I heard two news pieces recently that I think have implications about the nature of work and compensation. (At the end of this posting, please do NOT mess with the clocks in your office.)
First, a research piece in Psychological Science by Aaron Sackett ran an experiment to see if one could reverse the adage, “Time flies when you’re having fun” into people believing they were having fun, if time felt like it was flying.
And guess what? It worked.
Professor Sackett ran a series of experiments where the same task was administered, where each participant was told that the task took 10 minutes, but the researchers varied the actual time given for the task. People were told the task was 10 minutes, but was in reality only 5 minutes assumed they were enjoying themselves more than other test subjects. (Yes, they took away cell phones and watches.) Our minds are compensating for the discrepancy in our internal clocks, translating it into enjoyment.
Daniel Pink has a new book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. coming out in a few days. I have no advance copy of it, but I have it on order from Amazon now. If you’ve read the War for Talent or Work Sucks , it sounds like some of the ideas will be familiar to you, but it punches home to a mainstream business audience that the way to motivate people is NOT a $10 gift card. I enjoyed this quote from Mr. Pink in the interview:
“There’s a lot of research that shows that if you apply a contingent, external rewards on something that’s inherently interesting, you can actually extinguish someone’s interest in that activity. There’s a famous study where a whole group of kids who liked to draw, and if you brought them in and said if you draw I’ll give you a shiny certificate, the kids would draw, and then two weeks later they were no loner interested in drawing – that this intrinsic motivation is very fragile, and a lot of times these external motivators can dampen it.”
Can I get an amen?
I’m thinking the next time I hear, “Let’s come up with a new incentive package”, I may plunk down the money to buy everyone in the room the book first 🙂
Happy New Year everyone.