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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS EXPLAINED)

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation

Motivation is possibly one of the most discussed topics when it comes to employee performance and business success. We all know very well what motivation is, but don't you think it would be worth digging a little further with a subject that has as much impact?

What is intrinsic motivation? 

Is it better than extrinsic motivation, or not? And then is it so important to know the definition of these terms, after all? Absolutely! Why? We will respond to this shortly. For now, let's start from the beginning. 

A little definition of motivation

How ironic: we all know what it is, but it's hard to find a nice full definition of this term. Then, after all, this definition changes subtly with the context. For example, the definition of Dictionnaire-commercial is somewhat different from that of Wikipedia or that which could be found in a psychology journal. However, in its simplest form, motivation is the reason why we commit actions, no matter which ones.

What is intrinsic motivation?

A person is intrinsically motivated when the reason behind his actions comes from a direct relationship between the individual and the task he performs. In other words, this type of motivation is present when you do something simply for the purpose of doing it, and not because of an external factor or some other reason for doing it.

Let’s clarify this with an example: hobbies can be considered as actions with intrinsic motivation at their source. Do you like reading? Why are you reading? Is it just because you love lounging with a book, or is it because this information will help you get a bonus at the end of the month?

Then now think of your friend who plays hockey in his spare time. What is he doing this for? Is his goal really to join a league and become a professional in this game, or is it because taking part in this activity gives him real pleasure?

Let's be honest: becoming a hockey professional is a very exciting prospect, but if you live a life like everyone else - if you read because you like to read and you play hockey because you love the sport - it means to say that one commits these actions for their own value and not to accomplish a later goal - and that is what intrinsic motivation is all about.

What about extrinsic motivation, then?

This form of motivation is easier to understand because, in my opinion, it is much more widespread than intrinsic motivation. We meet it so frequently that we are completely used to it.

You are extrinsically motivated if the reason you perform a task is related to your immediate environment or to an environment external to the current exercise. If the element that motivates your actions has no direct relation to the task or behavior, you are extrinsically motivated.

Here are some examples of the most obvious and easily applicables, possible!

At school or university, why did you put a lot of effort into your studies? If you said it was to get good grades or possibly a better job, then you were extrinsically motivated. Why do you have a job now? If it is to earn money , to invest, to support your family or even to garnish your savings, you are extrinsically motivated. And the extra work? Do you do it to get a promotion ? Well, big news: your actions are extrinsically motivated.

So when you do something for a later purpose, the motivation is extrinsic - it's that simple!

Theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

This theory, initially presented by Richard Deci in 1975 and enriched by Deci and Ryan (1985, 2002), presents the originality compared to the previous theories, to distinguish two types of motivation according to whether it is "imposed" or not

Intrinsic motivation: 

The action is driven only by the interest and the pleasure that the individual finds in the action, without waiting for an external reward.

The extrinsic motivation: 

The action is caused by a circumstance external to the individual (punishment, reward, social pressure, obtaining the approval of a third person e.t.c.)

These two types of motivations are complemented by a third state: Amotivation


The individual has the feeling of being subjected to factors beyond his control. Amotivation is distinguished from extrinsic motivation by the absence of motivation linked to the feeling of no longer being able to foresee the consequences of one's actions.

Extrinsic or intrinsic motivation: which is better?

It is easy to see why the type of motivation that comes from within would be "superior" to that which is triggered by external circumstances. Wouldn't it be a dream if your employees were motivated just to love their work? What if they do what they do because they would be inherently interested in their tasks and gain satisfaction just by performing them?

In your dreams, yes.

It was a nice picture, but let's get back to reality now. In real life, it is more or less impossible to have an employee who is completely intrinsically motivated. Don't worry - it's not a bad thing!

In fact, most people are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and that's good. The trick is to find out what motivates them and use this information to your advantage as a manager.

Identify motivating factors

The reason we always talk about motivation is its powerful impact on performance. After all, the more motivated you are, the more you perform, right?

Yes, and no.

While motivation is, indeed, an important factor in the equation, there are several other elements that influence employee performance such as personality, cognitive skill and emotional intelligence . However, is it that all of these factors are interrelated? so instead of focusing on one of them at a time, it pays to consider the whole person.

Everyone is different, we know that. So motivations can vary - this is nothing new. Everyone has their own personality, too, and their cognitive skills and their level of emotional intelligence.

So what is the solution?

Know your employees!

Offer them a psychometric assessment, examine the factors that motivate them, become familiar with their strengths, assess their innate traits and get to know facets of them that you were not aware of before.

Then use this information to reach previously inaccessible heights. This higher level of understanding will give you a better insight into the motivating factors of your employees, whether intrinsic or extrinsic or, in all probability, a combination of the two.

It is time to close the debate on intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation and try to focus on the individual rather than on a single dimension of his being. Even if you consider that motivation is a big piece of the puzzle, it is far from being the only one, and having an overall image may be the answer you are looking for in order to improve the overall performance of your employees.

It's worth a try, don't you think?

Intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic, how to excel in a team

We now know that the experience lived by employees within the company directly influences the experience lived by your customers. Happy employees are more likely to provide exceptional service, to the delight of customers. So what motivates a person to give the best of himself at work: 

intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic?

There are external motivations, or extrinsic motivations, that encourage you to perform an activity in order to receive a reward or avoid punishment. Businesses generally focus on these extrinsic motivators, such as salary, benefits, promotions, increases, commissions and bonuses. 

These are effective for many people and in many situations. You have probably heard of the incredible advantages offered by certain companies (prepared meals in on-site restaurants, free laundry, game rooms, nap rooms) in order to attract and retain their employees.

But statistics show that it is not just a question of money. Google, for example, is known for offering incredible benefits, but employees only work there for 1.1 years on average . It seems that a key motivation element is missing.

There are also internal motivating factors, or intrinsic motivation, which encourage one to perform an activity for itself, that is to say that the behavior or activity in itself constitutes the reward. Among the intrinsic motivating factors, we can cite:
  • Great interest in what you do
  • A feeling of being appreciated
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • The pleasure of being challenged

However, in employee motivation practices, intrinsic motivation often takes second place compared to extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsically motivation

“Forget the praise. Forget the punishment. Forget the money. You have to make the job more interesting. "

This was said by Frederick Herzberg, an American psychologist who has become one of the most influential people in business management. His works , published in the 1960s, are still relevant today. They reveal that employees are motivated by interesting work, increasing challenges and responsibilities. These intrinsic factors meet the fundamental need for growth and success for men.

Today, many employees have to manage themselves, especially in teleworking (working from home). They are expected to use their intelligence and experience to organize their activities and achieve important organizational goals. That's why they were hired, right? Five key areas to intrinsically motivate your employees. Make sure your employees:

1. Aim for a meaningful goal

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS)

Employees need to feel that they have the opportunity to do something truly valuable, something that really matters. At Disney, employees are invited to imagine what it would do to a family to see Pluto smoking during his lunch break. There is no doubt that this would spoil the whole experience (and that it would probably be devastating for the children). When employees see the impact of their work on others, they are more likely to give their best. Collaborative work management tools offer visibility allowing everyone to see how their work fits.

2. Choose the best way to achieve this goal

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS)

Give them autonomy and choices. Let your employees choose how to get the job done and use common sense to select and complete the tasks, while remaining reasonable, of course. There is no need to force them to sit at a desk for 8 consecutive hours. Some people are more productive outside the office and others have different ways of organizing their work.

3. Make sure the work is done efficiently

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS)

Give employees a sense of control over their work. Praise and recognition help build self-esteem and encourage employees to develop their skills. When a person feels that he is managing his professional activities well, that his performance meets or exceeds his personal standards and that he is doing a reliable and quality work, he is happier and gets more satisfaction from his work. This translates into a better experience for your customers, whether the employee faces the customer or not.

4. Make progress toward achieving this meaningful goal

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS)

Collaborative work management software displays progress in real time as updates are made. Employees not only feel that their work is going in the right direction, but can also see it. Display the progress of each, of the team, of the different departments but also of the company as a whole. Employees see that things are moving forward, which reinforces their confidence in the choices they have made but also in the future.

5. Work as a team

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation (FULL DETAILS)

Human beings are naturally sociable beings: we need to connect, interact and share. We want to be recognized and understood. Collaborative work management software allows teams to work efficiently, regardless of distances and time zones. It is particularly useful to help remote collaborators to feel that they are part of the "local team", even when they are not sitting in the same office.

Some other motivating factors ...

Of course, there are also many other ways to motivate employees. Help employees focus on a global and meaningful project by facilitating communication and collaboration. You can automate routine tasks to eliminate tedious and time-consuming tasks. This allows you to focus on more challenging, meaningful and rewarding tasks. And when everyone sees the progress of tasks on their personal and team dashboards, it's saved meeting time for updates and debugs. Communication in context places everyone on the same level and helps to ensure the perfect accomplishment of tasks.

Why not give employees 20% of their time to work on what they want, one day a week? Did you know that each year, around half of new Google projects (some of which you use daily like Gmail, Google Maps and Google News) come from the 20% of time that engineers are allowed to devote to projects outside their file? It is however true. What incredible innovations could your team develop?

Collect all the pieces of the puzzle now

Intrinsic rewards create a strong form of motivation, a win / win relationship between the company and its employees. Performance-oriented, they empower employees and meet the needs of both employers and employees for work that effectively contributes to meaningful goals. Intrinsic motivations also don't require a huge budget, so all companies are able to put them in place to improve motivation.

In addition, extrinsic rewards are most effective when linked to intrinsic motivators. The combination of the approach based on extrinsic motivation, with rewards, and an internal philosophy focused on objectives and personal fulfillment will motivate at different levels.

In summary.

the equation is simple: when people are properly motivated, they are happier. The happiest are those who achieve better results and more success at work. Successful employees make customers satisfied. Hence, ultimately, a successful company.

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