Connecting Managing and Motivation

Dan Pink gave a great closing keynote at the Great Ideas conference earlier this month. The best summary I've found is from Frank Fortin (read the whole thing here). And here's the essential quote from Frank:

It’s Motivation 3.0, and its three building blocks are autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy: The more people have control over their lives, the happier they are. Self determination is the path to engagement. Our country is built on this principle.

Mastery: We are wired to want to be better at what we do. The mastery of something is its own reward. It may be the most powerful thing driving us.

: We are happiest when we are working for something larger than ourselves.

This is a game changer of the highest order. Autonomy is deeply threatening to those who micromanage. Mastery is disorienting to those who believe people try to do the least they can get away with. The purpose motive is unfathomable to those who lock “strategic planning” in the organization’s ivory tower.

Now flash BACKWARDS to 2007 and a book by Patrick Lencioni called the Three Signs of a Miserable Job. He argues that there are three big areas where managers should be putting more attention if they want to retain employees:

Anonymity. People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. By you the manager, by the CEO, by the members–somebody. And known as a whole person, not just as a title or representing a function. 

Irrelevance. Everyone needs to know that their job matters to someone. We typically take this one for granted (of COURSE your work matters to the members!) without telling people or making it clear.

Immeasurement. Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and contributions themselves. Sorry managers, as much as you like your performance reviews, a key to engagement is figuring out how employees can measure progress without your expert assessment.

I think these two lists dance together quite well. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose, combined with being known, mattering, and gauging your own progress. I am going to take a look at all the people I work with in my organization and see what I can do to support them in these six, overlapping areas. My guess is that I won't have to move mountains to make quite a big difference in some of these areas, and I think it has the potential for some big payoff in terms of quality of life in my organization.