People are motivated to do things because they want to make progress. As Dan Pink* says, “It’s about satisfying workers’ desire for autonomy, which stimulates their ‘innate capacity for self direction’**.” Some want to increase the scope of their repertoire to gain personal power. The best motivation is intrinsic. People do things for their own satisfaction, not external rewards.
The carrot-and-stick method no longer works. In fact, external reward initiatives often backfire. Withdraw the reward and the desired behavior may stop. Also, rewards tied to performance have the potential to change play into work.
If you set high expectations of people, they usually live up to them. if you have low expectations of people, they live down to them. A person not trusted with the authority to do something can’t take responsibility for doing it. “It’s not my department.” A person authorized and trusted to take responsibility cannot help but do so.
As Will Herzberg***, ”the father of motivation theory,” pointed out years ago, workers are motivated by achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, promotion, and growth. This innate desire to do well can be hindered by obstacles that reduce motivation: lack of respect, poor working conditions, perceived unfairness, low pay, lack of job security, and poor relationship with supervisor.
Instructional design pioneer Robert Mager**** proposed a manner of determining whether a roadblock was lack of knowledge or of motivation. Hold a gun to her head. If she does what you ask, you’re grappling with a motivation problem.
* Pink, D. 2010. Drive, the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
** O’Connel, A. 2010. Daniel Pink’s Drive. Harvard Business Review
*** Herzberg, W. 1968. One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review
**** Mager, R. 1970. Analyzing Performance Problems. Or You Real/yOughta Wanna. Fearon Publishers
Workscaping, part 1