) with control or unfair gain.

Employees with a higher level of employee engagement will see personal gains from working to improve the organization or department. However, some employees may see themselves as outside of the company’s mission, and thus feel manipulated rather than motivated. Managers need to make the organization’s mission important and relevant to all of their employees to avoid confusion.

2. What’s the outcome?

If it’s motivation, everybody wins. If it’s manipulation, one person gains while another loses. For example, if work needs to be delegated, figuring out if the employee would enjoy doing the work, if he or she would be a good fit, or if they would feel valued doing it, it’s probably motivation that gets the job done. The employee gains valuable work-related experience, feels appreciated, and experiences more employee engagement. However, if the employee feels that you handed off a workload because he or she was the first person you saw, it’s much more likely to be perceived as manipulation.

3. What’s the basis?

Motivation is based in mutual understanding—what’s best for the employee and the manager. Manipulation, again, only benefits one person. If the employee has bought into the mission of the company, it’ll be considered as motivation. If not—if the employee feels siloed away—it’s manipulation.

It all has to do with context and perception. A manager may have the best of intentions, but if it’s perceived as a zero-sum han-
doff of responsibility—rather than the opportunity to help the organization—the act will be perceived as manipulation, control, or authoritative management. Manipulation kills employee engagement, motivation strengthens employee engagement.

If you would like learn more about the difference between  Motivation and Manipulation, and how that information can have a positive impact on your business,  call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.