Daniel Pink comes to talk to us at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit about human motivation. What motivates people to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? Hoping to find out how to motivate more.
Biological drive--hunger, etc.
Reward & Punishment drive
Relationship & Meaning drive (routinely neglected in organizations)
50 years of research in the science of motivation can shed light on this.
One study in rewards done in Cambridge, MA with MIT students. Tasks were given increasing rewards and when the tasks were mechanical the higher the pay the better the performance but when tasks called for even rudimentary cognitive skill a larger reward led to worse performance.
if / then motivators work well for simple tasks but they don't work well for complex conceptual tasks that demand creativity because they give you tunnel vision.
Red Gate Software company had a sales force with commissions and the employees started gating the system. The company decided to eliminate commissions and instead raised the base salary and gave them profit-sharing at the end of the year.
One of the problems is that we make the wrong assumptions about people. Two false assumptions are:
1) Human beings are machines (complicated but mechanistic)--not true and 50 years of science verifies this
2) Human beings are blobs (passive and inert)--not true--our nature is to be active and engaged (I defy you to find me a child who is NOT active and engaged--that is our default setting)
Three keys to human motivation: Autonomy; Mastery; Purpose
Autonomy--compare to 'management'. Management is technology from the 1850s designed to get compliance. Management does not lead to direction; self-direction leads to engagement. This works better than giving out carrots, especially in the church where we don't even have many carrots to give out. We need to give autonomy in time, team task, technique.
Australian software company gives each Friday to intense undiluted autonomy where employees can work on anything as long as it's not related to their job and they have something to show everyone at the end of the day (called Fed Ex Days). It worked so well that now employees can spend 20% of their employees working on their own on whatever they want. Google does this in the US. "Just about all the good ideas here have bubbled up from 20% time"
How to apply this in a non-profit situation?--need to go slow in implementing this. Need to provide some scaffolding to help people get there. Try some Fed Ex days to train people. Or start out with 10% time.
Mastery--Playing the bassoon on the weekend doesn't fulfill biological or economical needs but it provides meaning. Large study of motivation showed the largest work motivator was making progress. (No wonder I struggle in my job as a school nurse.) More likely to have this in work rather than leisure.
To achieve mastery you have to have feedback. The workplace is one of the most feedback deprived places. An annual review is not much feedback. You need to set your own goals and self-evaluate.
Purpose--There's a sense that a page is turning. We're seeing the limits of the profit motive. There's a rise in the purpose motive. Concentrating on profits can lead to mediocrity. Businesses are now starting to follow the lead of the non-profit sector to focus on meaning rather than profits.
Listen to the pronouns used when people describe their organization. Is it 'we' or 'they'. The 'we' organizations are high-performing.
How do we change things? You can't change your organization. One person can't do that. The question should be--can I change what I do tomorrow? And the answer to that is YES.
Anything good in life begins with a conversation. That's what changes the world. The more we have conversations about this the more change we can bring.