PODCAST CHECK: How to Motivate People, with Dan Ariely
Leaders aren’t born, they are made. In this podcast, Dan talks about motivation in the corporate front. Dan Ariely is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His books include: “Irrationally Yours”, “Predictably Irrational”, “The upside of irrationality”, “The (honest) truth about dishonesty” and his most recent book, “Payoff: The hidden logic that shapes our motivations” – which is a prime topic of discussion in this podcast.
Dan very effectively answered the questions posed to him about his book, which he explained very well. The persisting question: Is motivation something required on a daily basis or on a scale longer than lifetime?
Dan responds with something very intriguing. What motivates us daily is short-term happiness. But what drives us in life is a goal, which takes a way longer to pursue and fulfill. The joy one derives through this happiness is because of a sense of accomplishment, which is got over a period. However, Dan describes that when a company designs a motivation system, they do not consider this. They force something onto people and believe that it would drive them: bonuses for instance.
If the intention is right, where are we going wrong? Dan quotes an analogy of exercising – if you hate it, you conceive negative things about it. But when you are in it, you enjoy it, maybe. So a mental model is mechanical. But amidst doing it, it can be exciting.
Do we always predict the outcome well? No. So as a leader, when you try to reschedule someone else’s life, you cannot consider what his joy comes from. Credit is free, you could give compliments to your employee or fellow mates, which will give them happiness, that means it does not hurt. But with bonuses in terms of money, it does not feel so fulfilling, unless it comes with a sense of a compliment as simple as a hug. Some stories in the finance sector, where bonuses were the goals, that were dealt with without compassion, is baffling.
But the question that persists is: how do monitory bonuses matter in motivation? Dan claims, that there is no good evidence of it working, but on the contrary, a lot to prove it is not. Research where a group of individuals were given different bonuses of one day, one week, couple of months showed, that that people with lesser bonus performed as good as the ones with the maximum bonus.
In fact, people who received maximum bonus showed performance dips. A fair explanation is, that money stresses you to perform better. You need to add enough value and keep at it. Thoughts about the bonus potentially hinders performance. During work, nothing should affect performance. In case of smaller bonuses like gifts: the outcome was poorer.
What can we do? Positive reinforcement or a mindset change? In case of a short-term experience change, monitory appraisals can help. However, in terms of sustainability, you need to think of any long-term meaningful goals being appreciated once getting reached. How appraisals are conveyed and perceived is important. An appraisal can be a paid holiday after 6 months of joining a company or a college account for an employee`s kid in high school. This brings a sense of long-term commitment. Some companies giveemployees shares of the company. This conveys a feeling of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging. As a practical company example, SAP said during a financial crisis, that they were not going to lay off anyone. The CEO took it upon himself to help the company out. These efforts and gestures are leading to long-term employee commitment.
In the larger picture: How do you foster motivation of employees, that are beyond the close circle? Whom are you influencing is important. Generate a sense of what people are doing. Show them the outcome of their efforts. This can be done to a larger group too.
Dan ended the session talking about the millennials. Distraction with technology and social media is increasingly prominent. Our attention has become limited. As a generation, we cannot concentrate. An interesting study reveals that: facebook tailors to people’s interest. Elections can be rigged. Technology has thus allowed us to create different shared realities, creating separation between us, that we did not think it can happen.
As concluding remarks, Dan urges everyone to read his book: “Payoff: The hidden logic that shapes our motivations” and venture into his website: www.danariely.com for more talks, apps, material, that could excite you.
For more podcasts on leadership and related topics, check out: https://coachingforleaders.com/podcast