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Greetings Everyone,
April marks the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Are you on target to accomplish your 2015 goals? One quarter of the year is now history.
Social scientists have grasped what motivates people for more than 60 years. But managers continue to use the carrot/stick model with incentive programs. Regardless of gender, race, culture or generation, the reality is clear: Are you satisfying your people’s psychological needs?

 Motivate without Over-Managing
Many business leaders have lost sight of what motivates people at work. In fact, some companies haven’t updated their incentive practices in years, which means they’re probably struggling to create and sustain high-performing teams.

Companies continue to ignore the obvious: Offering incentives and rewards is less effective than tapping into truly meaningful intrinsic motivation. Leaders operate on old assumptions about motivation despite a wealth of well-documented scientific evidence.

The old “carrot-and-stick” mentality actually inhibits employees from seeking creative solutions, partly because they focus on attaining rewards instead of solving problems. Review the most notorious business failures, and you’ll find that company leaders focused on rewarding short-term results at the expense of sustaining success.

This approach is far from new. Social scientists have grasped what motivates people for more than 60 years. But managers continue to use the carrot/stick model with incentive programs. Regardless of gender, race, culture or generation, the reality is clear: Are you satisfying your people’s psychological needs?
     The Motivational Trifecta

             1. Autonomy As adults, we never lose our need for autonomy. Productivity significantly increases for blue-collar workers in manufacturing plants when they are given the ability to stop the line. So does the productivity of white-collar workers in major investment banks who report a high sense of autonomy.

    But when managers become too involved in coaching, encouraging and pushing people to be productive, they can actually undermine perceived autonomy. It’s a fine line that requires Goldilocks management: just the right amount.

             2. Relatedness

    Relatedness is defined as our need to care about, and be cared for by, others. “It is our need to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives,” Fowler notes. “It is our need to feel that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves.”

    In 1924, Western Electric conducted one of the first studies on workplace behaviors at Hawthorne Works, a plant located just outside of Chicago. Researchers found that workers were more productive when they knew they were being observed and were included in social interactions.

    We are social animals. When offered opportunities to work together, as in teams, our engagement and productivity increase. We thrive on connection. Leaders have enormous opportunities to help their people find meaning in workplace interpersonal experiences.

             3. Competence: Lessons from Monkeys

    In 1949, psychologist Harry Harlow placed puzzles in monkeys’ cages and was surprised to find that the primates successfully solved them. Harlow saw no logical reason for them to do so. So, what motivated them? The answer is threefold:
    • The monkeys’ survival didn’t depend on solving the puzzles.
    • They didn’t receive any rewards, nor avoid any punishments, for their work.
    • They solved the puzzles because they had a desire to do so.
    As to their motivation, Harlow offered a novel theory: “The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward.” That is, the monkeys performed because they found it gratifying to solve puzzles. They enjoyed it, and the joy of the task served as its own reward.

     What Motivates People?

    Twenty years passed before psychologist Edward Deci, now a professor at the University of Rochester, followed up on Harlow’s studies.

    In 1969, he ran a series of experiments that showed students lost intrinsic interest in an activity when money was offered as an external reward. Although rewards can deliver a short-term boost, the effect wears off. Even worse, rewards can reduce a person’s longer-term motivation to continue a project.

    People have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore, and to learn. Unlike drives (for thirst, food and sex), these needs are never completely satisfied. Even after we attain degrees of competency, autonomy and relatedness, we still want more.

     Motivating without Micromanaging

    Most managers want to motivate people to peak performance, but their approach often backfires. In their fervent desire to teach people what they know to be true, some managers enthusiastically over-manage.

    Over-management can manifest as micromanagement. When you tell staffers what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why your way is better, you undermine their ability to think for themselves. They begin to feel powerless and controlled, and they many even start to doubt their competency.

     Motivational Conversations

    Boost employee commitment by conducting a motivational outlook conversation. Ask your people to identify what motivates them to do their work. Your goal is to help them identify motivating factors that have maximum impact and create optimum energy.

      1. Most people identify several reasons for working: from the external
      (money or status) to the internal (finding meaning, acting on one’s values and ideals, aspiring to a higher purpose). Fowler adds the following: Alignment: I value developing people.
    She also cites negative motivational outlooks:

             2. Imposition: I have to; it’s my job.

             3. Externalization: It’s what I’m paid to do.

             4. Disinterest: I’d rather be doing something else.

    Motivational conversations help people discover different reasons for doing their work. Once they pinpoint their current motivations, they can work toward finding their internal motivations—ideally, those that relate to their values.

    Final Thoughts:
    The key to success is planning. It has been said "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Step one is to create the plan. Step two is find the help and support you need to execute the plan. That help and support can from a coach, a mastermind group, a peer advisory group or your board of directors.

    Let me know how I can be helpful as you work to achieve your goals and objectives for 2015. There are about 265 days left. Stay focused and execute your plan.

    Thanks for your time and do have a great day.

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    Jerry Pinney
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    Jerry Pinney & Associates
    102 East 32nd Street
    Chicago, IL,
    phone: 312-842-4577

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