Payoff, The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, is a short book with an important message: “We suck at motivation.”
Based on fascinating research from workplaces and psychology labs all over the world, the book documents how we consistently fail to understand what really motivates ourselves and others and consequently end up killing motivation off, when we try to strengthen it, much of the time.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the workplace, where a blind belief in the power of bonuses, raises, promotions and perks has kept managers doing the wrong things for (or to) their employees for decades.
Dan Ariely, a professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, is the perfect person to convey this message. As a researcher he has conducted fascinating and very elegant experiments to uncover what motivates and demotivates us. He shared two of these in this TED talk:
In Payoff he uses his own research and that of others to get to the truth of motivation. And while he clearly shows that performance bonuses can actually reduce performance, he also shares the factors that motivate us to do better. These include things like praise, meaningful work and a real connection to the people you work with.
This is a short book (120 pages) but that just counts in its favor, in my opinion. It is a captivating read, incredibly useful and highly entertaining – in fact I laughed our loud several times while reading it.
In short, I hope I have motivated you to read this book :)
- Why rewards don’t motivate
- Study: Positive feedback increases intrinsic motivation
- A motivational tip that actually works