The Effect of Motivation on Productivity

The Effect of Motivation on Productivity

Do you struggle to inspire the performance you desire out of your teammates? Have you done the hard work to implement processes and systems to support your team, and you’re still not getting the productive output you desire?


At the core of this issue is motivation — why every individual does what he or she does, and what makes him or her “tick.”


For years, business owners have relied on either the carrot (a raise) or the stick (public ridicule) to motivate. And it’s simply not working.


Dan Pink’s inspiring TED Talk, The Puzzle Of Motivation, provides incredibly valuable insight into the important difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. He argues that the carrot and the stick work only in a very narrow set of circumstances when the task is incredibly simplistic and requires no creative or conceptual thinking. When the task requires this type of thinking, traditional extrinsic motivation simply does not work.


When I ask clients what motivates a specific team member they’re having issues with, what deep down inside of him or her drives his or her behavior, the initial answer 9 times out of 10 is “money.” And I call b.s. on that. Yes, everyone works to make a living; to bring home the money they need to support their family, their hobbies, their dreams, etc. But they also work for something else. Something much deeper that lights them up and excites them. Tapping into that thing – that’s the way to get the best out of them.


The owner of a recruiting firm recently complained that one of his recruiters is taking far too long to fill positions. I asked what motivation she has to fill the position sooner. The owner responded that the sooner she fills the position, the sooner she gets paid (theirs is a commission model). Taking this answer at face value, one might consider docking her pay for a missed deadline. But I suspected that something else was amiss. After digging deeper, I learned that what truly moves her is the relationship. The ability to build and maintain a strong relationship with the leaders of the organizations she’s recruiting for. And she had been taken out of that role entirely. She was simply filling orders – calling candidates, updating call status in a system and passing them on to the owner. No relationship and therefore a misalignment in motivation.


Dan Pink advises to pay people adequately and fairly to take the issue of money off the table. Then tap into each individual’s intrinsic motivation to inspire him or her to action.


Each individual’s intrinsic motivation should be at the forefront of your mind as you are:

  • Hiring
  • Onboarding
  • Setting up compensation structures
  • Goal setting
  • Assigning projects/tasks
  • Monitoring progress
  • Evaluating performance
  • Rewarding


If you’re not tapping into intrinsic motivation, you’re simply not getting the best from the people that work for you. Can your business afford that?


We’d love to hear stories of how you’ve elevated performance by tapping into team members’ intrinsic motivation. Please share in the comments section below.