Motivation theory in real life – with Daniel Pink’s “Drive” and Kolind/Bøtter’s “UNBOSS”

Motivation theory Daniel Pink

By Erik Korsvik Østergaard, 10. October 2012

This article describes how I use Daniel Pinks “Drive” and Kolind / Bøtters “Unboss” in my work as a people manager.

Motivation – how?

The method is boldly snatched from Daniel Pinks book “Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, which is very recommendable (and very easy to find on Saxo.com and Amazon). Daniel Pink examines the theory here, in this famous TED video. In addition, it is seasoned with inspiration from Kolind (@Kolind) and Bøtters (@boetter) “Unboss“.

When being a people manager

I have people management responsibility for a couple of handfuls of employees, and I use the terms from this motivation model daily, at department meetings, at 1-to-1 conversations with employees, and at employee development interviews.

The model describes the three factors needed to create inner motivation. The book meticulously examines the individual factors, decomposed into elements, very well documented.

I had a need to bring it into a Danish context, which resulted in the above poster. I expect that it is self-explanatory.

Unboss plays a big role in my breakdown of autonomy, mastering and purpose.

  • I try – as often as I can – to offer the tasks in plenary, and increasingly the employees volunteer for the tasks themselves. However, it is a long journey that I am very careful with, because people are not used to it.
  • To me, mastery is about the task being juuust a little too big, so there is an intellectual, discipline-related, domain-related or communicative challenge in it.
  • I often talk about the purpose, “The WHY”, as the vision and benchmark for our work. (“We produce green electricity and help making the world a better place.”). Then we talk about the task and how it adds value to systems or projects.

I’ve created this poster that hangs size A0
on my wall behind me at work:

Figure out what it takes for each employee

As people manager, the task is to figure out what it takes for each employee

  • to get stressed,
  • to get annoyed,
  • to kill motivation,

so we actively can engage in dialogue to avoid such impacts and situations, and remedy them when they occur.

Read our blog series of how not to get stress here >>

Personally, I get stressed if someone robs me control over my own time. And I am most annoyed by micro-management. And highly unmotivated if I cannot use my creative intellect for problem solving.

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