5 Things Science Tells Us About Motivation

What does science tell us about motivating people to do good work?  Here's an interesting ten minute video combining illustrations with a Daniel Pink lecture, and discussing five key findings:

  1. For rewarding simple straightforward tasks, money is a good motivator.
  2. When a task involves more than rudimentary cognitive ability -- some conceptual, creative thinking -- monetary rewards actually result in poorer performance.
  3. If you don't pay people enough, they won't be motivated to do a job.
  4. The best way to motivate people is to pay them enough to take the issue of money off the table.  Allow them to think about the work, rather than the money.
  5. Three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction: (1) Autonomy, (2) Mastery, and (3) Purpose.

Watch the video for a full explanation of the three factors and some examples involving real organizations.  This reminded me of the ideas underlying Google's "20-percent time."  And for a great example of these ideas in action, I highly recommend checking out Netflix's presentation on its "Freedom and Responsibility Culture."

(txs, Elan!)