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Thursday, November 5, 2015
The Science of Motivation
Lindsay McGregor says she understands why many companies have turned their corporate backs on the idea of investing in cultural changes touted to drive better employee engagement, productivity, innovation and collaboration.
“They just didn’t have anyone who could prove to them it worked,” she says. “They couldn’t go to the boardroom and say that you get better bottom-line results by changing the culture.”
In other words, you don’t have to try to copy Amazon or Apple, but can instead create a culture that fits best with your organization and spurs employees to innovate, experiment and adapt. (Doshi and McGregor have designed a Total Motivation Survey that helps determine the motivations behind work, the same survey they have administered to thousands of employees at 50 major companies.)
The bottom line: Why people work determines how well they work.
Specifically, the most important “whys” are play, purpose and potential. When an employee works for these reasons, then their performance is stronger and they execute better. But, when they work for emotional or economic reasons, then their performance is weakened.
“We may believe that anyone would do jumping jacks for a long time for $10,000. But in the long term, that doesn’t inspire anyone to keep it up,” McGregor says.
Research by Doshi and McGregor shows the road to what works – and what does not – when it comes to motivating workers to achieve better results includes:
Play. If an employee enjoys the work, then the work itself is the reward. At the heart of play are curiosity and experimentation, and people intrinsically enjoy learning and adapting. While some companies may think installing a foosball table is a way for employees to play, the key is that the motive must be fueled by the work itself. It’s not supposed to be a distraction.