Understanding Motivation

REVIEW: Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… And What Does by Susan Fowler

One of the joys of ebook collections from my library is that I can easily borrow half a dozen titles at a time and read as much or as little as I like. I find that it is almost always a mix of titles. Susan Fowler’s book covers the topic of motivation in accessible and practical terms. It is the best framework for understanding motivation that I have seen so far in my exploration of the literature.

At first, I thought I was reading it to learn more about how to motivate others–and I did learn something about that. But I learned more than I expected about how to motivate myself. She describes the psychological needs that people require to be met in their work: Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence. This alone is interesting to evaluate. When a team is working well, do each of the members have all three needs met? What does that look like? And when an individual or team is not doing well, is there a change that can facilitate a work environment that supports these needs?

Leaders can no longer use the carrot or the stick. Leaders are designers of the environment, facilitators of balance, and providers of resources.