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Achieving Peak Performance: Education Without Motivation Serves No Useful Purpose

By Alan Zimmerman

Many "educated" individuals achieve very little on or off the job. They know what to do, and they know how to do it. The problem is they're not motivated enough to do much about it.

Motivation is not enough. If you motivate an idiot, all you have is a motivated idiot.

Education alone is not enough either. Many "educated" individuals achieve very little on or off the job. They know what to do, and they know how to do it. The problem is they're not motivated enough to do much about it.

The Gallup organization once analyzed its massive database and determined that ABOUT HALF (55 percent) OF TODAY'S EMPLOYEES HAVE NO ENTHUSIASM FOR THEIR WORK. Gallup labeled these people as "not engaged." In other words, they didn't have much loyalty to their organization or much desire to improve their job performance. It found that one in five (19 percent) were so negative about their jobs that they actually poisoned the workplace. In fact, when those employees called in sick, their organizations were more productive and efficient.

You may think, "Big deal. So what if some of our employees are not fully motivated?" It is a big deal. Their lack of motivation is costing your organization big bucks.

Gallup estimated that if companies could get 3.7 percent more work out of each employee, the equivalent of 18 more minutes of work each eight-hour shift, the gross domestic product in the United States would swell by $355 billion, twice the GDP of Greece.


If you're educating or training your employees, but you're not motivating them to use what they learn, you're wasting your time and your money.

The famous author, William Butler Yeats, said it quite well: "Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire." A more contemporary figure, Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, says, "In the 21st century, organizations have to achieve peak performance through inspiration by unleashing the power of their people -- not by teaching them, not by managing them, but by inspiring them."

If you educate and motivate your staff, you'll see an increase in productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately an increase in profits.

The Mercedes Benz plant in South Africa learned that. For a long time, the managers said their quality problems were due to an unmotivated, lazy workforce. That's why it took them two weeks to make a car that had 70 defects. By contrast, the Mercedes Benz plant in Europe could turn out a car in one week that had only fourteen defects.

Then, a fortunate accident occurred. After a year of suffering with productivity and quality problems, it just so happened that a car was being made for liberator and president Nelson Mandela. No particular mention or fanfare was made. The vehicle simply went through the assembly line with a tag on it that read, "For Mr. Mandela."


To the managers’ amazement, the car was completed in one week and had only ten minor problems. A light bulb went off in the managers' heads. Their workers were capable. They were educated enough to do the job and do it well. They had simply not been motivated enough to give their very best. It was at that point that the Mercedes leadership learned that they had to engage their workers' hearts, not just their hands.

Are you doing that in your organization? You're buying your employees' time. Are you also getting their hearts and minds?

Education plus motivation will not only help your organization make more money, but it will also save you a lot of money.

When I was speaking at a construction company, the CEO asked his employees a question. He asked, "What does it cost to put a piece of plywood on the floor? How much does it cost in terms of time and money?" The employees answered, "About ten minutes and twenty dollars."

The CEO replied, "Yes and no." He said that's what it would have cost if the job had been done right. Unfortunately, an employee slapped down the plywood poorly and didn't cover a hole properly. The ensuing lawsuit cost the company $450,000. The employee was educated. He knew what to do, but he wasn't motivated enough to do it right.

Here Are My Top 3 Tips To Motivating & Engaging Your Staff’s Hearts:

1. Take a look at the training you’re offering employees. Is it really motivating them? As a speaker, I find that many people in my audiences are quite well educated. They're filled with knowledge. However, sometimes they don't have enough motivation to use all the knowledge they possess.

2. Listen to what your colleagues are saying when they hear about an upcoming seminar. Do you hear groans and complaints about having to go? Or do you hear comments of excitement, as people can't wait for it to begin? What you hear will tell you how successful your past classes have been in motivating people.

3. If you're not hearing almost unanimous excitement, re-examine the education you're offering and re-examine those who are leading it. One bad class or one poor instructor can leave a negative legacy for a long time to come.

So you see … education without motivation serves no useful purpose.


Best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to get and stay motivated all the time … no matter what. In his award-winning program, "THE JOURNEY TO THE EXTRAORDINARY," Dr. Zimmerman outlines the 12 steps you must take to achieve peak performance. For a FREE GUIDED TOUR of the 12 steps, please click here.


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Status: 18. Januar 2008