February 08, 2013

Rewards can reduce motivation

We have utilised a big portion of our time this week talking about rewards and recognition. I will be focusing on reward in this blog and I will focus on recognition in a subsequent blog. A reward is simply something that is given in recognition of service, effort or achievement. From the definition, it can be brain numbing to come to the fact that reward does not lead to increased job performance. Its mind bugling for me because I do not see a problem in grafting extra hard at work to get extra stipend. In a research titled 'overjustification hypothesis' conducted by Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973). In the experiment, 51 children aged between 3- 4, with an interest in drawing were selected to see what effect reward will have when children are already fond of an activity. In this case it was significant that the children have an interest in drawing.

Children drawing

The selected children were then divided into three groups and given the following information and conditions:

  1. The first group were told that they would get a seal with a certificate if they took part (Expected reward).
  2. The second group would receive the same reward as group one, but they did not know about it (Surprise reward).
  3. In the third group, children in this category expected no reward, and did not receive one.

Each child was invited into a room to draw for 6 minutes and then given their reward or not (depending on the given condition). As the experiment progressed, the children were closely monitored to see how much they will continue to draw of their own accord. The children in the first group who expectedto be rewarded for the activity, lost interest once they expected to be rewarded. Infact, judges rated the pictures drawn by the children expecting the reward in the first group to be less aesthetically pleasing. In comparison, the children in the second group who were not expecting to be rewarded performed twice better than the first group, and there was no significant statistical difference between the second group and the third group.

Lepper et al (1973) experiment reminds me of my previous career. In my previous profession, there was a handful of courses that employees could volunteer to go on and get rewarded for. For example, some specialist courses can give an employee an extra £200 pound a month on top of their basic salary. So the more courses employees could get themselves on, the more money they will get. The resulting effect was that employees were coming back from these specialist courses and they were not putting their newly acquired skills into practise, and this was largely due to the fact that they did it for the money. Before I forget to mention, I was one of them.

So to you future leaders and MBE prodigy's, reward can also lead to a reduction in motivation. For the prospective fathers and mothers, perhaps one learning point from Lepper et al (1973) is that rewarding your children for good behaviour does not always mean that they will be well-behaved behind close doors.

Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., &Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic rewards: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 129–137.


January 31, 2013

Definition of a Leader

My group and I have been looking at the definition of a leader and I must admit the exercise was very interesting. With the aid of an analysis matrix we critically looked at the elements of a leadership definition from a list of 20. From the result of our analysis matrix we derived some key characteristics of a leader namely:

  1. Influence.
  2. Effective relationship
  3. Result-driven
  4. Visionary

We defined leadership as " a process of social influence whereby a one person employs the help of others towards the achievement of a common purpose and goals". Most of the definitions that we arrived at in class was very similar to each other. However, I have been reflecting on all definitions and none of them tried to distinguish effective leaders from good leaders. For example, from our definition Lance Armstrong can be classed as a leader simply because he was influential. He was able to influence his team mates to indulge in a doping culture. I read his autobiography almost 4 years ago (it is not about the bike) and I was very inspired.

Lance was also able to build relationshipswith different entities through his cancer charity. He has raised over $15 million dollars for cancer research and although retired, he helped to get kids off the streets and gave them direction by introducing them to professional cycling. Apart from being a visionary, he was also results orientated. He won the Tour de France 7 times, it is hard enough winning it once. Well we all know the Lance Armstrong controversy. He was recently labelled a drug cheat and some have called him a monster. Whatever he has been called, he his still very much a leader from our definition.

Individuals have tried to find a solution to the problem by distinguishing effective leadership from good leadership. I do not think they should be a phrase such as bad leadership. If you are bad then you should not be referred to as a leader. I do not think there should be any negativity associated to the leadership terminology.

As a student of Business Excellence, I decided to look at what the EFQM Excellence Model would define as leadership. Excellent organisations have leaders who shape the future and make it happen, acting as role models for its values and ethics and inspiring trust at all times (EFQM, 2013). The challenge now for us as MBE students is to try to integrate values, integrity and ethics into our definition of leadership.


October 24, 2012

Football players make terrible managers

As you are all aware I am a passionate football fan. Paul mentioned something very profound in class on Monday which got me thinking. He said that a majority of successful ex-footballers have gone on to become very unsuccessful football managers. On getting home on Monday evening, I began to meditate and think about unsuccessful managers who were excellent footballers in their time. The list is endless but I will like to share a few:

Diego Maradona:

Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. He his viewed as a god in his native Argentina because of his exploits on the pitch. As a manager, he was unsuccessful, infact awful. He has been sacked by every single team he has managed since retiring as a footballer.

Ruud Gullit:

Ruud Gullit is a man lauded for his exceptional footballing talent, sensational haircuts and for inventing the phrase 'sexy football'. Ruud Gullit, as a player, had everything. He had skills, he had the speed and he was tough. He was one of the most versatile players to ever play the game. His glorious years were spent with AC Milan in the late 80's. He also captained Holland to her first major championship in 1988. But the former Chelsea, Milan and Sampdoria player has not had quite so much success in management.

John Barnes:

Barnes' successful playing career with Watford, Liverpool and England didn't continue in to his managerial career. In 1999 Barnes was appointed head coach at Celtic former Liverpool manager and legend Kenny Dalglish, who was director of football at the Scottish club. Barnes' leadership was questioned after a shocking Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, which led to the famous front page headline 'Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious' and to Barnes being fired.

Paul Gasgoine:

Gaza as he his popularly called is arguably the most talented player to put on an England shirt, Paul Gascoigne's playing career was turbulent and his managerial career followed suit. After a short spell as a player-coach at Chinese club Gansu Tianma, Gascoigne signed for Boston United as player-manager in 2004, lasting 11 games before leaving; reportedly because the club refused to let him appear on the television show 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here'. Short-stints at Algarve United and Kettering Town followed, before the board at Kettering dismissed him for drinking on the job after just 39 days.

I can add a minimum of 10 more players to the list. If it was a data set on an oscillilating graph, I will be correct to say that successful players do not make successful managers. Infact, the reverse have turned out to be more productive. The reverse in this context means that mediocre players have gone on to become very successful football managers. For example, Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby etc. all these guys had mediocre footballing careers and they turned out to be excellent managers. The million dollar question is, what lesson can we take away from this blog?

Deming in his System of Profound Knowledge talks about having an understanding of variation. This statement is profound because Deming understood that variation is a phenomenon common to all human activities. No two things are exactly the same, Deming went to great lengths to illustrate this in his red bead experiment in which he demonstrated that inspite of best efforts by workers or supervisors, variation was still present in the number of undesirable red beads scooped up by the worker. Just because footballers were successful does not mean that they will make good managers. There are two sides to a coin, so to you future CEOs, please look at things holistically before you make decisions.


October 13, 2012

Fire fighting approach

Writing about web page CBE

As I woke up this morning, I suddenly came to the realisation that I need to get into the habit of blogging, as it seems to bea very useful opportunity to share my thoughts. One thing that I have not been able to get out of mind this week is the phrase"fire fighting approach" made popular by W.E Deming.

We had a very interesting discussion this week with regards to the concept of quality inspection. I think the general consensus is that if the EFQM Excellence Model focus mainly on tailoring your product/service offerings to meeting the customer’s expectation, then it is significant that we ensure that preventative measures are made to prevent defective products from getting into the hands of the customer. This is mainly achieved through the concept of quality inspection. W.E Deming’s teachings, correct me if I am wrong, is not against quality inspection. W.E Deming’s philosophy is based on the premise that organisations should not get into the habit of waiting at the end of the production line to detect defective products. This is where the fire fighting approach by Deming comes into place, will you wait till your house is on fire before fighting it or will you rather ensure that you prevent it by been cautious at all times?

W. E Deming’s philosophy is simple, committing too much resources into fire fighting (mass quality inspection) is a non-value adding activity, that is time consuming, expensive and has been empirically proven not to work. Organisations should instead build quality into everything they do and it is in doing so that they can begin to see significant reduction in defective products.


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