A Story About Biscuits

Everyone is different. So it makes perfect sense that what motivates one person in your team may be completely different to another.

Some years ago the following interview was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.

The interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory.

The dialogue went like this:

Interviewer: How long have you worked here?

Production Lady: Since I left school (probably about 15 years).

Interviewer: What do you do?

Production Lady: I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.

Interviewer: Have you always done the same job?

Production Lady: Yes.

Interviewer: Do you enjoy it?

Production Lady: Oooh Yes, it’s great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.

Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief): Really? Don’t you find it a bit boring?

Production Lady: Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits…

My thanks to Shirley Moon for this lovely story, who also points out the following lessons within it:

  • Do not impose your own needs and ambitions on to other people who may not share them.
  • Don’t assume things which motivate you will motivate others.
  • Recognise that sources of happiness may vary widely between people.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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