‘Motivation Is Simple: You Eliminate Those Who Are Not Motivated’

‘Motivation Is Simple: You Eliminate Those Who Are Not Motivated’

Yes, that’s a brutal approach to ensuring your co-workers are pulling their weight. But reality can be harsh.

Bowling picture from Shutterstock

This quote comes from US football coach Lou Holtz. It’s easier to see in a sports environment how you eliminate the dead weight, since there will always be a queue of aspirants waiting to fill their shoes. That may not always be the case with IT roles, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try to redirect people towards more suitable tasks.


  • Psychopathic business ideology ends up causing more harm than good. If disenfranchised or unmotivated people are “redirected” they are likely to gain the motivation to undo you or your efforts to “eliminate dead wood” or your company/business. It may be brutal, yes but it isn’t smart.

    • Who wants to work in a ‘scorched earth’ workplace? You have faces coming… then going regularly. You work everyday with an itch on the back of the neck wondering when the axe is going to fall on you.

      Workplace motivation is directly linked to workplace culture. You want to build a ‘gung-ho’; everyone pull together culture. Everyone brings different attributes to the workplace. In my workplace, for example, you have:
      1. The joker – he lightens the mood and makes your day
      2. The mother – freshly baked scones anyone?
      3. The party girl – guess what I did last night? OMG, I can’t believe you did that!!
      4. The reliable guy – what do you need done? I’ll make it happen.

      Each person contributes to work and the workplace culture in different ways. All are valuable.

  • It might be productive for the business to do this, but it’s absolutely unacceptable for a society to do this. And given that business culture affects the society, it follows that if businesses take this path then they’re directly harming individuals, which should not be condoned.

  • A coach/manager’s job is to motivate his team. Subscribe to that silliness above and all you’re doing is making excuses for why you’re a bad leader.

  • I totally agree Zombie Jesus – this may fly in sport but it is not something that works in corporate world. Not only that you can not easily manage someone out – just like that – you unmotivated you are out! But also it is not time and cost effective for business. If there is motivation issues there are morale issues and that is always company/leadership problem.

  • When I read this I pictured my slightly overweight boss with his tie around his forehead, hunkered down behind a cubicle wall, with his Nerf N-LongStrike and black ‘camo’ paint under his eyes……

    I laughed so hard a little bit of wee came out.

  • Actually very true. Some teams can only go as fast as their slowest member. One unmotivated individual can ruin the whole team and should be eliminated, no matter how good their scones are.

    • You assume that will remove the cause and not just the symptom. If the cause is an incompetent, demotivating supervisor and a few butt-kissing toadies, replacing the unmotivated employee will only result in their replacement by another unmotivated employee.

      If you are running your company like a sports team, don’t ask me to invest.

      • And you wrongly assume that every team problem is due to the supervisor. Supervisors don’t have a monopoly on incompetence and motivating someone is not always a pure management problem. Sometimes team members just have to go.

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