What’s it: Pink’s theory of motivation describes three vital elements for intrinsically motivating employees: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Employees have a psychological need to support them to grow and develop. All three play an important role in enabling employees to organize their own work lives. They are motivated by goals, develop the necessary skills and abilities and have the flexibility to do it all. And, without external punishment or reward, all three elements play an important role in driving their satisfaction and motivation.
Why is Pink’s theory of motivation important?
Pink’s theory emphasizes intrinsic motivation. Thus, according to this theory, meeting internal drivers is a way to encourage employees to perform better.
Intrinsic drive plays an important role in motivating. It is thought to be more enduring than external drives such as rewards and punishments. Why? Employees want to grow and develop themselves psychologically. And such a need will continue to exist throughout life.
On the other hand, external impulses usually have a temporary effect. Take a raise as an example. When your company raises employee salaries, they will be happy. In the first months, they may be more diligent. They came in on time and were never absent. However, the positive effects may be temporary. In the next few months, maybe old bad habits will resurface.
What are the elements in Pink’s theory of motivation?
Pink’s theory describes three factors driving intrinsic motivation. They are:
Employees want to grow and develop themselves to achieve the desired career advancement. They also want to be independent and have control over their work, so they have more freedom to do it responsibly. In addition, because they devote time and effort to the company, they also want to see how useful their sacrifice is for the company. It all makes them independent, self-determined and connected.
Developing human resource programs to facilitate this can lead to high employee motivation. They can organize their own work-life, learn and do new things to contribute to the company.
Autonomy gives employees the freedom and flexibility to run their own jobs. As a result, they have more control and are more involved in what they do.
With independence, employees can actualize their skills and abilities. In addition, they have control over what they do, when, how, and with whom they do it.
For example, to motivate employees, your company gives them more time to do what they want to do. It is important to reduce work pressure, which often causes stress.
Moreover, such freedom also contributes to innovation. Your employees are trying to actualize creative ideas and solutions which have been on their minds. In addition, they experiment with new knowledge and skills to make their job and work life easier.
A good example is Google. The company encourages employees to spend 20% of their working time learning new skills or what they think will benefit Google the most.
Another example is the 15% culture of 3M. The company encourages employees to set aside their time to pursue innovative ideas where they have a passion.
Employees want to grow and develop with their current careers. Therefore, they continue to hone their skills and knowledge. They want to become more proficient in their profession and have more advanced careers in the future.
The desire to get ahead increases their internal drive, which is crucial to getting them excited about learning new skills and knowledge. Your company facilitates this by, for example, providing adequate training. Or, giving them the freedom to develop themselves is another way.
On the other hand, encouraging employees to be more advanced also requires your company to match employee competencies with the assigned tasks. If it’s too easy, employees will get bored. They will feel such tasks are not useful for their career advancement.
In contrast, if tasks are too difficult, it can cause stress. Employees start to worry and feel outside their comfort zone. And, they may think it’s impossible to solve it. Finally, it dampens their enthusiasm for progress and development.
According to Pink’s theory, mastery requires your company to assign tasks according to each individual’s capacity. You also give them the space and support to encourage them to develop and improve themselves continuously.
Knowing the goal makes us focus on what we have to do and achieve in the future. First, we plan and take the necessary steps to achieve the goal. Then, we are committed and disciplined to carry out every step we plan. Finally, we are passionate about doing it, even when challenges or obstacles get in the way.
Likewise, understanding goals in work are essential for intrinsically motivated employees. Employees know why they are doing their job and what the benefits are for the company. They are motivated if their work supports company goals.
Like the division of labor – which divides a complex operation into a series of specific tasks and jobs, this element also requires the company to break down goals and visions into each job and task and communicate them to employees. So, they have clear targets and goals to achieve. In addition, they understand the benefits of their work and how they can contribute to the company.
Employees who are motivated with goals have high commitment and discipline. They are also more responsible for what they do. In addition, those motivated by purpose also tend to be resilient when faced with difficult challenges.
What to read next
- Motivation: Why is it important? Theory and Types
- Why Are Well-Motivated Employees Important To Business?
- Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: Examples and Differences
- Taylor’s Theory of Motivation: How it Works, Principles and Criticism
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Importance, Order of Needs and Criticism
- McClelland’s Theory of Needs: Types and How to Satisfy
- Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation: Examples and Explanations
- McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y: Categories, Characteristics, and Implications
- Adam’s Equity Theory: How It Works and A Brief Explanation
- Pink’s Theory of Motivation: Elements and A Brief Explanation