Learn how performance design can be driven by self-motivated workers, and how most people respond to positive internal incentives that are externally validated. This video also explains how to know when it's working—and when it's not.
- So when I was in my early 20s I was what is classically called a slacker. I was rudderless, I only dabbled in college. I worked at a variety of different jobs. Everything from driving a delivery truck, to temp office work. Now I could tell that my father, who was by then, a world famous author of job hunting books, disapproved. But he quite appropriately wouldn't tell me what he thought. However, being young and stupid I kept pressing him.
And finally, I found the right question. If you were my age, I said, what would you be doing? He gave it a beat and with perfect delivery, looked at me in the eye and said, "More." Give it a minute, it'll sink in. Now, I eventually went on to co-fund three companies, five magazines, and help start one or two movements along the way. But I've never forgotten the power of that simple word more. Adaptive performance management is based on one simple premise.
Everything is dependent on your own personal drive to do more. You have to want to continually improve your own performance. No other approach is sustainable. So where does that motivation come from? Think of one axis of motivation a being the reign from internal to external motivations. And another axis is being from positive to negative. There are numerous performance management approaches and most of the strategies can be places somewhere on that landscape.
Some psychologists will argue that internal motivation is the most important. Because it comes within drivers within yourself. While others will tell you that external motivation is potentially more valuable because it externally validates your goals and the process you followed to reach them. Some managers believe that negative incentives are the most important focusing on each person's drawbacks and continually pointing out where they fall short. While others will say, that positive incentives are the most effective.
Accentuating what each person does well and helping them to do even more. Think of the last time you achieved an important goal. What was your motivation? If you were driven by the need to meet someone else's expectations, were those expectations reinforced with positive, or with negative incentives? Were you in line for a bonus, or did you risk getting a poor evaluation if you fail? If you are driven by your own need to please yourself did you give yourself an incentive for completion, like, a meal, or a movie, or some other award for getting it done.
Or, did you create negative consequences for yourself if you didn't get it done like having to give someone money, or forgoing an outing you would have enjoyed. What I've found through decades of working with individuals and organizations is that the most useful performance motivation comes from positive internal incentives that are externally validated. So what does that combination mean? To be motivated to continually improve your own performance means you are deeply committed to your own growth and change.
That usually comes from having extensive knowledge about what makes you tick. What you most enjoy doing in a work environment. And having the opportunity to use your best loved skills and other unique characteristics. The most effective positive internal motivation comes from a desire to compete with yourself. To compare your actions against your own performance. And to continually try to improve. So let me give you a really simple example. When I was young, I was that weak spindly kid with the glasses who could only do a single push up.
I used to dread gym class because there was hardly a single physical activity I could do with any regularity. Now, I eventually grew`into my body and now I do things like 100 mile bike rides with regularity. But, that inability to do push ups when I was a kid was still nagging at me. So I started off by just doing a few push ups. And the next day, I added another one. And the next. And if I missed a day I had to do two more. So sure, some days were pretty tough. But now I can do a lot more push ups than I ever thought I could when I was a kid.
Now for you, it might be more motivation to watch an online video with an instructor urging you on. Or, it might be more valuable to compete with someone else. Comparing your own progress. No matter what works for you what's your push up? What's the goal you could set for yourself where you could add small, incremental increases and help to push yourself past whatever you thought might be possible. That's the best kind of motivation competing with yourself. Oh, and don't forget to externally validate your goal.
Whenever you can, tell someone else about what you're trying to achieve. It certainly helps if that person can offer you support and encouragement. But what's most important is that you legitimize it by including someone else in your commitment. It's easy to convince yourself to procrastinate but the simple act of taking it beyond yourself changes the context by which you follow through on those commitments to yourself.
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- The history of performance management
- Self-driven performance management
- Setting adaptive performance goals
- Writing an adaptive performance agreement
- Team performance design
- Designing for high performance