Employee Motivation – A Short Case Study Last November, I joined…

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Employee Motivation – A Short Case Study
Last November, I joined the CVS Caremark project at TCS in Noida, India after a successful stint at TCS’ Bangalore office, where I had worked as a trainee. I had always wanted to go back to Deli – my hometown – and live with my parents and when I got a transfer to Noida which is just a few miles away. I didn’t waste a single moment in saying yes to the opportunity. Many of my friends were also moving out from Bangalore at the same time which only made my decision easier. I felt that the Caremark project offered better career prospects, as it was a new project and we were offered to work on the current technologies that were in demand in the market.

I was sure I would excel in my new position at Caremark, just as I had done in my previous assignment. I joined as Assistant Systems Engineer on the Caremark project with a handsome pay hike for becoming a confirmed employee of the company. Since Caremark had international operations, there was a chance that I could be sent to USA or the UK to work on projects there. Knowing that this would give me a lot of exposure, besides looking good on my resume, I was quite excited about the new job. I joined my boss, Ashish Mehta’s five-member team in charge of the Caremark project out of TCS’ office in Noida. I had met Ashish during the interview sessions, and was looking forward to working under him. My team members seemed warm and friendly, and comfortable with their work. I introduced myself to the team members and got to know more about each of them. Wanting to know more about my boss, I casually asked Shobha, one of the team members, about Ashish. Shobha said, “Ashish does not interfere with our work. In fact, you could even say that he tries to ignore us as much as he can.” I was surprised by the comment but decided that Ashish was probably leaving them alone to do their work without any guidance, in order to allow them to realize their full potential.

At TCS’s office in Bangalore, I worked for Sudhir Reddy – someone I looked up to as a mentor. He was always guiding but never interfering. Sudhir had let me make my own mistakes and then learn from them. He had always encouraged individual ideas, and let his team discover the flaws, if any, through discussion and experience. He rarely held an individual member of his team responsible if the team as a whole failed to deliver – for him the responsibility for any failure was collective. I remembered telling my colleagues in Bangalore that the ideal boss would be someone who did not interfere with his/her subordinate’s work. I wanted to believe that my new boss, Ashish, was the non-interfering type. If that was the case then surely his non-interference would only help me to grow.

In my first week at work, I found the atmosphere at the office a bit dull. However, I was quite excited nonetheless. The team had been assigned a new project and was facing a few glitches with the new software. I thought about the problem till late in the night and had come up with several possible solutions. I could not wait to discuss them with the team and Ashish. I smiled to myself when I thought of how Ashish would react when I told him that I had come up with several possible solutions to the problem. I was sure he would be happy with me having put in so much effort into the project, right from day one. I was daydreaming about all the praise that I was going to get when Ashish walked into the office. I waited for him to go into his workplace, and after five minutes, requested a meeting with him. He asked me to come in after ten minutes. When I went in, he looked at me blankly and asked, “Yes?” Not sure whether he had recognized me, I introduced myself. He said, “Ok, but why do you want to meet me?” I started to tell him about the problems we were having with the software. But before I could finish he told me that he was busy with other things, and that he would send an email with the solution to all the members of the team by the end of the day, and that we could then implement it immediately.

I was somewhat taken aback. Ever the optimist, I thought that he had perhaps already discussed the matter with the team. I left Ashish’s office and went straight to where my team members sat. I thought it would still be nice to bounce ideas off them and also to see what solutions others might come up with. I told them of all the solutions I had in mind. I waited for the others to come up with their suggestions but not one of them spoke up. I was surprised, and asked them point-blank why they were so disinterested.

Sanjay, one of the team members, said, “What is the point in our discussing these things? Ashish is not going to have time to listen to us or discuss anything. He will just give us the solution he thinks is the best, and we will just do what he tells us to do; why waste everyone’s time?” I felt my heart sink. Was this the way things worked over here? However, I refused to lose heart and thought that maybe, I could change things a little. But as the days went by, I realized that Ashish was the complete opposite of my old boss. While he was efficient at what he did and extremely intelligent, he had neither the time nor the inclination to groom his subordinates. His solutions to problems were always correct, but he was not willing to discuss or debate the merits of any other ideas that his team might have. He did not hold the team down to their deadlines nor did he ever interfere. In fact, he rarely said anything at all! If work did not get finished on time, he would just blame the team, and totally disassociate himself from them.

Time and again, I found myself thinking of Sudhir – my old boss – and of how he had been such a positive influence. Ashish, on the other hand, even without actively doing anything, had managed to significantly lower my motivation. I gradually began to lose interest in the work – it had become too mechanical for my taste. I didn’t really need to think; my boss had all the answers. I was learning nothing new, and felt my career was going nowhere. As I became more and more discouraged, my performance suffered. From being someone with immense promise and potential, I was now in danger of becoming just another mediocre ‘techie’.

Questions for Discussion

  • What, according to you, were the reasons for Rohit’s disillusionment? Answer the question using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Hertzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory.
  • What should Rohit do to resolve his situation?
  • What can a team leader do to ensure high levels of motivation among his/her team members?

Technifi Expert’s Answer:

What, according to you, were the reasons for Rohit’s disillusionment? Answer the question using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Hertzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory.
Rohit’s disillusionment can be attributed to the self-esteem aspect of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The new manager failed to nurture him or give him confidence or the sense of achievement he needed. We can also explain it using Hertzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory where Rohit lacked Motivation Factors or Satisfies in his work such as achievement, recognition and work itself since it became mechanical in nature making him lose motivation.

What should Rohit do to resolve his situation?
Rohit should resolve the situation by being open to the manager about the difficulties he is facing and how it is stiffening his growth as well as his motivation. If manager fails to understand his needs, then he should try to change projects or move under a new manager.

What can a team leader do to ensure high levels of motivation among his/her team members?
Team leaders should ensure open channels of communication so as to understand the needs of his/her team members. In this case, the communication channel was one sided which affected the team’s morale and productivity. Team leaders should focus on balancing motivation and hygiene factors to motivate employees and improve productivity.

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