Everybody will agree that money has the most power when it comes to motivating businesspeople. To reward them, give them more money; to punish them, limit their pay.B.F. Skinner actually promoted this particular method of using rewards (carrots) or punishments (sticks) to motivate people. He believed that people could be treated the same way as pets, wherein preferred behaviors could be encouraged with the use of the right ‘carrots’.

Now, if you do not want to believe that humans and pets are that much alike, then you will be happy to hear that recent psychological studies have shown that the motivational benefits of rewards and punishments are actually very limited.

One psychologist named Edmund Deci even proved that rewards are only beneficial for a short time. He basically came up with an experiment where two groups needed to create complicated designs with the use of assorted cubes. During every session, he would watch the groups try to solve the whole puzzle.

During session one, both groups were treated exactly the same way. During session two, however, the first group was given money for the designs that they finished correctly. Then, during session three, the first group was told that they would no longer get paid for their completed designs.

Overall, the results showed that the first group was much less motivated in session three when they no longer got paid after session two. Group two, on the other hand, slowly showed an improvement in their interest and performance, even though they never got any money for their work.

Deci concluded that money only provides a short-lived improvement in a person’s performance. Fortunately, there are alternatives to money out there, such as inner motivations.

Daniel Pink, an author, wrote books that revolved around the importance of inner motivations in today’s work force.

He came to the conclusion that creativity is an absolute necessity for a business if it wishes to succeed. After all, since today’s markets have to compete on an entirely global scale, they have to become more creative in order to compete with everybody else.

In other words, businesses have to become more creative if they want to come up with new services and products that will help them survive and grow. This applies to practically any kind of company out there.

Some examples of good inner motivation would be Firefox and Wikipedia, which were mere volunteer projects that were motivated by personal motivation. Both of these companies ended up beating Microsoft, a business driven by profit and money.

In general, inner motivation depends on the motivating drives for autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy in the work sense refers to being able to do your own work at your own time, with your own methods and with your own choice of people.

Mastery, on the other hand, refers to becoming better than you already are. It means that you don’t mind putting as much effort and time as needed into your performance, as long as you succeed in the end.

Lastly, there is purpose, which refers to committing to doing something for other people or for goals that are beyond your own self-interest.

Now, it can be hard to take advantage of this new understanding on how motivation works, especially because it actually requires real attention to every person now. Well, this is where executive coaching comes into the picture. Believe it or not, a life coach can really help you use the right motivational principles in your company with ease.

The Gallup organization, for example, thought of a system known as Employee Engagement. Here are some of the principles in that system:

  • Ask employees for their opinions and always encourage their personal input.
  • Make sure your goals are very clear, but give your employees the freedom to achieve them in their own ways
  • Create a learning environment that has room for constant challenges and growth.
  • Give effective yet personal attention.

Remember:  Everybody wants to feel a sense of engagement and accomplishment every once in a while. Just make sure you can tap into your creative energy and inner motivations, as well. After all, you won’t be able to develop your clients and customers if you can’t. Think about it.

About the Author

Morris N. Mann, P.D. – Morris helps solo business owners and professionals achieve success in business and greater happiness in their personal lives. For over 15 years he worked as a business executive responsible for marketing and systems management in international product and service companies. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been practicing professional business coaching successfully for over 10 years.