The case presents the reader with the embedded interests and accompanying values of six people with different backgrounds. Although dissimilar to some extent, common values and motives are shared by them.
Nitin Nohria; Matthew D. Breitfelder; Daisy Wademan Dowling
Harvard Business Review (410031-PDF-ENG)
August 23, 2009
Case questions answered:
- What position/task/company/industry would each of these graduates be best suited for? Why?
- How would you shape HRM practices to each of them to maximize their productivity and added value to the company (e.g. work environment, remuneration, management style, other motivational aspects etc.)?
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Life Stories of Recent MBAs: Motivations Case Answers
This case “Life Stories of Recent MBAs: Motivations” presents a reader with the embedded interests and accompanying values of six people with different backgrounds. Although dissimilar to some extent, common values and motives are shared by them.
According to S. Sheward (2011), if a person adheres to his/her values in career, productivity, development, fruitful results, and job satisfaction can be reached.
Moreover, a concept of “flow” proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that by embedding personal values in the work process, “complete absorption” of the work with an overwhelming emotional stance is achieved.
Theory Y implies that intrinsic motivation can lead to self-development and the achievement of collective goals. While suggesting a potential work industry and position, the emphasis was put on unveiling each person’s interests and intrinsic motivation.
Monica highly values three pillars of engagement (involvement, empowerment, and purpose), and her job should definitely provide her with such.
Making responsible and purposeful decisions, being in charge, and acquiring new knowledge, making the world a better place should reflect in the work she does. She should join a non-profit organization to serve the society and satisfy her embedded interests and life goals.
Although she perceives money as not that important, F. Herzberg (2003) points out that hygiene factors should not be abandoned. The absence of extrinsic motivators can result in employee dissatisfaction.
An employer should be careful in addressing this issue. Flexible benefits plan thus should be offered to her if possible. Regular communication between her and the employer should be maintained, a high degree of responsibility in decision making, recognition, and appraisal provided to build her self-esteem and motivate her in the long run.
A Mentoring program would facilitate skill-building and give confidence in taking up new challenges (Kotter International, 2013). Recognition and growth are the motivators that should be penetrated in H&R practices. As a result, while shaping her skills and maintaining a work-life balance, she would be motivated to benefit society.
In my opinion, Ann should work in the welfare industry (be it a global organization or a national) because she is keen on helping others and has a valuable military background.
In fact, being an army officer is an altruistic decision that only a person who cares about others’ well-being would handle. I suggest that Ann chose a company where teamwork is highly valuable. She would feel more comfortable there.
Being a graduate of the HBS, she is a good fit for a strategy development position.
First of all, it would require analytical thinking (that for sure was developed by her during military services), discipline (so that deadlines are met), emotional stability (thinking critically, not being exposed to emotional misleads).
Working on different projects would help her to observe progress. I believe that she should start from lower positions due to constant exposure to supervision in the past. After adapting, she could proceed to the manager position.
Management by objectives should give her a space to maneuver in terms of decisions and self-development opportunities. It would help her to become more independent. At the same time, her progress and results would be assessed and analyzed.
Doing a valuable work in a team, an opportunity for further learning and growth should be sustained to keep her motivated. Sustaining a challenging work environment (that she is used to) would also facilitate motivation.
Jaime is an ambitious person with an entrepreneurial spirit. While arguing that society’s well-being can be maintained not only by non-profit organizations, he underlines the importance of monetary rewards to him.
Jaime would be suitable for a manager position in a service company because of recognition and social status; it will also foster altruistic engagement.
As wage is one motivator, variable pay can be implemented to sustain his motivation to work. F. Herzberg (2003) points out that both the increase and decrease of monetary rewards can motivate employees.
Moreover, three pillars of engagement should be addressed. He should be driven by the mission and vision of the company; the importance of his work should be emphasized.
Being a manager would allow him to inspire his subordinates, thus getting recognition. MBO and self-development opportunities are also crucial due to his strive for knowledge.
Being enthusiastic, with leadership skills, search for recognition, and belief in serving people, he should definitely set his own business.
First of all, he would have an opportunity to express and challenge himself as he is passionate about starting new things.
Second of all, he would have an opportunity to communicate with people to understand and meet their needs; thus, serving them. It would also require managing his employees, which, as mentioned by W. Butler (1999), would be a challenging experience, though bringing satisfaction and recognition.
As a leader, he should implement H&R practices himself. He could mentor some of the employees. Consequently, getting skilled and high performing staff and satisfying his will of being needed and sharing.
Mentoring others can not only improve the performance of the company but also make mentors proud and willing to develop business W. Butler (1999). He could also organize some events for employees and their families to penetrate trust in the company.
Being an attentive explorer, used to step out of his comfort zone, Alex would be a good R&D specialist in an international company. W. Butler (1999) argues that entrepreneurs, R&D specialists have a spirit of out-of-box thinking. Firstly, his thirst for excelling and improving existing projects would motivate him.
He would get a deep satisfaction from addressing critical issues and providing solutions for them. Secondly, he would be able to step out of his comfort zone, challenge himself, thus gaining more experience and achieve good results.
Alex should work in a team in order not only to generate more creative ideas but also to maintain communication and get recognition of his work done. It is important to communicate his progress to the managers and getting an appraisal for the work done.
One of the suggested H&R practices for him would be giving more freedom, cut working hours; hence, recreational activities would facilitate team spirit and engagement in the process (F. Herzberg, 2003).
I would introduce incentive pay (e.g., 15% of the salary based on performance) based on the progress made. According to G. Billikopf (2006), incentive pay stimulates the performance of the employee. MBO shall be implied for him to develop and achieve career growth.
Setting up a business in a health care industry (either a service or some products) would help Daniel to satisfy his embedded interest in changing the world. He would be exposed to constant challenges and, thus, a constant learning process.
As he likes communicating with people, he also would be able to manage his employees (mentor or coach them) and apply knowledge from the management course he enjoyed at the university.
He should define the values of his company in such a way that challengers would apply. A team of passionate, open, and humble people would secure the sustainability and growth of his company.
Moreover, awareness about the goal, mission, vision should constantly be reached, emphasizing them (P. M. Lencioni, 2002) so that people think and work in one direction.
He values teamwork; so, an open-plan office, regular progress checks, and engagement activities should be implemented to cultivate a friendly atmosphere in the company.
Billikopf, G. (2006, August 11). Performance Appraisal. Retrieved from https://nature.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7labor/06.htm
Butler, W. (1999). The Big Eight. Harvard Business Review, 77 (5), 148-152.
Herzberg, F. (2003). One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review, 81 (1), 87-96.
Kotter International. (2013, Jan 30). The Often Overlooked but Invaluable Benefits of Mentorship. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2013/01/30/the-often-overlooked-butinvaluable-benefits-of-mentorship/#1007949d63e8
Lencioni, P. M. (2002, July). Make Your Values Mean Something. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2002/07/make-your-values-mean-something
Sheward, S. (2014, February 11). Why you should identify your personal values before job-hunting. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careersblog/identify-your-values-before-job-seeking