It’s common for me to have conversations about how to motivate people to accept change. For those of us who are early adopters, it’s not a problem; we kinda like doing something new.

But, from those whose favorite radio station isWII-FM*, I hear this song:

“This new process looks harder, not easier. In fact, you’re making everyone do the same thing, whether it’s the way they personally prefer to do it or not. So to make up for that, you have to incentivize us, by givingus _____ (free lunch, time off, a book, gift card) sowe will want to do the change, since we don’t get any personal reward out of making amore value-added or more reliable process.”

I haven’t usually agreed with this statement, as presented, for a number of reasons. Buthave any of you tried to motivate through extrinsic rewards, such as gifts, rather than working through intrinsic motivators, such as pride at a job well done? Are there some situations where it’s not only acceptable, but almost required to provide this kind of external incentive? Or should we never consider using these types of motivators?

And, are people who want to be “motivated” in this way, just poor employees whoshould be moved into a different role? Or sent off to the Employee Assistance Program for attitude adjustment?

In the few times I have used gift cards or other small tokens, to say “thanks for your effort,” I’ve had mixed results. Some people are very appreciative while others ask, “Is that all I’m worth?”

So I’d like to ask for your experiences – have you tried using these types of motivators or incentives, and has it worked? It would be great to get some guidance on this.

*WII-FM stands for, “What’s In It For Me?”

**And I know that “incentivize” is not really a real word, yet somehow I am hearing it more and more often!!!

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