Traditional motivation (carrot and stick) is commonly used in organizations.  Incentive bonuses, performance evaluations with monetary compensation and rewards for good ideas are the mainstay motivation techniques to get employees to do more work.  However, according to Daniel Pink, this traditional approach isn’t working.  Studies have shown that when the task is simple and straightforward, carrots and sticks work.  However, if the task is complicated and involves any cognitive skill, then the opposite happens – the higher the incentive, the lower the performance.

     The reason for this is related to 3 factors that truly contribute to motivation:
Autonomy – People want to be self-directed and believe that they can make independent decisions that benefit both the company and themselves.  It’s important in my world (healthcare) because 95% of all patient care decisions are made at the point of care.  Good decisions are dependant on organizations that support self-directed employees. 
Mastery – Humans thrive when they feel a sense of accomplishment through mastery.  The urge to improve develops human talent, sparks creativity, and propels innovation.
Purpose – There is an innate drive in all humans to be a part of a higher purpose.  They need to believe they make a difference and will exceed all performance expectations if given the opportunity as long as they believe.

     I agree with Daniel Pink’s theories and believe that each person has the ability to reach their full potential by considering alternative motivation factors.  For organization and individuals to grow, there needs to be a shift away from traditional (horse) thinking to alternative (people) thinking.  Giving employees the opportunity to be challenged and to master their skills for a higher purpose can change the world.

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