Every year the bookstores are filled with new volumes by successful politicians, business leaders and athletic coaches-each one of which will tell you exactly how to do it, how to manage people.
One hugely important question that comes up over and over again is the question, what do people want?
An obvious answer that many people do not go beyond is money. To be sure money motivates people.
But research reveals something strange: that money isn't the only thing and perhaps not even the most important thing. To be sure one has to provide for food, clothing and shelter and it would seem that most want a reasonable level of comfort and security. Researchers asked people what kind of a raise in salary would they give themselves if they could. Surprisingly the most common answer was that a raise of 10% would go a long way toward making things more comfortable.
What else is there? Recent research reveals three factors that might be easily overlooked.
The first factor is that people want autonomy. People do not want to be micromanaged. People want to feel that they know how to do their jobs and that their expertise is recognized. Many are the stories of wise managers spending a good deal of time learning all they can about the jobs done in their companies from the maintenance bays to the executive offices. Often the experienced workers can tell how the job should be done and can offer valuable suggestions on how the tasks could be improved. People want to feel that they ate regarded as intelligent and hard-working people.
The second factor that emerged is the desire to see some sort of career path or professional development path. People want to become better. People enjoy doing the job well and learning how to do it better. How many times has a tradesman, craftsman or sales person seemingly gone beyond the requirements we have started or perhaps have failed to state because they knew what the job really required? How many times have we seen people put extra quality into a job sometimes when the quality would never be seen by the naked eye?
The Third factor that researchers found was the desire to be connected to something good. Even to the smallest of details people want to feel their work has made the world better. This is true even if the effect of our work is to only help a single person in some way. People really don't want to make junk. Speaking for myself, I have been blessed to spend my working career as an educator at the two best engineering technology colleges in the United States: Southern Tech in Marietta and Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. People want to feel that they are doing a good job with good people at a good place.
So all of the management books lead back to three simple things after the monetary question has been answered. People want to feel some personal control; people want to feel that they are growing and people want to feel that their work produces good.