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Learning and Development Models – Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Monday 26th of April 2021 Hadyn Luke 26/04/2021

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Learning and Development Models – Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework

What motivates us to get up in the mornings and go to work? The obvious answer is money to pay the bills and fear that we’ll lose our job, but what about job satisfaction? And what motivates us in other areas of our lives?

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the internationally bestselling author Daniel Pink argues that the carrot-and-stick approach to motivation is not the most effective and that there are other forces at play. Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework sets out a blueprint to analyse this further.

What does Daniel Pink assert in his book?

Pink says that the secret to motivation, performance and satisfaction is our innate need to be in charge of our own lives, to continually learn, to be creative and to achieve things for ourselves and the wider world.

He also says that businesses often get it wrong when trying to motivate staff by doing things that go against decades of scientific research into human motivation.

Finally, he puts forward three key elements of motivation:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

How can Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework be put into practice?

Taking each element in turn:

Autonomy – while it’s important for staff to understand what is required from them at work, allowing a certain amount of autonomy, or self-direction, will encourage them to engage more with their work.

Pink says that the key factors in Autonomy are time, technique, team and task: for example, an employee given time to pursue areas they are particularly interested in can lead to new innovations. He also advises flexibility over issues such as working hours, working from home, dress codes and targets.

Mastery – this element is simply about developing skills and getting better at what we do. We all know the frustration of feeling that we are not progressing, which is why offering training to help staff with their CPD (Continual Professional Development) is so important.

When an employee is given a task, it should be at the appropriate level. Pink calls these ‘Goldilocks’ tasks – too easy and the employee will be bored, but too challenging and they will feel disheartened. Projects should be taxing enough to encourage achievement and progression, with the right support in place and a way of measuring and recognising the achievement when the project is completed. 

Purpose – we all want to make a difference and work towards a cause larger than ourselves. This may be on a small scale, in our community or within our department at work. Having purpose motivates us to tackle issues and problem-solve.

Employers can encourage staff to find purpose in their work by connecting them to people, issues and challenges beyond themselves.

How can Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework help us?

It can be difficult to introduce change within a company, but individuals and the organisations they work for can benefit from developing a better understanding of what motivates us all. Whether at work, in a place of education, in a sports team, or elsewhere, creating an environment where people feel they are making a contribution and are invested in the end result should lead to higher job satisfaction, improved performance and increased productivity.

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