Coaching Redefined: How Internal Motivation Can Fuel Performance


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Behind every disengaged employee is a leadership problem to be solved. This research report illuminates the different types of motivation, what works best on the job (hint: it isn't rewards and punishments), and the four coaching skills that lead to engaged employees and better business results.

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Coaching Redefined: How Internal Motivation Can Fuel Performance

  1. 1. Developing the 21st century workforce TMCoaching Redefined:How Internal Motivation CanFuel PerformanceBy Craig Perrin and Chris Blauth
  2. 2. Behind every unmotivated employee is a leadership problem waiting to be solved. Yet many leaders see motivation as a game of rewards and punishment. Forget the cash. Forget the threats. To engage today’s workforce, a leader is well advised to seek the heart of what moves people: their three basic psychological needs. To glimpse the future of motivation, it may be helpful first to glance at the past. A Brief History of Motivation Reward and punishment are as old as the human race. For our tribal ancestors, survival was a critical motivator. But in today’s workplace, where physical safety isn’t always the immediate first concern, how much do we really know about what motivates employees? In fact, science has explored this question for Our Ancestors a hundred years. In the 1900s, Frederick Taylor developed what became known as Scientific Management, which held that workers are primarily motivated by pay, and the main job of leaders is to set and enforce work standards. Taylor’s work, though it oversimplified human dynamics, set a standard for the rigorous study Taylor of motivation in the workplace. In the 1940s, B.F. Skinner offered a different theory of motivation: Behaviorism, often called the “carrot and stick.” Rewards (the carrot) motivate good behavior, and punishment (the stick) discourages bad behavior. Behaviorism held that because motivation originates outside the individual, leaders must maintain tight Skinner control of employee activities.2 | coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance
  3. 3. In the 1960s, Abraham Maslow, Frederick Herzberg, What About Sales Incentives? and others began to explore Variable compensation—commissions, internal motivators—including bonuses, incentives, and so on—is a given satisfaction in the work itself. in sales organizations. Self-Determination Their work found that while Theory recognizes the reality of external rewards and threats couldMaslow motivators in a sales environment, and boost short-term performance, advises that to support internal motivation employees wanted more from in salespeople, how the leader uses these work. So these researchers incentives makes all the difference. asked, “Is there a better way to motivate employees that Salespeople can suffer serious psychological doesn’t rely on rewards and harm if sales leaders overemphasize incentives punishment?” to pressure or “motivate” people to reach sales Today, Edward Deci and goals. In these cases, salespeople experienceDeci Richard Ryan of the University stress and burnout, focus less on customers of Rochester and other and more on money, and can resort to psychologists around the world unethical actions to gain the rewards. are deeply exploring internal motivation. Their 40 years of research—known as Self- Observing these problems, many leaders assume that Determination Theory (SDT— employees, having secured food and shelter, become have turned much of what we passive. So these leaders try to control employees believe about motivation upsideRyan with threats of punishment or with external rewards, down. Recently, author Daniel including bonuses, wage incentives, or promotions. Pink has stoked interest in SDTwith his best-selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth While it’s safe to say that many leaders will continueAbout What Motivates Us. According to Pink, “Deci using these methods to motivate employees, literallyand Ryan, in my view, are the sun around which all this scores of peer-reviewed studies since the 1970s haveother research orbits. They’re true pioneers. Forty years confirmed the negative impact of external rewards.from now, we’ll look back on them as two of the most Among the startling findings:important social scientists of our time.”What are some implications of this cutting-edge 1. Rewards consistently undermine sustained, long-research for helping employees engage their work and term motivation and bottom-line results? 2. Rewards for something employees already like to do especially undermine motivation andExternal Motivation performance.SDT has isolated six different forms of motivation, 3. Rewards make it more difficult for employees towhich for simplicity may be grouped under two be creative and solve complex problems.headings: external and internal. Both kinds ofmotivation are driven by needs. Consider a simple example. In the 1993 Wimbledon final, Jana Novotna
led the great Steffi Graf 6-7, 6-1,For most adults, work meets many needs—income, and was serving at 40-30 for a 5-1 lead in the final set.of course, as well as friendship and achievement. But Novotna double-faulted, then lost the game, andToo often, though, employees feel bored or alienated 10 minutes later lost the match. Any or all of the SDTat work. The result can be illness, absenteeism, and findings may have figured into Novatna’s collapse:turnover, with huge cost to the organization. coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance | 3
  4. 4. A Landmark Study 1. This Wimbledon championship would bring a major externalIn an early study in the research reward: public adulation for joining an elite group of thethat would become Self- greatest players in tennis history.Determination Theory, Edward 2. Novotna no doubt enjoyed playing tennis, especially winningDeci gave two separate groups the tournaments.mesmerizing “Soma Cube” puzzles 3. Surely it was a complex task to beat Steffi Graf, who endedto solve, placing magazines nearby: her career winning 107 titles, including 7 Wimbledon championships.• He offered the first group a cash reward to solve the puzzle. As on the tennis court, so it is in the workplace. Attractive rewards—• He offered the second group no Dr. Deci calls them “seductive” rewards—heighten anxiety, cause reward, telling them only that people to feel controlled, and erode performance. Studies and he wanted to observe how they daily experience confirm that people will certainly work to earn an solved the puzzle. external reward (whether money, promotion, perk, or acclaim). Once• After a time, Dr. Deci told they achieve the goal, however, motivation falls off sharply. each group that the test was over and he would return in 10 So, in the workplace, any positive short-term effects of bonuses, minutes with a survey. Instead, deadlines, surveillance, threats, and other external motivators he observed the groups without often mask their well-documented negative impact on immediate their knowing. performance and long-term employee engagement.• Paid participants were much Internal Motivation more likely to put down the In contrast, SDT has found, internal motivation occurs in one of puzzle and read the magazines. two ways: Unpaid participants were much more likely to continue working 1. The employee finds an activity inherently satisfying. on the puzzles. 2. The employee performs a task to satisfy some other need important to that person (for example, completing a dull taskThis finding, confirmed in dozens in order to contribute to a team effort).of studies across the globe,inspired decades of researchleading to practical strategies for While in both cases employees act to satisfy their needs, these needssupporting internal motivation in are very different from the need to gain a reward or avoid a punishment.the workplace. A remarkable finding of worldwide SDT research is that everyone shares three basic psychological needs. Over 100 studies have confirmed that, compared to leaders who rely on rewards or threats, leaders who support satisfaction of these three psychological needs promote sustained internal motivation to achieve results: • COMPETENCE is the need to feel valued as knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced. People have a powerful need to hone and demonstrate skills, whether technical, interpersonal, or leadership. Opportunities and support to develop and demonstrate competence are powerful internal motivators for every employee. 4 | coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance
  5. 5. • RELATEDNESS is the need to collaborate with colleagues and co-workers. Regardless of their role, Shaping a Motivational most employees want to work with others. Studies WorkplaceTM show this internal need to be more powerful than externally driven needs to earn rewards or avoid punishment. Further, working effectively with Offering INTERNAL Giving Rewards and Needs-Based others improves business results through a melding RecognitionTM MOTIVATION FeedbackTM of views and experiences.• AUTONOMY is the need to exercise self-regulation, within guidelines, to achieve business goals. No Realizing Talent one has total freedom in the workplace because Diagram 1: in OthersTM everyone must contribute to shared results. Still, The Needs-Based people crave autonomy, or freedom to shape their Coaching Skills work to support the work of others. A degree of individual flexibility—within established processes, procedures, and rules—helps employees thrive in an Let’s briefly consider the role and value of SDT in organizational setting. these four needs-based coaching skills.Leaders can’t create internal motivation in their Shaping a Motivational Workplaceemployees. They can support internal motivation by People want to use their abilities, connect with others,creating conditions that allow employees to satisfy their and guide their own efforts. Global SDT research hasown needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. unequivocally established that—regardless of gender,This is needs-based coaching, a powerful way to sustain age, ethnicity, culture, or life experiences—everyoneindividual performance, teamwork, and practical results. shares these needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy.But, in a practical sense, how exactly do leaders “createthe conditions” that support internal motivation in Leaders can support internal motivation in employeesthe workplace? by applying three best practices:Needs-Based Coaching Defined • Adopt the employee’s perspective. An employee’sNeeds-Based Coaching is a vital skill set that supports unique perspective is the “truth” from which thatdaily performance by creating conditions in which employee operates. Effective coaches develop aemployees strive to satisfy their needs for competence, deep understanding of employees’ perspectives as arelatedness, and autonomy. (see Diagram 1 at right) basis for all exchanges.AchieveGlobal has worked closely with Edward L. Deci, • Communicate in an informational of Self-Determination Theory, to develop Information helps employees understand their workNeeds-Based Coaching, which helps leaders at all levels and make wise choices. Controlling or judgmentalengage employees, who in turn drive business results. communication blocks the three psychological needs. Effective coaching communicates in need-Four coaching skills, applied dependably, support supporting ways.internal motivation in employees to grow their • Generate opportunities for choice. The way thatexpertise and apply it to solve business problems. structure, guidelines, and goals are positioned for(Addressing serious performance issues or extreme employees can support or undermine autonomy.resistance to development is the focus of other skills.) Effective coaching offers meaningful choices and allows active involvement consistent with all three needs. coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance | 5
  6. 6. The Startling Impact of Rewards The practical goal of shaping a motivational workplace isSDT research over several decades sustained business performance and results driven by internally-has confirmed a number of motivated people.surprising facts about the impacton performance of external Giving Needs-Based Feedbackrewards or incentives. Skill in giving feedback helps leaders support the internal motivation of employees to grow their knowledge and expertise. Employees• Rewards consistently gain internal motivation when work allows them to satisfy their undermine sustained, psychological needs, including autonomy, or make decisions about long-term motivation and their own activities. Yet organizations require employees to work performance. While rewards within firm guidelines and timeframes. give a brief boost, motivation When an employee’s choices clash with organizational needs, falls off sharply once people get effective leaders share information and redirect efforts—in other the reward. Further, internal words, they give feedback. Giving feedback without undermining motivation suffers if employees internal motivation is a serious challenge for every leader. feel controlled by incentives. When employees learn to expect Feedback that reliably brings results takes an employee-centered rewards, performance declines approach, including: in their absence. And excessive monetary rewards can drive • Genuine two-way dialogue unethical behavior. • Clear reasons for required structures and actions• Offering rewards for something employees already • Collaboration on solutions and next steps like to do undermines • Explicit links between a solution and the employee’s motivation and performance. psychological needs Employees may feel controlled, not motivated, by rewards While a leader’s every action affects motivation, few conversations offered for something they are as vital as giving feedback to align individual activities with like to do. These rewards group and organizational needs. The goal of all effective feedback is can undermine enjoyment, an employee internally motivated to take the appropriate steps. effectively turning “play” into “work.” Realizing Talent in Others• Rewards make it more Employees have latent talents and existing skills that leaders difficult for employees to be often fail to leverage. Turning these talents into capabilities is a creative and solve complex leader’s most important work—and a requirement for long-term problems. Incentivizing organizational success. Supporting this leadership role are SDT creativity—especially to meet studies over the past 40 years confirming that people by their deadlines—can slow progress nature have a strong need to: due to pressure and stress. External rewards narrow • Engage in interesting activities. employees’ focus to a drive to • Succeed at new challenges. the finish line, closing off the making of new connections so • Improve their competence. vital to creativity. • Demonstrate mastery. 6 | coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance
  7. 7. So why do many employees feel disengaged at the The Need/Motivation/Outcome Connectionprospect of job-related growth and development? The essence of Self-Determination Theory, and itsAnd why do many leaders believe that developing value for leaders, may be simply summarized, as inothers is too much effort for too little return? this diagram showing the relationship between needs, motivation, and outcomes:Repairing this disconnect requires a fundamentalrethinking of how leaders develop theiremployees. To realize potential and achieve EMPLOYEE NEED TYPE OF MOTIVATION OUTCOMEbusiness outcomes, it’s vital for leaders to matchthe employee’s need to demonstrate competencewith the organization’s need to succeed. Gain Reward Short-Term Avoid External Gains PunishmentOffering Rewards and RecognitionAs earlier noted, external rewards—cashincentives, trophies, incentive trips, promotions,time off, and so on—are strong medicine that, ifpoorly prescribed, undermine internal motivation. Competence SustainedBut are rewards always bad? Not at all, if used in Relatedness Internal Performance Autonomyneed-supporting ways. So effective leaders avoidcompetitions, for example (where a “loser” may be1 percent less effective than a “winner”), and offerrewards that: • Employees have many needs. Two of them are to• Acknowledge a contribution, rather than gain rewards, monetary and otherwise, and to control future behavior. avoid punishment.• Appear equitable to employees. • If leaders focus on these needs to improve• Appear to employees worthy of the effort made performance, they get back external motivation to or results attained. gain the reward or avoid the punishment. • The outcome of external motivation is a short-While rewards can support internal motivation, term performance gain, quickly followed by a dropthey pale in contrast to recognition, defined in motivation when the reward is achieved or theas spoken or written acknowledgment of an threat is gone.individual or team effort or result. To support the • In contrast, if a leader can help employees satisfythree needs, effective recognition is: their needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy, the result is internal motivation.• Genuine • Timely • The outcome of internal motivation, confirmed by• Short • Interactive extensive research and the experience of effective• Specific • Frequent leaders, is sustained performance over time.Like other coaching skills, offering recognition Leaders are usually relieved to learn that inspiringtakes reflection, observation, and regular use to internal motivation is not in their job description;realize the business and human benefits of needs- that’s up to the employee. The leader’s job is to createbased leadership. a need-supporting workplace that helps employees find continuing motivation in their work. coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance | 7
  8. 8. The Payoff of Internal MotivationForty years of SDT research and hundreds of peer-reviewed studieshave confirmed the many benefits of a workplace in which employeescan satisfy their three basic psychological needs. In summary, theresearch has documented improved:• Job satisfaction • Learning• Engagement • Trust• Self-esteem • Loyalty• Thinking ability • Dedication• Creativity • Performance To realize these benefits, leaders need not delve deeply into thevast research supporting Self-Determination Theory. It’s enough,really, to understand the basics (see sidebar, “The Need/Motivation/Outcome Connection”). To promote increased engagement, improvedperformance, and measurable business results, leaders do need tomaster the practical skills for shaping a workplace in which internalemployee motivation can become a daily reality.8 | coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance
  9. 9. Selected Bibliography Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation And Self-Determination In Human Behavior. New York: Plenum.Amabile, T. M. (1983). The Social Psychology ofCreativity. New York: Springer-Verlag. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “What” And “Why” Of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs And The Self-Assor, A., Roth, G., & Deci, E. L. (2004). The Emotional Determination Of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11,Costs Of Parents’ Conditional Regard: A Self-Determination 227-268.Theory Analysis. Journal of Personality, 72, 47-88. Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Gagné, M., Leone, D.Baard, P. P., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Intrinsic R., Usunov, J., & Kornazheva, B. P. (2001). NeedNeed Satisfaction: A Motivational Basis Of Performance Satisfaction, Motivation, And Well-Being In The WorkAnd Well-BeingIn Two Work Settings. Journal of Applied Organizations Of A Former Eastern Bloc Country.Social Psychology, 34, 2045-2068. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 930- 942.Calder, B. J., & Staw, B. M. (1975). The Interaction OfIntrinsic And Extrinsic Motivation: Some Methodological Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1996). DetrimentalNotes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, Effects Of Reward: Reality Or Myth? American76-80. Psychologist, 51, 1153-1166.Chirkov, V., Ryan, R. M., Kim, Y., & Kaplan, U. (2003). Harlow, H. F. (1950). Learning And Satiation Of ResponseDifferentiating Autonomy From Individualism And In Intrinsically Motivated Complex Puzzle PerformanceIndependence: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective On By Monkeys. Journal of Comparative and PhysiologicalInternalization Of Cultural Orientations And Well-Being. Psychology, 43, 289-294.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 97-110. Herzberg, F. (1968). One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review, 46, 53-de Charms, R. (1968). Personal Causation. New York: 62.Academic Press. La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., &Deci, E. L., Connell, J. P., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-Person Variation In SecuritySelf-Determination In a Work Organization. Journal of Of Attachment: A Self-Determination Theory PerspectiveApplied Psychology, 74, 580-590. On Attachment, Need Fulfillment, And Well-Being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 367-384.Deci, E. L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone,D. (1994). Facilitating Internalization: The Self- Lam, C. F., & Gurland, S. T. (2008). Self-DeterminedDetermination Theory Perspective. Journal of Personality, Work Motivation Predicts Job Outcomes, But What62, 119-142. Predicts Self-Determined Work Motivation? Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1109-1115.Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). AMeta-Analytic Review Of Experiments Examining The Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A Theory Of GoalEffects Of Extrinsic Rewards On Intrinsic Motivation. Setting And Task Performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627-668. Prentice-Hall.Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1980). The Empirical Maslow, A. H. (1965). Eupsychian Management.Exploration Of Intrinsic Motivational Processes. Homewood, IL: Irwin (Dorsey Press).In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 39-80). New York: Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation And Personality (2ndAcademic Press. ed.). New York: Harper and Row. coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance | 9
  10. 10. McGregor, D. (1960). The Human Side Of Enterprise. Vansteenkiste, M., & Deci, E. L. (2003). CompetitivelyNew York: McGraw-Hill. Contingent Rewards And Intrinsic Motivation: Can Losers Remain Motivated? Motivation and Emotion, 27, 273-Niemiec, C. P., & Ryan, R. M. (in press). What Makes 299.For A Life Well Lived? Autonomy And Its Relation To FullFunctioning And Organismic Wellness. In I. Boniwell & S. Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Dewitte, S., De Witte,David (Eds.), Oxford handbook of happiness. Oxford: H., & Deci, E. L. (2004). The “Why” And “Why Not”Oxford University Press. Of Job Search Behaviour: Their Relation To Searching, Unemployment Experience, And Well-Being. EuropeanNiemiec, C. P., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Self- Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 345-363.Determination Theory And The Relation Of Autonomy ToSelf-Regulatory Processes And Personality Development. Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work And Motivation. New York:In R. H. Hoyle (Ed.), Handbook of personality and Wiley.self-regulation (pp. 169-191). Malden, MA: BlackwellPublishing. White, R. W. (1959). Motivation Reconsidered: The Concept Of Competence. Psychological Review, 66,Richer, S. F., Blanchard, C., & Vallerand, R. J. (2002). 297-333.A Motivational Model Of Work Turnover. Journal ofApplied Social Psychology, 32, 2089–2113.Ryan, R. M. (1993). Agency And Organization: IntrinsicMotivation, Autonomy And The Self In PsychologicalDevelopment. In J. Jacobs (Ed.), Nebraska symposiumon motivation: Developmental perspectives onmotivation (Vol. 40, pp. 1-56). Lincoln, NE: Universityof Nebraska Press.Ryan, R. M. (1995). Psychological Needs And TheFacilitation Of Integrative Processes. Journal ofPersonality, 63, 397-427.Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-DeterminationTheory And The Facilitation Of Intrinsic Motivation,Social Development, And Well-Being. AmericanPsychologist, 55, 68-78.Scott, W. E., Jr. (1975). The Effects Of Extrinsic RewardsOn “Intrinsic Motivation”: A Critique. OrganizationalBehavior and Human Performance, 15, 117-129.Shapira, Z. (1976). Expectancy Determinants OfIntrinsically Motivated Behavior. Journal of Personalityand Social Psychology, 34, 1235- 1244.Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science And Human Behavior. NewYork: Macmillan.Skinner, B. F. (1971). Beyond Freedom And Dignity. NewYork: Knopf.10 | coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance
  11. 11. About the AuthorsChris BlauthDirector of Product Strategy, AchieveGlobalChris spearheads AchieveGlobal’s efforts to developand maintain products that will prepare leaders atall levels of an organization. Chris holds a B.S. inAccounting and Finance from the University at Buffalo,and an MBA in Marketing from Canisius College.Craig PerrinDirector of Solution Development, AchieveGlobalCraig is a thought leader who works cross-functionally and with clients to guide creation of arange of responses to market needs. Since 1986 hehas played a central role in developing the company’sflagship programs in leadership, sales, and customerservice. Craig holds a B.A. and M.A. from SanFrancisco State University. coaching redefined: How internal motivation can fuel performance | 11
  12. 12. About AchieveGlobalIn the 21st century, the level of human skills willdetermine organization success. AchieveGlobalprovides exceptional development in interpersonalbusiness skills, giving companies the workforcethey need for business results. Located in over 40countries, we offer multi-language, learning-basedsolutions—globally, regionally, and locally.We understand the competition you face. Your successdepends on people who have the skills to handle thechallenges beyond the reach of technology. We’reexperts in developing these skills, and it’s these skillsthat turn your strategies into business success in the21st century.These are things technology can’t do. Think. Learn.Solve problems. Listen. Motivate. Explain. Peoplewith these skills have a bright future in the 21stcentury. AchieveGlobal prepares you for that world. World Headquarters 8875 Hidden River Parkway, Suite 400 Developing the 21st Tampa, Florida 33637 USA century workforceTM Toll Free: 800.456.9390© 2011 AchieveGlobal, Inc. M01400 v.1 (12/2011)