Motivating Yourself and Others
What motivates people to work hard and do a good job? Whether you're a worker, a manager, a business owner, or an investor, it's a question where getting the right answer matters a lot.
I've written about this before, in a post called Incentive Plans Always Go Awry, making the case that bonuses were a poor way to motivate people and suggesting alternatives. Most of the data for that post came from a book by Alfie Kohn called Punished by Rewards. The reaction I got was really instructive: lots of people didn't believe me.
It's easy to understand that. Everybody has been offered some sort of reward for good performance, and they know that it made them feel motivated. Besides, it's just common sense. If you read the comment thread in my Incentive Plans Always Go Awry post, you'll see that a lot of people were so sure that a bonus was effective motivation, they couldn't see any point in reading a book laying out the evidence that bonuses do a poor job of motivating people. To them it would be like reading a book explaining that gravity didn't work or that the sun didn't shine. And yet, the evidence is quite compelling: paying more for excellent performance is not only a poor way to motivate people, it is actually counterproductive. When a large bonus depends on doing outstanding work, work quality declines.
The problem is, that's such a counterintuitive idea, so at variance with people's sense of their own reaction to being offered an incentive, they tend to dismiss it without even glancing at the evidence.
So, I was delighted when I came upon this video by Dan Pink. It does a great job of laying out the evidence on what does and doesn't motivate people, and does it quickly and stylishly:
This video is equally densely packed with well-researched, evidence-backed analysis on what really motivates people — and what doesn't.
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