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Initiative versus Incentive

Initiative vs Incentive

The intellect plays a vital role in your business. It serves to fix an ideal beyond your self-centred interest and direct your actions towards achieving it. When you thus conduct your business objectively for a higher cause you develop the initiative within to work. An initiative drives one to work tirelessly with enthusiasm and cheer. Whereas a person with no such ideal in life works with ego and egocentric desires merely to satisfy his selfish interests. Such a person would have no initiative to work. And with a lack of initiative his work turns burdensome. He becomes tired and fatigued. At times incapacitated to work. He would need regular breaks for weekends and vacations to recuperate and return to work. Not realising what has gone wrong, management bodies worldwide have desperately devised the whip of incentives to boost work output. Which has resulted in the decline of business acumen and productivity. 

The need of the hour is to carefully study, analyse the difference between initiative and incentive and how they relate to work. Work performed with an unselfish ideal for a higher cause is natural, organic. It generates the initiative to inspire workers to perform effortlessly. And those who adopt this spirit of service would continue to act tirelessly without the need for external stimulants. Such work backed by an initiative produces a long-term benefit. And their work output would rise to the optimum. 

On the contrary, work undertaken with selfish motive and no ideal is tiring, fatiguing. It lacks lustre. It would need external stimulants to activate the workers. Modern business houses are doing just that. Constantly boosting the workforce with incentives for personal reward. Incentives, such as increased emoluments or perks, no doubt give an initial thrust to work but they have a diminishing value. Ultimately, the workers become neutralised to enhanced pay or perk. The incentives which initially stimulated them lose their power to generate work any more. Which has led to loss of productivity. 

Besides, incentives for personal rewards create discontent and disharmony among the members of a corporation. Conversely, those functioning with initiative generate peace and harmony to better their performance. 

For generations people have been misled to seek rewards for their work. They desire short-term gains, quick-fixes. Rare indeed are those who would want to put in adequate effort to achieve their goal. You must learn to deserve and not merely desire the fruit of your actions. Little do people realise the beauty and grandeur of karma – action, service and sacrifice. Instead, the general trend the world over is to employ inorganic means to gain their end results. Thus sprang the liberal use of fertilizers in different facets of life for a synthetic, unreal growth. Incentives used freely to promote business act in much the same way as fertilizers. 

The modern agriculturists use chemicals to fertilize, boost the growth of plants. As a result the vegetables appear healthy but lose their nutritional value and taste. Similarly, medical practitioners prescribe supplements and vitamins to fertilize, boost human bodies. And business houses have been indiscriminately using incentives to fertilize actions! Incentives no doubt boost the actions of workers initially but later result in the decline of their work output. This problem has risen since the intellect is not sufficiently developed to conceive and promote the initiative in workers, essential for better production and real growth of the organisation. 

Few realise that the free use of incentives increases gross selfishness among the workers. And the proliferation of personal desires, instead of a spirit of service to a common cause, proves cancerous to an organisation. It is a grave problem the modern business community faces. A problem that cannot be solved by abruptly discontinuing the use of incentives among the workforce. It has to be discreetly tackled by first introducing the concept of working for an ideal. In fact, the head of an organisation must lead the way himself by conceptualising the importance of an ideal, setting a proper one and working towards it. Thereafter, educate the workers to conceive and follow it in practice along with him. Thus the idea of a common cause must be gradually nourished and nurtured in an organisation by the leader. The members of that organisation would then develop the initiative to work for the cause. The emergence of initiative in due course displaces the dependence upon incentives to promote work. As a result the production in the unit would shoot up. The initiative can further be increased by the intellect pitching up higher and higher ideals. Business houses with such service oriented workforce would then diverge to greater dimension instead of their present trend of converging and fading out of existence.  

— Extract from “Governing Business and Relationships” book written by A. Parthasarathy.

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