In his book called Drive: The Surprising Truth What Motivates us the author Daniel H. Pink leads us through the history of motivating people starting from what he calls Motivation 1.0 up to release 3.0. Motivation 1.0 is about survival. As simple as that. You have to obtain some food, otherwise, you starve to death. You have to have a shelter, otherwise, you freeze to death in winter - well, it depends on where you live. You got the point, otherwise you…
Motivation 2.0 is about sticks and carrots. It’s been around with us since around the dawn of the industrial revolution. Managers, owners, bosses had to find ways to motivate people to work more and work better. They started to use rewards (carrots) and punishments (sticks). Usually, we can speak about if-then rewards; if you deliver on time, you get a nice bonus. These methods are still with us, though they are a bit obsolete according to Pink.
I say a bit obsolete because for some kind of tasks they are still considered okay. For non-creative, repetitive tasks - those should be automated by the way - if-then rewards can boost productivity. On the other hand, according to studies referenced by Pink, such rewards can be harmful to other kinds of tasks that require originality. They limit creativity. Thus if you want to reward people working on creative activities, better to use now-that rewards occasionally; now that we achieved such a great result, let’s celebrate.
But even better to move to a new way of motivating people, which Pink refers to as Motivation 3.0. The idea behind is that one should not be motivated by external factors, much better if we can achieve that people are intrinsically motivated. The following elements are required to achieve that state: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
When you can decide about 20 per cent of your time, like it used to be in Google it can be intrinsically motivating for employees. In other words, we can say that control or perceived control over your job is an important part of Motivation 3.0. By the way, this is one of the goals you should aim for according to Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
If we look back again at the thoughts of Cal Newport, he mentions mastery too. According to him, mastery will lead to autonomy and at the end of the road, you will find your purpose, not the other way around. If we translate this to Drive, we can see that while intrinsic motivation (v3.0) is preferable over extrinsic motivation (v2.0), it’s difficult to put to have it for masses.
While you can put these values into the centre of your company culture, people need time to find intrinsic motivation to deliver exceptionally and personally, I don’t think you can expect it from everyone. We are all motivated by different things, but at the end of the month, we all have to pay our checks.
All in all, I found Drive an interesting book, and I agree that if you can foster an environment where mastery, autonomy and purpose are valued, you will have more intrinsically motivated people helping you get better results, though to stay realistic, you’ll have to combine Motivation 3.0 with the good old sticks and carrots.