Motivation according to Dan Pink

21. January 2019John Ryding Olsson

Our work has to make sense, we want autonomy and we want to improve

Dan PinkIt sums up a lot of the known motivation theories in his book “Drive”, where he points out three factors essential to employee motivation.

  1. to see that what you do has a purpose
  2. that you have autonomy
  3. that you keep getting better at what you do

The participants are motivated if what they do makes sense, if they experience recognition for their effort and feel that they develop their skills and have some autonomy – freedom with responsibility.

Meaning: The project has to make sense for each individual. This doesn’t just narrow down to the project’s goal and vision. For some it will be the fulfillment of their social needs and their need for self-esteem which they get trough the team work. For others it will be the job content – the professional task. Each individual needs to experience that the project and their own contribution makes sense – we make a difference.

Mastering: Several motivation factors have this focus: Self-realization, development possibilities and partly performance possibilities. The project gives the participants tasks that provide each one with a fair amount of challenges and development possibilities both professionally and personally. Each individual has to feel that they become better at what they do.

 Autonomy: Each should be responsible for their own work. Many of the motivation theories directly mentions: Responsibility, influence, advancement possibilities and need for power as important motivation factors. Autonomy is motivating if you have appropriate responsibility and room to maneuver. Responsibility for planning your own job. But the responsibility can also be too much and thereby become scary and stressful.

Be aware that motivation can be undermined, if you fail to understand what makes sense for each individual. If the development demands are too much or uninteresting or if the responsibility is too great and burdensome.

 Daniel H. Pink (born 1964) is the author of six books about work, business, and behavioral science. He was the host and co-executive producer of the 2014 National Geographic Channel social science television series Crowd Control. From 1995 to 1997, he was the chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore.

Book on motivation

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. 2009. ISBN 978-1-59448-884-9. NEW Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller, 2010.

Other books by Daniel H. Pink

  • Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself. 2001. ISBN 978-0-446-67879-7.
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. 2005. ISBN 978-1-59448-171-0. NEW Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller, 2008.
  • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. 2008. ISBN 978-1-59448-291-5.
  • To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. 2012. ISBN 978-1-59448-715-6. NEW Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller, 2013.
  • When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. 2018. ISBN 978-0-73521-062-2. NEW Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller, 2018.

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John Ryding Olsson Founder & author
John Ryding Olsson Founder & author John Ryding Olsson

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