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As long as bean-counters can't monetize the value of performer contributions, the power of intrinsic motivations and neither the cost nor the benefits of psychological reinforcement, we will continue to have these problems. Programs that are long on objective financial metrics tend to be short on subjective motivational power; that's quite troublesome, because all motivations are essentially unique to each person. What drives improvement in one won't automatically work for another, and that is the complexity challenge to creating universally effective programs.


You're echoing the thinking of Dan Pink. Have you read his book, Drive?


The Knowledge@Wharton article is terrific and I encourage everyone to read it in full. The line that struck me most powerfully:

“Employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.”

All employees want is to know that what they do matters, that THEY matter. And they want to be told that personally. Overcoming the barriers to interpersonal relationships created by our highly technological workforce is a challenge, as noted by Mr. Grant. This IS where strategic employee recognition plays a fundamental role by encouraging frequent, personal acknowledgment and appreciation of employee effort in a highly specific and meaningful way. This goes beyond a simple, "Thanks. Great work." to say instead: "Joe, I really appreciate the way you tackled XYZ problem. Not only did you help me get my job done more easily, but you demonstrated true integrity in how you handled a tricky situation and in the process contributed to us achieving our 25% customer satisfaction improvement goal."

Now that kind of personal, specific, meaningful recognition can powerfully impact the entire culture of an organization. Read more on how herehttp://bit.ly/2JEkqA

Interestingly - as I read the comments that you are echoing Pink's Drive "stuff" - I read it completely different.

What I hear you saying is that yes - meaning and connection to our work drives performance and that properly designed incentives/recognition can help illuminate that connection.

Drive/Pink took the position that incentives don't work and decrease performance (and I would agree when they are poorly designed and focus solely on outcomes) - but your post highlights that fact that when focused on appropriate behaviors and metrics they can create a more solid connection to the employee's "place in the world" which will reinforce their purpose and provide a way to measure their progress (another huge motivational lever.)


Yes - see your point. Ultimately, our reward programs must integrate psychological & financial, intrinsic & extrinsic to really deliver - but there's no denying the challenge there.


Huh. I meant to offer an alternative view to Pink's/Drive's, rather than echo him. See Paul's (who always says what I mean to say better than I actually can) comments below. Also, if you don't already read it, I'd encourage you to go to Paul's blog and see his review of Drive.


Agree - the Wharton article is great. I particularly appreciate that they offer specific situations and data to back up the point. Thanks for sharing the thoughts and the link.


Thanks, as always, for making my point better than I can!

All - appreciate your observations and comments!

I actually agree that combining rewards and practices for intrinsic motivation can go together. As long as any reward given is personalised and measured against a clear rule for success that depends on the specific content of that person's job. That does take some time to set up.

Like you say Paul, incentives that are poorly designed and focus solely on outcomes can work counterproductively - you can also find reference to this in Stacey Adams' equity theory.

When someone perceives a colleague's reward as being unjustified, they can become resentful and demotivated. So it's important that rewards are set against clear measures that can be verified and personalised.

Maybe you could say that as personal follow-up, feedback and the meaningfulness of one's work increases, the need for financial or other compensation decreases?

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