3 things that motivate more effectively than a paycheck

Money is viewed as the most important motivator by many managers, especially in sales. Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter says three other “M” words are more important drivers of workplace perfor­mance: mastery, membership and meaning.

In fact, says Moss Kanter, money is a distant fourth. Compensation runs out of steam quickly as a source of sustained performance, she states in a recent article at Harvard Business Review online (hbr.org).

The high-performance teams she wrote about in her book “Confidence” focus on the work and its impact. To tap the three M’s, she says leaders at all levels should rethink how they define their strategy, jobs and culture.

Mastery: Help people develop deep skills. Stretch goals show faith that people can shape the future rather than being victimized by it, and find pride in constant learning.

Membership: Create community by honoring individuality. Community solidarity comes from allowing the whole person to surface, which means going beyond superficial conformity to know what else people care about. Encourage employees to bring outside interests to work. Given them frequent opportunities to meet people across the organization to help them get to know one another more deeply.

Meaning: Repeat and reinforce a larger purpose. Emphasize the positive impact of the work they do. As part of the daily conversation, mission and purpose can make even mundane tasks a means to a larger end.