Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Building intrinsic motivation, part of Motivating and Engaging Employees.
- Motivation at work has been studied for decades. One of the most basic areas of study concerns the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If you viewed my other course, Managing Teams, here on lynda.com, I briefly discuss this concept. But let's take this a little further and see how they interact. So, intrinsic motivation refers to motivation driven by enjoyment of the work itself. It exists within a person and not due to any external pressures or rewards. The more intrinsically motivated a person is, the more they engage the work voluntarily and try to improve.
When a person experiences intrinsic motivation, they are interested in the work in and of itself, not just completing the job to earn praise or compensation. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of a person. It's an outcome to be received in exchange for doing the work. Some extrinsic rewards are monetary, such as a paycheck or a bonus. Other rewards are non-monetary in nature, such as praise or time off from work. In addition, though not useful as a standard operating procedure at work, negative outcomes, such as threats, can serve as extrinsic motivators.
Just remember, fear-based motivation is never your best answer. There are two major ideas to remember with regard to intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. The first is that overuse of extrinsic motivators can take the focus away from the work, and place it squarely on the reward to be achieved. This is a common scenario at work. It goes like this. A well-intentioned boss sees the need for motivation in the team, or sees a good opportunity to thank the team, and the first simple thing that comes to mind is to give them something - company golf shirts, gift cards, or maybe tickets to a sporting event.
These are not bad things per se, however, the way we use them often does cause a problem. We use the "give them things" approach too often, and then predictably, the team starts to expect these types of rewards. The focus begins to shift away from the purpose of the work towards doing the work simply to receive the rewards. Now that I've told you about the danger of extrinsic motivators, here's the second idea to remember. Extrinsic motivators can have a positive effect without harming intrinsic motivation, but only if there is no excessive use of extrinsic motivators leading to the effect mentioned a moment ago, and the reward or feedback clearly affirms the person's competence and gives them some information about how to improve.
Under these conditions, extrinsic motivators can be very useful. Overall, however, your focus should not be on clever ways to use extrinsic motivators. It should be on maintaining or increasing intrinsic motivation. When structuring work for your employees, remember these four intrinsic rewards, and think about how you can help your team experience each one. First, is a sense of purpose. Do they see the work as meaningful? Your goal is to help them see that they're doing something of value, something that matters.
Next, is a sense of choice. The team needs to feel that they have meaningful control over their work. Your goal is to set the direction and define the goals, and then try and get out of the way and trust them to accomplish the work correctly. They also require a feeling of competence. When they put out great efforts or when they achieve meaningful milestones, your honest gratitude is a huge source of satisfaction and pride for the team. Finally, they need a sense of progress. Tasks take time and projects can be long. Providing feedback to show them how far they've come shows that you have confidence in their abilities, and believe they will achieve their goals.
Sometimes people think that understanding motivation is complex. It's not. Just remember the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and be sure not to overindulge in extrinsic rewards. If you follow the tips we just discussed, you'll strengthen an internal sense of motivation, and help the team feel a sense of purpose.
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- Assessing employee engagement
- Providing autonomy
- Building a transparent culture
- Modeling desired behavior
- Using monetary and nonmonetary motivators
- Fostering accountability
- Developing career paths for employees<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.