What Drives and Motivates the Conceptual Age Workforce? In Drive, Pink’s book on motivation, we learn that external carrot and stick motivators that worked for the Industrial Age workforce aren’t effective for the current workforce and certainly won’t meet the needs of the Conceptual Age workforce.
“Type X behavior” in workers was a good match for the Industrial Age. Characteristics of “Type X behavior” includes being driven by extrinsic rather than intrinsic rewards and being less concerned with the satisfaction of the work and more influenced by external rewards. Alternatively, the Conceptual Age workforce is brimming with “Type I behavior.” This behavior is characterized by being driven by intrinsic desires rather than extrinsic ones and being less concerned with the external rewards of an activity and more motivated by the satisfaction that the activity itself brings.
Pink describes three essential elements of Type I behavior:
- Autonomy. This is the desire to direct our own lives. There is a need for autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with) and technique (how they do it).
- Mastery. There is an urge to get better and better at something that matters. Mastery requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable. This demands effort, grit, and deliberate practice. Even then it’s impossible to fully realize, making it simultaneously frustrating and alluring.
- Purpose. There is a yearning to do what we do in the service of a greater cause. People who exhibit Type I behavior seek something larger than themselves.
For the Conceptual Age workforce, their work has to matter. They must make an impact on their workplace and in their world. Tom Davenport, author of Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results and President's Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College, adds that knowledge workers like these “don’t like to be told what to do, they work best when working with other people in social networks, and are better led by example than by explicit management.”
Wait, there’s one more thing . . . The new workforce faces a common enemy of the information age: time constraints. Multitasking, dynamic, high velocity work environments leave little time for training and guarantee distracted learners. Putting work on hold for a training course is a luxury most workers can’t afford.
Time constraints have been a workplace constant for many years, and too often they haven’t been addressed adequately by the Training Monarchy. Lisa Pedrogo, Director of Training, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. elaborates in the book Learning Perspectives: “People are more productive than ever because of technology; yet, they have less time than ever because of technology. If ever a clock ticked on training, now is the time to embrace short, blitz, educational sprints. Customers simply cannot step away from their work for extended periods of time unless they are focusing on soft skills improvements.”
We all know the takeaway from this . . . we must keep it brief and relevant. “Content must shrink and look more like Nano or Micro Learning — 99% of our effort is focused on the macrolearning (typical e-learning engagement of an hour or two hours, a day, etc). We have smaller 1-, 2-, and 5-minute learning opportunities throughout the day . . . In the future, learning will be smaller and more project based,” explains Elliott Masie, learning futurist, anaylst, researcher.
With those forces impacting and shaping today’s workers, it’s time to break free from monarchy . . .
NEXT . . . Behold The Learning Democracy