Writer’s Wednesday: Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink is a fascinating insight into what drives us as human being. What motivates us. What gets us up in the morning, and keeps us going throughout the day?

Pink covers how motivation has been seen in the past, and what new (and frequently surprising) studies have shown about motivation today:

Of course, the starting point for any discussion of motivation in the workplace is a simple fact of life: People have to earn a living. Salary, contract payments, some benefits, a few perks are what I call “ baseline rewards.” If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance. You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all. But once we’re past that threshold , carrots and sticks can achieve precisely the opposite of their intended aims. Mechanisms designed to increase motivation can dampen it. Tactics aimed at boosting creativity can reduce it. Programs to promote good deeds can make them disappear. Meanwhile, instead of restraining negative behavior, rewards and punishments can often set it loose —and give rise to cheating , addiction, and dangerously myopic thinking.

So rather than trying to micromanage people, we need to enable people to do their work in a way that motivates them:

McKnight believed in a simple, and at the time, subversive, credo: “Hire good people, and leave them alone.”

It argues that we have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others—sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on—can sometimes have dangerous side effects.

Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.

However, encouraging autonomy doesn’t mean discouraging accountability. Whatever operating system is in place , people must be accountable for their work. But there are different ways to achieve this end, each built on different assumptions about who we are deep down.

I highly recommend this book, to understand your own motivation – or how to better work with the people around you. And at the end of the day:

The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward -and-punishment drive, but our third drive— our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.

 

As always I invite you to find me and connect with me on Goodreads.

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