Dan Pink discusses the science of motivation in this talk, kindly shared by TED.
Traditionally, incentives (ie bonuses) have been the way that big, and small, businesses encourage their employees to develop, grow and produce more: work harder to get a bigger cheque at the end of the month.
Dan argues that this is no longer the case with several scientific studies, and that top-down management is a thing of the 20th century (a point on which I wholeheartedly agree).
He makes several really interesting points throughout, and I urge you to watch the full video (around 20 minutes), about the new (?) motivations for people at work.
He says that carrot and stick economics are no longer working, and that there are three things that are driving people to want to work better:
Autonomy – The ability to work how you want, when you want, as long as you get the job done
Mastery – To become the best at what it is you do
Purpose – To feel that you are contributing to something with a greater meaning for a greater good
The example which he gives, which has also been often cited by my colleague Jason Mical, to this is Wikipedia.
He says that Microsoft wanted to make an encyclopaedia, Encarta, and put management and budget into the project, creating the world’s most comprehensive resource.
Yet, Wikipedia was built by volunteers and is perhaps an even greater achievement because of the lack of management structure, lack of monetary reward and succeeded because the contributors wanted to be a part of something.
This is a fine point and something we should all consider when managing, or looking at different ways to motivate those below, around or above us, to work more productively and with a greater innovative streak.