The science of motivation essentially lays waste to our common perceptions about what drives people to excel. Financial bonuses contingent on better performance do not equal a better result except in a very narrow category of human endeavor. In the video below, Dan Pink discusses research that explains the counterintuitive reality of motivation—once people generally have enough money for it not to be a factor, financial incentives do little to encourage higher levels of performance.
Think about that for a minute.
The reality suggests a reboot of our approach to business and life in general, along with a focus on what truly encourages more effective engagement within organizations, systems and economies.
SPOILER ALERT: Pink identifies “autonomy, mastery and purpose” as the key elements of motivation. The ability to be self-directed, getting better at something that is challenging, and having a transcendent purpose help create an appreciably better motivational platform for people and organizations than the profit motive alone.
This discussion connects very well to marketing’s transition into the Relationship Era and the increasingly obvious benefits associated with clarity of purpose and a focus on building trust between brands and people. An organization motivated solely by profit will underperform, and people—both internal and external stakeholders—have much more invested in brands that resonate with them on multiple levels.
Likewise, being engaged in something worthwhile delivers a value that people (employees and others) crave but that is often lost under the pressure to hit numbers and the occasional arbitrary targets handed down from above. Can we afford to cede some control and empower more people with the goal of being more effective? Can we afford not to? Can we encourage innovation simply by getting out of the way and allowing people to master, improve or create? I think we can. I think we must.
I invite you to watch the entire video and share your thoughts. I find the discussion fascinating and hope you find value as well.