Daniel Pink explores the issues surrounding what motivates people. Key to his analysis is the argument that people generally enjoy work and that the stick and carrot approach favored by most businesses to encourage people to work may actually me demoralizing and counterproductive because it strips the implicit enjoyment out of work. I fully agreed with this premise, I think it is true for me although it is not necessarily true for all people.
That said, I did not agree with every example he gave, for instance, he presented a study showing that if people are paid to give blood, fewer people give blood because the good-will aspect is taken out of the giving. This may well be true for the developed world but I know for a fact that Malawi has increased blood donations by providing some food and a generous “expenses” allowance. In a country that is so poor even quite a small amount can be a powerful motivator to donate blood, I gave blood myself but gave my money away. Perhaps Daniel’s argument explains why I felt the need not to keep the money.
My favorite take-away from this book is the idea of a ROWE (results-only-work-environment), that is, a working situation where people are given targets and tasks of what needs to be achieved but are given carte blanche on how it is achieved – they don’t even have to come to work – they can work from wherever; this would suit me just fine. I constantly talk about how I hate waking up to be in my office from 7.30 to 7.30, those hours don’t suit me at all. I love work for work in itself but I loathe being micro-managed and I despise face-time even more. It’s Saturday and I started this write-up at 4.50 a.m. because for today, that is what is convenient for me, most people are asleep now and probably will be for quite a few more hours but that’s what suits them. More businesses need to take a serious think about how they could be more ROWEy (yes, I coined that phrase) because it is not only intellectually appealing, it has been shown to be very successful by those that have taken the step. Amongst many things, employees are happier, productivity rises (increasing revenue) and turnover falls (reducing hiring costs).
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