Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace

by | Feb 26, 2015 | 0 comments

The concept of rewarding is one that has been a big part of learning in the workforce, in the home and in the development process for as long as we can remember. Humans develop a basic need for positive reinforcement at a very young age and it continues to help them learn new skills as they grow into their adolescent years. In their adult years, these forms of motivation can be key for progress in adults. But while it may be easy to give everyone a pat on the back and hope it will motivate them to do a good job, not everyone has the same type of motivation, this is where intrinsic and extrinsic motivation come in.


Extrinsic: This is the type of rewarding we associate with younger kids growing up. Extrinsic motivation comes from external influences and factors. Whether that’s a “good job” or an award plaque of some sort, some people are motivated the most by positive reinforcement.


Intrinsic: Conversely, intrinsic motivation comes from internal sources such as the rewarding feelings that come from fulfillment and self-actualization. People who are motivated by these are driven by their own aspirations to be better.


A large part of deciding how –as a boss, team leader or coworker–you will help push your team, is getting to know what kind of motivation would be most effective for them. The first step is determining who on your team is an intrinsically motivated and who is extrinsically motivated. Once you’ve determined this, you can go on to decide how it’d be best to reward or encourage them. As you may have guessed, there is no one-size-fits-all for making people feel motivated to do better. Both types demand unique reinforcement, this is not to say it’s difficult, but there are small things you can do to help give your team the boost it needs.


Rewarding extrinsically motivated people:


  1. Verbal praise
  2. Monetary gain (raises if appropriate)
  3. Awards/Plaques & Certificates
  4. Good reviews (if warranted)

5.   Vacation time


Rewarding intrinsically motivated people:


  1. Verbal praise
  2. More responsibility
  3. More freedom
  4. More opportunities to expand their craft
  5. Leadership opportunities




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