Carrer analyst Dan Pink’s 2009 lecture at TED (link to YouTube) should be required watching for anyone in management. Dan Pink shares clinical psychology research on Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation.
- Extrinsic motivation – elicited by a goal-based reward, like a bonus for processing x widgets per hour.
- Intrinsic motivation – driven by internal factors, like curiosity, professional pride, or a feeling of ownership in the project.
Extrinsic Motivation has been found to increase productivity for non-creative or repetitive tasks (eg. assembly line work), but actually decreases productivity for creative tasks (eg. programming, design). Perfomance-based initiatives are not effective with employees in more esoteric roles that require creativity or problem-solving skills; Instead, Intrinsic Motivation determines performance in these areas. Bottom line: if you need employees to use their brains, all you have to do is back-off and treat them like human beings.