Drive by Daniel Pink is a must-read business book of 2010.
After seeing Dan’s Ted talk last month, I sent his PR guy an email. He was kind enough to provide me with a free copy to review.
Here’s the summary: There’s a gap between what science knows about human motivation and what business does.
Drive is a roadmap to understanding when external, carrot-and-stick management works, and when it can actually hurt employee performance.
What Motivates Us?
External rewards narrow our focus.
When work is routine, has a defined outcome, and is boring, external rewards (and punishments) are fantastic at motivating performance.
(External motivators work fantastically for things like packing widgets into a box.)
In the new millennium, many aspects of your business are probably based on work that’s non-routine, with undefined or open-ended solutions. It’s challenging. It’s exciting. It’s actually kind of fun (or it could be, if we didn’t beat the fun out of people).
For this kind of work, external rewards and punishments can actually make people perform worse.
Instead, there are three essential elements for motivating people:
- Autonomy. Providing people with freedom and flexibility to choose how, when and where they complete their work.
- Mastery. People have a natural desire to become very good at things they’re passionate about. Align employees with “Goldilocks Assignments” – work that’s not too easy or too challenging, but just right. Help them get better at things they love doing by providing them with timely, frequent, actionable feedback.
- Purpose. Instead of trying to inspire people to make a business more money, give them a sense of purpose. At Zappos, employees are told that their job is to “create happiness” for customers.
Dan makes a point of stressing that money is important, but that it’s not an effective motivator for non-routine, open-ended tasks.
He recommends that organizations pay people fairly and take the issue of money off the table. Then focus on providing autonomy, mastery and purpose to unleash peoples’ inner drive.
How to Unleash Your Peoples’ Drive
Drive is in many ways a de facto handbook for Renegade HR. It’s guide to helping your people do amazing things that drive your business.
Here’s what I took away from the book:
- Hire great people, and place them in jobs that fit their strengths, skills and passions.
- Get out of the way. Provide people with the freedom to do kick-ass work.
- Provide regular, actionable feedback.
- Inspire people with goals that are more meaningful than just making the company and shareholders more money.
Drive is a quick, fun read, and even includes a toolkit to help you put the ideas in the book into action. This is one of my must-read business books of 2010.
NOTE: Paul Hebert from Incentive Intelligence has some serious concerns that people will completely scrap their traditional reward and recognition programs after reading this book. Click here to read his analysis of Drive.