Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
Work Ethics

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Dan Petrenko's portrait
Dan Petrenko
Head of Customer Success
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation is a crucial component in our lives, especially in our jobs. People work for many different reasons, but there are some common reasons that motivate people to do better, and they can be splitted into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and that is what we are going to talk about today. Read carefully and learn some new tips about what motivates your employees.

Extrinsic Motivation

Judging by the Extra, you might have guessed that extrinsic motivation is something that comes from the outside. It is the basic, most common and the easiest motivators like money, recognition, praise, grades, something that is most easily reachable. Of course, it comes with its big minus: this type of motivation is really short-lived and can’t be something that will work for long periods of time. Besides, it is very addictive: when you give your employee more money, chances are they will come back for even more in a month or two. Basically, extrinsic motivation is the most managers’ tool of choice, like a carrot and stick method. You either do something and get a reward, or you don’t and you get the stick. While being crucial to every job position, you should not use too much extrinsic motivation, because it will never be a good thing in the long run. External reinforcement must be used with caution, and in doses. Let’s focus on its good sides. External stimuli is a good thing when not overused. Just remember why you do your job, the basics. It would be kind of hypocritical to say that we do not do it for money: it is the way our world works, we do everything for a cause. Some people might say that they work because they love to, and it might be so, but the bills won’t pay for themselves. That is why money is the most important part of extrinsic motivation. Competitive compensation makes people stay motivated, and makes boring and not so interesting tasks more or less worth doing. There is one thing that is constantly overlooked: praise. Even a couple of good words can do good. Not only money motivates people, but recognition too. Let your worker know that you see what they do good, and they will try to do it even better. Tip: do it privately, not in front of others. It will feel more honest, and will mean more to your employee. But what makes external motivation show its bad sides? Like we discussed, it can be overused. When over motivated by money, rewards and whatnots, people, in fact, can become less motivated and lazy. It is basic psychology: why do better, if I am that comfortable the way I am now? That is why you, as manager, must use extrinsic motivation with caution. It is a thin line between not enough and too much, I know, but I am sure that you will find the perfect way to motivate your employees using this method.

Intrinsic Motivation

Unlike extrinsic motivation, intrinsic focuses on something internal, something that comes from the inside. To be intrinsic, motivation has to be personally rewarding and done not for monetary gain, rewards or praise, but for your ego. You might think that it is a bad thing, but it’s actually true. When you have internal motivation to do something, you want to do it to satisfy your internal desire to succeed, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain: you spend a good portion of your life on a job, and it is an important way of self-realization. Your desire to succeed and dominate is only natural, and doing your job better than others is the only civilized way of showing your superiority. Think about this: do you actually like your job? If you do, you should be deeply motivated from the very beginning. When you like what you do, when you enjoy it, you satisfy yet another important internal need: the desire to absorb information. It is quite simple on the outside, we are always interested in learning something new, and we can’t live and function normally without it. When you are short on new information, you can easily lose your internal motivation due to stagnation, and it is never a good thing. Another cause for this type of motivation might be your personal interest. You might be simply interested in the activity that you are about to do, and when it is so, chances are you will be the most successful and efficient in doing it. As a manager, you should try to understand your employee’s uniqueness. Every person is different, and they can be very good at something, because of that motivation, and that is what you should be looking for. Give them the tasks that they are most interested in, and the results will not be long. Give them a challenge, and they will succeed. A good thing to do might be having a talk with every employee every now and then, maybe even an informal one. Your goal should be to try and understand them. That is why HR is so important: managing people and trying to balance a company's best interests with employee’s needs and abilities is hard. Try to adjust what company needs with people who work for it, and not backwards, and it will do wonders, I assure you. Today, we all learned (or revised) a very important thing: motivation and how to make people motivated through intrinsic and extrinsic methods. Do not overuse them, and try to find the perfect balance. Remember, that your company’s success depends on every single employee.