Clear Review has joined Advanced - Discover our full suite of powerful and innovative people management solutions

Find out more
Back to blog

6 Motivational Performance Management TED Talks

Microphone - Employee Performance Management TED Talks.

How 95 min­utes will change the way you man­age for the better

These moti­va­tion­al TED Talks will inspire you and change the way you per­for­mance man­age and coach your teams for the bet­ter. From Simon Sinek to Dan Pink, here are our top picks.

No mat­ter what field you’re in or what moti­vates you, there is a moti­va­tion­al TED Talk out there that will speak to you and change the way you oper­ate. There is a gold­mine of valu­able infor­ma­tion and insight out there, all in bite-sized, eas­i­ly-digestible 20 min­utes chunks. 

If you’re look­ing to learn more about per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware, or if you’re inter­est­ed in the lat­est per­for­mance man­age­ment trends, TED Talks can pro­vide you with a wealth of new ideas. 

Below, we’ll explore six must-watch moti­va­tion­al TED Talks that will up your per­for­mance man­age­ment game and change the way you lead your teams for­ev­er. The list is in no par­tic­u­lar order, and each one offers a unique insight into man­age­ment and leadership.

Relat­ed: Employ­ee engage­ment arti­cles you need to read

1. Why Good Lead­ers Make You Feel Safe by Simon Sinek

Run­time: 12 minutes

The first moti­va­tion­al TED Talk I am going to cov­er is Why Good Lead­ers Make You Feel Safe, a talk by Simon Sinek.

Employ­ee engage­ment and employ­ee moti­va­tion are always hot top­ics in the HR world, and it all begins with man­age­ment. As we know, man­agers play a key role in deter­min­ing whether or not an employ­ee will be engaged, and Sinek explores why cer­tain lead­ers are trust­ed and respect­ed, while oth­ers are seem­ing­ly uni­ver­sal­ly disliked.

In his TED Talk, Sinek asks what makes employ­ees accept and fol­low cer­tain man­agers, and comes to two impor­tant conclusions:

  1. Devel­op­ing the right envi­ron­ment (com­pa­ny cul­ture) is crit­i­cal to inspir­ing greatness.
  2. Lead­ing an effec­tive team is like par­ent­ing a family.

Sinek warns lead­ers against cre­at­ing a com­pa­ny cul­ture based on fear. Employ­ees shouldn’t have to con­stant­ly wor­ry their job is on the line — this gen­er­ates com­plete dis­trust and caus­es self-con­­fi­­dence to plum­met. Instead, Sinek says you should pro­vide your employ­ees with the train­ing they need (in the form of onboard­ing and with per­for­mance man­age­ment tools such as per­son­al devel­op­ment pro­grammes), as well as oppor­tu­ni­ty and auton­o­my. Employ­ees need to be giv­en the free­dom to try and, pos­si­bly, to fail. This is the only way they will grow into excel­lent performers.

Sinek argues that when employ­ees feel pro­tect­ed by their lead­ers, their nat­ur­al reac­tion is to trust and to coop­er­ate, which ulti­mate­ly improves per­for­mance. He adds that​“Great lead­ers would nev­er sac­ri­fice peo­ple to save the num­bers, they would soon­er sac­ri­fice the num­bers to save the people”.

Discover how our performance management software can help your business

2. What Makes Us Feel Good about Our Work by Dan Ariely

Run­time: 20 minutes

In What Makes Us Feel Good about Our Work, Dan Ariely cov­ers a top­ic key to great per­for­mance man­age­ment — employ­ee moti­va­tion. In this TED Talk, Ariely dis­cuss­es the fact that even today, man­agers tend to have an over­ly sim­plis­tic view of why peo­ple work. Rather than work being all about mon­ey, Ariely reveals a num­ber of key moti­va­tors (mean­ing, cre­ation, chal­lenge, own­er­ship, iden­ti­ty and pride) that keep employ­ees com­ing back to their desks every sin­gle morning.

Ariely also focus­es on the impor­tance of employ­ee recog­ni­tion. This is an area we are pas­sion­ate about at Clear Review, and in a pre­vi­ous post, we have cov­ered how per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can help with recog­nition of employ­ee accomplishments.

3. The Puz­zle of Moti­va­tion by Dan Pink

Run­time: 19 minutes

The Puz­zle of Moti­va­tion, a TED Talk by Dan Pink, dis­cuss­es the​”Car­rot and Stick” approach to moti­va­tion and explains why this approach is alto­geth­er too basic. Impor­tant­ly, Pink cov­ers the rela­tion­ship between pay and per­for­mance and dis­cuss­es how increased com­pen­sa­tion doesn’t always lead to improved productivity.

Rather than focus­ing on mon­ey, Pink argues we need to explore intrin­sic moti­va­tion. To achieve our SMART objec­tives and excel in our jobs, Pink says we need:

  1. Auton­o­my — Employ­ees need to be giv­en the free­dom to achieve their objec­tives in their way.
  2. Mas­tery — Mas­tery is improved by reg­u­lar one-to-one per­for­mance check-ins and feed­back ses­sions. These ses­sions help to improve com­pe­ten­cy, con­fi­dence and skills.
  3. Pur­pose — This ele­ment can only be cre­at­ed when employ­ees are grant­ed gen­uine trans­paren­cy into the busi­ness, its direc­tion and busi­ness objec­tives. Employ­ees need to feel like they are an impor­tant part of a well-func­­tion­ing, cohe­sive team.

4. The Hap­py Secret to Bet­ter Work by Shawn Achor

Run­time: 12 minutes

If morale is an issue in your organ­i­sa­tion, The Hap­py Secret to Bet­ter Work by Shawn Achor is cer­tain­ly worth a watch. Hap­pi­ness is at the core of this moti­va­tion­al TED Talk, stat­ing that our brains at hap­py are 31% more pro­duc­tive than when we are neg­a­tive, neu­tral or stressed. Shawn also dis­cuss­es the​”hap­pi­ness advan­tage”, explain­ing how when we are hap­py, our intel­li­gence ris­es, as does our cre­ativ­i­ty and ener­gy. On top of this, we expe­ri­ence less burnout and com­pa­nies with hap­py employ­ees ben­e­fit from less vol­un­tary turnover. So if you want to turn your com­pa­ny around, you should real­ly tai­lor your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem to address and improve employ­ee morale.

Relat­ed arti­cle: Fun-filled employ­ee morale activities

5. How To Live Before You Die by Steve Jobs

Run­time: 15 minutes

In Steve Jobs’ famous TED Talk, How To Live Before You Die, Jobs recounts his uni­ver­si­ty expe­ri­ence and gives us some crit­i­cal per­for­mance man­age­ment insights. Jobs dis­cuss­es the fact he dropped out of col­lege, but then​”dropped back in”, tak­ing only class­es that excit­ed and inter­est­ed him. By fol­low­ing his pas­sions, Jobs learned about cal­lig­ra­phy and went on to found Apple, a com­put­ing sys­tem renowned for its beau­ti­ful typeface.

Employ­ee devel­op­ment and cre­ativ­i­ty are impor­tant in terms of per­for­mance, and it is impos­si­ble to say what lessons will be use­ful in the future. It’s essen­tial we give employ­ees the free­dom to chal­lenge them­selves and learn about dif­fer­ent areas, rather than forc­ing them to have an unwa­ver­ing focus on busi­ness objec­tives. Remem­ber, the only way for your employ­ees to be tru­ly engaged and con­tent is for them to love what they do and to put their strengths to use.

6. Why Work Doesn’t Hap­pen At Work by Jason Fried

Run­time: 17 minutes

Why Work Doesn’t Hap­pen At Work by Jason Fried is a moti­va­tion­al TED Talk for for­ward-think­ing busi­ness lead­ers. Fried cov­ers the fact that, in many ways, the office envi­ron­ment isn’t the best place to get work done. We’re sub­ject to dis­trac­tions (in the form of meet­ings and man­agers), and many employ­ees get a decent amount of work done at home, in tran­sit or before or after tra­di­tion­al office hours. This talk chal­lenges the tra­di­tion­al (and out­dat­ed) view that all work should occur in an office and address­es the unrea­son­able (but com­mon­ly held) assump­tion that employ­ees won’t do work if they aren’t super­vised. This is a key talk for any busi­ness that is look­ing to tran­si­tion into flex­i­ble work­ing. It will leave you feel­ing excit­ed about your company’s future.

Total watch time for all TED Talks: 95 minutes

Clear Review has helped com­pa­nies, large and small, improve per­for­mance and engage staff. To find out how our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware can cat­a­pult your busi­ness to greater heights, get in touch with us today on +44 (0)20 3637 4489.


Subscribe to our newsletter for inspiration, ideas and updates on the latest in performance management.

Relat­ed articles

How Do We Make Managers into Better Employee Coaches?
Our latest webinar explores the conundrum of managers who don't coach and asks if we're creating the right environment for our people to flourish.
Read article
How to be a Purposeful Leader During Performance Reviews
By exhibiting these five behaviours during performance reviews, managers can seriously boost performance. A recent study by Sussex University has confirmed that a purposeful leader can make all the difference when it comes to employee performance, commitment, retention and engagement.
Read article