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What will YOU do for money? (Re-examining what motivates us)
June 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm #102500Discussion of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED PRESENTATION (see link below) of some of the most surprising findings from Behavior Economics as wonderfully explained by D. Pink
Core Claim – 3 Top incentives (when money is satisfactory) are: 1) Autonomy 2) Purpose 3) MasteryQuestion – Which of the 3 Top incentives–Autonomy, Purpose, or Mastery–do you think will make the biggest difference for the Public Servant? How about the public sector-serving contractor?
June 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm #102516
Have been struggling with this issue for many years now, when I first learned about Maslow’s Need pyramid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs After many years in my various roles (employee, supervisor, manager, and executive) I have come to firmly believe that one size surely does not fit all, and woe is the leader who tries to motivate his entire staff using ONE motivator.
Again in my opinion doesn’t much matter what organization and or title bestowed upon you. I have seen both public service employees and contractors TOTALLY motivated by the requirement to have a pay check and have also seen both type(s) react to the claimed top 3 incentives long after money is no longer an issue.
I probably would add a 4th incentive and that would be Recognition, although they are relatively interchangeable regardless of the work environment.
June 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm #102514
One thing to keep in mind is both the public and private sectors contain many jobs that are boring, dangerous, dirty or all three at once. Trust me, no one “self actualizes” while cleaning the grease pit of a fast food franchise, particularly when the boiling oil splatters on their skin. The same applies to much of the work in public sewers. Nevertheless, the work needs to get done and robotics has not yet made manual lablor obsolete. Which is where money becomes the primary, if not only, motivator. Managers can devote an inordinate amount of time and effort to redesigning these jobs to allow the workers the autonomy to find a purpose in shovelling s— and master the process; or they can set a sliding performance scale with serious financial incentives for reaching successively higher levels. Some workers may drink the koolaid of empowerment, join in a group hug and sing kumbaya as they grab their shovels. Most will probably respond more quickly and eagerly to the lure of extra cash.
Personally, while I may be getting old and cynical, I would like to fund my retirement travel plans with something more substantive then the warm glow of a well written analysis of departmental budget options.
June 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm #102512
I hear you.
For me what was most surprising was the research about conventional wisdom around incentives, namely–
1) if you want more of a behavior, you reward it
2) if you want less of a behavior, you punish it.
The Fed Reserve-funded research revealed that pay-for-performance works best as a reward for manual / mechanistic tasks; and does not work well (at least in an empirically demonstrable manner?) as a reward for “cognitive” work!
Just like the desire for sex may draw one into relationships, it does not necessarily keep one there. Similarly, I interpret money as an incentive for getting employment, not for performing optimally in the job. That is when the “secondary motivators presumably kick in”.
I agree with you that social approval is a key driver of human behavior. Would you characterize “recognition” as distinct from the other 3 motivators? Overlapping? Or do you think they just failed to get that one?
June 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm #102510
Skepticism is a great thing; however, cynicism is merely faith in pessimism. Personally, I don’t find pessimism to be a very solid foundation for abundant living. So I applaud skepticism, but always encourage others to dare to inquire and hope.
Building on the point in the response to Henry Brown above, I believe money is a reason for getting a job, not for performing in a job.
Insofar as “menial” or dangerous work, I don’t agree with you that money is the incentive. Look at soliders as an example.
And even in the private sector, I recall when I was in college and working at a fast food restaurant ever bit as grimy as you described, I was motivated by a sense of our team’s ability to get the job done or to close the shop faster, cleaner than before — much more than the quasi-minimum wage I was making.
And while I don’t assert that motivation for reasons other than money do not necessarily trigger financial security, they can provide as sense of well-being, pride, even happiness, which is indeed a form of reward.
Don’t you think?
June 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm #102508
Perhaps those who do “cognitive” work have gotten past the stage where survival/money is important!?
MY opinion is that recognition is a distinct motivator but perhaps the possibility exists that the researchers ASS U Me d that they might be overlapping…
June 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm #102506
I think there is a fine line between motivating people and taking andvantage of them. We all can recount multiple examples of employees, government and private sector, making herculian contributions to a common effort in return for soft esoteric rewards. I have done so myself. It feels very good at the time and certainly elevates a person’s sense of self esteem. But these rewards do not pay the bills. Entirely too often they substitute for meaningful monetary compensation.
Employers and supervisors know they can get away with paying less than market rate by emphasizing “motivational” rewards rather than cash. But I seem to recall someone saying “The laborer is worthy of his hire”.
Yes people are, and should be, motivated by more than just money. But if you enjoy freedom; don’t balk at paying soldiers an honest wage and if you enjoy crab cakes; expect to pay the fisherman $35K to $50K for six weeks work.
Finally, do not be afraid to put a reasonable value on your own work. When agency A is hiring your career field at GS-11 and agency B is hiring at GS-13, ask yourself this “if agency A is willing to take advantage of the esoteric motivations they can offer in order to hire at a lower grade level, how will they treat their employees when those tools are no longer available?” Are they able to hire at a lower grade level because they treat their employees well or are they taking unfair advantage of their employees to save a buck? In my experiance most organizations, public or private, that skimp on pay will sooner or later skimp on the esoteric motivations and the ones that pay well also tend to recognize the importance of nonmonetary rewards.
June 13, 2010 at 7:30 am #102504
I can’t speak for what these MIT guys were thinking when they formed their hypothesis, but it was contingent on the explicit assumption– money concerns are at least satisfied
In other words, not incongruous with the Maslow model you proposed–simply more nuanced.
As to the importance of Social Recognition , I believe you would find sympathizers in among Social Influence Management crowd from the marketing world (Robert Cialdini et el) or the Behavioral Economics (Dan Arielly, Cass Sunstein, et al).
Here is a link to another great thinker of our time–Dilbert– humorous perspective on motivation
July 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm #102502
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