April marks the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Are you on target
to accomplish your 2015 goals? One quarter of the year is
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 peoples psychological needs?
Many business leaders have lost sight of what motivates people at work.
In fact, some companies havent updated their incentive practices
in years, which means theyre probably struggling to create and
sustain high-performing teams.
| Motivate without Over-Managing
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 youll 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 peoples psychological needs?
| The Motivational Trifecta
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
But when managers become too involved in coaching, encouraging and
pushing people to be productive, they can actually undermine perceived
autonomy. Its a fine line that requires Goldilocks management:
just the right amount.
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
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:
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.
- The monkeys survival didnt depend on solving the
- They didnt receive any rewards, nor avoid any punishments,
for their work.
- They solved the puzzles because they had a desire to do so.
Twenty years passed before psychologist Edward Deci, now a professor
at the University of Rochester, followed up on Harlows 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 persons 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
| 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
She also cites negative motivational outlooks:
(money or status) to the internal (finding meaning, acting on ones
values and ideals, aspiring to a higher purpose). Fowler adds the
following: Alignment: I value developing people.
I have to; its my job.
Its what Im paid to do.
Id 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.
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
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