Sorry for the radio silence over here – I’ve been busy! A baby shower for my cousin, followed by the arrival of her daughter on Thursday, combined with my new job, barbecues with friends, and lots of running, coffee, and snacks.
Last weekend I finished re-reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which is so good. It’s probably my favourite of her books (although I’m always torn about whether On Beauty is better). I also read Drive, by Daniel Pink. I really enjoyed this book – his hypothesis being that, rather than needing “carrot and stick” extrinsic motivators to work, most people (particularly in intellectually stimulating jobs) are intrinsically motivated, and that traditional carrots like money can actually cause problems. Basically, he posits, people should be given autonomy (over who they work with, when they work, and, to as much an extent as possible, what they work on); the ability to master a task (ie, make it challenging enough that people end up working in a state of flow); and a purpose.
Sounds great, right? But I find it really overwhelming to think about how these ideas could possibly be brought into a giant hierarchical organization like where I work. He talks about Results Only Workplace Environments, where it doesn’t matter if you’re around at all as long as your work gets done, but what would we use as deliverables in diplomacy? And as a manager, how can I help my employees find intrinsic motivation in work that is somethings very routine?
Anyways, I really liked the book, and it’s given me a lot to spin around in the old noodle. It’s terrifying to think that as early as a year from now, I will probably be managing a team of people (if anyone from work is reading this – just kidding! Not terrifying! I’m totally competent!). But seriously – scary. Not because I think I’ll automatically be terrible, but just because it will be a very new experience, and I’m very conscious of the huge responsibility I’ll have to try and make work as rewarding and engaging as possible, while making sure that things run smoothly. I mean, obviously most of my first posting will be spent learning the ropes and hanging on for dear life rather than trying to implement exciting changes in the way the government thinks about motivation of employees, but big picture, right?
Do any of you manage people? Is it totally scary or not so bad? Do you try and make sure people feel fulfilled, or is that not on your radar?