Workplace motivation – what drives people to perform better?

Daniel Pink, in his best-selling book “Drive – The Amazing Truth About What Motivates Us” reveals some of the recent science around motivation.

Yes, the traditional notion of reward and punishment still has some relevance today. And the “carrot and stick” has been central to the way in which many organisations have attempted to manage and motivate their employees in the past.

If you are in any type of leadership role, then rest assured workplace motivationthat “reward and punishment” still has a place in your motivational repertoire in order to get things done  (Although it’s still true that the stick will at best engender compliance) …. However it tends to be more effective when the work is of a more mechanical and routine nature – and only has a short term impact with other types of work.

Daniel Pink refers to some of the more recent research over the past decade and identifies three main sources of drive that have more relevance in today’s workplace. He makes the point that for many people in business today, their work is of a more conceptual and discretional nature.

Much of today’s work requires creative thought and a willingness to try new things in order to adapt to what is typically a fast-moving workplace with many shifting and changing aspects to the daily landscape.

It is in this context, that Pink refers to three main drivers that people are searching for ..

  1. Purpose

  2. Mastery

  3. Autonomy

workplace motivation drive

However there is an important caveat. It is only when people feel they are being paid a fair and reasonable salary, that these needs will come to the forefront and drive the desire of people to perform to their best. So what is the nature of these three contemporary workplace drivers?

Mastery refers to our desire to learn, improve and become adept at a skill or task that has meaning for us.

Purpose refers to our desire to be connected to a cause that is bigger than ourselves. With a sense of purpose we are inspired to persevere

Autonomy refers to our need to have a sense of reasonable control over what we do, who we do it with and when we do it. We want the freedom to make meaningful decisions around our work

If you are in a leadership role, then it is important to reflect upon to what extent you are creating opportunities for your staff to have these needs and desires met.

But just as important, is that you also reflect upon your own motivation …… Are you experiencing a sufficient degree of purpose, mastery and autonomy from the work that you are doing?

At the end of the day, it’s more than likely that a leader who themselves is feeling a lack of fulfilment with these three desires will be much less inclined to pay attention to the needs of their team. ……… So I would ask you the question – how are you travelling? If you perhaps recognise that your own motivation is an area of concern at times – then you might check out Self-Motivation Tips

To conclude, here’s a short animated video clip in which Daniel Pink himself explains the nature of people’s desire for autonomy, mastery and purpose. See what you think ….