Theories Of Motivation For Workplace Productivity

What motivates you? The allure of a big pay off? The drive to better yourself? Praise, attention, and awards from co-workers or employers?

If you’ve ever taken an introductory psychology class (or have a pet animal), then you know about Pavlov’s dog. The idea behind salivating to the sound of a bell is the crux of Classical Conditioning, but it doesn’t tend to show human behavior and motivation in a positive light.

Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, delineates motivation into three easy-to-understand categories: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Through this updated model, the space, skill set, and drive to attain a particular goal comprise the factors of motivation in a way that is more conducive within a professional environment.

Using Motivation To Your Advantage

In her book How to Get People to Do Stuff, Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. lays out the roadmap for using the seven basic drivers of motivation as an advantage:

  1. The Need to Belong
  2. Habits
  3. The Power of Stories
  4. Carrots and Sticks
  5. Instincts
  6. The Desire for Mastery
  7. Tricks of the Mind

Weinschenk mentions that you can wield the need to belong by trusting in people. Showing trust is the best way to get people to trust you and the payoff is that people are more likely to comply with a request if it comes from a person they trust.

Want to work harder and encourage employees or coworkers to do the same? Surround yourself with high performers. Their energy and commitment will bolster yours. Someone is more likely to engage in a behavior if you can get them to formulate it as an internally-directed question rather than a statement. (In other words, you’re more likely to exercise when you ask, “Will I go for a run tomorrow?”, than when you say to yourself, “I will run tomorrow.”)

Want to reinforce someone else’s behavior? For learning new behaviors, use the fixed-internal and fixed-ratio schedules. (When it comes to maintaining behaviors, the variable-ratio schedule is most effective.)

Motivation Vs. Rewards In The Workplace

There’s no one-size-fits-all theory of motivation. However, research is clear on one point: once you have achieved an acceptable standard of living, rewards and punishments can do more harm than good. In order to maintain a workforce that produces positive results, there are certain areas that can be utilized to motivate employees.

With ever-changing business practices and goals, the motivation methods implemented in the workplace require flexibility and the opportunity to adapt. There is perhaps a better chance of improved productivity and overall morale with the updated encouragement and employee recognition, rather than the usual, old hat “carrot and stick” motivational system. Following these tips allow for increased productivity and an overall well-balanced, positive workplace environment for all involved. It doesn’t have to take much to show your co-workers and employees just how much their hard work and dedication is appreciated!