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The Science Behind What Motivates Us to Get Up For Work Every Day


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I loves me some Lifehacker.. :-)

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose -- do they all have equal weight?

Payment actually undermined intrinsic motivation because such external rewards thwart our "three psychological needs—to feel autonomous, to feel competent and to feel related to others." As he told BBC.com, "You need thinkers, problem solvers, people who can be creative and using money to motivate them will not get you that."

Great article! All so true. The other thing I always hear from my clients is that they are craving a beginning, middle and end to their work. Nothing ever seems to finish for a lot of jobs and that is very difficult for people - they want a sense of accomplishment.

Suzannah, that is a great point.

This is why goals -- not just long term goals but also short term and medium term -- are so important to job satisfaction.

The key passage:

Emotions play a leading role in how to succeed in business because they influence how much you try and this is widely misunderstood by bosses and managers.

Psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer interviewed over 600 managers and found a shocking result. 95 percent of managers misunderstood what motivates employees. They thought what motivates employees was making money, getting raises and bonuses. In fact, after analyzing over 12,000 employee diary entries, they discovered that the number one work motivator was emotion, not financial incentive: it's the feeling of making progress every day toward a meaningful goal. In fact, Dan Pink found that actually the exact oposite is true:

"The larger the monetary reward, the poorer the performance. – money doesn't motivate us, at all, instead emotions do."

In the famous experiment by Dr. Edward Deci clarified again whether emotional feedback or money would engagement with work. People were sitting in a room and tried to solve a puzzle while Deci measured how much time they put in, before giving up. For Group A, he offered a cash reward for successfully solving the puzzle, and as you might expect, those people spent almost twice as much time trying to solve the puzzle as those people in Group B who weren't offered a prize.

A surprising thing happened the next day, when Deci told Group A that there wasn't enough money to pay them this time around: Group A lost interest in the puzzle. Group B, on the other hand, having never been offered money in exchange for working on the puzzles, worked on the puzzles longer and longer in each consecutive session and maintained a higher level of sustained interest than Group A. So if it not money what else really motivates us?

The 3 real reasons that motivate us to work hard every day

Pink explains further that there are injust 3 very simple things that drive nearly each and everyone of us to work hard:

  • Autonomy: Our desire to direct our own lives. In short: "You probably want to do something interesting, let me get out of your way!"
  • Mastery: Our urge to get better at stuff.
  • Purpose: The feeling and intention that we can make a difference in the world.

Watch Daniel Pink's video:

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