If you are a manager in a knowledge-intense business, then you'd better read "Drive" by Daniel H. Pink. Most of it is common sense in my world, but it is always encouraging reading something that - with scientific evidence – enforces one's own view of both management and parenting. Seeing myself as a passionate knowledge / creative worker, I know pretty well what motivates people like me - the task itself is often its own reward. Not that rewards aren't important, but they aren't our drive. Passion (for what we do) is our drive.
Although I recommend you to read the entire book, here are some key insights and advice from Daniel Pink:
- The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road…//…most of the scandals and misbehaviors that have seemed endemic to modern life involve shortcuts…//…When the reward is the activity itself there are no shortcuts. The only route to the destination is the high route.
- Goals may cause systematic problems for organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation. Use care when applying goals in your organization
- In environments where extrinsic rewards are most salient, many people work only to the point that triggers the rewards – and no further.
- Greatness and near sightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.
- For routine tasks, which aren't very interesting and don’t demand much creative thinking, rewards can have a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects.
- Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete.
- Repeated “now that” bonuses can quickly become expected “if-then” entitlements – which can ultimately crater effective performance.
- Consider non-tangible rewards. Praise and positive feedback are much less corrosive than cash and trophies. Positive feedback can have an enhancing effect on intrinsic motivation.
- Provide useful information. The more feedback focuses on specifics – and the more the praise is about effort and strategy rather than about achieving a particular outcome – the more effective it can be.