Moving From Extrinsic To Intrinsic – Motivating Your Team

Motivators are important to understand in the world of leadership. We want to know what is driving people in our team. We also want them to be motivated by something deeper and more meaningful than getting a bonus or a pay raise. This is likely to keep engagement and morale high. It is likely to lead to staff retention and a healthy work atmosphere. 

Extrinsic Motivation

This means that our sole motivation is earning a reward or escaping punishment. It doesn’t imply any actual enjoyment of the task. It doesn’t mean that people find their work meaningful or enjoyable. At this level, people are operating at the most basic level of motivation. Without the external reward or punishment, there is no way they would engage. At work, extrinsic motivators could include bonuses, recognition, award trips, or fear of losing your job or getting fined. 

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation means that you find a task or behavior enjoyable in itself. It is its own reward. In the world of work, it could mean that you feel you are making a meaningful contribution. You feel your work is valued and important. You feel motivated by something bigger than external rewards. This kind of motivation is likely to be longer-lasting.  

Making A Shift

Extrinsic motivators played a dominant role in the past when work was very routine. Complying with rules and regulations was paramount, and there was a lot of bureaucracy. This kind of work offers very few intrinsic rewards, so the focus would be solely on extrinsic motivators. 

Of course, extrinsic rewards will always be important. Everybody wants good pay and job security. However, we are moving towards work cultures that focus more on intrinsic rewards. This is going to drive day-to-day motivation at work. 

What Vs Why

Very broadly, we can say that extrinsic motivators focus on the “what”. This can be factors such as work performance, successful presentations, pleasing clients, etc. Intrinsic motivators will focus on the why. Why does my job matter? Why are these tasks important? Asking these questions and finding satisfying answers can lead to a sense of empowerment, creativity, and collaboration. 

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Offering Challenge

Many of your team will have chosen to work in this field because they like the challenges that come with it. As a leader, you can tap into this. You can work with your team members to find suitable career goals. Help them map out a realistic career path within their field. This will help to satisfy their need for a positive challenge. It will also provide clarity on the path they can take. This is sure to provide motivation.

Work Satisfaction

If you give tasks that your team members find meaningful, you will tap into a rich source of intrinsic motivation. To help build work satisfaction, you could help to show your team members how their work helps benefit the company or the community. As a simple example, an insurance worker could be told that showing customers through an hsa guide is helping to save people’s lives. When people understand the positive impact of their work, they will start to develop job satisfaction. 

Giving Choice

If people on your team feel like they are free to choose how they accomplish a certain task, they will feel a sense of ownership and autonomy. Allowing people to use their own sense of judgment and then choose the work tasks that make the most sense to them is critical. Let your team members have some freedom when it comes to performing a task in the way they think is suitable. They will believe in the approach they are taking and will feel more responsible for making it work. 

Competence In Tasks 

If team members feel that they can handle tasks well, they will feel satisfaction and pride in their work. Helping your team to achieve excellence is going to be an excellent intrinsic motivator. If they can meet or exceed their personal standards and see a high-quality output, they will be more motivated. They may even feel a sense of artistry as they accomplish tasks with a high degree of competence. 

Build A High-Engagement Culture

There are some steps you can follow to ensure you are providing intrinsic motivation and building a culture of engagement at work. 

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1. Start With A Meaningful Purpose

Make sure that you start out a project with a purpose that is bigger than just making a profit. Tap into the contribution that your company is making. Talk about how you are helping customers and improving their lives. It is the sense of contributing to something meaningful that will drive your team.

2. Have Intrinsic Motivation Training

Training may focus on helping leaders to recognize their own intrinsic motivation. It could then shift to understanding how to support the intrinsic rewards of their team. Training and coaching will definitely embed these values into management and into the workplace.

3. Focus Your Conversations

Leaders need to be conveying the same message. They can focus on choice, competence, meaningfulness, and progress. When starting any project, you can ask these kinds of questions:

  • What can we do during this project that is genuinely meaningful?
  • What creative choices can we make to help us accomplish our goals?
  • How can we make sure we are doing this work to the highest standard?
  • How can we make sure we are in line with our purpose?

In Summary

Intrinsic motivation means performing a task because it is personally rewarding. It is an effective long-term motivator and will help team members to feel engaged and satisfied at work. Intrinsic motivation is likely to give greater persistence. It will encourage cohesive teams and a higher degree of effort. 

To move from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation in the workplace, there are a few areas you can focus on. Make sure that people find their work meaningful and satisfying. Be sure to give team members choice and a sense of autonomy. Offer them challenges and help them to map out a clear career path. Make sure they have a high degree of excellence in their work, and they will take pride in it. 

To achieve all of this, you can make sure that you always start out projects with a meaningful purpose. You could offer training in intrinsic motivations. Finally, make sure you direct conversations and ask questions to find intrinsic motivators. 

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