Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How To Motivate Creative Employees - The Lego study

In a blog post on the Samuel Bacharach blog titled, 'Leadership, Legos, & How To Manage', Bobak Moazami provides details on an employee motivation experiment utilizing Lego blocks. The study results suggest that employees become less motivated when their labor loses meaning.

When I read the results, my first thought was, Of course, that sounds like common sense. Author Dan Pink calls it Purpose, the need to work at a project that is bigger than oneself.

If this finding is common sense, are project managers using this tool to increase the motivation of their employees? What steps are we taking to show our employees the results of their work? Can I put together a brag book of past successful projects? Can I arrange for senior management to praise workers on their projects, in person or in writing, instead of just having the project manager pass the message along?

Do I register the seriousness of the situation when projects are stopped? When my team is forced to do the equivalent of see their Lego invention destroyed instead of admired and used?

I have a new friend that is an electrician. I asked him if he felt proud of the work he has done. He replied with an excited yes, and told me that he passes buildings he has helped wire in the Capital Region. He could easily list at least a half dozen buildings in Albany alone. How can I give my team a similarly concrete reminder of the successes of their work?

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at

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