Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#Motivation: The surprising truth of why we really get out of bed (or not)

Steve Jobs said he "wanted to put a ding in the universe".  That's the kinda goal that makes you spring out of bed in the morning.  Dan Pink and RSAnimate use the above video to present findings in various research examples on what really maximizes employee productivity and performance. 

The video is 10 minutes long (I know, a million light years in today's 140 character limited society) but completely worth the time investment.  Go on, watch, you'll be glad you did.  If you really can't spare the time to watch, here's what you missed.

People are not as endlessly manipulable and predictable as you would think.  The traditional theory has been if you reward something, you get more of the behavior you want and if you punish something you get less of the behavior you don't want.  A typical motivation scheme within an organization is the better the performance, the greater the reward. 
However, numerous studies have found that this is true as long as the tasks only involved mechanical skill.  If you do this, you get that.  But once the task called for rudimentary cognitive skill, a greater reward led to poorer performance.  Traditional incentives just do not work when you really need to think to be successful.  
So if traditional incentives don't work, what does? 
First, pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table so they are not thinking about money, but they are thinking about the work.  If you don't pay people enough, people won't be motivated.    
Once the question of money is settled, there are 3 factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction.
  1. Autonomy - The desire to be self directed.  Management is great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement (which is where the real success lies), self direction is better.
  2. Mastery - The urge to get better at stuff.  Why do people who have jobs with great skills do extra work, not for their employer, but for others, and for free?  The answer is to challenge, master, and to make a contribution.  
  3. Purpose - When the profit motive gets detached from the purpose motive, bad things happen.  Bad service, greed. 
Once you get past the ideology of carrot and sticks and begin to look at the science, we can build better organizations and work lives, which makes us all better off and the world just that little bit cooler.  

What motivates me to write this blog?

If I'm honest, it's because I really would like to publish my book and I need to build a platform.  So here I am.  But why do I want to publish a book? To get rich?  Not really.  To be famous? No, that's not it either.  

I am the perfect example of being somebody motivated by non traditional means.  Money is not an issue, I have a job.  Writing gives me autonomy, I get to decide what I write about.  I am here to challenge myself and improve my writing skills (you should see this before it has been proofed), and putting my experience to  good use gives me purpose and self satisfaction.

Makes you wonder why most companies just won't let go of that stick.    

Cheryl Reynolds
College Girl to Working Girl

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