What Motivates Top Performance? (Hint: Not Money)

So, WHY do YOU do what you do? It’s likely not about the money (or if it is about the money that may be a clue why you’re not as happy as you expected to be with all that cash).

Dan Pink, Author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Amazon), talks about this issue with some interesting clarity.

Below, is a YouTube video animating 10 minutes and 48 seconds of intense intelligence about this subject in a clear, engaging format to watch.

I admit I was completely mesmerized by this when I first saw it on Scoble’s response to "Why I work at Rackspace" via the following tweet from @Jesse: .bbpBox14892584117 {background:url(http://s.twimg.com/a/1274899949/images/themes/theme15/bg.png) #022330;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

“This is why I work at Rackspace” – http://j.mp/9nNxFIless than a minute ago via Google2Tweet

Here’s a few notes I took and a bit of my armchair analysis:

Paying money to get motivation only works where do-this/get-this jobs are in-play. Jobs requiring even minimal cognitive ability have an inverse relationship to the monetary-motivator… meaning people will be less-motivated by the money if their job requires thinking.

But, you have to still pay them… (duh)


Pay people enough to take money off the table so they think about work, not the absence of money. Then, realize three things drive people’s motivation from there:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose
  4. When you’re determining how to motivate people, especially creative people (and yes, Engineering and Legal work are creative in their right), remember that:

    Management = compliance

    Self-direction = engagement

    Engagement, by the way, is the stuff that drives innovation and real, lasting results.
    In Summary: The thing that motivates knowledge workers… the creative class… is being able to work on something challenging, something they are able to master and get better at, and something that enables them to make a contribution.

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