Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does Summary
6 min read ⌚
The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging
The good old carrot-and-stick method doesn’t work anymore?
Well, times have changed!
And there’s a new science of leading, energizing, and engaging!
Time to find out “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does.”
Who Should Read “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does”? And Why?
Traditional motivational techniques may have worked in the past, but, to expect them to work still would mean to ignore how much the world has changed over the past several decades.
In “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does,” Susan Fowler urges leaders and managers to move beyond outdated motivational tactics and embrace the new science of energizing.
Start-up entrepreneurs and small business owners will find plenty of advice here as well!
About Susan Fowler
Susan Fowler is a sought-after speaker and motivational trainer, the lead developer of The Ken Blanchard Company’s Optimal Motivation program.
Throughout her career, Fowler has co-authored numerous books, including “Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager” (with Ken Blanchard and Laurie Hawkins), “Achieve Leadership Genius” (with Drea Zigarmi and Dick Lyles) as well as “Leading at a Higher Level” and “Empowerment” (both with Ken Blanchard).
In addition, Fowler also blogs regularly for SmartBrief on Leadership, the Huffington Post, and LeaderChat.
She has coached in over 30 countries.
“Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does PDF Summary”
In a way, there are only two types of motivation.
People are motivated to do something either because they must do it or because they want to do it.
In the former case, it’s all about ambition, rewards, and goal; the motivation of the must-doers is an ego-grounded motivation.
In the latter, the point is to grow, to learn, to excel; the motivation of the want-doers is a values-based motivation.
What science has recently discovered is that the values-based motivation is the only one which actually makes sense in the long run.
Peak performers are not goal driven. Peak performers are values-based and inspired by a noble purpose.
It took science a long time to reach this conclusion.
Well, because just a few years after the Second World War, B. F. Skinner – possibly the most influential psychologist of the 20th century – did quite a few experiments with pigeons, investigating phenomena such as superstitions and motivation.
A radical behaviorist, he came to a startling conclusion: you can make a pigeon do absolutely anything if it knows that there’s a reward; in addition, you can visibly inhibit some aspects of its behavior if you punish it by holding back on the food pellets.
What did this mean in terms of motivation at the workplace?
In an idiom (which, coincidentally, dates back to around the same time when Skinner was conducting his pigeon experiments): carrots and sticks.
And for many decades, managers believed that if you reward your employees for their good work and punish them for their bad behavior, you’ll eventually carve out the perfect worker out of them.
The problem is – it doesn’t work that way.
For even when they do, rewards only work in the short term – and cause plenty of problems in the long run.
That is, when there is a lack of money in the company, and you must put an end to the reward program, the reward-oriented employees will start doing a lot less work.
In fact, Drs. Richard Ryan and Edward Deci have demonstrated all but conclusively that real long-term motivation has nothing to do with carrots and sticks – but everything with “hope and promise.”
In other words, most people are already motivated but usually in a much more abstract way than the market would want them too.
Consequently, the job of leaders and managers is practically mission impossible: they need to motivate their employees to do things which may not be aligned with the employees’ inherent motivation.
It’s almost like a Catch-22:
The motivation dilemma is that leaders are being held accountable to do something they cannot do –motivate others.
But, if people are already motivated, how motivated are they?
And is there anything you can do?
According to Susan Fowler, there are six motivational outlooks, which can be easily illustrated by examining the reaction of six different employees to a routine work meeting:
#1. Disinterested: Employee n. 1 thinks that the meeting was a waste of time.
#2. External: Employee n. 2 thinks that this (like any other) meeting was a venue for him to exercise his power and position; he now expects a reward for being there.
#3. Imposed: Employee n. 3 was under severe pressure to attend the meeting because, well, everybody did; otherwise, he wouldn’t have come.
#4. Aligned: Employee n. 4 believes that he learned one or two valuable lessons at the meeting.
#5. Integrated: Employee n. 5 loved the meeting: he/she sincerely believes in the things discussed during this meeting and would want many more meetings such as this one in the future.
#6. Inherent: Employee n. 6 loves being around people, and meetings are his thing. This one? It was (like all the others) fun and enjoyable!
Now, as is obvious at first sight, the first three motivational outlooks are suboptimal drivers which can physically drain a person. Fowler calls them “motivational junk food.”
The last three motivational outlooks are energetic: they are the “motivational health food.”
Now, someone likes his burgers and Nachos, but others prefer broccoli and spinach. And, if you have a child, you know that it is pretty difficult to motivate it to eat the latter if it likes the former.
Scientific research has discovered that the same is true with motivation as well.
The good news?
Just like children feed themselves better by themselves, employees seem more motivated when they feel that three fundamental psychological needs of theirs are satisfied:
#1. Autonomy: I’m free to choose what you can do;
#2. Relatedness: I care about other people, and they care about me as well;
#3. Competence: I am capable of doing this job – and I am capable of doing it better than many.
So, the way out of the motivation dilemma is quite counterintuitive: instead of trying to motivate your employees to do something, just discover what they are already motivated about.
And, afterward, allow them to do exactly that.
Key Lessons from “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does”
1. External Motivation Undermines Internal Motivation
2. The Internally Motivated Live Under an ARC of Freedom
3. There Are Six Motivational Outlooks – and Only Three Are Good
External Motivation Undermines Internal Motivation
In a nutshell, there are two types of motivation: either you must do something, or you want to do something.
In the case of the former, even though mostly in the short run, external motivation works; however, in the case of the latter, it is, in fact, an impediment.
Because money and promotions motivate people only to a certain extent; everything after that is intrinsic.
The Internally Motivated Live Under an ARC of Freedom
An internally motivated person will move mountains for you and ask for nothing in return.
The reason is quite simple: the three fundamental psychological needs (autonomy, relatedness, and competence – ARC) are already satisfied in his case.
In other words, when people feel competent to do something, have complete freedom to do it the way they want to and have evidence that their work brings some good in the lives of others – then they’ll do it without any external incentives.
In fact, they may feel these as a sort of an insult:
People who experience ARC are thriving. They do not need something or someone else doing the driving.
There Are Six Motivational Outlooks – and Only Three Are Good
There are six motivational outlooks.
The disinterested, external and imposed are the junk food of motivation, while its health food is the aligned, integrated, and the inherent motivational outlook.
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“Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does Quotes”
The motivation dilemma is that leaders are being held accountable to do something they cannot do – motivate others. Click To Tweet
Misunderstanding what motivation means leads to a misapplication of techniques to make it happen. Click To Tweet
Devoting time and effort to help people shift their motivational outlook pays off in countless ways for them, your organization and you as a leader. Click To Tweet
Leaders are so immersed in five motivation-eroding beliefs that they find it difficult to hear, see, or do something different. Click To Tweet
Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does” seems to borrow a lot from Daniel H. Pink’s classic “Drive.”
However, this doesn’t make Susan Fowler’s book obsolete.
Because, what it lacks in originality, it compensates in applicability.
And that is at least as important.
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