Posted: October 16th 2010
It turns out that money can’t buy happiness or motivation. It works well for motivating people initially, but only to an extent that it creates a willingness to work. When used as a sole motivator, monetary incentives can even stifle creative decision making and problem solving skills in knowledge workers.
The visually engaging presentation above summarizes the ideas behind Dan Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. When I saw this video, I had to check out the book, and was fortunate enough to find the time to finish the audio version of over the last two months.
The studies Pink highlights suggest that adding more money to the equation doesn’t necessarily prompt better performance, especially when the work requires judgment-based decision making and pro-activity. Many management “incentive plans” for employees are based around monetary bonuses and compensation.
So what really motivates us to become better at our jobs (or do anything constructive for that matter) continuously?
Ability to make our own decisions, direct ourselves and shape our own jobs. Do you like to be micromanaged? Do you like to be told what to do and when? If you are like any decent knowledge worker, the answer is “no”.
The ability to develop skills and work toward becoming the best at what we do. Why do we spend time learning musical instruments? Practice sports? We want to be the best at we do and need opportunities (and time) to study our craft.
It provides us a chance to be part of something “bigger” than profits. A higher calling. This is what helps us get up in the morning. It makes us human beings. We have something to talk about when someone asks, “what do you do”?
When designing an incentive programs (or even business structure) to motivate employees, it would be beneficial to consider these findings. What can your organization offer that fulfills these needs for autonomy, mastery or purpose? Check out the book and get creative!