Understanding your motivation can help you find a better fit in the workplace.
Are you an X or are you an I? The answer to that question could help predict how happy you'll be at your next job. According to "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," by Daniel H. Pink, there are two types of people in the workforce: Type X is concerned primarily with external rewards. For Type I, "the main motivation is the freedom, challenge and purpose of the undertaking itself; any other gains are welcome, but mainly as a bonus." Pink believes that we're all born as a Type I. Ironically, the rewards designed to make us perform better can actually extinguish Type I behavior.
Turning play into work
Pink cites a study of children divided into three groups. One group was shown, in advance, a reward they would get for doing a drawing. The second group was given an unexpected reward at the end of the session. The third group got no reward at all.
Three weeks later, when teachers put out drawing materials, the "unexpected reward" and "no reward" groups showed as much enthusiasm for drawing as they had before the experiment. The group who had achieved a promised reward showed much less interest. The reason, according to Pink: Extrinsic rewards turn play into work.
Cari Ressler and Jody Thompson, former Best Buy executives, took Type I behavior to the extreme with the concept of ROWE - "results-only work environment." In a true ROWE environment, getting the work done is the only criterion. "How they do it, when they do it, and where they do it is up to them," Pink says.
According to Pink, Type I will consistently outperform Type X. But when the ROWE concept was introduced at Meddius, a small technology company, two employees were unable to adapt to the new environment, and left.
Find your type
Jean Houlding, owner of Stillwater Express Solutions, a custom software company in Shoreview, says that internal motivation needs to be tempered with a clear understanding of business needs. "We make sure that real project goals are in front of us. Then we can focus our drive. It counters the tendency to go off and be too creative on our own," she says.
Would you be happy in a ROWE environment, or do you need external rewards? Pink offers a free online assessment to help you find your type at www.danpink.com/drive-survey.