The Puzzle of Motivation
It used to be believed that by simply paying someone more money, they will have more motivation and produce a higher level of work. In his groundbreaking book Drive, Daniel Pink discusses why this old notion is false, and how you can motivate people to produce better results without relying on financial incentives.
So if workers seem disengaged, Pink’s solution is to stop focusing on carrots and sticks and start inspiring workers to feel like human beings by shaping work to engage them.
For basic manual labor jobs, higher pay results in better work. But when it comes to tasks that need even the slightest amount of cognitive thought, more pay has the opposite effect.
So what is it that gives people more motivation and higher personal satisfaction in their work?
Motivation Key #1. Autonomy
Autonomy is our desire to be self directed. In many ways, traditional notions of management run afoul of that.
Management promotes compliance but if you want more engagement, self direction is better.
Financial incentives do not promote the discovery of new ideas and creative thinking. By removing the thought of money, so that people do not have to worry about paying their bills, you can create a comfortable space within which people can create great work. But even more money than that will not produce any better results.
Motivation Key #2. Mastery
Mastery is our urge to get better at our skills. We enjoy getting better at what we do and sometimes, we don’t want any financial reward. We have an innate desire to grow and develop – to become really good at something. And this mastery leads to a sense of personal fulfillment. But without passion and engagement, mastery will not happen.
Motivation Key #3. Purpose
The idea that many highly skilled people would combine their skills, give up vast amounts of their time and energy to produce something for free without any pay would have sounded crazy 20 years ago. But now we have Linux, Apache and Wikipedia – 3 systems that have been created for free by highly skilled people, who have received no pay for their work.
These people enjoy the challenge in achieving mastery in their field, and motivated by the fact that they can contribute. More and more people and organizations are creating momentum and motivation in their work by creating a purpose.
Many organizations are embracing the Purpose Principle or a set of beliefs held true by the organization. This higher purpose looks out for the best interests of all of us, and doesn’t focus on profit. Profit is merely a by product of their higher purpose.
When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivation factors–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements:
1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
Check out Daniel Pinks TED Talk on the subject of Motivation in the workplace