Monday, 3 October 2011
After my previous post on intrinsic motivation, trashing the single study / research underlying Dan Pink's speech, I had awkward responses. For some reason, people had a very hard time reading and understanding the post, where I clearly stated the scope in the very beginning: focusing entirely on the single so-called research underlying it.
Most dragged in other research (hah! the irony of that) or spoke about their own experiences and some even slapped me around the ears with books.
I told all that I wasn't prepared to listen to that unless they gave me a motivated point of view on my post, its content and my conclusion. Alas, only one came close but managed to get sidetracked within one single tweet. So I rest my case: the 2005 Federal Reserve Bank "Large Stakes, Big Mistakes" Ariely study was fraudulent, and only meant to prove its hypothesis. And no one cares about that
Anyway, now onto the second part: my own opinions on and experiences with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
First, let's agree on the fact that it's obvious that extrinsic comes first and foremost: Maslow proved this ages ago with his hierarchy of needs. No one on will do anything intrinsic without having an extrinsic compensation or basis in the form of pension, inheritance, State benefits or whatnot. Helping the hungry when you're hungry yourself and will not get a meal in return? Only the crazy will do that
Second, let's also agree that at some point intrinsic comes along and starts playing a role. A big role a little later even, and a majority role even after that. Look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who spend billions of dollars on charity in the broadest sense of the word, for which there can only be 100% pure intrinsic motivation
Thirdly, let's also agree that intrinsic only can play a role not because extrinsic has become irrelevant, but because extrinsic has been satisfied: it's the same what happens when you just had that fantastic dinner; you're not hungry anymore because you had it. But take away any and all extrinsic surrounding Buffett and Gates, and they'll immediately free up a couple of million to get their current lifestyle' lifeline back in shape
Right, do we all agree on that? Let's continue to my experiences with enterprises in the broad sense of the word: companies with at least 5,000 employees, and extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Having said that, I must admit that I can only distil motivation by looking at reward - I'm forced to assume in this case that motivation directly relates to reward
Intrinsic motivation plays a very small part in enterprises for the majority of employees. For the young ambitious ones, it does: they only want to work for a company that suits them, not vice versa. 25% Leaves the company within 2 years, the rest remains.
The rest keeps on growing in salary for the first 10 years or so, then comes to a sudden stop or slow-down. Then a crisis comes along, and they even have to hand in money. Motivation for that? Extrinsic in the long run, certainly not intrinsic
After serving 10 years, any and all intrinsic motivation, if any, has worn off. All that's left is positive and negative extrinsic. Positive extrinsic is expected future monetary reward, negative extrinsic is fear of losing current monetary reward. When positive extrinsic ceases to be the major driver, negative extrinsic kicks in. The so-called bonus systems are a perfect example of this: they are in reality malus systems, not bonus ones
What keeps employees from ditching a company like this? That must be intrinsic of course!
Don't be silly - it's yet another extrinsic one; negative extrinsic. Check out how labour laws in Europe work and you'll understand that there's money to be made by staying at a company no matter what.
"I'm waiting for the next round of lay-offs in order to be offered redundancy" is a sentence that is on the minds of the majority of people that have been working for an enterprise for more than 15 years. Intrinsic motivation? Irrelevant as well as absent