Men act freely and voluntarily when possible. We do it in a more free way when we know the reason that brings us to action. To motivate, as we have mentioned in “The secret for survival in any organization”, is to show that reason to somebody so he can choose freely.
On the contrary, to manipulate is to hide the motive or deceive about it. A manipulated action is is the one whose end is unknown or different from the one known. The manipulation is the distortion of the truth. It is to hide the end or to deform it in such a way that the person doesn’t know why it is acting, or he thinks that what he is doing has another end, and is not wanting to do what he is really doing.
With it, a partial affectation of the freedom occurs, conditioning its knowledge, the motive for acting. This, as we have said, is against the action for motivation, which is produced when somebody wants to do something because he knows what he is doing and has understood its end.
A sample of the manipulating tendencies are those exceedingly absorbent corporate cultures. Those who forget that the person not only works for the company but for itself and for the society they live in, making them believe the role they play goes beyond what is adequate: interference of personal goals through the invasion of personal time for excessive working hours, work at home, constant connection, etc.
To avoid this kind of practices we should think together, involve ourselves in the decisions and possess the greatest level of autonomy possible. The managers’ role is key for the actions to be motivated and not manipulated.
In the difference between to motivate and to manipulate lies the difference between authority and the one who just has the power.
The authority is deserved and granted by those who recognize it. On the contrary, power is simply granted by the position. Therefore, they do not always coincide. Who has the authority and knows how to motivate outstands because he is motivated, presents objectives in a clear way, respects others by recognizing their intelligence and freedom by showing empathy. As a consequence, there is a greater level of autonomy (he trusts) and tries to reason setting aside the emotions and the personal interests.
A manager must take the responsibility to motivate free people without manipulating, making his collaborators to want what he wants and, therefore, to do what he wants them to do.