Misconceptions about Motivation

What motivates people?” No question about human behavior is more frequently asked nor more perplexing to answer. Yet knowing what moti¬vates another person is basic to establishing and maintaining effective rlations with others. It is absolutely fundamental to the practice of management— the art of getting things done through people.

Our folklore in general—and especially in the world of training and employee development— abounds with contradictory maxims offered as descriptions of human nature and behavior. We say on the one hand, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”; but we also point to the “Pygmalion Effect,” which demonstrates that our expectations about others can change-their behavior in significant ways. The weight of the evidence, in fact, inclines toward the latter view of behavior.

What follows are 10 “truisms” about motivation— and my explanations of why all are false. Continue reading