Motivation in the Civil Service


Before we begin exploring ways to tackle motivational problems, let us first discuss some of the telling signs of an unmotivated staff:


Telling Signs

It is clear that unmotivated staff are more than just lazy staff. They are not proactive and are afraid to make decisions. The following are some remarks that typically reflect these symptoms:

"The more you work, the more mistakes you make. So don't do anything unless you have to. And even then, do as little as possible."

"We just do our job, play it safe. We are not paid to make our own judgement. It is perfectly alright to seek and follow the boss's instructions every time."

"Why bother making suggestions? Let's check how the job was done last time and follow suit."

Are these symptoms common place in the civil service? If so, how can we turn them around? Let us reflect on the following questions:


What Prevents Government Employees from Becoming Motivated Employees?

The common responses are the following:


Fallacies of Motivation

While the above "de-motivators" can adversely affect staff motivation, fallacies of motivation will put us on the wrong track and turn to waste our efforts to motivate.

  • Some people are motivated and some are not.

    "That guy is dead wood. He is on maxi. Nothing we can do about him."

    But the truth is everybody can be motivated, the question is how.

  • Threat is the only motivation that some people understand.

    "Do it right next time or you'll see the consequence."

    But the widespread use of threat leads to negativity, fear and avoidance behavior - such is not conducive to sustaining high performance.

  • Rewards will do it all.

    "You're paid to do the job."

    But real motivation is not for sale - buying allegiance is not an effective long-term motivational strategy.


What Motivates Staff ?

Is money the magic solution to motivation? There are many other effective tools to motivate staff. When junior and middle managers attending management training programmes are asked about their civil service career, they remember vividly the times when:


Characteristics of a Motivated Staff

Reflected through their actions are some of the following behaviors:


Purpose Why Do We Need Motivation? Motivation in the Civil Service Within Our Own Boundary At the Organisational Level Motivation and HRM Your Own Staff Motivation Plan Motivation and You


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