People only do the things that they are motivated to do. This motivation, required as a part of the formula for performance, is always internal.
Motivation has been talked about for as long as people have wondered about why people do what they do. In order to predict whether a person will succeed or not, look first at the motivation that drives a person. According to Clayton Alderfer, in his ERG theory, motivation is broken into Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. Herzberg separated motivation into satisfiers and dissatisfiers. Looking at the principles outlined by these individuals, you see that motivation that drives performance is internal and the components that diminish performance are the taking away of external components and/or the lack of internal factors. In other words, motivation is truly driven by the culture that is created and by the demonstration of appreciation, a chance to do what a person is great at, and the chance to be proud of the work that a person is doing. It is rooted in understanding "why" their job is critical.
Using if/then statements have proven to diminish performance for any work that requires creative thinking, cognitive ability, or any work requiring critical thinking. I know what you are thinking... "Money is what drives people. I have always been taught that." Money is actually motivator but only from the perspective that people need to be paid enough so that they don't think about money. Therefore, it is only lacking enough money that demotivates and not the addition of money that increases performance. Motivation is based on now/that statements instead of if/then statements.
Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the three actual components that science has demonstrated are required for people to be motivated. When a person is allowed to have control of their environment, the chance to grow and get better at things that they enjoy and want to master, as well as understanding the "why" of their job, that person will be motivated. What we know, through science, is that structured bonus systems and other standard incentive programs have done more to damage motivation than they ever did to advance it.
Mechanical work (work requiring mechanical skills) can be motivated by standard motivational practices. Anything that requires even basic cognitive skills works opposite of traditional models. Think about things like Open Source coding where people put in 10, 20, and sometimes more hours than that per week, and do it for free, and then give it away. They are in a space where they have autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These three components are thwarted when the profit motive is the sole drive for a business. When we lose our purpose, people lose their drive. Strangely enough, when we embrace purpose over profit, profits will chase us down. With Steve Jobs running Apple, this paradigm was demonstrated more clearly than almost any other scenario. When we treat people like people instead of work-horses, they go out of their way to fulfill their purpose, live autonomously, and master their craft. All three of those things produce incredible profits for the company.
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To Your Success,
Jody N Holland
Jody is a writer, motivational speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He has been the keynote speaker at over 250 events around the world. Jody speaks more than 150 times per year at different programs, and he has given more than 10,000 speeches during his career.