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Using Intrinsic Motivation in Organizations

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Engagement in an organization is complicated to obtain and keep. Currently while working for a software/hardware company I’ve realized just how high is the competition for obtaining talent. Companies fight with each other to obtain candidates with the right coalification’s. Methods to attract people include increase of salary, better benefits, and company culture. However, although money could be a strong factor for moving to another company, the culture of the company also has a big impact in the decision-making process of an employee. There are many examples of company’s whose salary is average, but the company culture and values are a big contributor to employee engagement.

In the book Drive, the author Daniel Pink talks about three different factors that contribute to Motivation 3.0. This factors are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

“(1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

Excerpt From: Daniel H. Pink. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

The goal of this factors is to motivate someone using their intrinsic motivations rather than the commonly known “sticks-and-carrots” method, which in the business world means money.

Talking about other organizations, I felt that this description deeply related to Proakatemia’s values. During this six months, I have never been part of an education system that provides this level of autonomy in every context of my studies. From time management, to the liberty of deciding my own studies. In this six months, I discovered my interest in Marketing which one year ago I would have dreaded and ran away from. It led me to read more about marketing and ways to improve myself to provide a better service to our customers. All of this, just by simply guiding us towards these three factors.

This made me think of how school could improve if we targeted students’ intrinsic motivation rather than using grades as an extrinsic motivating factor. If we provided them the right tools to be autonomous, reach mastery, and find their own purpose. Current education at Kuntokatu might be to some degree “autonomous” as we are able to choose our specializations, and courses in other areas such as arts and technology. However, I will always be impressed by the level of freedom and motivation that I experienced at Proakatemia.

In one of Armin Trost’s Human Resource Management Lectures, he mentioned that 60 years ago motivating an employee was relatively easy as most of the jobs came from manual labor.  You would just order someone “Do 100 more pieces in the next hour…” and production might increase. But currently most jobs require thinking power, office jobs have increased in the past several years. The type of motivation has changed; you cannot expect “Come up with an idea in the next hour…” to motivate someone into using their thinking power at the maximum.

Therefore, I strongly believe several different organizations should re-consider the motivating factors that drive their “users”. From education, to companies and their employees. And realize that if they are outdated, a new change has to come, if not, that same organization could become obsolete.

  • Päivi Mayor

    Great reflection! And yes, we must find more and better ways how to support our students’ feeling about autonomy, mastery and purpose and thus improve their learning motivation.

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