Autonomy Mastery Purpose: Engage them with Solution Focus

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Autonomy Mastery Purpose, moneyIt’s not money that motivates people to better performance and satisfaction … according to Dan Pink.

He says money is a motivator, but in a limited way. Surprisingly, it doesn’t encourage anything beyond getting the work done.


Autonomy Mastery Purpose Bad adviceIf in the first place you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated at all. When was the last time you met a highly motivated and engaged employee in a place like your Internet telco supplier, let alone Walmart or McDonalds? They are likely working hard, but are not engaged.
This phenomenon is not restricted to front-line people in the service industry. Have you ever been treated indifferently by a well-compensated lawyer or doctor?


Autonomy Mastery PurposeDan Pink tells us that when we take money as an incentive off the table, higher engagement comes from three things – autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Easy to say, hard to practice?

So, how do we turn these three potentially abstract ideas into action?

Autonomy Mastery Purpose EngagementHow do we make it viable for the individual, then the teams in which they operate?

How do we achieve greater engagement through autonomy, mastery and purpose?

Solution Focus offers one approach and some tools with which to develop the practice. It’s not too complicated to apply the Solution Focus framework of:

  • What’s already working that we don’t need to change (in each of the three elements)?
  • Suppose each element was working really well, what would that look like?
  • Suppose people started to notice a difference right away, what would that look like?

Could autonomy, mastery and purpose become foundational aspects of all organizational improvement? They can certainly help the people in organizations contribute more to better outcomes. It might even mean that the staff increase profit thereby allowing them better compensation.

A big thank you to Dan Pink and the fountain of insights at RSA. The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.