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Self-Motivation: Motivation at its Best

by Roger Neugebauer
September/October 1984
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The director of Mother Goose Child Care Center was concerned. Incidents of lateness and
absenteeism among her teachers were increasing. The teachers had stopped planning activities
in advance and showed little enthusiasm in working with the children. They also complained
continually about everything from inadequate equipment to low wages.

She decided that what was needed to improve staff performance was to tighten discipline. She
required teachers to submit daily lesson plans for her approval. She had them sign in and out and deducted pay for lateness and unexcused absences. She kept a closer watch on the classrooms and reprimanded teachers who were sloughing off.

The results were mixed. Lateness and absenteeism declined, and lesson plans were being developed; but teachers’ attitudes became even worse. They complained more and acted as if working in the classroom were a drudgery.

Next the director tried the opposite approach. She sought to cheer the staff up by granting them wage increases, setting up a comfortable teachers’ lounge, and holding occasional staff parties.

Once again she was disappointed. Although the staff acted happier and complained less, they still exhibited little enthusiasm in their work with the children.


One reason the director’s remedies failed is that she was operating from overly simplistic notions about ...

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