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Using the Power of Pride in an organization to generate motivation

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Despite Pride being one of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is a powerful if not underused means of getting things done in the workplace. Pride is an emotion of self-respect.

It is an emotion that, if tapped into, you can use to motivate others, particularly in technical job areas. I use pride as a trigger often – I don’t consider it as manipulative as in almost all circumstances its exhibition benefits you and the person or persons it is triggered in.

As an example hereon, imagine you need some thorough technical documentation to make a decision from. You have three options; document it yourself, buy it, or delegate it. Documenting it yourself might be impossible if you don’t have the time, knowledge or skills. Buying it might be costly or impossible if the subject matter is particular to your technology or its application. You might not be in a position of authority or power to formally request the work to be done. So what should you do?

If the documentation needed can most efficiently be created by knowledgeable colleagues, then this is the way you should go. In fact not doing so, i.e. having the documentation created by some other way, could be perceived as a threat by the colleague. The better option is to motivate them to do the work by creating in them the purpose to do so. Pride could be the key.
Imagine then that the trigger for pride is to give your colleague the opportunity to be great. ‘Great’ in the sense that they will be saving the day, or correcting a mistake that you have made. So imagine then that you ask your colleague to do the work under some big cause for the greater good by articulating how the documentation is pivotal to making the big business decision (big is relative to your colleagues sphere of awareness). You might say (but do it honestly) that a senior manager or exec needs the decision to be made. Offer the recognition to your colleague at a senior level, even if you have to ask for an intermediary manager to request the recognition. Ensure you always follow up on the recognition, and of course your own gratitude is important and sometimes enough.

I’ve found that technical professionals like us are very proud and love to point out the mistakes of their peers. If you think it is a big ask to request your colleague to do the documentation from scratch, then start the documentation to your best knowledge. It’s OK to not be 100% confident in its accuracy. If you could do that then you should do the documentation yourself. Once you’ve completed your draft (and perhaps where you have gaps put in the title headings of what you need) then ask your colleague to review it and fix any mistakes. I bet you’ll find the mistakes are corrected first before any gaps are filled! Once you’ve got what you need, again make sure that your colleague is credited for their contribution.

Pride is a simple but powerful motivator. Don’t be afraid to use it. Develop this as a skill and you’ll find that it happens naturally and if you do feel it is manipulative at first, it’s possibly because you’ve done it a bit clumsily, but you’ll find with practice you become more adept at doing it smoothly and with integrity.

Of course this doesn’t just apply to getting documentation, and indeed just with your colleagues and peers. This is technique you can use with anything and anyone. It is an application of reward power, and everyone likes rewards!

I’d love to hear your stories from you!

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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