Monday, January 16, 2017

Intrinsic Motivation and the Danger of Overgeneralization

Comments on Motivation by Kurt Häusler

> You have to pay enough to keep the issue of money off the table

I agree with that sentiment. And I agree we do tend to overgeneralize and discuss management practices without enough attention to local conditions (at the country level, and even smaller geographic level and even very big differences between organizations).

But I strongly disagree with "so intrinsic motivation is of limited utility."

Creating and maintaining workplaces that let people take pride in their job is hugely important. We spend a huge amount of our time and energy at work. Even if we are paid less than we should be it is still important to have work we can be proud of doing. Yes, the issue of low pay also has to be addressed but it isn't an either-or choice.

In fact, by creating systems that let people take pride in their work we take advantage of more of their potential and thus create more value which can make it easier to pay more money. If we instead, decide to reduce the importance of intrinsic motivation in our management systems that is likely to be a mistake. Granted in some places the importance of intrinsic motivation may be so well understood and incorporated that focus should go elsewhere but I question how often organizations are really doing so well on that front they need to reduce that focus in order to focus elsewhere.

Related: Motivation, Rewards, Performance Appraisals and Your Career - Motivate or Eliminate De-Motivation - Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity