As Daniel Pink says in this TED talk (The Puzzle of Motivation), there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. And that mismatch puts your change initiatives at risk!
Over the last forty years, research has shown over and over that extrinsic rewards (carrot and stick, pay-for-performance) are very often neutral to negative in their effect on outcomes. “If-then rewards work well where there is a clear set of rules and a simple destination to go to.” This kind of work, however, is less and less of what is required in today’s workplace. Pink points out that much of it (accounting, software development, etc.) is now outsourced.
Most of the changes that we are engaged with—and that people throughout our organizations are going to succeed or fail at—do not meet these criteria. There are complex rules, or no rules at all; the destination is not simple to achieve. The problem is that rewards narrow our focus, preventing creative experimentation and problem solving. A different approach to motivation is called for!
Pink’s recommendation—based on research—is an approach based on intrinsic motivation. The three building blocks of such an approach are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. How do you move the rewards basis of your methodology from rewards and punishments to autonomy, mastery, and purpose?
Brian Gorman is the Managing Editor of Change Management Review™. In this capacity he regularly curates articles of importance to our readership; contributes original writing; hosts podcasts; and works with guest authors.
For more than five decades Brian has been engaged in—and a student of—change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels. During this time, he has worked with both individuals and organizations (ranging from solo practitioners to Fortune 100 businesses), guiding them through a wide array of challenges. Decades of experience have given him a deep appreciation of the universal patterns that underlie successfully navigating even the most difficult changes.
In addition to his work as our Managing Editor, Brian is a transformation coach, supporting both individual and organizational change. Brian is committed to passing his “lessons learned” on to others, so that their change journeys can advance more smoothly. He is a frequent workshop facilitator and public speaker. Brian is the author of “The Hero and the Sherpa,” a chapter in the online Handbook of Personal and Organizational Transformation (Springer Publishing; Judi Neal, Editor). He also has an extensive library of blog posts, articles, and videos on the change journey, including “The Ten Most Important Lessons I Have Learned Over 50 Years of Engaging Change.”
Mr. Gorman’s formal education includes a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Syracuse University, an MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas, San Antonio and an MA in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
Brian is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, and is an active member in the New York City chapter. Brian is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and the Gay Coaches Alliance.
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