When nothing else works, try throwing down a challenge. The desire to excel! The challenge! Throwing down the gauntlet! An infallible way of appealing to people of spirit. Charles Schwab said: “The way to get things done, is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.”
“I have never found,” said Harvey S. Firestone, founder of the great Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, “that pay and pay alone would either bring together or hold good people. I think it was the game itself.”
Frederic Herzberg, one of the great behavioral scientists, concurred. He studied in depth the work attitudes of thousands of people ranging from factory workers to senior executives. What do you think he found to be the most motivating factor—the one facet of the jobs that was most stimulating? Money? Good working conditions? Fringe benefits? No—not any of those. The one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job.”
Every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes footraces and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.
Charles Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren’t producing their quota of work. “How is it,” Schwab asked him, “that a manager as capable as you can’t make this mill turn out what it should?”
“I don’t know,” the manager replied. “I’ve coaxed the men, I’ve pushed them, I’ve sworn and cussed, I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won’t produce.”
This conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: “How many heats did your shift make today?” “Six.”
Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor, and walked away.
When the night shift came in, they saw the “6” and asked what it meant.
“The big boss was in here today,” the day people said. “He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.”
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out “6” and replaced it with a big “7.”
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big “7” chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering “10.” Things were stepping up.” Dale Carnegie. “How to Win Friends & Influence People.”
In life think about the times you have been the most motivated. Most probably involved a scoreboard of some kind. You may have been working on a team to produce a personal best or in a competition to get certain results. “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.” Thomas S. Monson.
If you are looking for a way to motivate others or even yourself, keep score. Not for the purpose of deciding a winner and loser but for the purpose of putting meaning in the work others find dull, boring or difficult. The simple fact is, if you want something to improve, set and expectation, post the teams results and get out of the way. You will find the leadership on your team and people will respond to reach the expectations. Human nature comes with a great desire to feel important and contribute. We will see improvement when we keep score.