If your overall compensation package is at least competitive and provides a reasonably comfortable life style for your employees and family members, then it is going to take more than additional money to bring out the creative and productive energy that your staff carries around with them.  It’s going to take INTRINSIC motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the compelling desire to do and be better because we want the satisfaction that comes from doing something simply because we love to do it.  In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink tells us that there is a “mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”

That black hole of knowledge happens because some of us have already made up our minds that Fear (intimidation and bullying) and/or Extrinsic Motivations (contests, special programs, bonuses – token or substantial) are the only ways to pull extra effort out of the people who work with and for us.  Intrinsic motivation, the least used method of motivation, is another option.  Its effects last much longer than other forms of motivation simply because people actually enjoy what they’re doing. 

Four critical elements combine to trigger a powerful and sustainable energy level that leads people to seek accomplishment for its own sake rather than pure personal gain.  These elements are:

  1. Inspiration – people see themselves as part of something bigger than a single individual;
  2. Participation – people have an opportunity to make decisions about how work will be performed;
  3. Education – people receive opportunities to develop new/existing skill sets; and,
  4. Communication – people are kept informed about how they’re doing.

You can build these elements into your family and business dynamics by focusing  and balancing what people need and want, through the elements above,  with what you want – your own personal motivation and perspective.  To do so, you first have to know what others value.

There are several ways to find out.  One approach is to use assessment tools.  The right tools can help you better understand what makes them tick:

  • What talents do they have;
  • What are their interests;
  • How do they communicate most effectively; and,
  • What key actions do you need to take to get them tuned in and engaged in mutually beneficial outcomes?

If asking the questions above does not help you truly understand what they care about, there is another approach that often proves valuable.  Using reason and emotion, let others know what is important to you and why you want to achieve it.  Then, ask them a simple question and listen without judgment to their response.  The question is powerful:  Tell me, what is important to you?

Once you know what is important to them, you can begin to put together an incentive system that capitalizes on intrinsic motivation and will take you where you want to go; and, more than likely, at a reduced cost.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.

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