The “START” Button. Where is it?

  • Everyone has a START and a STOP button.

  • Our task is to find out where it is located.

  • Different generations have different buttons.


In my previous post, I mentioned that I had worked on a gold mine in South Africa.

When I was a relatively new Shift Boss, which is a junior manager in charge of a small section of the underground workings in the mine, a more senior manager visited me in my underground section and spent the shift with me. As I recall, this manager was involved with training and during his visit he made a statement which has remained with me for many decades.

He stated that every person is like a piece of machinery and has a start and stop button. However, unlike a machine, a person’s start/stop button is found in a different place on every person. For some people the start button is a kind word, perhaps some praise or a pat on the back, congratulations, or maybe a kick in the seat of the pants. Thus, when you are managing or leading people, it is your job to find out where each person’s start button resides.

We know that everyone is different. When you analyze this piece of wisdom we know that all incentives will not appeal to everyone. For example, it has been shown that money is often not the best motivator, contrary to many popular management thoughts. Thus, when we are leaders it is important that we discover what motivates each of our team members. How can we best motivate them to work towards reaching our goals. As a leader it is our task to find their ‘start’ button.


Another factor is that different generations have different work values. For example:

-Baby Boomers (1943-1960) often look for title, recognition and money. They want to know that they are valued and needed and have little work/life balance as they work to live.

-Generation X (1960-1981) feels that freedom is the best reward. They want to do it their way and forget the rules and have a work/life balance.

-Generation Y (1982 -2001) is looking for meaningful work and likes to work with other bright, creative people and also have a work/life balance.

This is another reason, why it is important that we learn to engage with people of all ages. Often conflicts can arise due to the different values held by different generations. Generation X’ers and Y’ers may think that Baby Boomers are too rigid and the Baby Boomers may think the “young kids” are lazy. However, if all generations are open-minded, they can learn a great deal from each other.


Once again, this emphasizes that when we have a group of youth that we are coaching, having a diverse age group is very helpful as they learn to work with youth of all ages. There are many differences between an eight year old and a sixteen year old youth. However, they can learn to work with each other and respect each other.

Finding each person’s start button is a powerful lesson for all of us to learn no matter what age we are.

What are your thoughts and experiences. Please share your comments.

Wishing you lots of love and laughter, as always.

Fred Jones

Fred Jones

Fred Jones

Posted in Blog, Coaching and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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