Motivation Mgt by Dr Dave

  • By Dr. Nalini V Dave
  • February 2002

Courtesy and Copyright Prabuddha Bharata.

Indian philosophy considers work essentially as an exercise of energy. A living body has no alternative but to work. And this work is considered duty and is the only means in the hands of the individual to grow and develop materially as well as spiritually. Hence management is to direct people’s energies only in the right direction by re-establishing this basic truth of our philosophy where motivation is taken not as something external but rather internal.

The Bhagavadgita is a story of motivation. Arjuna was initially motivated but he lost his motivation due to his micro-vision, due to some obstacles, due to some confusion in his mind. All that was required was to remove these obstacles and make him view the situation on a wider canvas by applying a macro-vision. Thus, removing the obstacles during the performance of our job is motivation from the Indian point of view. For example, a piece of sandalwood kept in water for a long period smells bad; but if dried and cleaned, its sweet fragrance will spread around naturally once again. What we are doing here is only removing the obstacles to the expression of the sweet scent. Such motivation involves inner beauty and does not prompt any greed in an individual to have more and more in return for his work, as envisaged in western motivation theories.

Indian philosophy, instead, states that people would be most motivated to work when management helps them in developing and manifesting their innate divinity and potential capabilities by removing everything that comes in the way of their performance. The whole process of motivation includes these five stages: (a) listen patiently; (b) place stress on good or plus points, i.e. strengths; (c) discuss at the intellectual level; (d) show an action plan to achieve the goal; and (e) discuss the consequence of the plan. This is a wonderful way of motivating an individual’s full potential towards a desired action. Global management theories need to follow this Indian practice for their own benefit.

Motivation, moreover, also needs new dimensions in a changing scenario. Nowadays, multicultural management is becoming important. It will become more crucial in the future, when management must have the skill to cope with diversity. If it can take care of the interests of different cultures, if people working in an organization are assured of their interests, they will be motivated automatically. Traditional motivation theories will no longer work then. Thus the ways and means to motivate people will be quite different in the management theories of the future.

Further the number of blue-collar jobs reduced from 88% in the 1960s to 17% in the 1990s due to technological revolution and is likely to dwindle further to only about 2% by 2025. The place of capitalists is being taken away by Knowledge Professionals today. In fact, the work force will be divided only into two categories in the future: 20% would be knowledge workers and 80% would be service workers who will be more diversely educated and trained; the latter group will also be well-informed technocrats. The whole world is now getting transformed into a competitive global market where there will be no job security in the future. This is already being seen in the West, where lay-offs are very common. An individual has to prove his competence by performance-not only for his development but also for his own survival.

Organizations, on the other hand, are seeking horizontal growth in their style of functioning they operate through autonomous teams. Work itself is a leader and motivator for them. Once goals are set, they know what is expected of them and they perform at their best. Further, organizations sometimes run even without having their offices at any given place. People work even from their homes with the help of computers and innovative tools of telecommunication. The manager may even work with some people for years, without meeting them personally!

All these newer developments that are gathering momentum make motivation an internal factor. It will no longer remain an external factor, as viewed by western management philosophies. Therefore Indian philosophy, which has always considered motivation internal since the Vedic age, will be more appropriate for the future. Individuals are born divine, and are full of potential capabilities. Management has only to provide appropriate fields and opportunities and environments for them to manifest these potentialities, that’s all. The obstacles to the manifestation should also be removed. This is the essence of motivation in Indian philosophy. Such a vision of motivation deserves to be taken up seriously in the future.

Human Management
Human resource is considered the most important resource as it contributes to the effective functioning of an organization with its skill, talent, intelligence, creativity and experience. Certain qualities required for better people management in Indian philosophy will be dealt with now.

1.Indian philosophy says, Consider every work as sacred and important. In Indian culture no work is superior or inferior. Every work is equally important. What matters is the attitude with which the work is performed. Work is for bringing out the innate divinity and effecting individual growth-both material as well as spiritual. Such an understanding of the dignity of labor on the part of the management will go a long way to form a healthy and harmonious relationship with employees.

2. The second point in Indian philosophy is the oneness of existence. Vedanta says that the same. Self is present in every being. There is a holistic idea of the universe, which provides the vision of oneness of humanity. Aham brahmasmi (‘I am Brahman’) and tattvamasi (‘You are That’) are the fundamental teachings of Vedanta. If the manager makes his employees feel that the same Spirit dwells within them as in him, they will excel in whatever work they perform. This is true people management.

3. The Rajarshi concept of our scriptures indicates that a manager must be a raja king skilled in governance; at the same time he must be a Rishi, a seer. The ideal human being is one with divine qualities, who can successfully manage himself as well as others with love and care. Robert Owen used to say that if we can take care of our machines, why should we not take care of our human beings, who are living beings with feelings emotions and likes and dislikes? The manager has to learn to win people over by his caring nature. Indian philosophy holds that people cannot be won over by command or order but by love and consideration of equality alone.

A manager is a leader, and a leader is always expected to cultivate an exemplary behavior because he is looked upon as an ideal by the people around him. The values followed by him will be followed by the people around. His thoughts and actions will influence his surroundings. Therefore if he manifests the qualities of a rajarshi, a king-sage he is sure to win people over. His honesty sincerity and devotion to the ideal will influence his subordinates too.

4. Managing the self means one has to manage oneself effectively that is one has to control one’s passions desires and ambitions. Self-management also means the maintaining of balance in one’s affairs. Control over one’s anger aversion desires and such other qualities in day-to-day functioning will help the manager be successful.

An important problem of modern times is stress. Generally managers experience stress due to a large number of factors. The global market economy with a competitive environment has caused further stress. Nowadays managers have to work in a target-oriented atmosphere with deadlines specified where they will have to perform in a very competitive, conflicting challenging environment with the sword of lay-off always hanging upon their heads. In such a situation in order to cope with stress, the manager should understand the principle of karma yoga of the Bhagavadgita.

5. What does the Bhagavadgita teach? You are free to act or not to act or choose how to act. Work is your jurisdiction. But after performance the result falls into the jurisdiction of laws of nature. The result does not belong to your jurisdiction.

Every action ends in a result: this is a scientific truth. Therefore if a contrary or unexpected result comes it should not disturb your mind because the result is not in your hands. You should not internalize the situation by considering yourself to be a failure because the result is an objective reality. Failure or success is a subjective perception. It is also affected by so many other factors like karma, which are simply beyond you. All you are expected to do, as an effective manager is work sincerely giving importance to minute details and with perfect concentration. This demands the practice of meditation which is yet another contribution of Indian philosophy. Concentration the mind eliminating any disturbing thought while you are in your workplace.

Concentration on the work improves it in quality and the result is also good. Concentration also brings in peace and calm, which are antidotes to stress. The manager has therefore to consider all work as sacred and work as an agent. Then work will not entangle him and will not deceive him either. The Bhagavadgita has proclaimed in a loud voice: The doer of good never comes to grief. So all that the effective manager needs to do is work with devotion and sincerity concentrating on all details giving the mind only to the means (process) and not the end and leave the rest to God or nature. Everything will then become favorable for him. This philosophy is so perfect that it is both time-tested as well as foolproof.

Compare this with western management philosophy where the result or end is the prime factor. Imagine the stress one has to endure by adhering to such a philosophy! Stress will not only affect the person it also will affect his work and his efficiency will also reduce as days pass by. Indian thought declares that we are all amritasya putrah children of immortal bliss. Everyone around us is also that. Therefore the manager has not much to grumble or complain. On the contrary he has a fertile land to cultivate his skills and service attitude.

Such a wonderful philosophy of work is the imperative need of the world of the future. Indian philosophy has gone to the root of all the problems and has brought out wonderful answers to them. Such a school of management will have a bright future enabling managers to be stress-free yet successful.  

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