Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 4 -- By: Bard M. Pillette

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 06:2 (Winter 1997)
Article: Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 4
Author: Bard M. Pillette


Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 4

Bard M. Pillette1

Paul’s Less-Than-Modern-Approach to Motivation and Influence

Motivational Technique within Our Culture

One of my summer jobs when I was a college student was in the receiving department of a big company where I spent most of my time driving a forklift. One day the supervisor said, half to himself, “For this job I need a really proficient forklift driver. Oh, hey Bard, you are just the man I need for this job.” Did that motivate me to work harder? Of course it did. I thought to myself, “They are recognizing my contribution to this job.” A few days later, I heard the same supervisor say the same thing to another worker. What a fool I was to be so easily flattered. It was just a gimmick to make people feel good about themselves and to motivate them to work harder.

In all the books on leadership in the business world, there is always a section on motivation. How can we empower employees and make them feel like they are a significant part of the team? How can we make them take ownership for their jobs and capture the company’s vision? Many times their suggestions are universal, proverbial insights into motivating people. Still, these books always leave me with the uneasy feeling that the bottom line is manipulation hidden behind upbeat slogans: “Celebrate the victories.” “Publicly recognize achievement.” “Teach people to say ‘yes, and’ rather than ‘yes, but’.” “Nothing is impossible.” “Reach your full potential.” A sense of team is to be fomented in

creative ways. For example, Levi Strauss has its executives work every so often on the plant floor packing pants and shipping them off.2 This allows leadership to understand the workers’ world and the workers to feel valued. As a result, everyone works better and more contentedly.

Basically, business motivation techniques can be learned at a seminar or by reading a book. It dismays me to see the same approach being taken up by Christian leadership books. After finding out that one has been motivated, even within Christian organizations, by empowerment techniques learned at business seminars, it is difficult not to feel just a little duped.

Contrariwise, Paul’s method of motivation was not based on something learned at seminars. Paul’s “technique” required many years to develop, and it cost him dearly, much more than the usual two-hundred-dollar seminar fee. Furthermore, it was not developed by taking surveys of successful leaders.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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