Globoforce/Dan Pink Webinar Available for Download

I greatly enjoyed my time with Dan Pink last week as we led a webinar on “What Drives Motivation and Recognition.” If you missed the webinar, you can request a recording. Below I highlight key points from the webinar. Except where I’ve inserted my comments in italics, consider the below quotations from Dan on his insights in the webinar.

FACT: Money is a motivator, but the connection between compensation and satisfaction at work is more about fairness than about amount. If people feel like they aren’t being paid fairly or adequately to support families, then they will not be motivated. But once you pay people enough (or more than enough), then adding more money does not add more motivation. The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table so they can focus on doing their work.

So what are the main motivators? There are three:

1) Autonomy: The urge to be self-directed and not controlled. Traditional notions of management, however, are about control and getting people to comply. Management is an outdated technology from the 1850s that hasn’t been updated that much and doesn’t work well in the 21st century. It’s great if you want compliance, but if you want true employee engagement, self-direction is the better path to engagement. Get out of their way and let them do what they do best. (Dan also offers examples of how companies do this today and suggestions for integrating the strategies into your organization.)

2) Mastery: Our desire to get better at stuff (e.g., why people practice musical instruments on the weekend). A recent Harvard Business Review study found that the top motivator, far and away, was: “making progress in one’s work. The key to motivation doesn’t depend on elaborate incentives.”

FACT: Recognition matters. A lot. Because recognition acknowledges the progress people need, frequently catch people in the act of making progress, call it out so people notice it, share it more widely and formally, and celebrate it. This is so powerful because Mastery depends on feedback. This kind of Now/That recognition is a powerful form of feedback. If it’s non-contingent (not held out as a carrot), it’s very motivating to Mastery. A culture that recognizes and celebrates progress is enormously motivating, creating engaging and productive places to work. And this is where the work that Globoforce is doing really comes into sync with the science.

3) Purpose: Increasing earnings per share 2 cents is not a rallying cry to get people out of bed in the morning. People want to do something big and something important. This is not a profit motive. This is a purpose motive. A profit motive can result in unethical activities and poor productivity. If the purpose is just about maximizing shareholder return, it is not sufficiently motivating for people to do extraordinary things. (Dan gives further interesting insight into how the Baby Boomers in particular are accelerating this push for purpose with “encore careers.”)

Be sure to listen through the Q&A at the end for Dan’s insights on the importance of peer-to-peer recognition as true Now/That rewards that are a great form of feedback, helping people move towards mastery and building teamwork.
“Peer-to-peer brings a mass mobilization of the culture and is one of the most underused motivational techniques in the organization today.”

9 comment(s):

At February 04, 2010 12:11 AM, blank said...


It's most unfortunate that most business leaders just don't get it into their head.

We just concluded the bonus and increment exercise. Yet, I received some unappreciated vibes from members of the "elite" group. They wanted some answer how come they got the same quantum whne they know the business was better.

I have been hearing this year in and out the past five years I have been with the company.

I absolutely agree that people, more so the current batch of techforce, demand of data information via feedback and greater transparency in making informed decisions over their work and career.

It has become undeniably evident that it's nothing to do with the quantum but, rather the "unfair" practice of distribution that is at the centre of the controversy and displeasure.

It's really sad to think how we ridicule and kill the 'true' spirit of motivation in our workforce. No matter, how much we try to convince that using money is an ineffective source of "carrot", the management just don't get it.

In the meantime, no one is doing a risk assessment on the smoldering effect and potential impact on turnover.

I strongly feel there is a serious flaw in the business model on how to manage and optimise the human capital. To hang unto an outdated framework, knowing it does more harm than good to bottomline performance, is simply foolhardy and insulting to the human species.

Equally sad and blameworthy is the workforce themselves, for whom people like Dan and other champions try to evoke the not so common "sense". We can never win this battle without the strong voice of representation from the source themselves - employees - in revealing what exactly they want and need as motivation. Until then, money will continue to dorminate as the number one carrot, more so in the developing world that feels the need to "catch-up" for lost ground and where the purpose motive is measured only in monetary currency.

At February 04, 2010 8:11 AM, Derek Irvine said...

You're right. We do continue to damage the true motivational spirit of employees by resorting only to bonuses and incremental annual raises as the only form of praise and feedback. As Dan points out, that does not motivate, nor does it provide the ongoing feedback employees need and want for Mastery.

At February 06, 2010 8:43 AM, sue said...


You are so right about money being a motivator only so far - if people are struggling to pay basic bills it can be a motivator and if they feel that their pay is unfair it is a motivator.

So why do employers still consider pay to be such a strong motivator? I would suggest that it is because employees feel the only thing they can ask for is more money - it is not 'permissable' to ask for more recognition or appreciation for good work done.

Once managers 'get this' then they can have highly motivated staff absolutely free - indeed, become should they become a master at valuing and acknowledging their staff they can retain them despite paying slightly under the market rate. A few words of acknowledgement goes a long way in business.

At February 06, 2010 11:22 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Well said, Sue. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for adding your insight here.

At February 07, 2010 8:30 PM, blank said...


You brought up a very good point - apathy on the part of the employees.

But, how long will the workforce want to remain in this state of helplessness and blame it on the management not getting it. What about in a unionised environment?.
What really drove motivation at GM?.

We have entered into the new economic model where "intangible" assets, specifically people, customers and suppliers can significantly shape the future of the technology driven business landscape.

I am still waiting for the new breed of generation Y to push for autonomy and revolutionise the "apathy" culture of what is permissable and acceptable.

We need a stronger voice to tip the balance. To wait for the baby boomer leadership to make this happen is going to fail. Currently, they have no reason to change because the formula seems to be acceptably working, like the proverbial, "if ain't broken, why fix it".

I am from a developing nation in ASIA where "power distant" factor on local workforce culture is very strong against "radical" thoughts and ideas. I have spoken to my staff on Dan's rationale for non-monetary based motivation. It's light years away, just as Sue said.

But, what about in the US & EU, where we continue to look up to for more open source and advanced breakthroughs in management truisms. The financial crisis has made a mockery on some of the fundamentals in corporate governance, specifically relating to using hardearned taxpayers money to reward motivation. As we speak, banking institutions are still defending their case for monetary carrot as the solution to the recovery initiative. And, I don't see the workforce visibly
"protesting" the pemissable. It's a sticky issue that stands on the pillars of leadership integrity, workforce maturity and international standards for corporate governance. The world waits in watching.

Business leaders who so stubbornly hold unto the status quo of the industrial age management practices are going to be phased out in the new world order. I just wish the pressure to edge them out comes sooner, driven by the dynamic force - the market place made up of people - customers suppliers, regulators and employees.

What must happen for leaders to get it?. What are their true concerns in not wanting to acknowledge the idea. These are people who came from the same barrel, did they not. To what extend is the pressure to get bottomline numbers, driving the wedge against "real" motivational forces?. Is this one of those paradoxes that shapes the will of culture at the workplace?.

At February 09, 2010 10:06 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Blank, I think you're right in that the "industrial style" managers will be phased out over time. What will accelerate that? Those who subscribe to the philosophy Dan points out and that we support through strategic recognition practices will advance farther and faster than their competitors.

At March 30, 2010 10:22 PM, Radhe Krishna said...

One more important factor for motivation and loyalty is 'TRUST' by the boss. if the boss expresses his trust or confidence that the assigned task would be completed well directly / indirectly, the urge to maintain the 'image' goes up and that makes the performer motivated

At March 30, 2010 10:24 PM, Radhe Krishna said...

One more important factor for motivation and loyalty is 'TRUST' by the boss. if the boss expresses his trust or confidence that the assigned task would be completed well directly / indirectly, the urge to maintain the 'image' goes up and that makes the performer motivated

At March 31, 2010 8:13 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Excellent point, Radhe. Thank you for reiterating the importance of trust. If you're interested in reading more of my thoughts and research on this topic, I've posted a few times.

On Trust & Retention:

And Trust as a Powerful & Fun Form of Recognition