Blog Post

Its degrading

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 19 June 2008



Its degrading
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 97
Posted DateThursday 19 June 2008 15:22 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://michelemartin.typepad.com/thebambooprojectblog//2008/ ... 

Its great to see Michele Martin blogging on the work of Alfie Kohn when she talks about De-Grading the Workplace as I hugely admire Alfie and his work and frequently quote from him.
We have a tendency to want to find "incentives" that will encourage people to learn and engage in new workplace behaviors, but these incentives are often external, such as prizes, financial incentives, good performance reviews, etc. Kohn's research indicates, though, that linking learning to external rewards actually has impacts that are the opposite of what we are generally trying to achieve. Instead, we need to appeal to intrinsic motivators, such as people's desire to help others, getting enjoyment out of the task, feeling like they belong to a cohesive group and feeling like they're contributing to something meaningful.

Michele is talking about the negative impact of external rewards on social media participation; I talk about it more in the context of KM while Alfie tends to focus on education but Alfie's views apply right across the board. Let me conclude with one of my favorite quotes from him (the bolding is mine):
Many of the familiar principles of Quality management amount to an elaboration of this simple truth: an innovative, healthy organization requires that we work with people rather than do things to them.

Credit: Alfie Kohn

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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