Social Motivation at Work

The inspiration for this post is the TED Blog article What motivates us at work? 7 fascinating studies that give insights. How can these seven studies gives us insights into motivations of people at work in connected enterprises? While the studies aren’t directed at the connected workplace, it still might give some idea as so successful practices.

1. Seeing the fruits of our labor may make us more productive

Get people involved in implementing their ideas. Show them prototypes, sketches, and demonstrations. In any reasonably sized network there will be hundreds of ideas generated. Shout it from the rooftops that you’re not only listening, but bringing their ideas to life. This won’t happen if it is all kept under wraps in the darkest corner of your ‘skunkworks’.

2. The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it

Social reward is one of the most powerful motivations known to the human race. Enough said.

3. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it

This goes to the heart of how much trust you put in those around you. If you feel confident enough to give other people your most challenging problems, it will reward you with better solutions. There’s no room for ego here, you’ll have to share the glory with everyone who participated. Some business problems are just too important not to seek input from your colleagues.

It would also make sense that giving challenges to someone who is keen but doesn’t necessarily have too much experience will make it all the more motivating for them. That task, for them, is more challenging than the same task given to a seasoned performer

4. Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation

Share the stories of success in a personal way. Helping others is not only achieved through a corporate donation policy. People are just as motivated to help their colleagues. This is the more private side of social reward – helping others may or may not be celebrated in public, but you should have room in your organisation for people who are intrinsically motivated.

5. The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules

Again, prosocial behaviour should be something that is frequently demonstrated in a connected enterprise. Often this behaviour is best understood by those with influence and those who are true leaders in the organisation.

6. Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance

Learn how to smile and support others. There will come a time in your career, if you haven’t already experienced this, when someone will become nervous because they think that you are very qualified, experienced, or important. It is your duty at this point not to bask in the glory of having ‘made it’, but to diffuse their nerves and let them find their natural confidence.

7. Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus

Well, you can’t win them all. This would seem to suggest that photos of cute cats are in some way beneficial. Further research required.

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