Inspiring workers

Question: What can a business leader do to inspire his workers?

Answer: Nothing.

A business leader who thinks he can change the productivity of his workers by "inspiring" them misunderstands the nature of work and workers. With rare exceptions (military, prison, slavery) people do not consider work to be the the only element of their lives. They work to make a better life for themselves and their families, away from work. (This is not to say they don't take pride in how well they do their jobs--I only mean that there are other things besides their jobs.) Inspiration is low on the list of rewards they are looking for and it is low on the list of things that matter in their jobs. A better work place would be an inspiration, but this is not the inspiration that most business leaders think of. They think they can sing lofty praises, make promises of glory, or give pep talks, with nothing more, and cause their workers to become teary eyed about what a wonderful contribution they are making, thereby leading to unheard of levels of productivity.

(Question: Do pay raises depend on the level of inspiration in individual workers? If not, then why should workers give a damn about inspirational slogans or posters?)

The unchanging and universal laws of physics do not permit an unlimited amount of work to be performed with limited time or resources. Any leader who thinks he has found the magic solution that has eluded everybody else in history may be right, but if he is right, why isn't he a trillionaire?

Workers who take pride in their work and do their best don't need inspiration. Those who don't care or cannot perform will not benefit from inspiration anyway. In either case, trying to inspire workers is a big waste of time.

So, if inspiration is not the duty of the leader, what is? How about creating an environment conducive to productive work? One where the workers can concentrate on their task rather than on the latest fad or slogan. How about removing obstacles to workers' performances, like pointless meetings, destructive rules, childish pep rallies, or conditions which instill a depressing feeling that crappy work conditions will never change? How about, instead of excuses, hiring workers who are at least as good as the ones your competition is able to hire?

If you are a worker who has a leader who tries to inspire you by telling you that "anything is possible," then of course you don't believe it, because you've seen such claims many times. If you openly disagree with it, then you are considered a trouble maker. But if you are ever tempted to prove to such an imbecile that all things are not possible, you can do so easily. Don't disagree with him. Just ask for a raise.

Besides, if "anything" is possible, you and your coworkers would not be needed. Your boss could do all the work himself. It's funny how "anything is possible" applies only as long as somebody else has to do the work, isn't it?

One thing I've noticed is that leaders who are into the "inspiring" thing are usually the reason moral has hit rock bottom in the first place, because of their abusive, hypocritical, and time wasting practices.

I'm not sure I want to get started on the issue of trying to boost productivity by hanging inspirational posters like this.

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