About two years ago, I started taking on supervisory duties at work. As a life-long introvert, I knew that my people skills could use some improvement. So as I started looking for continuing ed opportunities at work, I also started making an effort to include some business and leadership books into my rotation.
Drive is interesting as it gets to the question of motivation in the workplace. Pink starts with some broad history of motivation, from the very beginning: the biological impulse to survive led our earliest ancestors to hunt, to reproduce, etc. Then we get to “Motivation 2.0,” or “carrot and stick” motivation. That is, offer a reward, threaten a consequence. Motivation 2.0 is the hallmark of the earliest managerial philosophy. Workers are cogs in the machine, they must be watched carefully and goaded into doing their work. Motivation 2.0 is hugely concerned with monetary rewards (pay and bonuses).
So what explains workers who are willing to take lower paying jobs in order to be fulfilled? And how do we explain the fact that purely monetary rewards work in the short term, but actually leave workers less motivated and productive in the long term? What about the dedicated volunteers who spend their time editing and updating Wikipedia without compensation? Enter Motivation 3.0. Pink posits that a new kind of worker needs a new philosophy, and breaks down the three elements of true motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Most of the book is spent looking at each of these elements, along with the mismatch between “what science knows, and what business does.”
Drive is a quick read that hits its points and breaks them down with simple to understand analogies and examples (though with a pub date of 2009, some examples are a bit dated now). I saw a lot of truth in Pink’s theory, especially if you start to look at generational trends in the workforce. The younger generations get a lot of flak for not wanting to just take crappy jobs and work for a paycheck – they want to be fulfilled in their work, motivated to contribute. And I would really love to hear what Pink has to say about the Great Resignation!
Overall, I found this book a helpful reframing of why we work (pair with Simon Sinek’s Start With Why!), and how leaders and managers can support, encourage, and motivate their employees to their best. Also added a few more books to my reading list based on references from the book.