Motivating People

I know that this new concern with motivations is sort of unusual and has the possibility of sounding a bit cheesy. But it is starting to become a big thing in my mind. Now working within in office setting (though I do spend a lot of time out) I am becoming more aware of how important it is to have good morale and trying to find out ways to develop that. I took my own hit in morale recently when I was made aware of how our company has been perceived. There’s been a revamp and the majority of people here are new, and everyone’s driven to producing the best books that we can. None of this changes the fact that we are carrying a brand that has suffered considerable damage.

Looking forward to next week, when we’ll be having our team-building/annual planning activities, I feel that it’s important to find ways to inspire people to work, and also to rebuild the way that we are seen.

I suppose I’ll be posting on rebranding and other ideas like that soon, but those thoughts need to simmer.

As for motivation, it’s hard to think of better motivation than to know that you’re making the world a better place. I know that publishing books probably isn’t as exotic as say, going to Africa and aiding refugees, or building houses in war-torn areas, or educating kids in the provinces, but I do believe that we provide something important. It has to start with believing in your product, and I believe in books, whether they are in print or digital form, or whatever. It’s just often disheartening that so few people read. It’s part of our job, as well as other publishers and bookstores, and book lovers, and everyone else, to try and generate more interest in reading.

I also think that though rewards aren’t crucial, a sense of reward is. I don’t think financial rewards are the greatest motivator (it is important that one is paid right, commensurate to the work done), but rather that one makes a contribution and is properly acknowledged. One of the worst things is when bosses take credit for their people’s work. I’m very fortunate to work in an office where that doesn’t happen, and that people are acknowledged. But I wish there were better and bigger ways to put the spotlight on copyeditors and layout artists and tell people, “Hey, these guys are awesome! Check out this great work they’ve done!” Only those of us with fetishes on liner notes ever really get to know the layout artists, and copyeditors’ work often goes unsung.

As for me, my main motivator at the moment is that I want to see our publishing house not as it was, but as it is now and how it will be (the image of what we are all working towards). I think that we’ve got a great set of people, and some generally good support from the higher ups in the university, and we can work to be a great publishing house. But at present, we’re still seen so negatively. And what will push me, in the coming months, will be an effort to make people rethink how we are viewed, and to rethink how well publishing houses can work with and take care of authors. In a world where traditional publishers and indie/alternative publishers can have access to the same market and have similar quality levels, traditional publishing has to find its strengths and highlight them. I think the infrastructure and the support system afforded to writers is among those strengths, and it’s important that we give authors a sense of that.

Right so, that’s what’s on my mind as I wait for the clock to strike a decent time before heading home. More stuff soon!


One Response to Motivating People

  1. Tine says:

    I agree with you about believing in one’s product. As a copyeditor, I don’t care much about being acknowledged — copyediting, after all, is anonymous work. Work can be its own reward — the problem is when it isn’t, in which case a paycheck becomes the compensation for putting up with the unhappiness of doing something you don’t like.

    Anyway, sharing this quote from the New Yorker: “The philosopher Mark Kingwell puts it in existential terms: ‘Procrastination most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing. . . . Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.’ In that sense, it might be useful to think about two kinds of procrastination: the kind that is genuinely akratic and the kind that’s telling you that what you’re supposed to be doing has, deep down, no real point. The procrastinator’s challenge, and perhaps the philosopher’s, too, is to figure out which is which.”

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