In a comment I wrote on my previous piece, I briefly touched upon a theory that a manager I know at one of the local hospitals has regarding employees.

It's her belief that employees need to recognize that they're hired for a job and that they need to do that job, and do it well. She feels it's not her responsibility to motivate them because she has a lot of her own work to do and doesn't need motivating herself, and if it's good enough for her then it should be good enough for them.

I know her pretty well, and she's always been a very conscientious worker. She's also in her 60's, and though one wouldn't think that age should have anything to do with it, age certainly is a great component in determining how people think about work.

She grew up in an age when people believed companies were always going to look out for the best interests of their employees. She grew up in an age where employees believed that management would see how good they are, would give them recognition for good work, and that they'd be promoted because of it.

It was a good theory. In a way, it was also a good practice. Indeed, there have always been sensible managers who could look at an employees work performance, could recognize talent, and would promote that talent. However, back then, the relationships were quite different from what we have now.

Back then, managers were often in the same room as the employees, knew more of what was going on, and even though there was always work to do, the volume of work paled in comparison to what people often have to do now. These days, managers pay more attention to what they have to do and get done than paying attention to their employees. Sure, they'll check the numbers and know which employee is producing the most based on output. But they have no idea which employees treat their customers better, or which employees do the best quality work, or which employees the others seem to go to for help all the time. It's not that they don't care, it's that they just don't always have time.

So, employees start to feel as though no one is paying any attention to them. When that happens, employees start to take shortcuts, or their work slacks off in other ways. Then managers react badly, usually using threatening type of language rather than the language of encouragement. You can bet that doesn't foster good feelings in anyone's minds.

Why do managers need to motivate employees? Because their careers depend on it. Management can't scare most employees these days. Even with relatively high unemployment, people will only put up with so much, and they can manifest what they do in multiple ways that can being about negative results for the company. And, like in sports, management can only get rid of so many employees, but it's easier to get rid of a manager and bring in someone else, someone who might have the skills and the time and the intelligence to understand that it's not all about them, but about the people they hope are going to work hard to make everyone look better.

Get your motivational hats on, managers. Your job and career depends on it.