It’s such an appealing idea: Workers who motivate themselves.
If only your employees could muster the inner drive to excel, you wouldn’t need to think up incentive programs or other techniques to spur them to greatness. You could simply set the stage for them to perform and stay out of the way.
New research shows that one of the most overlooked ways to motivate people at work is to give them more leeway to configure their jobs so that they produce the results you specify. Your role is to communicate standards and expectations clearly so that everyone knows what constitutes success.
In the new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink highlights enlightened employers around the country where workers design their own schedules and work environments as long as they deliver the required output. He focuses on the value of intrinsic motivation rather than giving managers lots of tools to dangle carrots that induce compliance.
Specifically, Pink writes that self-motivators need autonomy, a desire to master critical tasks or skills and a link between their daily effort and their employer’s larger purpose. When workers can operate with some independence, benefit from professional development and see how they’re contributing to the greater good, they are more likely to push themselves harder.
Even if your team is intrinsically motivated, you still need to offer external goodies. Rewards such as production bonuses, recognition programs and paid time off can reinforce the inner drive that powers employees to succeed.