Forget Motivating Staff With Incentives – Pink Drive Review

Are your staff on board or not?   Do a quick test – sit back and listen to how your staff talk about your company. Is it  in terms of “we” or “they” – this is a good barometer as to whether you have engaged your staff or are controlling them.

The old days of control, carrots and stick have gone – they simply do not work. In fact research shows giving people extra rewards for work is not a way to motivate them in the long run. It works the first time, then they expect it and when it doesn’t come they get de-motivated.

I drew a parallel for you cyclists out there, it’s like eating chocolate on a long hard ride, a great sugar rush  that is followed by a crash in energy.

This is not to ignore a basic “baseline reward” (remuneration) that people get for doing their job. But we need to hunt down how we inspire the inner drive in people.

Enter the new age of autonomy, mastery and purpose…

I have just spent the weekend reading Daniel Pink’s Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us.  Many of the business owners I deal with, are often faced with the thought “how do I get that extra drive out of staff?”

Pink questions the age-old management philosophy of carrot and stick. He provides some great scientific examples of how people behave or more importantly how traditional management approaches simply do not work. “So here we have a major mismatch between what science knows and how business behaves”.  I drew a parallel for you cyclists out there, it’s like eating chocolate on a long hard ride, great sugar rush that is followed by a crash in energy.

Pink presents an evolutionary approach to how people are motivated – i.e we have lived in two worlds and are about to join a third. Motivation 1.0 – world of basic survival, Motivation 2.0 based on fact that humans respond to rewards and punishments and now we have entered the world of 3.0 – Motivation 3.0  is based on the theory that humans have a third drive – to learn, to create, and to better the world. For me it was like the next step from the Maslow’s hierarchy theory. By the way like DOS motivation 1.0 and 2.0 are no longer supported!

Pink advocates that we need to focus more on unleashing the inner drive – that place we get to when we are doing thing that we enjoy and have purpose – that state of flow.

What he advocates is that we need to create an environment of:

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to get better at something that matters
  • Purpose – the yearning to do something in the service of something larger than ourselves

In practise, we need to find ways to let people harness what matters to them, rathing than ordering creation or fun!

To spark creativity in teams Atlasian ran FedEx Days – like Fedex they had to deliver something overnight. So all the staff were given complete freedom to work on anything they liked as long as it delivered something finished the next day. After initial trials Atlasian now give staff freedom to spend 20% of their time on stuff that is not part of their normal tasked job.

The book suggest caning those “fun off sites” and replace them with “fed Ex days” hell most people like what they do let them “create” with their skills. An interesting example was given – Artist’s best works are never the commissioned ones. Another interesting point is that generally people waste at least 10% of their working day anyway.

Gmail and google news, all came about by giving staff free creativity time.

Drive is one of those books that doesn’t give you the answers, as much as it inspires you to rethink your world both from a personal and business perspective.

Questions that came to me reading Pink’s Drive were:

  •  Do you earn your money from a job or your vocation?
  • How much of your time are you operating in your flow zone?
  • What are you doing in your business to ensure you are creating flow, unleashing the inner drive in your people, rather than using carrots and sticks?

So my verdict … not good enough to topple a book of  my  top 5 book  list.  Why, too slow to start and not enough practical takeaways, but certainly a great thought provoking book just the same.

Thanks Simon for putting the link to this video in comments on this post

If you are  looking at how to best capture human capital for your business then get a copy. Bottom line it has changed the way I think, I sense as I reflect on it I may change my rating.

post ed note: It definitely rates in my top 10 books, although post Simon connecting me to the video I actually recommend people watch the great RSA animates video version of the book. Now posted above.

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6 thoughts on “Forget Motivating Staff With Incentives – Pink Drive Review

  1. I saw an illustrated Youtube video of that in a recent Reason and Science Society meeting at Canterbury University:

    If Dan Pink’s theories are correct, and companies start to catch on to this, I think it has the potential to have a profound influence on rich countries economies in the next decade.

  2. Fantastic, isn’t it funny how pictures make things more interesting and help you retain more.

    Everyone should watch this

  3. Pingback: Test your BHAG « Mark Robotham's Blog

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