Rethinking how you motivate others

Sep 29 2010 by Dan Bobinski Print This Article

If you try to motivate people through insults and intimidation (and I know a few of you do), you may want to think about the ripple effects of your actions.

As has been widely reported in the media, a second contestant from the TV show "Hell's Kitchen" has committed suicide.

It's a grey area to correlate the suicides with the belittling comments and intimidation from the Show's host, Gordon Ramsey, but it's not a grey area to realize that our actions have ripple effects.

For example, I recall a time when a manager came to me quite distraught. Her senior manager had insulted and belittled her in front of her co-workers and subordinates. The senior manager thought that doing so would motivate her to reach for higher levels of performance, but it had the opposite effect. She told me "I can hardly face my team. I don't even feel like showing up to work any more."

Anyone who supervises others should adhere to a long-standing and excellent management principle: Praise in public, criticize in private.

Sure, I know controversy creates ratings and Gordon Ramsey is striving for ratings so he can charge more for advertising and make more money. But what is the real cost of his belittling comments? No, I'm not going to draw a direct correlation between his obnoxious behavior and the suicide of two of his contestants. But I WILL state that I believe his comments were a contributing factor in both of those deaths. And now, this week a wife has lost her husband and three children have lost their dad.

Being in a position of authority over someone is a great responsibility. Think about the ripple effects of your words before you use them. Especially weigh any negative comments carefully. To you they might be "just words" Ö but they can leave scars that never heal, even though those scars cannot be seen.

If you don't care that your negative words might affect people negatively, then I suggest you shouldn't be a manager.