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Motivation 3.0: It’s Not About the Money

What gets you out of the bed in the morning? What drives you to succeed in your career? What pushes you to land one more sale to close out the month? Many would say money. Sure, money is great, but is it the most effective motivator? In the 1970s, psychologist Edward Deci experimented with using extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to see which would carry more weight. In the study, two groups of students were given puzzles to solve. One group was told they would get a monetary reward for solving the puzzles, while the other group was not offered any type of compensation. Deci found that the rewarded group was less interested in completing the assignment than the non-rewarded group. He concluded that intrinsic motivation, which comes from within, held more weight than extrinsic motivation, which involves an external reward, when it comes to motivating people to do their best work.

Daniel Pink, author of New York Times Bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, expands on Deci’s ideas. He highlights three elements believed to be the core of motivation, or as he calls it, “Motivation 3.0.” The trio of autonomy, mastery, and purpose tap into people’s basic psychological needs, motivating them to accomplish their goals.

Autonomy is our self-direction. The idea that we, as human beings, seek to control our own lives. If employees are never given the authority to make decisions or have zero control over certain aspects of their work, their motivation will likely deteriorate. So, how can you use autonomy to encourage your employees? Give them a choice in how to perform a task, then provide meaningful feedback and encouragement. This will not only inspire your employees, but also give them the confidence to continue to make decisions that will benefit the company.

Mastery provides opportunity for continued growth. It is the idea that people want to feel like they are constantly getting better, or mastering, a particular skill or task. I worked in the jewelry industry for about six years and knew absolutely nothing about jewelry when I started. I poured myself into learning everything I could about diamonds, gemstones, and styles of jewelry. Once I got the basics down, I could see how my sales begin to increase. I was encouraged and motivated to keep learning because I felt a sense of pride in contributing to the overall success of the store. As a manager, you should aim to find tasks that fit your individual employees. Everyone has different skill sets and excels in different areas. Once employees find their niche, they can thrive and continue to grow. Their mastery gives them a greater sense of accomplishment, and ultimately motivates them.

Purpose defines importance. There is no question that people have an innate desire to relate with one another, and to feel connected to their team, their community, and the world itself. Your company’s mission statement should clearly define your team’s purpose. Your employees should be frequently reminded of this purpose so that they can see how their work is contributing to the bigger picture. Taking the focus off of dollars and numbers and placing it back on the human factor will inspire them to go the extra mile.

As a leader, it’s easy to be too focused on day-to-day activities and forget that employee engagement is one of your most important responsibilities. Take the time and effort to encourage your team. Give them the control, resources, and purpose they need to feel connected to the business. Not only will the company culture be enriched; your employees will become the driving force you need to grow. Click here to download an Identifying Motivator worksheet to discover what motivates your employees.

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