there is an amazing amount of information coming out of the field of positive psychology surrounding the reasons why people do what they do. dan pink has one of the most popular TED talks and one of the canonical texts on the topic of motivation. the surprising truth is that rewards and monetary benefits actually have little to do with increasing performance. in fact, the opposite is true: rewards and benefits actually hinder performance.
to have a happy, healthy, and motivated workforce the members of your organization need to feel accomplished. that they are doing work that matters, doing work they enjoy (in a manner in which they want to do it), and reaching their full potential.
yet it seems that every part of management is designed to squash that intrinsic motivation. by the very nature of the management hierarchy, we are told that we are just the worker. we are told that we do not get to make the decisions, and therefore do not get to affect change. our role is to trust in management’s ability to lead the organization where it needs to go. impact? change? that’s not for us.
as we see from dan pink’s work and the work of so many others, this approach worked well for a different time and place. the problem, however, is that our world—and our economy—has moved well beyond that point. forget the post-industrial age, we’re living in a post-information age; we’re living in the idea age where creativity and art is king.
it’s time to modernize our approach to business and any organization that doesn’t risks losing out on the future. markets rise and fall, and organizations can navigate those waters fairly well. but once the future is lost? there is no recovering from that.