Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, and his related talks point out some interesting facts about what motivates people. The truth is surprising, in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily correspond to what everyone assumes is true. But it’s not so surprising if you’ve done any serious self-reflection on what kinds of things really make you want to get out of your easy chair and DO something. Or if you’ve ever run a committee or managed a work group or coordinated volunteers — and actually paid attention to what works and what doesn’t.
The key point: Intrinsic motivators are more powerful than extrinsic motivators.
Extrinsic motivators are things like money. It turns out that monetary rewards don’t work all that well – in fact, they can have exactly the opposite effect.
Intrinsic motivators in a work environment are things like meaningful work, good relations with coworkers, freedom to exercise creativity, and ability to determine how you spend your time and do your job.
Dan Pink emphasizes three things that people really want:
- People want to have control over their work.
- People want to get better at what they do.
- People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.(*)
It’s certainly true for me.
(*) Speaking of the desire to be part of something bigger, see this.