Autonomy Mastery Purpose: Engage them with Solution Focus

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.


Leaders: 12 ways to ask better questions in 2013

Wondering why last year, good things happened but your performance was just ‘OK’? Was it because many of the things that needed to change remained unchanged?

It’s not leadership style. It’s the questions.

Wondering how to leverage your leadership style in a more productive way?

Wondering how you might better lead in letting your people to make the change happen?

Have you considered…

Changing the way you ask your questions?

Asking people not to bring you their problems, but to bring you their solutions instead?

Not addressing people’s questions with your own solutions?

Helping people clarify the problem by asking what they want to be different?

Asking people to think about the solution they want to create and own?

Being candid – saying difficult things and motivating people to get something done?

Acknowledging people’s idea and asking how it will be, a) useful to others, and b) how they plan to collaborate on the implementation?

Asking how to make people’s ideas fit within the strategy that others are working on?

Getting people to think about the outcomes for their solutions, not just the tactics?

Asking for solutions beyond people’s silos that will work for the customer?

Acting as a coach or mentor vs. a prescriber?

Support people in developing their own productive solutions by asking…

What’s worked until now?

What do you plan to do differently?

What small steps do you see yourself taking to make progress?

In support of this solution focused approach to better questions … change our assumptions about change (Coert Visser)…

If you’d like to help people run better meetings at which these questions are used to help make them be better engaged, productive and creating solutions, try my book Monkey-Free Meetings

“I’ve tried Kay’s Solution-Focus approach in a couple of cauldrons – Operationally, and Board-level Strategic Planning – and it never fails as a remedy against the paralysis of problem-indulgence.” Ray Verdon, Board Director, Canada