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Motivational posters

Have you seen those ‘motivational’ pictures that organisations display in reception areas or training rooms? You know, the ones with a symbolic picture – eagles soaring over the Andes, for example – and a quote about attitude or excellence. Do they work?

Well a friend recently introduced me to www.despair.com. Compare these two approaches to Service…

‘Motivational’ one:

Beautiful, restful photo of a waterfall in the tropics with the quote ‘Service is the lifeblood of any organisation. Everything flows from it and is nourished by it. Customer service is not a department….. it’s an attitude.’


Photo of beautiful (bored) young woman looking out of a smart office window with the quote ‘Customer disservice – because we’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied’.

Customer disservice –  because we’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied Customer disservice –  because we’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied

I was reminded of an organisation I joined some years ago which had smart new posters everywhere depicting the type of behaviours that they were seeking to encourage. The posters had appeared overnight on noticeboards and in corridors, and no-one seemed to know where they had come from, what they meant in practice and after a short time no-one seemed to notice them at all, apart from when disparaging comments were made about ‘the way things are (not) communicated around here’ – more akin to the despair.com variety than the ‘motivational’ ones.

Which approach shows the real behaviour in organisations? My guess is that the ‘motivational’ ones are there because someone hopes that the pictures will motivate the workforce to behave like that or perhaps is even under the delusion that the picture shows what actually happens in the organisation.

Mahatma Gandhi said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Leaders in organisations would give a much more powerful message by demonstrating the behaviour they want their workforce to exhibit rather than wasting money on posters – motivational or otherwise!


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