Is laziness a powerful motivator?

Home » Is laziness a powerful motivator?

Could laziness be the most powerful motivator of all? And if it is, how can you use this to your advantage?

As a people watcher have you ever noticed that the majority of people gravitate to the easiest way of accomplishing a task?

Instead of being aggravated as a manager or supervisor, perhaps you should tap into this reality.

Make it Easy to Do What You Want

In any amusement or theme park you will notice that a garbage can is within 20 feet of you no matter where you are. This seems inefficient because employees have to change an awful lot of garbage bags every day. And yet by providing easy to access garbage cans, people are less likely to litter. What the theme park manager knows is that the average person holding an empty drink cup might set it down instead of putting it in the garbage, unless it is easy to do so.

Constant nagging means there could be an easier way

One of the symptoms that you might need to simplify a process is when you have to constantly remind people to do what you want. Not only is the nagging annoying to the manager, it is also annoying to the employees. An examination of the process might reveal an opportunity to streamline steps, provide a checklist or provide pictures or samples in place of words.

Doing it right the first time

A friend of mine who I consider to be an IT guru says that laziness causes him to write better computer code. How so? When he writes a program that works well he won’t get lots of phone calls asking him to fix bugs and change the code. It just works!

The lazy leader

Okay, it probably sounds insulting to suggest that the leader could be more effective with a slight dose of laziness. While the majority of managers are overwhelmed and frazzled, a small minority are calm and effective. The secret of the few is to be more effective at clarifying expectations, delegating responsibility to others and then giving them the authority to act. These managers free up time to pursue other opportunities or even kick back and enjoy their success. The employees appreciate the challenge and empowerment.

Putting Ideas into Action

  • Make it easy for people to do what you want (and conversely more difficult to do what you don’t want)
  • Reflect on how to simplify a system or create visual reminders instead of constantly nagging people to do what needs to get done.
  • Clarify your expectations of employees, challenge them, empower them and get out of their way.
  • Enjoy the extra time and smile to yourself knowing that you have discovered how to make life easier for yourself and others.