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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”.

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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.

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