The danger behind praise and reward
Many studies show extrinsic motivators ranging from but not limited to getting the A's, seeking praise and reward, are ineffective over the long term compared to intrinsic motivators.
As we grow up, the reward and punishment system is all around us.
If we do good, we are praised and rewarded; if we do bad, we are punished. These types of behaviours stand to teach us to prioritize other people's recognition and concern ourselves more with their judgment.
When we do, we start living by other people's expectations instead of our own. In a way, happiness becomes dependent on others giving it to us.
When one seeks recognition from others and concerns oneself only with how one is judged by others, in the end, one is living other people's lives. – Ichiro Kishimi in The Courage to be Disliked
Many studies show extrinsic motivators ranging from but not limited to getting A's, seeking praise and reward, are ineffective over the long term compared to intrinsic motivators.
Furthermore, extrinsic motivators have the power to destroy and replace intrinsic motivators in many instances.
The kind of motivation elicited by extrinsic inducements isn't just less effective than intrinsic motivation; it threatens to erode that intrinsic motivation, that excitement about what one is doing. – Alfie Kohn in Punished by Reward?
Money is a prime example. When we suddenly start making money for a passion of ours, something we love doing, and it brings us joy, we often cannot see ourselves ever going back to not making money for doing that same thing. What motivates us intrinsically gets replaced by the need for our efforts to be rewarded extrinsically by money.
When learning and our ability to be curious is driven by what's on the test, which certification we need for that promotion, or who we need to prove ourselves to get that validation; we start being unable to think for ourselves, understand who we are and what internally motivates us.
As leaders, asking how do I motivate my people is not only ineffective, it's wrong. When asked this way, the question can only lead to reward and praise tactics, and even manipulation, which is not effective long term.
What a person finds motivating is different for everyone.
We might consider instead a question that respects people's intrinsic motivations. We might ask ourselves, what motivates my people?
Reframing the question allows us to look at people and appreciate them for who they are and not who we want them to be. In turn, we might get more from our people than we think.
Sparknotion – Think Differently.