You Can’t Motivate People

 In Communication, Culture, Employee Retention, Leadership

Carrots and sticks don’t work. Organizational Psychologists refer to this as extrinsic motivation – motivation that comes from outside of yourself.  The approach is seductive in that it often works in the short run, but is rarely sustainable. As soon as the reward or punishment is removed, the desired behavior disappears.

People are hardwired to make a difference, to achieve something of significance. As leaders, we can create an environment that is demotivating, but we cannot effectively motivate others. There is an overwhelming body of research that point to three key intrinsic human motivators – Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery (applying your strengths in a tangible way.)

Autonomy – No one likes to be micromanaged. I don’t mind if the boss gets to determine the “what,” but I want to do it in a way that suites me best – the “how”.

Purpose – No one likes busy work. What I am doing needs to have a purpose. The bigger and more important the purpose the better. I will even gladly do mundane work if it is directly connected to a bigger purpose.

Mastery – No one wants to suck. Every one of us wants to be a Rockstar. We want to be brilliant and we are if we are working in our strengths.

What kind of environment are you creating? Do have a bunch of rock stars or are your people in need of a little “motivation”?

If you would like some help applying this concept, let’s talk.

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