What Motivates Us To Do Our Best Work?

(Note from Editor-in-Chief, Chris Franklin:  If you are still “on the fence” about writing your own corporate/business blog, consider Mac’s mention below of author, Daniel Pink’s statement in his new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth..: “The secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

To me,  it seems reasonable to believe that business/corporate blogging is something that may, to some degree, enable high-performance  and satisfaction at work (perhaps at school and at home also).     In my experience,  it would appear to enable many business people to do the following at least to some extent:

  • self-direct how they markets their business activities.
  • learn, create  and do better by themselves.
  • do better by the world (after all, business blogs are typically hosted on the web, literally  for the world to see;  beneficial writing in a business blog has the potential to benefit a world of readers).

So, if you’re a business person, do consider business/corporate blogging in light of Mac’s review of  Drive: The Surprising Truth… )


Daniel Pink’s new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, suggests that most private and public organizations haven’t figured out what really motivates us. Mr. Pink says, “Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money – the carrot-and-stick approach.” He says that this strategy is no longer relevant in today’s business environment.

Mr. Pink clearly states that while the carrot-and-stick approach worked in the twentieth century, today this approach is no longer valid. “Too many organizations – not just companies, but governments and non-profits as well – still operate from assumptions about human potential and individual performance that are outdated, unexamined and rooted more in folklore than in science” according to the author.  

The author goes on to say, “The secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

Quoting from the author’s own website: “In Drive, he examines the three elements of true motivation-autonomy, mastery, and purpose – and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action. Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.”

Back during the earliest stages of human development, motivation was all about survival. Mr. Pink refers to this as Motivation 1.0. It was hunting, gathering and survival at the most basic level. Motivation 2.0 was developed during the industrial revolution. It was rules based and depended on the fulfillment of routine tasks culminating in a final finished good or product. Get the job done and get a paycheck.

According to Mr. Pink, Motivation 3.0 is about autonomy and self direction. Workers need autonomy over what they do (the task). Most people would prefer to determine how they accomplish their tasks (the technique). And the majority of people would prefer to manage their own time while they are at work (when they do it). Therefore, management of these employees should be less about overseeing their work and more about creating the proper environment for the workers to get the job done the best way they see fit.

The author believes that there are three essential elements to Motivation 3.0: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Most people would like to be able to direct their efforts the best way they see fit. That means they desire autonomy. Most people feel the need to expand their professional knowledge and improve their skills; hence the need for mastery. And people want and need to know that what they do contributes to something larger…the big picture. That is our purpose.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog about happiness in the workplace and how research studies have proven time and again that happy workers were much more productive. I pointed out that happiness in the workplace had a lot to do with autonomy. Being able to control your time was an important factor to job satisfaction and happiness. Having control of how you did you job directly related to happiness in the workplace. Recognition for one’s contribution to the success of their organization contributed to making you a happier employee. Social interaction was another factor that contributed to employee happiness.

I have always thought the best approach to managing people was to give them goals and guidelines and let them determine the best way to get the job done. Micro-managing your staff will have a negative effect on the output from your team. Fear and intimidation won’t motivate your employees. Autonomy breeds creativity and frees employees to focus on the best and most expedient ways to do achieve their objectives.

Bottom line:  if you would like to become a 21st century manager, then you had better see to it that your employees have the autonomy they desire and the tools they need to perform at their highest level.  Daniel Pink believes that profit maximization without purpose maximization won’t get it done. If you want to take your organization to the next level, you had better have both. And if more American businesses embrace this philosophy, then we might just get America back on track and gain back our position as a global economic power.

My website, www.boomeropinion.com is all about voicing your thoughts and opinions on the critical issues facing America. We are looking for any and all solutions and ideas on the best ways to address these issues. Feel free to chime in. You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com@boomeropinion.