Using The Right Type of Motivation

What motivates you? Is it money? Recognition? Centuries ago, motivation was driven by searching for food, water, and a safe place to sleep. Those basic needs pushed humanity forward. When economies began manufacturing, the motivation factors for humans changed. The world became more complex, where the search for food and water no longer guided us. Nowadays, we rely on extrinsic motivation to produce goods and services, where the type of motivation stems from external rewards and punishment. The strategy behind it enforces that rewards reinforce desirable behaviour and consequences prevent the undesirable. 

You can see how the strategy works for the modern day office worker. If an employee earns a high salary in a corporate role, they will be more likely to respond more effectively in their position. On the flip side, if an employee is given a written warning because they continually run late, the consequence is to demotivate their current behaviour. 


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Type of Motivation #1: Extrinsic Motivation


When you think about it, money is the most apparent form of intrinsic motivation. Sports franchises offer athletes obscene contracts, certain professions earn attractive salaries, and companies offer decent bonuses and commissions. While money is tangible, there are also intangible factors which drive motivation. We can see external rewards through praise, fame and public acknowledgement. Extrinsic motivation can be used for different goals. If there’s a reward tied to a task or outcome, you can be motivated to complete it.

Here are some examples:

-Working for the benefit of receiving money

-Buying one item, accepting the other for free.

-Using frequent flyer rewards.

-An athlete transferring to a different team for the sole benefit of winning a championship

In the workplace, employers create an extrinsically, motivated culture. Organizations work on the premise that staff are driven by reward and punishment. It’s assumed that if teams weren’t encouraged by receiving rewards and consequences, they would have no enthusiasm or reason to work.


Type of Motivation #2: Intrinsic Motivation


To be intrinsically motivated means in its simplest form, to do something enjoyable and exciting, without seeking external rewards. For example, I’m motivated by writing and creating content, where I’m happy not to be given any external rewards. However, if you told me to pick up a shovel and start digging, I’d want some form of external reward. For whose who are Intrinsically motivated, they prefer to dictate how they work and provide themselves with some form of autonomy. Because they enjoy what they do, the rewards are internal, and their actions are voluntary. 

Here are some further examples:

-When an athlete performs in their chosen sport, motivation might be in their competitive nature.

-You learn a new language because of your interest in exploring new things, not because it is a job requirement. 

-If you volunteer at a nursing home, it might because it brings joy and fulfilment.

When we found our motivation is low, it can be because external rewards continually confront us. As children, we are driven by internal desires to learn more and discover. When we start to grow, we are prone to being programmed by societies need for extrinsic motivation. For example, we are told that if we get good grades, we go to university. If we work for a week, we get money. It’s often the case we slowly start to lose more internal motivation because our focus is on extrinsic rewards. On our journey to adulthood, our genuine dedication to certain things decreases with age.


Which Type Of Motivation Should You Work On?


We’re all different and behave in different ways. What motivates you can be completely different to the next person. Some of us are more intrinsically motivated by tasks, and others see the same activities in the opposite way. While both are effective in their own right when improving, we should attempt to use external rewards sparingly to minimize the effects of low intrinsic motivation. 


Promote Intrinsic Motivation


We are confronted by a different motivations. To create long-lasting encouragement, you should set up your environment that radiates internal rewards. Here’s list of factors to take into consideration when seeking intrinsic motivation.

Curiosity. When learning and mastering a skill, be curious about it. Notice the discrepancy between present knowledge and think about what could come of it when engaging consistently. 

Challenge. When we challenge ourselves, it helps us work at optimal levels continuously, while staying consistent towards our goals.

Recognition. Humans have a desire to be appreciated. When our efforts are recognized, satisfaction becomes a reward and provides a boost of intrinsic motivation.


What Motivates You? A Couple of Tips


While intrinsic motivation can be seen as the ideal method of encouraging you long-term, they are both influential. Here are some final examples. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager of a team, or a solo sole contributor, recognizing what motivates you and understanding when you’re using too much of one type is key to working on your long-term goals.

You’re a people manager. Use extrinsic motivation sparingly. Bonuses, commissions, promotions and prizes are an effective way to motivate your team, but make sure you give team members time and resources to explore skills and projects they’re already excited about independently (Google do this exceptionally well). Do this without making it part of their daily responsibilities, which could decrease motivation.

If you’re a sole contributor. Work for the rewards you want, but don’t exhaust yourself in the pursuit of extrinsic rewards. Take time to enjoy other aspects of your life to keep living in a balanced and effective way.