Why carrots and sticks don’t work

Tomorrow evening I’m going to a talk on how TradeMe created a happier, more productive workplace. The event summary claims I will learn how happiness and productivity are linked and techniques for measuring happiness. I was intrigued. Apparently the secret is Dan Pink’s work on intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

I’ve encountered some of Dan’s work recently but never read his books. In preparation I watched his TED talk from 2009. From the beginning when Dan “confesses” to a past sin of being a lawyer I was enthralled. I wasn’t surprised to find out his last “real job” was as Al Gore’s speech writer!

Traditional management practices motivate employees with extrinsic rewards (or punishments). The belief that a larger base salary or bonus package will inspire better work is commonly prescribed to. Dan explain why this is in fact a myth. He proves that in jobs that require creative thinking actually harms performance. Dan presents a compelling counter-argument for three intrinsic motivators: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

It’s well worth a watch if you’re managing teams or purely interested in the psychology behind performance in the workplace.

I’m looking forward to hearing how this has been implemented at TradeMe and a New Zealand perspective on measuring happiness. I’ll let you know what I learn!

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