Chapter 13: Motivation

Chapter 13: Motivation

Chapter 13: Motivation

A. WHY WON’T THEY TAKE A BREAK? Five years ago, your company assigned you to a management position in its new research facility in South Korea. You were thrilled with the promotion, and grateful to your bosses, who recognized your skills and talents. At the same time, there was a lot to be nervous about—adjusting to a new culture and language, finding a school for your kids and a job for your wife, figuring out where to buy familiar groceries. But even with all the struggles, you’ve thoroughly enjoyed your time in Korea, as you got to learn new things from your employees and teach them new things from your experiences. In fact, you’re quite surprised that you’ve had such little conflict with your Korean associates.

There is, however, one area that you could never quite get a handle on—vacation time. Like every other employee in the company, your employees were given three weeks of paid vacation per year. But, other than the occasional three-day weekend, they never took any time off. At first, you wondered if this was just unique to your company. But then, you saw statistics that showed that Koreans, on average, worked more than 2,300 hours per year, 600 more than the average American. While these long hours show great organizational commitment, they have extremely negative effects. Overworked employees are more prone to stress and physical illness and are less likely to be efficient or productive. Indeed, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group comprised of 30 of the world’s largest economies, South Korea ranks near the bottom in terms of productivity.

Even the South Korean government has taken notice of the dangers of overwork. A few months ago, President Myung Bak Lee announced that all state employees would be required to take 16 days of vacation per year. You were quite happy to hear about this policy, and hopeful that it would influence the private sector. But, you also wonder if there aren’t other changes needed. From your conversations with Korean managers, you’ve learned that there is one big reason why Korean employees don’t take vacation time—because their supervisors don’t take vacation time. Even while requiring government employees to take 16 days off, President Lee himself has taken off only four days since his 2008 election. Jin-soo Kim, a director in the Ministry of Public Administration who wrote the 16-day policy, took no vacation time at all in 2008. Even you, the “enlightened” American, remember working through Lunar New Year’s Day, one of the biggest holidays in Korea.

You desperately want your employees to take more time off. It’s what’s best for them, their families, and for the company’s productivity and efficiency. What is the best way to motivate them to take a break? Source: Evan Ramstad and Jaeyeon Woo “South Korea Works Overtime To Tackle Vacation Shortage” The Wall Street Journal. March 1, 2010. A1, 22. Questions

• Which motivation theory(s) do you think would help communicate the importance of vacation time to your employees?

• How would you convince your employees that working less hours, not more, is more beneficial for them and the company?

B. SAS: SAS (pronounced “sass”), which is short for Statistical Analysis System, began when it set out to create statistical software to help agricultural researchers who were studying the effects of soil, seeds, and the weather on crop yields. In 1970, researchers had to write new computer programs every time they analyzed data. SAS standardized that process and made it faster. Because the statistics faculty who wrote SAS needed to generate funds to cover the expiring grant money that paid their salaries, they started



Chapter 13: Motivation

leasing SAS to universities and pharmaceutical companies. By 1976, they had 100 customers. However, it wasn’t until the first SAS Users Conference later that year, when 300 people showed up, that they realized their business opportunity. As you tell people now, that was pretty much the ‘aha” moment.”

From website traffic, to credit cards replacing cash, to genome sequencing, to sentiment analysis (analyzing every tweet, blog, and discussion group comment about your company and its products), the amount of digital data that a company has to go through is increasing at exponential rates. As a result, 79 percent of Fortune 500 companies use SAS. Shell Oil uses it to analyze data to predict how long the pumps will run on its North Sea oil-drilling platforms. Kohl’s department store maximizes profits by using SAS to analyze which products to mark down for sale. Credit card companies use SAS to reduce fraud by identifying unusual credit card purchases in real time. Finally, telecomm companies offer great deals to customers who, via SAS, they’ve determined are more likely to switch to competitors.

Although SAS has been profitable every year since inception, there are threats to its highly successful business model. First, says Gareth Doherty, an industry analyst, “Most organizations aren’t in a position to be able to leverage some of the sophisticated applications that SAS offers because the No. 1 constraint when you’re working with a tool this sophisticated is the user. If you don’t have a rocket scientist sitting behind the desk, it doesn’t matter what you have running on the desktop.” Second, SAS products are expensive, starting at $1 million for industry specific products (i.e., banking or retail), followed by subscription renewals that are 20 percent to 30 percent of the purchase price. Although SAS spends 22 percent of its revenue on research and development each year, larger firms are buying business intelligence companies to compete directly with SAS. SAP paid $6.8 billion for Business Objects, and Oracle paid $3.3 billion for Hyperion. The largest threat may come, however, from IBM, which paid $4.9 billion for Cognos and $1.2 billion for SPSS. IBM combined those firms into its business analytics group, which will employ 200 scientists and 4,000 consultants and analysts. Industry analyst Bill Hostmann says, “It will be a dogfight. SAS has never faced a competitor like IBM. And I do think IBM sees SAS as a big, fatted cow.”

With competition intensifying, SAS is shortening its product development cycle from 24 to 36 months to 12 to 18 months. Change like that can’t be achieved without attracting and retaining a highly motivated workforce. That’s increasingly difficult with tech job openings up 62 percent and a 22 percent average turnover rate in the software industry. That’s why Google gave all of its employees a 10 percent raise and a $1,000 bonus. So, 1. In maintaining your competitiveness, figure out what motivates people to join SAS? 2. Second, getting people to join SAS is one thing, but how do you get them to work hard and

maximize their efforts? 3. Should you be egalitarian and pay everyone the same, or should you closely link pay and

performance? 4. Finally, how do you get your most talented managers and software engineers to stay? 5. Does SAS need to “go public” like its competitors and issue stock and stock options to its

employees? Or are there other ways for SAS to reward people and remain competitive in the talent market?

C. THE MAKINGS OF MOTIVATION: Motivation is an invisible and powerful force. Strong motivation can drive individuals and organizations to remarkable heights of achievement. A loss of motivation can leave us dispirited and ineffective. One of the fundamental responsibilities of managers is to support healthy worker motivation. This exercise will allow you to practice designing support for worker motivation. Between this class session and the target date set by your professor, you will interview three individuals about motivation at work. You should brainstorm about possible types of work, interesting individuals. Some considerations for brainstorming include jobs or types of work that you consider particularly interesting, appealing, or mysterious; jobs or types of work that you consider particularly uninteresting, dull, or monotonous (how does a person do that work day after day?); and self-employed or creative work (how do such workers manage their own motivation without a boss or supervisor?)




Chapter 13: Motivation

Conduct the interviews by informing the potential interviewee that you are interested in talking about workplace motivation. Set a time that is convenient and ensure that you arrive on time and prepared. Make the interview brief, with 15–20 minutes a good target. Go beyond 20 minutes only if the interviewee gives permission and the discussion is lively. Be sure to thank the interviewee for taking the time to visit with you. Interview questions might include the following:

• How would you describe your work? What are some of the things that you particularly like about your work?

• We are currently studying the topic of motivation in one of my classes. What boosts your motivation at work? If you have ever experienced a period of low motivation, can you identify things that might have contributed to your losing steam in your work?

• What kinds of rewards or incentives work best to motivate individuals and/or teams who do your type of work? What kinds of rewards or incentives don’t work so well?

Write a one-page paper summarizing your interview findings. What did you learn from your interviews? Did you notice common themes or issues across the interviews you conducted? Did you notice any striking differences across individuals or types of work? What are some possible implications of these interview findings for managers who are responsible for cultivating healthy motivation in a particular work setting?

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