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De-escalate Office Tension

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De-escalate Office Tension

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"…why do your people come to work every day? If they come to work because their organization inspires the direct motives—play, purpose, and potential—they are likely performing at their best. If the culture is dominated by indirect motives—emotional pressure, economic pressure, or inertia—their performance is likely to be much worse."



1.51K reads

Why People Perform An Activity

Why People Perform An Activity

Direct motives ( they drive performance)

  • Play: It occurs when you’re engaging in an activity simply because you enjoy doing it.
  • Purpose: you do an activity because you value the outcome of the activity
  • Potential: you do the work because it will eventually lead to something you believe is important.

Indirect motives (frequently harm performance)

  • Emotional pressure: emotions such as disappointment, guilt or shame compel you to perform an activity
  • Economic pressure: you do an activity solely to win a reward or avoid punishment.
  • Inertia: you do what you do because you did it yesterday.


882 reads

Play: The Most Powerful Performance Enhancer

Regarding work, play is the freedom to experiment, contemplate, and continuously improve processes to achieve a larger objective.

Purpose is the second-highest motivator. People need to identify with their company’s primary objective and see how they make a difference.  Potential or a person’s belief that their role within a company supports their career goals is also important but not as potent as play and purpose.

Individuals may craft their jobs building their play and purpose into their work but for an organization to reach its potential those factors need to run throughout its culture.


768 reads

Money: An Effective Activator

Money: An Effective Activator

  • Money might be the reason we accept a new position or promotion, but after the initial action, it doesn’t motivate us to do better work.
  • Emotional pressure like the potential for prestigious promotions or recognition doesn’t motivate better work. Economic and emotional pressures often lead to gaming behaviors where people figure out how to get the rewards, not how to do the job better.
  • Inertia or just showing up every day also doesn’t motivate high performance—instead, it often produces free-riders who come just for the check.


575 reads

Free-Riders And Job-Crafters

  • They are people who show up for the money. They increase the size of a group but don’t increase productivity.  They are created when people don’t see the value of their work, their individual contributions can’t be determined, and they don’t know the other people in the group.
  • Job-crafters build their own purpose and meaning into their jobs which might motivate an individual to pursue their own agenda. For an organization to thrive there needs to be a sense that we all have the same purpose and meaning embedded in the company’s culture.


532 reads


"Academic researchers have found that tactical performance goals focus people on just the appearance of competence. Adaptive goals focus people on becoming competent."



599 reads

Tactical Performance Goals and Adaptive Goals

Tactical Performance Goals and Adaptive Goals

A tactical performance goal is requiring workers to achieve a metric the organization has set to measure performance.

An adaptive goal is asking employees to test new strategies regardless of the outcome to discover the best way to reach company objectives. By incorporating adaptive goals workers focus on the work itself and collaborate. While working on adaptive goals, people develop a sense of purpose and community, and they see how their work is important. Adaptive goals promote citizenship, workers help others and achieve larger goals.


381 reads

The Best Managers Clarify What Good Performance Looks Like

They acknowledge both tactical and adaptive performance and create conditions so workers can identify whether or not they are meeting performance criteria.

They foster play by empowering their teams with adaptive goals, they set a clear vision to create a common purpose, and they promote individual potential with training, coaching, and by supporting career goals.


432 reads

Economic And Emotional Pressures

Economic And Emotional Pressures

The stress and anxiety from economic and emotional pressure cancel out the effects of positive motivators play, purpose and potential. We focus on attaining financial and emotional goals to get our needs satisfied, and we can’t relax and settle into productive work.

By paying employees a fair wage and eliminating economic incentives for meeting metrics we encourage honest work.


371 reads

Four Types of leaders

  • Quid pro quo leaders: They believe in giving rewards for good behavior and punishments to control bad behavior. They produce high levels of emotional pressure, Inertia, and economic pressure.
  • Hands-off leaders: They use neither direct or indirect motivators. They tend to get involved only when there is a problem. They believe their teams want lots of space. But teams perform best when the leader is involved.
  • Enthusiasts: There isn’t a motivator an enthusiast won’t try, direct or indirect.
  • Firestarters: They use direct motivators and do whatever they can to eliminate the indirect motivators.


390 reads

Healthy Communities

Healthy Communities

  • In a community, we have common values and responsibilities because of our interdependence and common goals. For a community to be healthy, its members must feel like citizens or responsible, contributing members.
  • Citizenship is an adaptive performance behavior. When an employee helps out another colleague in need, or advocates for the organization when they are unmonitored, the organization does better.
  • An organization’s culture can either inspire citizenship and build an active, supportive community or become a collective of free-riders and job-crafters.


345 reads



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