Do higher incentives lower performance?

The drive to do things for their own sake and because they matter is the best way to motivate people.

In a high-energy and amusing talk, career analyst and former speech write to Al Gore Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

Pink delivers his talk with aplomb, self-deprecating humour and a sense of purpose and it is one of those moments when the audience forgets that it is actually learning because it is so captured by his total belief in and enthusiasm for his topic.

“The science confirms what we know in our hearts. So, if we repair the mismatch between what science knows and what business does, if we bring our motivation into the 21st century, if we get past this lazy, dangerous, ideology of carrots and sticks, we can strengthen our businesses, we can solve a lot of problems, and maybe, maybe, maybe we can change the world.”

It is a salutary lesson for anyone struggling with the thought of how to motivate their team.