The puzzle of motivation

“If I kick my dog (from the front or the back), he will move. And when I want him to move again what must I do? I must kick him again… but that kind of management produces movement, not motivation.”

– Frederick Herzberg           


In many organisations there is unwritten rule- All people related problems should be solved by HR, reporting manager’s job is get work done…somehow, if in process employees get demoralized, refer them to HR. Biggest problem before HR is how to motivate them.


Daniel Pink has done lot of work in area of motivation. He feels that monetary incentives work very well if work is mechanical in nature ex. more no. of hours of work more money. But when it comes to managerial cognitive skills, it simply doesn’t work. So what motivates people?

What motivates them are three things- autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy is freedom to choose path to reach goal, get some time during official work hours to do what they wish to do ex. Google’s policy of allowing employees to spend 20% time to purpose new ideas.

Mastery is about urge to get better and better in something that matters to us. This urge is so high that people might do work free of cost ex. experts who share their knowledge writing for Wikipidea or giving software free of cost ex. Linux

Purpose is desire to do what we do, in the service of something, larger than ourselves. This comes from purpose/mission statement of organisation. People love to work for organisation if a purpose statement echoes their values. Ex. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company’s mission statement- To discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases, is bound to attract researchers.

Only catch here is employees should not see purpose as mere façade to earn profits.

A wonderful animation explaining these concepts is uploaded on youtube. You can click on link below.






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