productivity,  Success Strategy

Drive – The Surprising Truth about what Motivates us

Carrot and stick – reward and punishment- is an age-old technique for getting things done by others. The corporate world has adopted this mantra almost as the panacea for employee motivation. But Daniel Pink tells us a different story.  He says carrot and sticks works well only when the task is algorithmic (well-defined steps), it loses its effectiveness for tasks that requires even little bit of thinking and creativity.

In today’s world, most high-tech jobs have lots of ambiguity and demand lots of creativity in order to perform them well. According to Pink, employers need to start thinking about different ways of motivating these knowledge workers. When an employee gets sufficiently enough money to take care of their lives, additional money (reward) doesn’t help increase the performance. Then what does? Autonomy, Mastery, and Contributing to a bigger purpose are the three factors that motivate human beings to do their best. Autonomy is the sense that I have control over my work. Mastery means I am learning new things; I am gaining expertise. Contributing to the bigger purpose gives people the fulfillment that I am being part of something much more significant, something that makes a difference in the bigger community.

Daniel Pink also sheds some light on why the bi-annual review system doesn’t work as expected – It’s not frequent enough, it talks about the past and it’s not driven by the employee. What is the solution? Give ownership to the employee. Let them find out how they want to grow (gain mastery); give them autonomy on their performance measurement. If the companies and the employees become too myopic and tie the sense of growth only with promotion and bigger salaries then they will be missing a whole lot of smarter solutions for intrinsic motivation and higher performance!

Here is a link to Daniel Pink’s
Video: (51 min) and

Questions for YOUWhat are you taking away from this post? How will you apply this in your life? [please feel free to write that in the comments section.]




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