Why Extrinsic Motivation Fails

Why Motivation by Pizza Doesn’t Work

This completely changes the role of the manager as motivator. Rather than being the source of motivation (kind of a ludicrous idea in itself), the manager must help employees to find their own intrinsic motivation.

Lean thinkers understand this idea as respect for people. Dr. Deming talked about joy in work. Douglas McGregor talked about theory x and theory y thinking. All of these perspectives incorporate an understanding of workplace systems and human psychology. Extrinsic motivation is easy but not effective. It is really just abdicating management and using extrinsic motivation in place of management. The alternative requires managers to actually manage. This is challenging but the correct choice to make.

Stop Demotivating Employees

So rather than trying to bribe people to want things using pizzas and promotions, managers should help their people to discover meaning and develop skills at work. What some managers don’t realize is that people want to do good work. Create a happy, positive work environment and people are naturally motivated. Even better: They motivate themselves and each other.

As I have stated before: Alfie Kohn has some great books and articles on the problems with extrinsic motivation, and related ideas – I know it is hard for many people to believe (the link provides some online articles that can help as well as some books).

Related: MotivationDangers of Extrinsic MotivationEliminate SlogansThe Trouble with Incentives: They Work

5 thoughts on “Why Extrinsic Motivation Fails

  1. It's ironic that a lot of your google ads here are on this post for ways to motivate employees!! Include info from SAP. How does software motivate people?? Crazy stuff, huh?

  2. Pingback: CuriousCat: Eliminate Slogans

  3. The real leader creates a vision and purpose for their employees and creates the environment for their employees to succeed.

    Many organizations are fast to give away candy, pizza, etc. to motivate employees. This just leads to overweight, unmotivated, under producing employees.

  4. Pingback: Curious Cat: Flaws in Understanding Psychology Lead to Flawed Management

  5. Pingback: Motivate or Eliminate De-Motivation | Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

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