Since he published his bestselling business book “Drive” in 2009, Dan Pink has come up with some new ideas about how to motivate people in the workplace.
He recently shared some of those insights in a conversation with psychologist Ron Friedman at the Peak Work Performance Summit.
Two of them stood out as highly practical and easy to employ, no matter what industry you’re in:
1. Help employees find their purpose.
In “Drive,” Pink writes about having “Purpose with a capital P,” or making a difference in the world and acting in the service of something larger than yourself.
For Abraham Lincoln, that was ending slavery; for you it might be inventing a device that makes people’s lives easier.
Recently, however, Pink has developed a broader definition of the term: “purpose with a small p,” or making a contribution and doing something that others care about.
You can find your purpose by asking yourself, “If I didn’t come into work today, would things be worse?” or “Am I doing something that contributes to someone else or helping my teammate get something done?”
Pink said managers can help their employees find their purpose by having a twice-weekly “why” conversation and prompting them to ask these questions — a tactic he personally uses.
All too often, Pink said, bosses tell their employees how to do something — how to make a sales call or give a presentation, for example — without explaining the reason for doing it in the first place.
But, he said, bosses can get better work out of their teams if they focus on the why over the how.
2. Dial down your feelings of power.
Pink cited research that found when we feel powerful, we’re less able to see other people’s perspectives.
In a way, this phenomenon is helpful for leaders. If they spent all day considering what other people thought, they’d never get anything done.
At the same time, Pink said an inability to see things from other viewpoints can hurt leaders because they have minimal “coercive power,” or capacity to persuade others.
One way to combat this effect is to “dial down your feelings of power just a little bit.”
Note that Pink focuses on feelings of power, as opposed to your actual status, so you’re not giving back your salary or demoting yourself.
Instead, you can say to yourself, “You know, I want Ron [my employee] to do something. Ron’s a smart guy, and what’s in it for him to do it this way? If I sense that he is resisting, why is he resisting? Maybe there’s a barrier I can kick out of the way.”
Level the playing field a little and you might find your employees are more likely to do what you need them to.
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