For the EVOLution of Business

Beyond Employee Engagement: The Psychology of Intrinsic Motivation with Rich Ryan

Episode Summary

Professor Richard M Ryan is the co-developer of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and is among the most cited psychologists in the world. Although many employers have recognized the value of measuring employee engagement, focusing only on outcomes can be counterproductive, while instead measuring the factors of SDT that drive engagement can provide more actionable insights to create a culture that supports employee autonomy and maximizes both individual and collective potential. Tune in to this episode to learn how to EVOLve a culture with intrinsic motivation, how fulfilling psychological needs impacts health and vitality, and how the principles of SDT can apply to leadership, parenting and increasing civic engagement! Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education within the Australian Catholic University. He is also Professor Emeritus at Univ. of Rochester. He is co-developer of Self-Determination Theory, an internationally recognized theory of human motivation and author of over 450 papers and books including Self-determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation Development and Wellness. Ryan is among the most cited researchers in psychology and social sciences today, and has been recognized as one of the eminent psychologists of the modern era. He has also been honored with three lifetime achievement awards for his work on motivation, personal meaning, and self and identity, and received an honorary degree from the University of Thessaly and an honorary membership to the German Psychological Society, among other honors.

Episode Notes

[1:45] The legacy of Self Determination Theory
Get an overview of SDT here:

[2:30] How Rich developed his interest in motivation

[3:30] Partnering up with Ed Deci

[4:30] Replacing the then-dominant paradigm of behaviorism  with Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence

[9:30] The continuum from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation

[14:00] The social/environmental influence on intrinsic motivation

[16:00] Giving feedback that improves, rather than undermines employee motivation

[18:00] "We don't exploit the potential we have inside our companies. We do that by getting the point of view different people and taking advantage of all of those inputs, but people don't do that unless they feel like they have a voice that will be heard."

[19:30] Applications in psychotherapy, in schools, in workplaces
Learn more about motivation works here:

[22:30] Why compensation is a symptom, but often not the cure to disengaged employees

[23:45] The drivers of engagement and why employees should be given feedback on their engagement surveys

[26:30] Creating values and mission statements that support autonomy

[29:30] Why autonomy does not mean "no rules"

[32:00] How leaders can support autonomy

[33:45] Bringing SDT to video games
Learn more about how Immersyve is developing video games that engage players:

[36:45] Designing a company culture for intrinsic motivation

[39:00] Bringing play to the workplace

[41:00] Creating authentic relatedness and belonging

[42:45] How fulfilling psychological needs impacts employee health, energy and vitality

[45:00] Being an autonomy-supportive parent

[47:00] The intersection of mindfulness and SDT

[49:15] Measuring what matters inside the organization

[51:00] Why outcome-based reward structures can be counterproductive

[52:30] Bringing autonomy to civics and activism