Below is a fantastic TED Talk from Dan Ariely on why people work hard, when they’re willing to make extreme efforts, and how easy it is to crush their motivation.

Among the insights and provocations:

  • “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes.”
  • “Is efficiency still more important than meaning? I think the answer is no.”
  • “By getting people to work harder, they actually got them to love what they’re doing to a higher degree.”

Watch and ponder.

4 Responses to “Dan Ariely’s revised model of labor”

  1. Chris Lawrence says:

    People in all fields need to hear recognition they are doing well in order to motivate. While working at a big company, with little training, my fellow workers and I produced more than anticipated. On top of being very supportive throughout the year, management gave us a free jacket to recognize our feat and motivation was at an all time high. We came into next year eager to pull out the same performance but everything changed. The same management increased duties per worker, forced more hours(which led to drafting workers against their will to cover), micromanaged breaks and lunches, and also forced people to work on processes they had little training or experience on. At the end of the year we still pulled it off and made quota. However, there was no more rewarding or recognizing workers when they completed the near impossible demands of management. But they did like to point out how we missed the mark during monthly reviews. This hostile environment lead to motivation to be lost, rifts between workers, and more deviations on the floor. All it takes is to show simple support for your workers. A simple, “we know you are working hard and we appreciate it” goes a long way instead of, “deviations are up and you may lose your bonuses”.
    My tip for new managers is you need to earn respect from your workers as well if you wish to motivate. When I was in a management position I ensured that my workers saw me working just as hard as they were. I never respected managers who would push workers after they took 2hour breaks for “meetings” on top of lunch. Work hard, make yourself visible, and ensure when people do something beyond your expectations you recognize it, even if it is a simple, “great job”. As a supervisor you are there to break down the walls that get in front of your workers. Not become one.

  2. Rick Manning says:

    Thank you, Chris. It was good to have someone articulate what I’ve also experienced. I’ve always felt that the servant-leader was the best motivator in the workplace. First to arrive, last to leave.

  3. Joanna says:

    Thank you for sharing this interesting presentation. I thought the examples used and the way Arely described the “shredding” of one’s effort and motivation was powerful. Although hard work makes people feel valued, acknowledgement of effort is what keeps folks engaged for the long-term.

  4. JustinH says:

    I think the Arely described the “shredding” of one’s effort was powerful, but also made me think of always putting a positive spin on a particular situation.