Wednesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. So. If we knew how it would turn out, would we do it anyhow?
  2. Facts about the earthquake
  3. Some meta-links, or a set of interesting links posted here.
  4. Is Outrage!
  5. Incentives. And … where do their incentives lie?
  6. Our spending woes or … the satirical version.
  7. Motor Oil (googling around, I found Exxon/Mobil also has developed for testing a similar oil).
  8. Not getting the whole broken windows thing. Yes. The window (appliance) dealer might do well, and yes people might dip into the college fund to rebuild … but that just means they can’t spend or invest that money elsewhere.
  9. Obama. Man of action … or not. Consistent, yes.
  10. Money and value?
  11. The snake did it.
  12. An interesting question on the Obama mandate-as-tax. What sort of tax, eh?

8 Responses to Wednesday Highlights

  1. Incentives.

    This right-wing notion that people are motivated only by money is ludicrous, especially in a population that specifically chose a career that pays less than most other white-collar professions. The incentive for good teachers is seeing their students succeed in school and in life in part because of their help. If you want to turn pay into another incentive, you have to start by paying enough for people motivated by money to enter the profession in the first place.

  2. JA,
    I did not, and have not ever, suggested that money is the only incentive. Or even that it should be. The left wing notion that pay is the only incentive that people are motivated by is equally ludicrous.

    The notion however, that the teachers union factors themselves (the higher ups of which do not teach) are motivated by seeing “their students succeed in school and life” is also laughable. So, the question is what are their incentives … and how do their incentives match having better schools? My suggestion would be that they, in fact, do not at all match that goal.

  3. JA,
    I should add that it would be quite silly for me to suggest that money is the only incentive, having myself chosen a career and particular job that does not maximize my pay which might be earned by a person with my talents.

  4. To what degree does anyone’s actual incentives match ‘having better schools’ when ‘better schools’ are either entirely subjective or consist of objective metrics that can be gamed?

    I’d say incentives overlap to varying degrees.

  5. The notion however, that the teachers union factors themselves (the higher ups of which do not teach) are motivated by seeing “their students succeed in school and life” is also laughable. So, the question is what are their incentives … and how do their incentives match having better schools? My suggestion would be that they, in fact, do not at all match that goal.

    And yet that’s what all the research shows, including especially the classic, Harvard Business Review work on motivation by Frederick Herzberg.

    You work for money alone, Mark? No wonder you’re so crabby. That’s a path to ruin, according to most management experts.

    Let’s hope teachers don’t follow your path, eh?

  6. Ed,
    The HBR work on motivation shows that we are motivated by things unrelated to our job? Hmm.

    You, however, apparently can’t read. You ask if “I work for money alone” having just myself written

    I should add that it would be quite silly for me to suggest that money is the only incentive, having myself chosen a career and particular job that does not maximize my pay which might be earned by a person with my talents.

    How does your claim that I work for money alone make sense in the context of the following sentence? Why do you suggest that my motivation is money and that this is the only motivation after I just stated this was not the case. Either you can’t read or you can’t overcome your, to borrow a phrase from JA, ludicrous assumption that right wing people figure money is the only motivation.

    And … I never suggested teachers work for money alone (nor the union factors). My question is what teachers union reps work for and why you think that is better education for the students.

  7. No, the HBR work shows we are motivated by things related to our job, but that intrinsic factors count higher — and pay tends to be extrinsic.

    Pay is a “hygiene” factor. Too little, and it produces problems. Enough, that allows motivations to push to better performance. But pay is not a motivator. Motivating factors include good work, the chance to achieve something (“Once I built a railroad, made it run — made it race against time.”), recognition, growth, advancement, and increasing or important responsibility. Salary falls into the “factors that lead to dissatisfaction.” Herzberg noted in his earliest work that an increase in salary might spurt workers to do better — for about two weeks.

    Most of the great things humans accomplish they do for reasons other than money. Money may be involved in the transaction, but it is not the key motivating factor, nor even a motivating factor at all for most people.

    I didn’t claim that you work for money alone, or didn’t intend to. I asked a rhetorical question to get you to reflect. What makes you think pay is a motivating factor for teachers, if it’s not for you?

    In my experience teachers union reps work to make sure teachers can teach — that is, ultimately, for the kids. And none I’ve ever met ever forget that.

  8. I think it was Peter Drucker who observed that companies who use ‘make money’ as a motto or ‘mission statement tend to do pretty poorly unless they are, say, a fly by night boiler room operation pitching penny stocks or something.

    Most successful enterprises make mission statements that focus on the intrinsic rewards of accomplishing something good. This could be something like ‘discovering drugs that save people’s lives’ but it also applies for less dramatic enterprises…”giving people great food quickly at a great price”, for example, also works. When you turn people into commodities, though, they start to feel and act like that….if the idea is ‘shovel crappy burgers at people so we can get their money’ people won’t actually do as good a job making money for either the company or themselves.

    I agree then the money is a hygenine factor that goes along with this. At one level is ‘basic needs’. If someone gives you 50% of their waking ours, then they will need compensation that can meet a good chunck of their consumption needs. At another level you tie into the mission of your organization. If your mission is to bring people great food at a good price, then someone that can cook lots of food very fast while maintaining quality would be valuable. But if you short change him, then you’re sending the message that you don’t really value the things that are key to your mission. That leads to the conclusion that your organization is not serious about its mission and if it isn’t why should its workers be?

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