Is Motivation an Inside or Outside Job?


Motivating others is surprisingly difficult. It’s more complex than it appears. The most basic solution suggests that all motivation is intrinsic (i.e., found within the person you are trying to motivate).

But knowing what motivates each employee on a personal level is impractical.

To inspire your people to excel, you need to help them find meaning in their work and to feel productive on the job. You also have to encourage the personal qualities that enhance employees’ performance, such as optimism, personal responsibility and dedication to values.

Take note of these three themes inherent to motivating people:

1. Helping people find meaning
2. Strengthening personal qualities
3. Fostering commitment beyond the job

In Dan Pink’s latest book, Drive, he reviews the business theories and practices about motivation – and makes a clear case that management is out of sync with what science has been proving about human motivations and drives.

All motivation is intrinsic. Carrots and sticks not only don’t work well, but in some cases can back-fire and actually yield lower performance results. When people focus too much on the reward, they can miss seeing creative solutions.

What’s been your experience in getting people motivated?

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