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What motivates you to do your best work? And how do you get the best out of the people who work for you?

Hint: It’s not money.

Dan Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” says there are three main elements to motivation at work: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

So, what about money?

It does work for simple tasks and short-term goals. Financial rewards can definitely spike performance, but once people perceive they are paid fairly, money becomes less important and people crave more meaningful motivators.

Many serial entrepreneurs have enough money. It’s the challenge of building things, solving tough problems, and making a true difference that keep them searching for the next big thing. These intrinsic elements are what motivate them:

Autonomy – this is the desire to direct our own lives. This can run counter to how we think of business teams – fall in line, comply and do your role. But self-direction is better. There are four main aspect of autonomy:

  • Time – the freedom to spend time working on what they want (towards the company goals.)
  • Technique – this is the freedom to select the means.
  • Team – let them have a say in their teams.
  • Task – let them direct priorities and tactics.

Mastery – this is the need to continually improve at something that matters. We like to work on self-improvement and professional development. Getting employees outside of comfort zones and setting stretch goals drives engagement.

Purpose – this is the intrinsic need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is often described as “making a difference” rather than just maximizing profits. In healthcare, it’s easing human suffering or sickness. In other industries, it’s about promoting human connections, or creating jobs, or facilitating educational opportunities.

We spend half of our waking hours at work. It’s only natural that we would ask ourselves “Why am I here?”

Answer that burning, universal question with more autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Have a great week.

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