What Motivates?

'Work Harder' neon sign

Our regular readers will know we often quote articles by Steve Simpson from the Cultural Intelligence Newsletter. Steve is an international speaker; consultant and author.

We thought this article was a beauty…

What Motivates People to Perform?

In a fascinating 2009 TED talk, Dan Pink provides compelling research to challenge a widely held assumption underpinning the essence of behavioural science. He argues there is ample research to question the view that we should reward behaviours that we want and punish those we don’t want.

Pink cited Gluxburg - who showed that meaningful incentives worked against performance, where they dulled thinking and blocked creativity. This and other research found that incentives and punishments only work where the tasks people undertake are routine and predictable.

Of course, this kind of work is on the decrease in developed countries.

Pink argues there is a “new operating system” at play where organisations need to feed three key drivers in people:

  1. Autonomy - The urge to direct our own lives.

  2. Mastery – The desire to get better and better at something that matters.

  3. Purpose – The yearning to do something that we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

Clearly, there are huge implications for all organisations.