Any of us can only be the best through working with others
More than HR (MTHR Global), a rapidly growing and dynamic HRD movement across India invited Dr. Bob Nelson, President, Nelson Motivation, Inc. to their recent HR Seminar in Mumbai. He shares with People Matters the emerging concept of ‘Ubuntu’ to rekindle the human spirit in organizations
How has the concept of motivation evolved in the present scenario where employees enjoy endless opportunities?
Self-motivation and initiative has become more important because employees can achieve much more – for their organizations and for themselves – with the possibilities that exist in today’s market. People are limited only by their own lack of motivation to explore possibilities, contacts and new connections and in the process, create value often from nothing.
To what extent is ‘motivation’ as a concept influenced by culture?
Motivation is significantly influenced by culture. Some cultures are more collectivist or group-oriented, such as in many Asian countries; others are more individualists, such as the United States. India, I feel, is evolving from the collectivist to the individualist, in which employees are realizing that their ideas count and that they can make a difference where they work.
How would you define the concept of ‘Ubuntu’ in the context of the business?
Ubuntu is a traditional South African cultural concept that emphasizes the connectivity we have with one another. None of us are on an island and the more we work together to help others succeed, the more that success is reflected back on us. “I am who I am through others” - a concept my co-author (Dr. Stephen Lundin) and I felt was perfect to help bring to the workplace in a dynamic, fast-moving and stressful environment to help rekindle the human spirit in the workplace. Any of us can only be the best through working with others.
How is Ubuntu different from other existing team work concepts?
It is more spiritual. I teach ‘creating and managing high-performing teams’ at the university level and most approaches to teamwork focus on processes and techniques for increasing efficiency and typically, do not dwell on the element of human connection and meaning, that comes from working as a team and helping others to achieve their greatest potential. Ubuntu is a way of life.
What is its relevance in the way workforce is changing business dynamics? Is its application as significant in all cultures and work-styles?
As business is embracing technology at a faster rate, there is increasing alienation among employees who spend more and more of their time interfacing with a computer and less time interacting with others and their boss. Ubuntu can help give employees and managers a perspective that causes them to try to keep meaning in the workplace and the work, by how we work with one another. It is applicable to all cultures and work styles, and work environments.