Sunday, December 14, 2008

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The great visionary and a very successful leader who transformed himself from an ordinary person to the king of Magadh, Acharya Vishnugupta (Chanakya) classified people into five types:

· ‘Pradiptapragya’ means those who are sharp and dashing
· ‘Guptapragya’ means those who have undiscovered talent
· ‘Suptapragya’ means those who are talented but take no action
· ‘Truptpragya’ means those who are contented
· ‘Luptpragya’ means those who have lost interest

While dealing with people, according to Chanakya, one must identify as to which type the person belongs to find out the reasons responsible for his state of mind. Then decide the action to deal with him.


These are the people who are highly motivated. Most of them are self – motivated. Their source of motivation is their belief in their own values. Pradiptapragyas have appealing personality are intelligent, witty, energetic, and eager to perform. They are Sharp and dashing and love challenges. However, they are thoughtful; consider various options before action. One can trust them. To keep a Pradiptpragya motivated is like adding fuel to fire. To get best out of them one must keep adding fuel to their fire by offering challenging jobs, listening carefully to their suggestions and entrusting greater responsibilities.


A Guptpragya is like a mango or a rubber tree in its budding stage. A mango or a rubber tree takes a few years to grow before it starts giving fruits or rubber. Still, farmers very patiently nurture these plants. They know, once these saplings will become a tree, the returns will be enormous. Similarly, Guptpragyas are the people one need to invest managerial input. Once they develop themselves, will pay back whatever investment is made in their development. They have undiscovered talent. One needs to persuade a ‘Guptapragya’ for accepting a challenging task. Once he accepts it, does not need any explanation or demonstration; just a word of encouragement will do the rest.

In ‘Ramayana’ the episode of ‘Hanuman ji’ crossing the sea to reach ‘Lanka’ is a perfect example. Until the time ‘Jambuvant’ persuaded him by saying these words, “Kavan so kaj kathin jag manhi, jo nahi hot tat tum panhi” (which is that difficult task in the world that you cannot do), even Hanuman ji could not believe that he can cross the sea.


Suptpragyas are the people, who by nature are talented but take no action. These people live their lives like a patient of somnambulism, who keeps walking while asleep. However, unlike a patient of somnambulism they are cognizant. They know a minimum amount of efforts is needed to sustain their jobs, hence, always limit their potential. Until these people are awaken from their sleep, will not produce desired results. To optimize output from them one must persuade them to take actions, suggest clear-cut actions, remind them of their past achievements and provide regular feedback on their performance.


Unlike a Pradiptpragya, a Truptpragya is complacent. Complacency and motivation do not go hand in hand; rather both act in opposite directions. Complacency make them idle, they lose interest in their job. Even to put minimum efforts required to carry out their job becomes tedious for them. To bring back these people in the main stream is like bringing back a ship to the shore or to the right path that had lost its route in the deep sea. One need to help them, bring back once again their desire to succeed. Let them experience a little pride in their life, enjoyment and excitement in whatever they do.


These are the people who have lost interest. These people are very difficult to motivate, however one must try to find out the exact reason for their loss of interest, accordingly a suitable action should be taken to bring them back to normal.

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Money is it the 'BEST' Motivator

“You can take a horse to the pond but cannot make it drink” is an old proverb. However, the irony is that it is true of human beings as well. Have you ever wondered?
· “Why doesn't this person work?”
· “Why do I always get bad people (colleagues and superiors) to work with?”
· “Why does this colleague hate me?”
· “Why does this person want to embarrass me?”

Would you like to explore?

. Why some people behave in a particular fashion?
· What makes people work and produce extraordinary results?
· Why some people refuse to work even when they are paid better than others?
· What makes people dissatisfied at the work place?

Well, it is the individual’s motivation that propels a person to do an extraordinary act. Motivation is like an accelerator in a vehicle. A vehicle keeps moving at the pace decided by its accelerator. The moment accelerator is reduced, vehicle’s speed reduces and it may come to a standstill if there is no further acceleration. Alternatively, if brakes are applied, there will be an abrupt reduction in the speed of the vehicle and it may come to a standstill. This is true to human beings as well. As long as they are motivated they keep working and producing extraordinary results. The moment there is a drop in their acceleration (motivation), results start diminishing. Of course, applying brakes (dissatisfaction/demotivation) certainly bring them to a halt.

It is a myth that ‘MONEY’ is the best motivator. It is observed that people keep working for a company for money but do not necessarily produce any extraordinary results. On the contrary, people take initiative and produce extraordinary results because of their own motivation. It is rightly said, “Money and job satisfaction are the two wings of a bird; one is enough for survival, but to fly high both are required.

Most of us believe that it is very easy to motivate a person. However, it is true that nobody can motivate anybody. Motivation is an inner feeling, a desire, and an inclination that compels a person to act or behave in a certain manner. An individual gets either motivated or demotivated solely because of oneself. As a practicing manager we have a very limited role as far as job contents, design or working conditions are concerned. Nevertheless, we have an important role to play i.e. creating the right environment for people to feel motivated and perform.
Another important role we need to play effectively is to carry out ‘Performance Appraisal’ and provide feedback to our team members on a regular basis. Though all of us know recognition and rewards motivate a person yet on many occasion we fail to do so. Remember, “Things that get rewarded get done”. As a manager if we fail to reward the right behavior, most likely we get the wrong results.

A mistake most of us often commit is that we handle all our team members in the same manner. We forget what motivates one does not necessarily motivate the other. Different people have different needs; it is their craving for fulfilling these needs that pushes them to put in extraordinary efforts. For instance, a person in his early years of career may be more concerned for money. However, over a period instead of money, the job security matters to him more. At this stage he/she may not be as disappointed on not getting the incentive as on missing a promotion. The great ‘Chanakya’ rightly defined it as, “different strokes for different folks”.

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Signals of Demotivation

Nirav an extraordinary brilliant young man got selected in a multi-national company. He was excited; ever since he joined the management school it was his dream to join this company. He was offered a handsome package, which apart from offering a good salary included a house and a car. Within three month of his joining he got an opportunity to attend a training program conducted at Singapore, a place he always wanted to visit. It has come to as a surprise to everyone when he had left the job within a period of less than six months. What was more shocking that he did not have a job in hand at the time of resigning?

What could be the reason for Nirav to leave a company that he always wanted to work? Well, the reason could be many e.g. it could simply be the indifferent behavior of his immediate boss. Just like Nirav a vast number of talented people leave organizations despite being offered best salaries in the industry. This is the height of dissatisfaction resulting into their demotivation that forces them to take this extreme step. Let’s look at our own team members. They are free agents and not the fixed assets of our organization. If we become too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy or too critical it can stress out them. If this continues every time they interact with us, they may decide to leave us and not necessarily the organization. The first time, person may not leave, but a thought gets planted. The second time, the thought gets strengthened and the third time, he starts looking for another job and finally moves on to a new job. Often it is a seemingly minor issue that may instigate them to quit. It is well said, “It isn't the 100th blow that knocks good man down it’s the 99 that went before”.

Did we ever imagine that if one of our team members leaves what it would cost to us and to our organization? Apart from the cost of finding a suitable replacement and to train him, organization will have to pay the cost for not having someone to do the job that was assigned to him. Specially, if the person was dealing with external environment the cost will be much more. It will include the loss of customers, the contacts the person had with the industry, and the loss of business secrets this person may now share with others. It will also result into the loss of morale in co-workers and of course, the loss of the company's reputation. It is well said, “Every person who leaves an organization then becomes its ambassador, for better or for worse”.

Sometimes, even an unintentional move can lead to the demotivation of our team member. Therefore, it is important for us to keep observing the signals our team members may give when he/she is getting demotivated. The moment such signal are visible we must take corrective steps; otherwise we may lose a good team member forever. Given below is a list of signals that suggest a motivational problem.
· Shows lack of enthusiasm
· Ignore actions suggested
· Avoids responsibility
· Come in late, while want to leave early for the day
· Taking leaves, specially on important occasions
· Shows resentment working with poor tools/equipment
· Stops meeting deadlines
· Displays lack of team spirit
· Want to break off and have fun during the working hours
· Doesn’t accept any of your special requests
· Magnifies a minor problem into a big one
· Spends too much time on outside activities/interests, (Union activities or running a
business of his own)
· Anti-management attitude

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Physics & Human Nature

Physics and human nature have lot many similarities. We are aware of Newton’s laws of motion and its applications. But do we know these laws apply to human nature as accurately as it applies to Physics.

Newton’s Third law of motion:

To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

According to this law when two or more bodies interact with each other their action and reaction act in pairs that too on different bodies. The common example of rocket propulsion explains it. Gases produced by the combustion of the fuel are ejected out from a rocket, which is the ‘Action’. ‘Reaction’ to this action generates the thrust on the rocket. As a result the rocket moves forward while the gases are ejected out in the opposite direction.

Similarly, we must remember that to our every action there will be a reaction from the other person. Most of the time this reaction is in opposite direction, as everyone tries to believe in his/her viewpoint. While interacting with others everybody tries to hold his/her viewpoint as correct. If something is told he/she instead of accepting/agreeing tries to justify his/her own stance. He/she may be your own team/family members or a customer. Therefore, whenever you do not like a particular action or behavior of somebody instead of reacting must try to introspect. What is our action, which might be responsible for that particular action/behavior of the person we are interacting with?

In ‘Mahabharata’ when in the battle field ‘Arjuna’ asked ‘Lord krishna’, “Keshav, aap itne stithipragya kaise rah lete hein”. Means how can you be so, ‘Undeterred’ in every situation, whether it is a moment of joy or sorrow”. “Krishna’ replied, “Because I always act”. An action is always controlled and appropriate whereas a reaction is uncontrolled as well as most of the times it is in opposite direction, which may not be appropriate as well. Therefore, instead of reacting immediately we should take time, introspect, and then respond according to the situation based on a particular action or behavior of opponent.

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Physics & Human Nature

Physics and human nature have lot many similarities. We are aware of Newton’s laws of motion and its applications. But do we know these laws apply to human nature as accurately as it applies to Physics.

Newton’s Second law of motion:

The rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the applied force and takes place in the direction in which the force acts.

According to this law it is the applied force, which decides how long a moving mass will continue to move in a particular direction. This is also called as Velocity. Very often the word velocity and speed are used interchangeably. But these two words are different. Velocity is a vector quantity, which has both magnitude as well as direction, whereas speed is a scalar quantity having only magnitude.

Similarly, this is our ‘Motivation’ i.e. our desire/interest (the velocity), which decides extent of our success. More and more is the desire/interest towards a particular job better are our chances of success. But remember, if the actions are not aligned in the direction, which help us to achieve goals we can gain speed, in other words will work hard and much faster than others, still will not yield results as expected. Therefore, this is our duty to set the direction for ourselves as well as our team members so as our motivation ‘the force’ works as velocity and take us to those heights of success, which nobody has attained so far.

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Physics & Human Nature

Physics and human nature have lot many similarities. We are aware of Newton’s laws of motion and its applications. But do we know these laws apply to human nature as accurately as it applies to Physics.

Newton’s First law of motion:

Every body persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by force impressed on it.

According to this law an object remains in state of inertia or in uniform motion till an external agency forces it to change its state. This external agency is known as a force. Similarly we do not change our state of affairs unless and until a force is applied on us. We do not take initiative or an action till we are compelled to do so. We do not change our line of action either till the time a force compels us to change it. This force could be due to our own will or could be the influence of someone else.

Now the question arises what is that force which forces us to change. This is the willingness to change. In other words it is our ‘Motivation’. Without ‘Motivation’ nobody moves or does any thing. According to one hypothesis the word ‘Motivation’ has come from a word ‘Motus’, which in English means movement. This explains the fact that no movement takes place in us and we remain in state of inertia till our motivation forces us to do so. But this theory does not explain why we keep doing an act repetitively. This is once again due to our motivation.

A better explanation comes about the origin of word ‘Motivation’ from the word ‘Motive’. According to this hypothesis, there is always a motive behind each and every act of a person. Without a motive we do not take any action. The reason for our state of inertia i.e. not taking any action could be due to the inhibition or simply lack of interest in that particular act. This also explains why we always act in a certain manner or keep doing an act repetitively.

Even the premise of ‘Court of Justice’ is based upon it. According to law, the origin of word ‘Crime’ is from a word ‘Mansrea’. In English ‘Mansrea’ means ‘guilty mind’. Therefore, according to ‘Indian Penal Code’ a person is not to be penalized a death or life sentence under section ‘IPC – 302’ even if he/she had committed a murder but in self-defense. On the other hand the same person may be penalized under section ‘IPC – 307’ a rigorous imprisonment for 7 years for just aiming a gun on somebody if his/her motive was to kill him i.e. an attempt to murder.

Excerpts from the book: ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you

Vivek Mehrotra

Physics & Human Nature

Physics and human nature have lot many similarities.

Conflicting expectations of superiors

According to ‘Physics’, whenever two forces are applied on a single object, it is the direction and the strengths of individual force that decides resultant force applicable on the object (direction and strength of the resultant force). For example, Force ‘A’ has an intrinsic strength of say 2 units, whereas force ‘B’ has strength of 3 units. Both the forces are working upon object ‘O’ from two different directions. Ultimately the effect of force on the object ‘O,’ i.e., the resultant force, will be diagonal to the direction of force ‘A’ and ‘B.’ Moreover, the strength of this resultant force will be less than the sum of their individual strengths. In this case, it will be less than 5.
On the contrary, if both the forces act upon the object in the same direction the strength of the resultant force will be the sum total of their individual strengths, i.e., 5. As parents/managers most of the time, we have conflicting expectations from our children/team members. We not only give different instructions (sometimes contradictory to each other or our own instructions given earlier) but also compel the child/subordinate to work according to our instructions only. Conflicting instructions of parents/superior confuse the child/person as to which instruction to follow. Ultimately he resorts to an entirely different action, which may not conform to any of the instructions given. Therefore, while giving an instruction to child/person, we must keep in mind that the instruction does not contradict the instructions of spouse/senior, company or given earlier by ourselves.

Excerpts from the book: Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you
Vivek Mehrotra