In this video Daniel Pink talks about the results of years of scientific research on the topic of motivation in the workplace. He highlights the importance of autonomy, mastery and monetary incentives as key elements in terms of motivating employees. He points out the obvious that an employee must be paid accordingly and if they feel they are underpaid then they will not be motivated in the first place. However, what I found particularly interesting is the mastery element. Pink says that scientific research has shown that employees that feel progress in their job are significantly more motivated then those that do not feel progress is being made by their labor. I relate to this extremely well. Unfortunately in my current unit with the Army there has been absolutely no progress in the almost 2 years that I have been there. In fact, my job as a satellite communications operator has transformed into a janitor/maintenance person. I have become increasingly frustrated with my daily tasks and lack of progression. Thankfully, my time in the military comes to an end in 3 weeks and I blame the lack of progression for my strong desire to move on from the military. I think Daniel Pink’s assessments and studies on what truly motivates employees is accurate and would be a beneficial 8 minute video to show all managers.
Daniel Pink’s theory is that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the factors that motive people. While tangible rewards and money are good motivators, the effectiveness of these tactics diminish over time. Even more than money, people need to feel as if they have control and a sense of accomplishment.
I frequently see examples of this at work. We have employees that support different contracts. On one we have help desk employees that have almost every aspect of their job spelled out down to the amount of time they can keep a customer on the phone. Then we have engineers and developers that have complete control over how their job is performed. I find that we have the most performance problems with the help desk employees, while our engineers are more productive because they have a personal stake in the work that they do.
In most cases, employees want a positive outcome for whatever they are tasked with, but there is a certain amount of pride involved when someone achieves success on their own accord. Even if the project fails, they are able to learn from the experience and will be better prepared for future challenges.
Jim Collins would argue that you have to find and employ self-motivated people and that trying to motivate people is a waste of time:
Employing self-motivated people is ideal in a business. However, even if people are self-motivated normally, if there are not necessary conditions established in a work place, those self-motivated people could get loose motivation. According to the article of “How Self-Motivated Are You?”, “Self-motivation doesn’t come naturally to everyone and even those who are highly self-motivated need some extra help now and then.” Intrinsic motivation is necessary for a long term and complex tasks. According to Daniel Pink (What Really Motivates workers, 2010), people need to feel that the work is interesting and they should be able to progress in their work. They should be able work around their flexible schedule and they should feel that they do very important tasks that transcend them and the importance of work is larger than them. I think that the employer should provide necessary environment to keep people motivated. Self-motivation for personal things might not be enough for a business that they don’t own. For example, I consider myself self-motivated. I can be motivated for certain things. However, when it comes to working for others, in order to keep me motivated, I should have the three factors of intrinsic motivation which are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Similarly, I believe that no matter how self-motivated a person is, the employer should motivated the employees by providing the three ingredients of intrinsic motivation which are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
I believe that you can motivate people. That being said I do believe that following Jim Collins strategy would be a good move. By hiring employees that are self-motivated you save time and resources. Instead of having managers that need to be constantly pestering employees or keeping a constant eye on them a manager can put themselves to better use. A company can also save money. A proven motivating option is monetary reward or giving a cash bonus for production. If a company’s employees are self-motivated there is no need for these cash bonuses, which would allow the company to put this money to better use.
Where Jim Collins is wrong is that motivating people is a waste of time. There are plenty of people out there that lack motivation. Sometimes some of the brightest people in the world lack motivation because they are unchallenged. If one of these people came in for an interview for Jim Collins company and he let them walk away to another company that could come back to haunt him. If a manager can realize what they need for motivation who knows where the ceiling is for that person.
All in all both sides have a good argument. However, if I were the manager I would take chances on people I think would be very successful with some motivation. Self-motivation is not a trait everyone possesses so chances need to be taken on some people.