Μοιραστείτε το

How can human energies in a large institution be mobilized

Του Εμμανουήλ Γ. Νέτου, Ηλεκτρολόγου Μηχανικού (Η/Υ) ΕΜΠ, MSc, MBA

The need to mobilize human energies

As Aristotle said 2300 years ago, “Man (as a specie) has always the need to be a member of a society”. Involvement in the society means a number of activities undertaken every day that pre-conclude communication with other people. These activities include work, transportation, shopping, entertainment, love, etc, and are carried out by individuals or group of people. In management science, a joint of more than two people can be considered as a prototype of a primary organization.

In general, every organization is comprised of people who perform specialized tasks that are coordinated to enhance the value or utility of some good or service that is wanted by and provided to a set of customers or clients But above all the need of people in the organization is fundamental. Without people, organizations could not function. Even in highly automated plants people are required to co-ordinate and control the plant’s operations. Conversely, people need organizations so that they can satisfy their needs and wants, so that they can maintain their standard of living, and so that modern society can continue to function. This argument, grounded as well by many other arguments such as the demand for productive and efficient use of all the resources, the consumer’s demand for goods and services, the global economic competition and the societal expectations, urge on the need of a dynamic partnership between people and organizations.

This people-organization partnership is a continuously evolving one that is influenced by its complex environment. The environment itself is changing dynamically influenced by five basic elements: physical, technological, social, political, and economic. These elements are very important but two of them, the economic and social ones are considered to be the most crucial for this partnership.

For the Western European economies the forecast for the remaining years of the twentieth century is that: (1) The economies will grow at a relatively slow pace, focused on exports, tax free shipping of goods around the EEC countries and renewed growth in productivity in a strong world-wide competition. (2) Despite its international improvement, European manufacturing will held a much smaller share of the economy in the year 2000 than it does today. Service industries will create almost all the new jobs and the wealth in the coming years.

(3) The workforce will grow steadily, because for the big supply of workers from the ex-Eastern Europe countries, becoming older and having more females. (4) The new jobs in service industries will demand much higher skill levels than today’s jobs do. Few jobs will be created for those who cannot read, follow directions, use mathematics and computers. This will lead to both higher and lower unemployment: more joblessness among the least skilled, and less among the most educationally advantaged.

Meanwhile, vast changes have occurred in Europeans’ social values over the past years. The self-fulfillment seekers are changing the old giving-getting compact in every one of its dimensions: family life, career, leisure, the meaning of success and relationships with others. But Europeans seem to be evolving towards a new ethic of commitment, of connection with the world, seeking a whole new set of psychological satisfactions from their jobs.

These trends suggest that old approaches to managing people may no longer be appropriate responses to economic or social reality. The willingness of managers to experiment with new approaches to managing people is healthy. To the extend that the new approaches do enhance productivity and quality work life (QWL), everybody wins. The problems facing us cannot be simply willed away, and because of this, we may see even more radical experiments in organizations. The traditional role of manager may be blurred further as workers take a greater part in planning work, doing it and controlling it. This change suggests that the mobilization of human energies in organizations is becoming crucial and important to investigate in depth.

This field is undoubtedly wide, so our intention will be to mention the current theories in this area, giving at the same time examples of organizations that put these theories into practice. Motivation, leadership and quality work life are the main issues mentioned in this work. At the end, special attention is given on a relatively new topic concerning the organization communications which is called networking and introduces promising ideas of how a modern multinational organization should operate.

Ways of mobilization of human energies through motivation

The first and one of the most important connections of people working in an organization and its productivity, is motivation. Motivation of human energies in order to produce more and be more efficient. Many managers believe they can increase productivity by adding robots, introducing information systems, or modifying production procedures. However, as Adrian Gozzard, group personnel director for the UK’s Cadbury Schweppes, makes clear, productivity and the achievement of strategic goals are a matter not of computers and production systems, but of people: “In the company you have one resource; it’s people and the management of those people.. it is motivation that makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence. It is the glue that holds together the objectives and strategies of the organization. …” [l].

Organizations have numerous choices of how to motivate employees to be productive. Quite often, a combination of strategies works best. Some of the approaches commonly used to motivate are: reward, equity and involvement strategies.

Rewards is an important motivational tool for any organization. They include a wide range of incentives – paycheques, productivity bonuses, five-year pins, certificates, special vacations, etc. Usually, using pay as a reward is something that employees value and its value may be best understood in terms of the different needs employees have. Abraham Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs, a theory of motivation that arranges five universal needs in order of priority: physiological, safety, belongingness; esteem and self-actualization needs [2].

Employees treated with the basic principle of equity, expect that what they give to the organization will be equivalent to what they receive from it. When things are out of balance, employees will take actions to bring them back into balance. Equity theory is the motivational theory that explains how employees respond to situations in which they feel they have received less (or more) than they deserve. The theory states that feelings of inequity will motivate a person to reduce inequity [3].

Providing rewards based on performance and equitably distributing them are only two of the important tools organizations can use to elicit high performance from their employees. Another is enhancing employee involvement. Although a variety of programs have been developed to involve employees more fully in their organizations, all of these programs have one common ingredient: participation. They increase the degree to which employees participate in making critical job or organizational decisions. Increased employee participation in decision making offers a number of advantages including stronger commitment to the organization’s goals, better understanding of the decisions made in the organization, and improvement in the quality of the decisions themselves. To achieve these advantages, three general ways to increase employee involvement and participation are proposed: (I) adopting suggestion systems, (2) increasing job involvement through work teams and (3) building individual commitment to the organization [4].

These approaches for motivation does not exist only on black and white Hewlett-Packard uses several methods to motivate its sales force. The company’s “Must Win” program spotlights the salesperson who has the best sales approach and attitude each quarter in each region. Winners receive many prizes, including a cash award Dow Chemical’s annual Achievers Club, a point-based program, recognizes employees who exceed their set goals [5].

Closing the issue of motivation, it is very useful to present the results of a recent survey which indicate that recognition for a job well done is the top motivator of employee performance. Money was the second top motivator. Companies giving monetary awards often base the amount on the actual savings to the company. For example, American Airlines rewards employees for suggestions. The program, called “IdeAAs in Action”, saved the airline $83 million in the first 2 1/2 years. Marriott Corp. honors 15-20 people each year with its “J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence”. Selection is based on remarks made by the nominator and the employee’s length of service. Non-monetary awards take the form of advertising specialties. When used as an award for special performance or service to the company, such items can increase the employee’s identification with the company. Whether simple or elaborate, recognition allows people to feel appreciated by their employers and, therefore, identify with the organization and become more willing to give their best to the job [6].

The role and ways leadership affect human energies in organizations

Analyzing effective leadership is another means by which organizations may develop strategies for improving productivity. The word “leader” may be traced back about 700 years and the concept may be found in the earliest writings of the Greeks. Leadership has been defined in numerous ways but it is usually seen as the influence exerted by one individual on a group of persons to accomplish some goal. In organizations, leadership is usually associated with the influence that a manager exerts in the accomplishment of goals associated with the productivity of the organization. Leadership inevitably requires using power to influence the thoughts and actions of other people. Thus effective leadership among managers may be viewed as a means of motivating employees to improve their performance [7][8].

It has been realized over the past years that for an organization to achieve its goals three elements needed – culture strategies, leadership. This third element is crucial for the deep belief and implementation of the other two respectively. Leadership should not be confused with management. Management is about coping with complexity. Without good management, complex enterprises tend to become chaotic in ways that threaten their very existence. Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change. Doing what was done yesterday, or doing it 5% better, is no longer a formula for success. Major changes are more and more necessary to survive and compete effectively in a new environment. More change always demands more leadership. The leader is the one that leads an organization to constructive change and sets direction – develops a vision of the future (often the distant future) along with strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision. He/She is responsible to communicate the new direction to those who can create coalitions that understand the vision and are committed to its achievement. Finally, achieving a vision requires from a leader motivating and inspiring– keeping people moving in the right direction [9].

Although the study of leader traits was once considered of little value, the work of McClelland [10], Miner’s motive to manage [11], and various leader profiles derived from assessment centers [12] have been useful in identifying traits on which selection, appraisal and training decisions can be made. Other leadership theories that have proved useful in improving organizational productivity are the behavioral theories [13] and situational theories such as path-goal theory [14] and Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory [15]. Also of use may be several emerging leadership theories including social influence theory [16], self-leadership theory [17] and transformational leadership theory [18].

It is the author’s belief that the last theory is the most important one and organizations that strive for success in the 21st century should take more into consideration. Transformational leadership refers to a leader’s success in changing an organization by building enthusiasm and commitment to the leader’s vision of the organizational mission. The role of the transformational leader may be described in the following way:

The transformational leader motivates followers to do more than originally expected. Such transformation can be achieved by (a) raising an awareness of the importance and value on designated outcomes, (b) getting followers to transcend their own self-interests, or (c) altering, or expanding followers’ needs on Maslow hierarchy of needs [19].

As a conclusion on this issue, its worth to mention that both leadership and management are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment. Successful corporations should not wait for leaders to come along. They should actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. But while improving their ability to lead, companies should remember that strong leadership with weak management is no better and is, sometimes, actually worse than the reverse. The real challenge is to com bine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

Organizations’ efforts for better Quality Work Life

Apart from improving the productivity of employees, many organizations have realized how important it is to improve the organization’s internal environment. Many organizations are making changes to try to improve the quality work life of their employees. These efforts consist of looking for ways to make work more rewarding and reduce anxieties and stresses of the work environment. Several different approaches are being used including restructuring work organization and job design, increasing employee involvement in shaping the organization and its functions and developing a corporate culture that will encourage members to behave in ways that will maximize productivity, strengthen human relationships, meet employee expectations and sustain desired attitudes and beliefs [20].

A relatively new method that organizations are currently using to improve human relationships and employees wellness, is the employee assistance programs (EAP) designed to assist employees with personal issues that affect their work performance. Studies show that EAPs can dramatically increase employee productivity. However, the benefits from EAPs have been accompanied by a less welcome development: lawsuits filed against employers by employees who allege that they suffered harm in the course of obtaining services through their employers’ EAPs. Now, many firms have established formal, mandatory orientation programs that teach supervisors how to recognize at-risk employees and make EAP referrals that are non confrontational. For example, IBM has trained more than 50,000 supervisors to be sensitive to employees whose work life is being affected by non work problems [21]. The general guidelines for the employer include: (1) to retain the services of qualified, experienced professionals (2) do not use coercive techniques to secure an employee’s participation in EAP services (3) to keep personnel and EAP records separate with only EAP staff having access to the latter (4) to encourage employees to provide feedback on services obtained through the EAP [22].

One of the companies that has put into practice the EAP is Campbell Soup Co. The results of this program, which was named the quality care program (QCP), was that psychiatric and substance abuse claims costs decreased by 28%. This savings have been attributed to better plan design including improved coverage for outpatient care prepaid counseling sessions [23].

Additionally, with EAP methods to improve QWL organizations are very much interested on stress (distress) problems. Stress management has become part of big business’ daily agenda. Basically, corporate interest in stress management has grown out of the need to contain medical costs. Research has shown that, when employees handle stress poorly, medical-compensation outlays increase and absenteeism and turnover rates rise. Although the incentive to companies is financial, stress management benefits are often seen by employees as goodwill perks that improve morale, loyalty, and productivity. Businesses looking at the long term have recognised the added benefits of keeping employees mentally healthy [24]. Apple Computer Corp., IBM Corp., and McDonald’s Corp. believe that sabbaticals are the best way to replenish their employees’ energy. McDonald’s, for example, offers sabbaticals to employees after 10 years of service. At a minimum, employees should, at least, be encouraged to take annual vacations and occasional three day weekends. Other options for employers include on-site fitness centers, retreats and lunch time seminars [25].

An other example of an attempt towards improving QWL is ICL’s home-working scheme. This kind of scheme was introduced in 1969 in order to retain the experienced women who were leaving to start a family. Originally, six women worked from home on software development; however, the use of teleworking now has broadened to include consultancy, technical writing, software support and project management. ICL receives benefits of high productivity, high motivation and commitment levels, reduced overhead and minimal attrition of staff. CPS Professional Services, ICL’s standalone software house, operates entirely on a telecommunicating basis [26]. Using these methods in the future, companies will retain experienced employees with reasons to stay at home and at the same time provide them with the best possible working environment that will motivate them to stay loyal and satisfied.

Finally, organizations should have a more human oriented attitude towards their employees As 1993 begins, employees are trying to cope with working full-time, raising children and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some major companies are listening to their employees and have developed ways to conveniently meet their health and child care needs which is the only way to stay competitive in the ’90’s. The pioneer programs developed, share a number of common traits. The most important is that companies survey their employees to determine the need for the programs and, once the programs are established, continue to survey them and encourage feedback to determine if the programs are fulfilling employees’ needs.

Communications as a link between management and employees

The issue of communication has been left last as, according to the author’s belief, is the most vital one. An organization cannot operate if its leaders and managers cannot communicate their vision and goals respectively to their employees. Conversely, it is impossible for an organization that wants to motivate and feel its employees to operate under the absence of an established upward communication channel.

Every manager depends on communication to carry out the tasks of the organization. In his study of the work of managers, Henry Mintzberg identified ten managerial roles, five of which are explicitly communication-related: liaison, monitor, disseminator, spokesperson and negotiator [27]. The remaining five roles, though not as explicitly, still demand skillful communication. One managerial consultant described the relationship of communication to managing this way:

We all learn in school that management is supposed to link levels vertically and departments horizontally through planning, leadership, organizing and controlling. In practice, these things cannot be done without constant attention to good communication. It isn’t an adjunct to the manager’s job, it is the managers job [28].

Up to now, communication has been utilized by two types of systems: downward and upward communication systems.

The downward system is designed to convey information from management to employees. Approaches, usually used, are:

Employee handbooks and Policy Manuals usually given to new employees that provide information about organizational benefits. They describe the rights and responsibilities of employees; and, they often explain the organ’s disciplinary system.

Organizational Newspapers and Bulletin Boards that first provide a convenient means for announcing changes in the organizational policy and procedure. Second, they may be used to publish notices of job openings for the organization’s in-house job posting program. Third, they are a way to convey the organization’s mission and long-term goals and fourth, they offer management a means of responding to questions.

Meetings that are often used to inform a group of employees about objectives, goals and strategies. Issues that need to be considered about meetings are the choice of the presenter, the choice of the media, use of advanced technology for teleconferences, audience analysis, careful preparation and a positive employee-oriented attitude.

Through upward communication, organizations obtain useful ideas, resolve problems, motivate and encourage organizational commitment. Approaches usually used are:

Complaint Procedures materialized either using voice-mail technology, enabling employees to dial in a computerized telephone system, or using special counselors, or specially designed forms like the ones used in the “speak up!” program of IBM.

Suggestion programs that are widely used to stimulate participation by rewarding employees for their suggestions. The suggestions may cover such areas as work methods and procedures, equipment design, safety devices and other matters related to the effectiveness of the organization.

Attitude Surveys designed to help employees communicate with management. The survey is best accomplished through the used of questionnaires that are completed anonymously. From responses to the questionnaires, management can understand how employees view their jobs, their supervisors, their wages and benefits, their working conditions and other aspects of their employment.

Electronic Mail which is becoming an increasingly useful tool for upward communication. Organizations with electronic mail systems usually make “address lists” of all users available to any employee with access to the system. Communicating with the CEO or vice-president for human resources is thus as easy as communicating with a colleague. Furthermore, messages from all employees, whether managers or not, appear in a similar form. Rapid access and the greater consistency of messages have encouraged the use of electronic mail as a means of upward communication.

A more innovative way to improve the communication of ideas and productivity at management meetings is through facilitated electronic meetings combining electronic meeting tools and an experienced facilitator. IBM has already developed a system like that called TeamFocus which supports brainstorming, ideas organization, alternative evaluation and policy formation [29]. Systems like that have been also developed by many other software houses as it has been realized that these type of facilitators in decision making in meetings help human mind to overcome organization problems and live managers and generally members of the meeting to concentrate on innovative and creative activities where human mind is superior than any machine.

The most recent trend in the area of communications is the role and use of networks [301. It has been realized by many organizations, especially those that aim to develop a multinational link between all the European countries and not only, that in a world of increasing global competition and unrelenting change what is needed is delivering results and not only be strong on crafting vision and strategy. As they struggle to improve their capacity to execute and deliver, senior managers use words like trust, teamwork and boundary-less co-operation to describe the organizations they aspire to build. They mention, more frequent now than ever, the need for networks. In some companies networks imply a set of external relationship – a global wed of alliances and joint ventures. In others, networks mean informal ties among managers- floating teams that work across functions and man oeuvre through bureaucracy. Still other companies define networks as new ways for executives to share information using management information systems, video conferencing, and other such tools. Companies like Contrail in Philadelphia, Royal Bank of Canada in Montreal and Dun & Brandstreet in UK, on the other hand have really interpreted networks in the right way. A network for them reshapes how and by whom essential business decisions get made. It integrates decisions horizontally at the lowest managerial levels and with superior speed. In effect, a network identifies the “small company inside the large company” and empowers it to make the four-dimensional trade-offs-among functions, business units, geography and global customers – that determine success in the marketplace. The members of a network are drawn from across the company’s functions, business units, geography and from different levels of the hierarchy. Networks are designed to empower managers to talk openly, candidly and emotionally with out fear, to enrich the quality of their decisions, to test each other’s motives and build trust and to encourage them to evaluate problems from the perspective of what is right for the customer and the company rather that from narrow functional or departmental interests.

To make it clear for those that confuse networks with teams, cross-functional task forces, or other ad hoc innovations designed to break hierarchy, we contrast that first networks are not temporal. Most task forces assemble to solve a specific problem and then disband and turn to business as usual. They do not sustain change in the behavior of the organization. Members of a network, on the other hand, identify with it and with each other. The frequency and honesty of their dialogues reshape personal relationships. Continuous practice over a sustained period of time builds a shared understanding of the business. Networks even affect how their members move through the company. Managers’ performance and promotability is evaluated with respect to their contribution to the network and sometimes by the network itself. Second, unlike most teams and task forces, networks do not merely solve problems that have been defined for them. Networks are dynamic, they take initiative. They become the vehicle to redirect the flows of information and decisions, the uses of power and the sources of feedback within the hierarchy. They become a new way of doing business and new operating mechanism for individual managers to make their presence felt. Finally, networks make demands on senior management that teams and task forces do not.


From our thoughts presented in these few pages it is clear that the mobilization of human energies in an organization is not a trivial task to perform. Many things have been discussed focused on motivation, leadership, quality work life and communications. Which one of these four issues comes first is not a question that can be answered. Organizations that aim to stay in the business for long time should concentrate their efforts on all these issues. Motivated employees by rewards, self-identification in the company and feel of equity cannot offer many things without the existence of leadership that will influence and inspire their thoughts and actions. At the same time organizations should provide them with better working conditions and reduce anxieties and stresses of the working environment, improving that way their morale, loyalty and productivity. Finally, on the operational level, constant attention should be given on the communications level in order for the leader and managers to drive their employees to their vision for the organization and break the boundaries that commonly exist between these two levels.


  1. J. Richards, “Adrian Gozzard,” Personnel Management 21, no 1, January 1989, pp 34-35.
  2. H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality, 2nd ed, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1970.
  3. R.C. Huseman, J.D. Hatfield, and EW. Miles, “A New Perspective on Equity Theory. The Equity Sensitivity Construct,” Academy of Management Review 12, no 2, pp 222-234, June 1987.
  4. EE Lawler, “Choosing an Involvement Strategy,” Academy of Management Executive 2, no 3, pp 197-204, August 1988.
  5. Campanelli Melissa, “The Secrets of America’s Best Sales Forces,” Sales & Marketing Management, Vol 144, Iss I, pp 92-93, Jan 1992.
  6. Stuart Peggy, “Fresh Ideas Energize Reward Programs,” Personnel Journal, Vol 71, Iss 1, pp 102-103, Jan 1992
  7. Ralph M Stogdill, Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of the Literature New York: Free Press, 1974.
  8. Abraham Zaleznik, “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?,” Harvard Business Review, pp 126-135, March-April 1992
  9. John P. Kotter, “What Leaders Really Do,” Harvard Business Review, pp 103-111, May-June 1990.
  10. D.C McClelland, Human Motivation, Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, pp 595-596, 1985.
  11. J.B. Miner and N.R. Smith, “decline and Stabilization of Managerial Motivation Over a 20Year Period,” Journal ofApplied Psychology67, no 3, pp 297-305, June 1982.
  12. Gary A. Yuki, Leadership in Organisations, 2nd ed, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1989, pp 176-194.
  13. Rensis Likert, New Patterns of Management, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961.
  14. V.H Vroom, Work and Motivation, New York: Wiley, 1964
  15. P. Hersey and K.H Blanchard, Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources, 5th ed, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988
  16. F. Dansereau, G. Graen, and W. Haga, “A Vertical Dyad Linkage Approach to Leadership within Formal Organizations,” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 13, no 1, pp 46-78, February 1975.
  17. C.C. Manz and HP. Sims, Super-Leadership Leading Others to Lead Themselves Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall 1989.
  18. BM Bass, Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations New York: Free Press, 1985.
  19. J.J. Hater and BM Bass, “Superiors’ Evaluations and Subordinates’ Perceptions of Transformational and Transactional Leadership,” Journal of Applied Psychology 73, no 4, pp 695, November 1988.
  20. R.T. Golembiewski and Ben-chu Sun, “QWL Improves Worksite Quality. Success Rates in a Large Pool of Studies,” Human Resource Development Quarterlyl, no I, pp 35-43, Spring 1990.
  21. Anonymous, ‘Companies Train Supervisors to Be EAP Savvy,” Personnel, Vol 68, Iss 2, pp 5, Feb 1991.
  22. Parliman Gregory and Edwards Erica, “Employee Assistance Programs: An Employer’s Guide to Emerging Liability Issues,” Employee Relations Law Journal Vol 17, Iss 4, pp 593-601, Spring 1992
  23. Stetzer Edward, “Bringing Sanity to Mental Health Costs,” Business & Health, Vol 10, Iss 2, pp 72, Feb 1992.
  24. Tarkan Laurie, “Stress Relief: The ’90s Perk,” Working Woman, Vol 16, Iss 12, pp 76, 78, Dec 1991.
  25. Landon Lucia, “Pump Up Your Employees,” HRMagazine, Vol 35, Iss 5, pp 34-37, May 1990,
  26. Hill Diana, “The Computer Commuters,” British Telecom World(UK), pp 33-34, Dec 1988.
  27. HMintzberg, The Nature ofManagerial Work New York: Harper & Row, 1973.
  28. Len Sandler, “Rules for Management Communication,’ Personnel Journal 67, no. 9, pp 40, September 1988.
  29. Gallupe Brent and Fox George “Facilitated Electronic Meetings: Higher Quality, Less Time,” CMA Magazine Vol 66, Iss 3, April 1992, pp 29-32
  30. Ram Charan, “How Networks Reshape Organisations – For Results,” Harvard Business Review, pp 104-115, Septem ber – October 1991.

Scotland, January 1993