Motivating Top Performance - Daniel Pink

My notes of the Peak Work Performance Summit session with Daniel Pink, author of the book Drive:

Factors that motivate top performance for complex and long-term topics: pay people well, but after that offer them:

  • Autonomy - sense of self direction
  • Mastery - chance to make progress, get better at something that matters
  • Purpose - why you're doing something, along with how to do it

Anyone can get some autonomy through job-crafting, e.g. hospital janitor that check in with patients and see how they're doing, help nurses. Go beyond your job description, e.g. the product owner takes out software developers for lunch will learn more about the product.

Don't ask for autonomy, just do it. If you have to ask, present it to show that you want to help your boss.

Conduct pre-mortems before you begin a project. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • What are the pitfalls?

Set it aside these notes and review them after e.g. 1 or 2 months.

From time to time, turn a How conversation into a Why conversation.

Now that buyers generally have the same access to information as the seller, these are ways that sellers can be effective through:

  • understanding what's the other side's point of view, what's the other side's thinking, their interests
  • curate the information, make sense of it, separate signal from the noise
  • skill has shifted from problem solving (as customers can find the information themselves) to problem finding, when the customer is wrong about their problem or don't even know what their problem is

As we feel more powerful, our ability to take other people's perspectives degrades. But as very few leaders have coercive power, they need to be able to see the other's perspective, understand their point of view and find common ground. Be conscious of this phenomenon. Power is like a dial, it goes up (and is often needed) but it also goes down. Adjusting in both directions can be enormously effective.

According to a study of life insurance sellers, the single biggest predictor of their success is their explanatory style, explaining failure in a way that isn't delusional (e.g. "someone else's fault") but focus on the 3 P's:

  • Personal ("it wasn't really all your fault", "they were not yet ready to buy")
  • Pervasive ("it's not pervasive because you closed the deal last week")
  • Permanent ("there are very few things that ruin everything")

Motivational interviewing - questions we can ask when trying to motivate others:

  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to _
    • answer generally pretty low, e.g. 3.
  • OK, you're on 3. Why didn't you pick a lower number?
    • person has to explain why he/she's not a 2.
    • they begin to articulate their own reasons for doing something. When people have their own reasons for doing something, they believe those reasons more deeply and will behave more strongly.

If their answer is a 1, ask what we could do to make it a 2. Usually some kind of barrier, e.g. "I don't have a suit", "I don't know how to write a resume".

Review my other notes from the Peak Work Performance Summit.