The “almighty” of money, money, money…

Alternative title: Trust Your Instict

When I was doing my Master’s in Business Psychology, my deepest aspiration was to “reveal” (…) and prove scientifically that money was not the best incentive with regard to work performance. I conducted a research with 150 participants from 30 countries on the hypothesis that factors such as mastery, interest in ones’ role, values, and other intrinsic motivators, play more important role that money.

The results showed (as hundreds other researches had already done so) that indeed curiosity/interest in ones’ role as well as the intrinsic feeling of self-achievement were the most important factors of motivation.  However, money stood very high, as well. Besides, money is highly preferable by all personality types (introverted / extraverted,  feeling / thinking) whereas for other factors that preference varies.

From an employers’ or management’s point of view, money is an easy solution. a) It applies to everyone and b) it is easy to provide with. Instead, for instance, creating the environment for employees to feel self-achievement can be complicated and abstract; difficult and risky, as it might not apply to everyone; finally, more expensive and time consuming.

In the same way that the fast food from a burger chain is of low nutritional quality and taste -but generally pleasant and accepted-, money is the safe solution for productivity and satisfaction. However, it is not the best “food” you can get.

Intrinsic motivation is not convenient and practical. Science, however failed to recognise for many years the simple fact, which even common people understand,  that humans need more things than the carrot and the stick. Humans are far more complex “systems”. Anyone could say that even in the workplace people need good relationships – even love, values, happiness and to be commanded by their internal voice rather than an extrinsic stimulus.

Science has lost its primary ability to notice the obvious; to yield deeper insights and  synthesise concepts on how things work, that even ordinary people can notice; thus, fails to make a coherent whole of knowledge. It is not me saying so, but C. G. Jung. He maintained that human psyche (and any expression of it, individual or collective, such as science) needs a balance between extraversion and introversion. Modern science, he argued, was on a path that results in a knowledge too extaverted; that is too tecnical and self-driven, rather driven by the deepest human passion for understanding, inquiry and philosophical pursuit.

Indeed, science today is driven by the pursuit to adress technical problems and issues mainly derived from a motive of economic nature. Most researches are commissioned by companies or institutions who have a certain economic purpose. That does not mean that the findings are wrong; they are very true indeed. They just approach the essence of knowledge step by step, slowly, anemically and mechanically.

In organisational psychology, the new terms such as soft skills, emotional intelligence and positive psychology became popular only the last years . Now, scientists work on how they will make the powerful incentives such as mastery, purpose, self-direction applicable and cost-efficient. At last the “secret” will be revealed. But, in the meanwhile there will be a big  loss in terms of time and even human dignity.

The best understanding of work motivation would take place only if business and entrepreneurship -and subsequently science- escaped the rule of profit (…almost utopic, as the train is already in the wrong rail…). Entrepreneurship should be regarded an art and a way of living; a channel of creativity. Not a way to beat competitors and count one’s power in terms of monetary units. The same system that pays for researches on motivation strangles motivation of higher quality before it is born.

Besides, the motive behind discovering enhanced motivation is not motivational at all for many of the working people. Imagine a child at the moment that realises that their parents use tricks in order to make him/her study harder. That is the moment he/she gets demotivated.

The next video, which I find very interesting, is a synopsis of the new theories that science moves towards. Indeed, traditional factors and concepts of motivation, such as money being the cure for everything,  are being overruled.

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One Response to The “almighty” of money, money, money…

  1. Pingback: The nature of motivation | coaching dreams

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