My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Motivation With Personal Performance Reviews

One dreaded part of an individual’s work life is the Annual Performance review. The nervousness, upset stomach feeling and pre-worry that comes before the review; makes it a part of the work environment that many hate. The review is meant to motivate employees but often demotivates and comes across as a yearly despised ritual.

So what really motivates us in our work? Daniel H. Pink in his book Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us . In it he focuses in on three key elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The important thought about the three elements is that they are internal based in the individual instead of external motivators.

With autonomy the focus is freeing up people to do their work with out micromanaging the details of their work. Trusting workers to do their jobs frees them up to not feel like just cogs in a machine. Autonomy builds personal accountability and responsibility for the work and projects, a person is working on. In a micromanaging environment people can not do their best as they have to deal with the un-nerving feeling that they are being watched continuously which they usually are. This creates personal second guessing instead of releasing productive creative new ideas.

Mastery the next element relates to continual self improvement in your work. Pink places a portion of a poem by W. H. Auden in his section on Mastery:

You need not know what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation,
You only have to watch his eyes; a cook mixing a sauce,
a surgeon making a primary incision, a clerk completing a bill of lading,
Wear the rapt expression, forgetting themselves in a function.
How beautiful it is that eye-on-the-object look. – W. H. Auden -

The poem touches on a part of Mastery in one’s work of being in a state of flow. Being at a level where the work just flows with ease with rapt attention to what you are working on. Mastery also enlists a growth mindset of not being satisfied with the mundane but improving towards excellence. Mastery takes discipline and hard work as well. Daniel Pink brings out the example of the 10 year rule research that many people we consider great did not get that way in an instant. It takes on the average 10 years to build their skills before they were discovered or they had their big break. This time frame is based on researching the disciplined habits of sports stars, virtuoso musicians, and artists. Mastery takes time and effort.

The third element is Purpose. Purpose is a powerful motivator as it gives us a reason for what we are doing in our work and lives. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is quoted in the book on the subject of purpose: “Purpose provides activation energy for living.” Purpose provides the energy to keep on going when we don’t feel like it. Creating clear goals helps shape and clarify our sense of purpose. We can have work goals for our vocational life and personal goals for other aspects of our daily living to keep us living more than ok.

Going back to the issue of personal Reviews; one main invaluable part of the book is the ending “Toolkit”. This is where Daniel Pink provides a variety of exercises to flesh out the elements of the book in a practical way for everyday life. One tool I want to share here is the “Give Yourself A Performance Review”. Instead of waiting for the Boss to review you -- review yourself. The example is in the context of work but this will help even in your personal life goals as well.
Once a month find some quiet time to look over your learning goals, performance goals, and/or personal goals. Honestly consider how you are doing on each goal. Is there a way you can improve on reaching your goals or do they need to be revised? Honestly look at the obstacles that are hindering your progress.
This exercise can help with your reaching your goals and may just help you be more relaxed as you face a work review evaluation.

Reflection: Take some time to journal about your purposes you have in your life. What is your purpose in going to your job? What is the overarching purpose for your life? Also Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE is about motivation. Another toolkit idea is to do a Personal Motivational Poster. Try to do one with a phrase you make up as a motivator or a special quote. You can draw or do cutouts of pictures from magazines. Or Daniel Pink mentions websites that help you create motivational posters with pictures you have taken. Check out these websites:

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