Lessons on motivation from the odd friendship of Maslow and Frankl

Recently I was surprised to discover that two men whose philosophies I’ve compared and contrasted for years to help explain modern motivation science had a relationship where they did the same thing during their lifetime. We can all benefit from the relationship between Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl.

Pay for Performance: When Does It Fail?

The consensus in social psychology is that monetary incentives for performance have a detrimental impact on individual performance. Yes, under certain specific and limited conditions, rewards can reduce performance. Yet pay for performance schemes are ubiquitous. How can we resolve this divergence between theoretical recommendations and observed practices? Nirmalya Kumar and Madan Pillutla recommend solving the problem by designing smarter incentives that avoid these detrimental … [ Read more ]

Nirmalya Kumar, Madan Pillutla

In order to understand the undermining effects of rewards, we must consider how the recipients are likely to interpret them. Specifically, the effects of a reward depend on how it affects the recipient’s perceptions of autonomy and competence. When monetary incentives interfere with an individual’s sense of autonomy or competence, they tend to decrease intrinsic motivation.

5 Habits To Maximize The Effect Of Recognition

Unlike pay and other financial rewards, being praised and recognized is an expression of care, and this—and not money—affects the hearts in people. Here are five habits leaders must develop in order to maximize the effect of recognition and thereby derive its greatest benefits.

Sally Helgesen, Fred Kofman

The exclusive focus on monetary rewards inevitably leaves organizations fighting a fierce but losing struggle to balance individual and team results. Rewarding high performers serves the imperatives of accountability and excellence but can undermine alignment and cooperation among team members. Yet basing pay on team results in order to incentivize collaboration often ends up inadvertently rewarding subpar individual performance and penalizing individual excellence. Neither approach … [ Read more ]

Bill Schaninger

When people claim they have survey fatigue, they’re not tired of you asking them. They’re upset about you not doing anything with it.

Stop Overcomplicating It: The Simple Guidebook to Upping Your Management Game

Russ Laraway’s book When They Win, You Win, weaves together tons of existing management studies from top-notch sources like Gallup, his own primary research, as well as thoughtful stories from his own decades-long career.

From the Marines to software to VC, Laraway has spotted a pattern that frequently crops up and muddies the waters for managers everywhere. “People have become far too focused on all the … [ Read more ]

Russ Laraway

Everything else you’re doing to affect engagement is worth less than half of whatever you’re doing to make your managers great.

A Better Way to Recognize Your Employees

Although most great managers want to recognize their people, the challenge, which has only been made more difficult in the hybrid world, is finding meaningful things to recognize them for. The limitation to our typical approach to praise is that we can only recognize what we see, observe, or learn about from others and our recognition focuses on what we appreciate, which is not always … [ Read more ]

Christopher Littlefield

There are limitations to our typical approach to praise. We can only recognize what we see, observe, or learn about from others and our recognition focuses on what we appreciate, which is not always what others want to be appreciated for.

Constantinos C. Markides

Not all purposes are motivating, and not all statements of organizational values are effective in guiding behaviors the way we have discussed here. To the contrary, if we judge by the fact that 87 percent of employees in the world claim to be disengaged or actively disengaged at work, the majority of purposes must be useless. The question that we must address, therefore, is, “What … [ Read more ]

Claudine Gartenberg

What’s interesting is that people often treat middle managers as the dispensable layer of the organization. This may be a contracting issue. Those at the very top are incentivized with high compensation tied to stock options. Those at the very bottom have simpler tasks that are spelled out in legally enforceable hourly contracts. Not so for those in the middle, who are responsible for implementing … [ Read more ]

Meet the Psychological Needs of Your People—All Your People

Too many employers pay too little heed to the needs of the lower earners in their company. Here’s why—and how—they should shift gears.

Jim Harter, Annamarie Mann

Many employees who are not engaged want a reason to be inspired. They are the “show me” group that needs an extra push to perform at their best. While positive feelings, such as happiness, are usually byproducts of engagement, they shouldn’t be confused with the primary outcomes. Rather, the primary emphasis should be on elements that engage workers and drive results, such as clarity of … [ Read more ]

How Companies Can Improve Employee Engagement Right Now

Managers must take proactive steps to increase employee engagement, or risk losing their workforce. Engaged employees perform better, experience less burnout, and stay in organizations longer. The authors created this Employee Engagement Checklist: a distilled, research-based resource that practitioners can execute on during this critical period of renewed uncertainty. Use this checklist to boost employee engagement by helping them connect what they do to what … [ Read more ]

Jon Katzenbach, Chad Gomes, Carolyn Black

Feelings are messengers of needs. Meeting needs unlocks positive feelings and energy; neglecting needs does the opposite. By integrating business objectives with meeting people’s needs, companies can make sure the strong wind of a positive emotional force is at their back. Emotions and feelings bring our needs — human requirements for survival — to our attention and strongly move us toward meeting them. 

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Our feelings … [ Read more ]

Eric Hoffer

Where self-advancement cannot, or is not allowed to, serve as a driving force, other sources of enthusiasm have to be found if momentous changes, such as the awakening and renovation of a stagnant society or radical reforms in the character and pattern of life of a community, are to be realized and perpetuated.

Susan David

If you tell your employees that you want them to embrace teamwork, but then reward your work force based on what they accomplish individually, you’ve undercut your message. In all likelihood, the consequence will be that employees who want to be considered for a bonus may no longer want to perform or support “unseen” collaborative work, which, despite what the company posits, goes unrewarded.

Chris Powell

Trust and transparency are the two biggest factors that impact engagement metrics, and if you don’t share survey results, you’ll erode both. You don’t have to do everything employees want, of course, but explain why you’re moving forward with some ideas and not with others. Organizations tend to do a poor job with the ‘why.’ They tell the team the ‘what,’ but not the reason behind … [ Read more ]

Darren Lee, Mike Pino, Ann Johnston

Although an initiative should not rely solely on extrinsic motivation, that is, rewards and penalties (because they shift people’s motivation to the transactional side and thus diminish genuine interest in learning), keeping score can be useful in fostering spaced repetition. It represents a more “gamified” approach to daily life. Employees might thus earn points for making progress in gaining skills, perhaps redeemable as merchandise.