A talk about motivation

Listen to the talk about motivation to practise and improve your listening skills.

Instructions

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.

Transcript

So, we think we know how to motivate people, right? Offer them a reward. Do this and you'll get this. Do this faster, earn more money. Do this better than everyone else, here's a promotion. We offer incentives when we want people to do things. We do it at work, at school, even at home with our kids. Tidy your room and you can watch TV.

But when social psychologists test whether incentives work, they get surprising results. Sam Glucksberg, from Princeton University, America, set people a problem to solve and told them he was going to time them to see how long they took. Then he put them in two groups. He offered one group a reward for finishing fast. Five dollars for anyone finishing in the top 25 per cent and 20 dollars for the person who finished the fastest of all. To the other group he offered no incentive, but he told them he was going to use their times to calculate an average time.

The first group, the ones with the reward, solved the problem faster, you'd think, right? Well, no, they actually took three and a half minutes longer than the group who just thought they were being timed. Incentive didn't work. In fact, it made them slower. This experiment has been repeated, with the same results, many times. But in business we still offer bonuses, promotions and rewards to staff.

That's fine if we want them to do something simple, like chop wood. We'll pay you more if you chop the wood faster. An incentive works then. But if we want someone to do something complex, something creative, something where they have to think, rewards don't work. They might even have the opposite result, and make people perform worse. Another study, by Dan Ariely, showed that the bigger the reward, the worse the subjects performed on a complex task. The reward made them focus so hard on the result that they couldn't think creatively any more.

And this all matters because more and more simple jobs will become automated. We'll be left with creative, problem-solving jobs that computers will never do. And we need to find a way to motivate people to do those jobs when we've proved the traditional incentives don't work.

So what does work? Giving your workers freedom; freedom to work on the things they want to work on, freedom to choose when, where and how they work. Want to work from home three days a week, get up late and work into the night instead? Fine. Just do the job well. And evidence shows people who choose the way they work get results. Companies that give employees time during the week to work on things that interest them and are not part of their regular job achieve amazing things. Some of the big tech companies are good examples of this, with ping-pong tables and areas to relax in …

Discussion

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Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

Submitted by Asni on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 23:22

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I have never been interested or motivated by rewards or any kind of material incentives. Instead, I feel delighted when people give recognition for my work, admire and respect what I perform. Also, I strongly dislike rigid and strict rules, I feel more creative and with great positive energy when I'm given some freedom and flexibility.
Recognition and admiration are also its kinds of reward Asni. You're getting something out of what you're putting your energy in. I agree it's difficult to work in such conditions like strictness, people feel less creative in these kinds of circumstances.

Submitted by carlos 2947 on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 18:09

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Hello everyone, after listening to the audio and meditating on the concepts and studies that are exposed in them, I would like to make you participate in two ideas: In my personal experience at work, the spirit of improvement has motivated me more than the economic incentive. On a professional level, I have been responsible for technical teams where the economic incentive was the idea of some but not all, individual economic needs always have the last word. I have observed that when the group of workers forms a team with a clear and fixed idea, the proposed objectives are achieved, either to earn more money or to improve processes
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Submitted by danisep on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 15:37

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At this moment in my life, money is very important to me so I would be a lot motivated if my boss put some economic incentives for achievement in my job, but I'm really motivated for independence knowing that I can support myself, take my own decisions. buy my own stuff and save money to reach what I want, without taking a fee from my parents and let them spend their money only on them.

Submitted by Echo1 on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 08:54

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I do not actually know how to answer this question because I am quite struggling on how to keep motivated in my current job. At first, I really enjoyed being a teacher. Seeing my students go out of the room with newly acquired knowledge on my subject really feels satisfying. But that is not my problem. It is actually the work environment and the toxic people around me in that workplace. This caused me to think about quitting and getting a new job or enrolling to grad school. However, I cannot quit as of the moment and get a new job because this pandemic makes it hard to find one. So I just keep on thinking that I am doing this for the kids and for my country. Sometimes, the money also keep me motivated because I get paid relatively higher than other public school teachers.

Submitted by Radias on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 12:39

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Being surrounded by positive and warm people is the most significant matter that motivated me not to mentioned how much the salary is

Submitted by Ugulhan on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 07:30

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That is a good question, even being here for learning a language we will expect a good comment or feedback of tutor, it could be an appealing evaluation of tutor for students. I think that an incentive can give everyone a lot of motivation to do something. Even If I hear a good word, such as you are doing well this, and I'd inspire by this word.

Submitted by Denise on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 09:19

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The fact of being “ independent” it’s what motivates me in my job,as I’m 21 years old living abroad with no parents.

Submitted by AMOUGOU Abega … on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 11:45

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my motivation in my daily work is when i get better result, but also when my value is recognised.