Gilbert Brenson-Lazan
Amauta International, LLC

Dr. Daniel Pink has again revived the debate about “high pay gets you high performance” with some studies at M.I.T.  Research done with students there and then validated with other groups including such diverse groups as rural farmers in India, has conclusively proved that higher monetary incentives do not result in better  performance, but rather worse performance.

There is one catch:  if the performance depends strictly upon  mechanical skills, it will respond favorably to monetary reward, but if the performance also depends upon cognitive skills – conceptual, creative thinking – then it will not. It all goes back to what we learned from Herzberg in the 60s:  substandard pay will generate dissatisfaction, but just paying well will not create satisfaction and its resulting high performance.

Pink’s Trilogy of Performance emphasizes three elements that we have previously talked about in these blogs: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose:

AUTONOMY: Control will get you compliance but only accountable autonomy will get you engagement and workplace passion.

MASTERY: Proficiency, challenge and opportunity to contribute continue to be key elements in personal motivation and, therefore, in performance.

PURPOSE:  When there is a clear and real vision and purpose shared amongst all, and there is no disconnect between profit and purpose, optimal performance can be expected.

If you want to see a delightful 10-minute presentation by Pink on this topic, with great graphic illustrations, go to:




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