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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to motivate people

Ace bowler Javagal Srinath has scorched the cricket fields and now brings some of the on-field expertise to highlight business strategies with Managing Director, Centurion Bank, Shailendra Bhandari. Both of them talk to CNBC-TV18 in a freewheeling interview, where they banter and field their opinions on how to get people motivated into giving their best.

Srinath speaks on what it takes to succeed and where it takes and how it is really the inner self which has to persevere and emerge triumphant against all odds. He says, it is the basis of success in all fields and for all kind of sports.

Srinath elaborates, "It's extremely important. Motivation is the foundation for any sport or for any profession. But somehow or the other, we have failed to really define motivation. You can see motivated people, you can see people who are not really motivated but somehow or the other we have failed to define what exactly motivation is all about?"

He does emphasise that it's people who "seek challenges and who persist in the face of diversities, adversities, as well as in periods of duress and somebody who is consistent, who is always keen to learn and somebody who has performed for a period of a time. These are the signs that you see, from a highly motivated character."

But Bhandari has a slightly different opinion of what is motivation and how it can be harnessed to make employees more enthusiastic about their work and their office environment. He says, "I personally think that motivation starts off with a commonality of a goals because you as an employee are motivated, but you could be motivated just to get a big bonus. So the important thing is that your goal has to be the same as the corporate."

"Now once those two come together and once you recognise what your doing and you see the rewards coming in, the two starts happening. To me, the final part of it is when an employee, who is in sync with the corporate's goals, he is motivated. He is excited by what he is doing. But to me the final part is, when he identifies with the organization."

Where Srinath and Bhandari differ is on who should be targeted for a serious dose of motivating. Srinath firmly feels that you can motivate yourself to greater personal success. But Mr Bhandari feels motivating the team at large, for the good of an organisation is how it should be done.

Bhandari says, "Motivation is again individualistic on the first level and then it goes on to collective consciousness and collective motivation. It's all the more important, for you to be motivated on an individual basis. Once you are motivated own your own or even 4-5 people who are extremely motivated, will make things fall into place and probably from a distance, you can see that the team is motivated."

He adds, "NR Narayan Murthy is, in some ways, is a great example. Because as a person, he is not that charismatic, say like Steve Jobs, who is the head of Apple. I mean he (Steve Jobs) is charismatic but their personalities are different. NR Narayan Murthy comes across as a tremendous intellect, a man who is driven to create something."

On the Indian cricket team and of his former colleagues, Srinath says, "Anil Kumble is a highly motivated individual. He is somebody who is extremely resolute. And number two is Sachin Tendulkar. He has been going on and on and on and he has had a lot of injuries, which he has carried along with him, but in spite of it, I think, he has a burning desire to continue playing cricket for some more time."

Despite setbacks, to learn from failure is important. Bhandari says, "I think it's (to cope with failure) essential, I presume similar to cricket, where you can be in form and out of form. Business does go through cycles and very often you can also just have bad luck. For instance, recently you have seen the tsunami occur, and if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, your business could take a beating. So I think a leader has to have the ability to actually withstand failure, which may or may not happen to you, to learn from it and to build from it."

Many times, though, timely criticism has saved a situation from deteriorating and encouragement has got superb results from people, and the same goes for players, be it in the corporate boardroom or the playing field.

Srinath agrees, "I think when a guy enters international cricket, his career is in a very infant stage, that's the time he requires all sorts of support from the social environment. That could be from parents, coaches, or the media. They are all external motivators. They write few lines about it, you feel good about it and if they write bad lines about you then you are dejected and you are de-motivated. So that's the reason why intrinsic motivation is extremely important. There should be pride, prestige and belief in what you are trying to do."

Bhandari reiterates saying that money is not always the sole motivation driving people's ambitions. He says, "It goes without saying, that if someone is going to actually try to create long-term value for the company, he has to see long-term value for himself. He has to identify with the company."

In the international scenario, where a corporation can have offices abroad and where people can be from various backgrounds, motivating each employee individually may not be possible. He says, "It is going to become more process driven and less personal. It will be much more goal driven, much more performance appraisal driven. There will be matrix organizations. You will probably have a geographical boss, you will have a matrix boss. So there are ways to handle it, but you can't do it on a personality basis. That won't work very well."

In cricket, Srinath says, "The coach and captain play an extremely important role in the player's career. I think Saurav's perseverance on the young wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel is good and I think the best thing about Saurav's captaincy, is his faith in Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh. Although Yuvraj has proved himself and sometimes he has not, but Harbhajan Singh has delivered. So that's the reason why the combination of Harbhajan Singh and Saurav Ganguly always does well for the team."

The former cricketer adds, "External forces are motivating you is a perishable one. It can't really last long, you got to stand on your own legs. As soon as you finish college, I think you got to stand on your own legs, you can't be expecting somebody else to help you out. I think they will probably be of some use to you but I mean, you can't be expecting to get motivated by what they do or what they don't do."

Bhandari has some parting advice for those looking for some motivating mantra. He says, "Obviously look for personal gain, in the sense that you will look for money, you will look for happiness, but I would say that early in life, identify a team with whom you feel you can belong. And once you do that, that belongingness, the feeling of ownership will foster its own motivation. Make sure that it's a team, which gives you enough wealth etc, so that doesn't fall by the way side. But once you feel that you belong to such a team, you are going to feel truly driven."

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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