I was just watching this Dan Pink clip on TED (for those of you who don’t watch TED get thee to the site immediately) and he talks about how to motivate people, namely staff. His theory is that traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance but if you want engagement, self direction is better. Pink’s proposition is that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the new building blocks of an entirely new way of thinking about staff for the 21st century. It’s not about beating people with a bigger stick, it’s about tapping into our desire to do things because we like them, because they’re interesting, because they matter, because we’re part of something bigger.
Autonomy – because we all want to feel like we are in charge (to some extent) of our own destiny. The urge to direct our own lives.
Mastery – The desire to get better and better at something that matters.
Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
He offered a great example of a company Atlassian right here in Oz who encourages real innovation amongst its employees. A few times a year they tell their employees to take 24 hours and go and work on anything you want as long as it’s not part of your regular job. So the engineers use this time to come up with a cool patch of code or an elegant hack then they present all of the stuff they develop to the people they work with – their peers and management at the end of the day. They call these days “FedEx” days. Why? Because you have to deliver something overnight. That one day of intense automony has produced a whole raft of developments that might never have occurred. In fact, Pink reasons it has gone so well that they’ve now moved to 20% time (made famous by Google and 3M) where they allow their engineers to spend 20% of their time on stuff that interests or matters to them (within the realm of work but outside of their daily jobs).
Pretty cool huh?
How could you take the essence of this idea and relate it back to your own team? How could you give people a certain amount of autonomy – over their team, their time, their task, their technique? How could you tap into this need for automomy to motivate your team?
Check out the video here