What Really Motivates You (And Your Employees)

Dan Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Miind, provides expert insight on motivating yourself and your employees.



What common assumptions should business owners avoid when dealing with their employees?

One is assuming that people are like machines—if you press the right levers in the right way, they’ll do what you expect them to do. Second is assuming that without being threatened by a stick or enticed by a carrot, people will just sit there and do nothing.

Starting with these assumptions defines—and limits—your options, and leads to big mistakes.

Q: What are three important changes a small business owner can do to help motivate employees?
  • Do whatever you can to provide employees with more autonomy over their time, their team, their task and their technique.
  • Encourage people to supplement traditional performance reviews by doing their own performance reviews, e.g., setting out monthly goals, then self-evaluating at the end.
  • Infuse the workplace with a purpose larger than simply making the numbers or increasing earnings per share by two cents this quarter. Supplement the profit motive with the purpose motive.
Q: Your book Drive encourages readers to ask “Was I better today than yesterday?” Is there a risk of putting too much pressure on one’s self by always trying to answer “yes”?

Definitely. So edit the question and ask, “Was I a little better today than yesterday?”


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About the Author

Daniel Pink headshot Daniel Pink is the author of four provocative books about the changing world of work — including the long-running New York Times bestseller, A Whole New Mind, and the #1 New York Times bestseller, Drive. His books have been translated into 33 languages.

A free agent himself, Dan held his last real job in the White House, where he served from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. He also worked as an aide to U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich and in other positions in politics and government.