KATHMANDU: The debates over extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are never ending among management critics and leaders. The motivational factors that we consider are extrinsic and are measured on monetary terms.
The intrinsic factors and acceptance of freedom of thought and action plays an important role in triggering such motivation.
Daniel Pink, the author of bestselling book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us divulged interesting perspectives on employee auto-nomy. Employee autonomy is a rather unconventional way of deriving maximum benefits for organisations intrinsically.
The example of Atlassian, an Australian software company, is worth mentioning. Every quarter, employees receive rather unusual directives from managers. They are allowed to work for 24 hours on anything, from anywhere, and with whomever they wish. They present their projects developed during the 24 hours to the company the next day.
They work without monetary benefits during the one-day of employee autonomy.
We might think that such actions could lead to disastrous products, but the results reveal just the opposite. Employees were found to create new product ideas that never emerged before and hundreds of bug fixes for their existing software. So why do
employees perform better during a single day even defying the general economic theory of reward system that says, “If you offer rewards, you get more of the behaviour you want.” In the cited example, perhaps the reward was freedom to do whatever they wanted for a day.
The overall idea of employee autonomy is freedom during work. The manager virtually moves out of their way for the day. It is
essential that such culture is developed in the company to support radical activities.
Motivational factors have a lot to do with leadership. The motivational factor that Atlassian has identified and acted upon seems radical and unmatchable for our work culture. It is rather sad that we tend to sway away from goals and visions in doing regular and tedious work. The break that Atlassian provides to its employee is a great example of how leadership actually hinders proper organisation despite putting extra
effort to fulfil organisational goals.
Atlassian is a glowing example of how, even without monetary benefits, leaders can extract more from employees. This is an
enlightening case that we can replicate. If we follow the same principles, I am sure any organisation can harness unimaginable productivity.
(The author is the MD, trainer and consultant of Aadhar Development Pvt Ltd. Also the founding member and consultant of Catalyst for
Transformation Pvt Ltd, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)