Motivating your team: Self-Determination Theory

Happy business team with raised hands celebrating their success in the office.

One popular model for motivating teams is Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in the 1980s, SDT posits that human motivation is driven by three innate psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

  1. Autonomy: The need for individuals to feel in control of their own lives and to have the freedom to make their own choices.
  2. Competence: The need for individuals to feel capable and effective in their roles, and to have the opportunity to develop and use their skills and abilities.
  3. Relatedness: The need for individuals to feel connected to others, to have supportive relationships, and to be a part of a group or community.

According to SDT, when these needs are met, individuals are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and committed to their work. Therefore, managers and leaders should strive to create an environment that supports autonomy, competence, and relatedness among team members. This can be done by providing opportunities for autonomy, giving employees meaningful work, fostering a sense of belonging, and providing regular feedback and recognition.

SDT is a widely accepted and researched theory of motivation, and it has been applied in various settings such as education, healthcare and business. It’s considered as a useful framework for understanding human motivation, and it has many practical applications for motivating and managing teams.