Chief Learning Officer magazine is a trademark of Mediatec Publishing Inc. All clomedia.com and Chief Learning Officer magazine content Copyright 2013 MediaTec Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. It is illegal to copy, reproduce or publish any information contained on clomedia.com or in Chief Learning Officer magazine without express written permission from MediaTec Publishing Inc.
How Do You Motivate People to Learn?
Some say it’s best done with extrinsic, perhaps monetary, rewards. Others argue it must be based on intrinsic factors such as a desire for self-improvement.
In his 2010 autobiography Life, Keith Richards describes the moment he became disengaged from school as a child. “Technical drawing, physics, mathematics, a yawn, because it doesn’t matter how much they try to teach me algebra, I just don’t get it, and I don’t see why I should,” he wrote. “I would learn it, I could learn it, but there’s something inside of me saying this is going to be no help to you, and if you do want to learn it, you’ll learn it by yourself.”
Though he may have been reasoning his way to his eventual fate as a millionaire guitarist in the Rolling Stones, Richards hits on a point chief learning officers must grapple with: learner motivation and how to best facilitate it. To truly reach learners, organizations need to first communicate to learners why what’s being taught is important and then get them to want to learn it for their own benefit — in other words, motivate them.
Kevin Stephens, a vice president at performance-improvement consultancy Excellence In Motivation, spoke of how motivation and learning have to co-exist. “Motivation without learning is not very effective,” Stephens said. “Motivation without learning; you end up with energized incompetence. And similarly, learning without motivation you end up with inert brainpower — a stagnant brain swamp instead of a brainstorm.”
But what if learners are not motivated to even participate in corporate learning programs in the first place? Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, considered this. “First, I wonder if employees have much discretion over what they learn, how they learn it and when they learn it. If the programs are one-size-fits-all, as many are, that can thwart autonomy and lead to disengagement,” Pink said. “Second, one weakness of some programs is that they’re all trees and little forest. That is, they concentrate on the minutiae of how to do something, but ignore the reasons why learning it is important. It’s all content and not context.”
An important distinction to make in considering motivation, particularly as it relates to learning, is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, a central consideration of Pink’s book Drive. It argues that motivation by extrinsic factors, such as monetary rewards, is outmoded, and motivation today should be based on intrinsic properties, such as a desire for self-development.
The Next Generation of HR: What’s Wrong? What’s Right?
May 23rd 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
Get the Magazine