Motivation and Goal-Setting

Motivation and Goal-Setting by Jim Cario is a short book. Compared to many other motivation books on the market, you need to be prepared for only quick tips here. The book has about 100 pages of content - but of that, about half is taken up by redundant empty worksheets for you to fill in. Here's an example of a full page form. It has a grid. You descrie a situation you've seen as a team member or leader. You say what type of reinforcement should have been used, and what results should have been seen. It makes you do this 3 times. Surely an entire page didn't need to be devoted to this exercise. It's not just once - it is all through the entire book. You're paying for empty forms.

What's in the other half? There are apparently 8 steps to achieving success. These are Identity, Values, Goals, Action Plan, Motivation, Discipline, Flexibility and Outcome. The book goes over each step of course, to help you understand it. Each section has a brief area showing you how to determine this trait in yourself, and then gives an example of "Margo", and unhappy 27 yr old office worker.

Most of us know these basic things and were getting a book to help us do them more efficiently. Some of the chapters therefore seemed very light and unhelpful - but I suppose they had to be included for the sake of going from start to end and not just "jumping into the middle". However, the actual "meat" chapters were given the same light treatment. I can understand the "identity" chapter only getting a few pages - it's important to really understand what you want in life before you plot out how to get it. That's fairly clear. On the other hand, people are getting this book because they ARE having problems getting to their goal, so you would think the "action plan" chapter would be thick and meaty. Nope! It's got a few tips, and then skips right ahead. Were they trying to conserve paper? Keep their book under $x price point? It's hard to know. Surely if those were concerns, they could have handled the 800 giant forms differently. But I digress.

So, their entire 3 pages (using large print) of action plan description tells you: Make a list of goals, start now, record your progress. Do planning at every level in your organization, and commit the energy and time to do it. Then they restate that same information, and have Margo do it. There's no actual help on how to do these things, or how to do them well, or what pitfalls to avoid, or so on. I knew to make a list! I knew to prioritize it. I got this book for help in doing these tasks.

OK, on to motivation. Luckily, motivation gets a much more thorough treatment. The book should really have been called "Motivation Techniques". You get info on motivating yourself and motivating others. A key message of this area is that people respond to positive motivation, while negative motivation only makes things worse. The book says to give positive reinforcement quickly, with explicit praise for the action (not general praise). It says to give private feedback when it's negative, and to do it quickly and specifically. Then the book says to keep score - to show graphs and charts constantly of the progress.

Here's my issues. The generic instructions tell you what to do, but not how to do it - and some are so generically Pollyanna so as to be nearly impossible. Say you have someone who simply is always late. This book tells you to "catch him being early and praise him". It assumes he IS going to do the good trait someday. It gives many warnings about negative reinforcement, but no real suggestions on how to handle problems in real life. It emphasizes keeping score - but in many work environments, that causes HUGE problem with inter-personal competition and unhappiness. Many organizations do much better without constantly keeping score.

The book could be helpful for someone just starting out, who has never done any self evaluation of any kind and who needs the very basics on how to work with others. However, again, it should be titled to reflect that - "The Bare Basics of Motivating". With an actual subtitle of "how to set and achieve goals and inspire others", I expected much more actual content to help me do these things.

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