Surprising Truth on Motivation by Dan Pink

“Larger reward led to poorer performance!” that is what keep nagging in my head, since last year after I  watched this 2010 animated video of Dan Pink‘s talk at RSA.
It affected my approach of designing reward to motivate employee.
This video illustrate Dan Pink talks questioning the idea
that if you reward something you get more of the behavior you want.
If you punish something, you get less of it.

He quoted results from a study at MIT
done by economist from MIT, Carnegie Melon and Chicago University
that sponsored by The Federal Reserve Bank:

“As long as the task involved only mechanical skill
bonuses worked as they would be expected
the higher the pay, the better their performance.
once the task calls for even rudimentary cognitive skill
a larger reward led to poorer performance!!”

Reward Led to Poorer Performance

He stated :

Money is a motivator, at work.
But in a slightly strange way
if you don’t pay people enough they won’t be motivated.
What’s curious about,
there’s another paradox here which is
the best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.
Pay people enough, so they are not thinking about money
and they’re thinking about the work.

Now once you do that,
it turns out there are 3 factors that the science shows,
lead to better performance not to mention, personal satisfaction:
and purpose.

Autonomy is our desire to be self-directed:
to direct our own lives.
Now in many ways,
traditional methods of management run afoul of that.
Management is great if you want compliance,
but if you want engagement
which is what we want in the workforce today
as people are doing more complicated,
sophisticated things self-direction is better.”

Here is the complete 10 minutes video

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

See also his earlier speech at 2009 TED Talk in this post: “Reward actually narrows our focus and restricts our possibility” (Dan Pink 2009)

About Erwin Muniruzaman

A seasoned HR Practitioner with a span almost 15 years on overall HR experience practice of strategizing, policy making and running HR Service operations in Banking Industry and Retail in Indonesia. Developing HR strategy and practice align with Business Strategy as continuous goals. A passionate Reward designer, genuine Talent strategist and enthusiast Problem solver that always eager to share his ideas, opinions and experiences about HR related topics (especially Indonesian cases) to public, as a speaker as well as a HR blog writer in his personal blog/LinkedIn Profile :

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