Lack of motivation is a virus
By Serguei Beloussov July 13, 2015
- Motivation and teambuilding are two cornerstones of business success
- There are a few basic rules that may help keep the team in order
A RECENT report by the information technology research firm Gartner says that the vertical-industry IT spending in South-East Asia will reach US$62 billion by 2018. This year alone, Singapore is expected to spend US$19.1 billion on IT.
Ambitious investment plans and the availability of local talent encouraged Acronis to reopen our international headquarters in Singapore, with a view to boost research and development (R&D) activities and take advantage of the market growth in this part of the world.
This is our company motivation.
In this article, however, I would like to talk about motivation and teambuilding as two cornerstones of business success.
Motivation is one of the most important components of teambuilding. Often entrepreneurs, preoccupied with product development, do not give it much thought.
However, motivated employees who are genuinely interested in what they do are far more beneficial than those who are not.
I have developed a few basic rules that may help keep the team in order:
1) Like what you do
It is important, especially for key employees, to like what they do. It’s very difficult to continue forcing yourself do so something you don’t like, especially if the job requires creativity.
Different people are motivated by different things, such as money and even addictions. However, real motivation can only be sustained by a genuine interest in the activity even though monetary compensation can play a certain role.
There is an important point to remember: Although one may have many sources of motivation and stimuli, it is best to focus on only one. Otherwise there may be a conflict of interest.
I usually reach my best results when focused on one specific task within a clearly defined area. This way I am able to put aside everything else and come back to them at a later stage.
2) The perils of personal motivation
Personal motivation often goes against the team’s motivation or even the team itself. In other words, someone’s personal interests can go against the company goals.
In this case, everyone suffers.
Just like in sports, a hockey player may wish to score a goal all by himself (without much of a chance), or alternatively pass the puck to other players, thus increasing the likelihood of scoring.
Using another hockey example, the five players on the ice work together either to score a goal or defend the current score. But in both cases they work together for the good of the team.
In business, when someone is focused on their personal ambitions, it hurts the company.
Sadly it happens often. Just recently I had to explain to one of the department managers that common goals and cooperation with other teams must be prioritised, even though in his view his department’s role was the most important in the company.
3) Healthy communications
Healthy communications plays an important role in creating a motivating environment for employees.
Teams, departments, and workgroups are like important pieces of the puzzle in an organisation. If one of the pieces is somehow detached or broken and does not communicate with others, it becomes detrimental for all.
Team cooperation must remain constant. For example, if marketing does not talk to engineering, sooner or later it will create tension affecting the entire organisation.
There are many situations which can potentially lead to a crisis. For example, the unwillingness of one department to collaborate or support another department when it struggles financially could create a serious problem. Only the leader can afford to be uncompromising, but even then, not always.
4) Superstars and divas
Talented but unmotivated people must be let go. Such people erode and disable functioning teams.
Sooner or later, every manager has to deal with this. If an employee is unproductive and unmotivated, it’s an easy task to fire them.
But what do you do if a valuable worker has an extremely negative attitude? How long do you wait? I’ve been struggling to find a definitive answer for this question for a long time now.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen gave an interesting example in his book The South Pole. He wrote about how in one of his expeditions he decided to leave behind a specialist who was very negative. Such a person would do more harm instead of being useful, he said.
I experimented with this for a long time and came to the conclusion that even the most talented but negative employee must be fired – the sooner the better.
To change someone, especially someone talented, is very difficult. But the likelihood of that person causing problems is very high.
For example, this person may decide to leave the company when you most need him or her.
5) Bad motivation is like a virus
If a team member is slacking off, there will be others who would follow his example. Before long the whole team will be unmanageable.
It is similar to civil unrests where an unhappy soul poisons an entire community, setting off a chain reaction, which affects people who in turn affect others. It hurts the entire business and the leader must be quick to make the right decisions to deal with this.
Signs of bad motivation include disrespect of leaders and other team members, and heightened self-worth. It’s difficult to ‘fix’ such people. Therefore it is often easier to ‘localise’ them.
All team members must respect each other and look for compromises. It is a bad sign if someone is not willing to work with others. Keeping track of this is the leader’s job, and this is one of the main rules.
Serguei Beloussov has a 21-year track record in building, growing and leading high-performing, multinational high-tech companies in North America, Europe and Asia. He is currently focused on Acronis, the company he founded and now returned to as CEO, is a senior partner at the Runa Capital venture fund and executive chairman of Parallels. He is also into quantum technology.
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