How to Take the Politics Out of Networking

How do you feel when you enter a convention or networking event?  Nervous, shy, uncomfortable? This distress is understandable. Typically, we rise through the ranks through our strong command of the technical elements of their jobs and a 24/7 focus on accomplishing our objectives. When challenged to move beyond our functional specialty and address the strategic issues facing the…

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The Surprising Truth Where Motivation Comes From

What would happen if you took a group of MIT students and gave them a set of challenges featuring word and spatial puzzles, memorizing, and shooting hoops. Then made it a bit more interesting by providing monetary incentives for different levels of performance. Low performers would be paid a small reward, middle performers a little more, and the top performers would get paid very well. How would they perform? (See video below)

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts was recently nominated for a Webby for their animated lecture by Dan Pink which discusses this fascinating question. What drives workplace motivation?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc[/youtube]

The old idea of rewarding innovation and performance with money alone is no longer viable…to a certain point. Studies are finding that financial incentives are motivating, if the task is performed with pure mechanical skill. Once even a rudimentary level of cognitive skill is required, monetary incentives can actually hurt performance.

So what works? Dan Pink found that motivation in the workplace comes down to three areas.

  1. Autonomy: This is the ability to self manage. Knowledge workers are consistently more engaged with their work when they are allowed to have some time to work on projects they see as interesting or a priority. You may have heard about Google’s 20% time. The concept that Google employees get to spend 1/5th of their time on projects of their choosing. Google isn’t the only company doing this nor the first. 3m and Atlassian have also followed this idea and seen impressive innovation, fixes, and new products as a result.
  2. Mastery: Dan Pink makes a good point here. He asks why do people play musical instruments? It won’t pay the bills, get them a promotion, or serve any other monetary purpose. We answer, “It’s fun, we see ourselves getting better and that feels good, it makes me happy.” It goes back to pure monetary reward as not being enough.
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