When you are interviewing you may get asked what motivates you.

Before you answer that question, give this a read.


Susan Fowler has a new book, “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does in which she smartly addresses the challenges with using extrinsic motivational systems within groups. We shared a bit about this last year with our “Tree of Performance” (below) and believe all leaders should be well versed in the 6 levers they can pull to guide a team in this area. Publicly many leaders joke that they expect all members of their team to be “self-motivated”, but privately the best understand how to create a culture where peoples need for Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competency are being met.

Digging Deeper:

A recent client assignment had us diving further into this topic and how the topics of “Productivity” and “Engagement” can come into play. Engagement is something that does not show up on an income statement relative to other competitors and is elusive to track. Productivity is much easier to track and can be a game changer quarter to quarter. Managers track productivity, they drive productivity, they demand productivity, and this is where the Carrot and Stick extrinsic motivators reign. The challenge is that with every short term effort put in by management to move the productivity needle, a long term engagement withdrawal occurs. In nutritional terms, extrinsic motivation is like a sugar and intrinsic motivation is like a protein. The sugar may work in the short run, but you may crash later, while the other leaves you with fuel to keep going.

We created a few thesis statements around these thoughts and would love your feedback relative to your experience with your team whether it is at work, sports, or in a family setting.

• “Short Term Productivity from Extrinsic Motivators can lead to a bump in output, but often causes a drop in engagement.”

• “Long Term Productivity comes from Intrinsic Motivational needs being met and leads to higher and longer engagement.”