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Intrinsic Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Extrinsic Motivation: the Basics

Do you want to understand the basics of intrinsic extrinsic motivation?

Workplace motivation can be a difficult and complex subject but it’s still important to understand the basics. Intrinsic extrinsic motivation is a fundamental element of motivation theory.

Motivation can be thought of as a continuum, with values and rewards depicted by intrinsic (internal) elements at one end, and by extrinsic (external) factors at the other. However, such categorization is only a (useful) starting point in explaining what is essentially a very complex and personal issue.

This is one of our Manage in a Minute pages. These contain essential tips on fundamental management topics. No fuss or side-tracks, they get straight to the point. Here, in a series of bullet points which can be read in a minute (ish!), are some essential tips on how to run an effective meeting.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation: means we are motivated by rewards that are largely intangible. This means we place more value on outcomes that are sourced from within, rather than from external factors. Intrinsic motivations can be linked to our feelings. For example:

  • Intrinsic extrinsic motivationfeeling satisfied
  • feeling capable
  • enjoying a sense of challenge
  • reinforcing self-esteem
  • satisfaction at accomplishments
  • general enjoyment in our work
  • feeling appreciated
  • satisfaction at realizing our potential
  • taking pleasure at being treated with care and consideration

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. How can managers promote and support intrinsic motivation in their people? By ensuring the value and achievements of employees is fully, fairly and explicitly recognized.


Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation in the workplace: refers to motivation by external or tangible rewards. We are also motivated to perform by things or factors which come from other people or organizations. Typically these include:

  • salary and what it can buy
  • fringe benefits
  • promotion and its trappings
  • security
  • the physical work environment (such as a better office or car parking space)
  • conditions of work

Often these benefits are beyond the direct control of a line manager and are more often determined at an organizational level. Nonetheless, effective managers should be supportive of colleagues motivated by extrinsic factors, if they are justly entitled to such rewards.


Balancing Intrinsic Extrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic extrinsic motivation can be considered as a continuum. At one end we find some people motivated by tangible, extrinsic benefits, such as salary and the trappings of position.

Managing intrinsic/extrinsic motivation

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Others may be motivated by factors at the opposite end of the spectrum. These people tend to forego the tangible rewards of monetary benefits, in favour of intrinsic or self-satisfaction.

However, to gain the most from the basics of intrinsic extrinsic motivation, it’s perhaps best to remember that people can easily move along any continuum.

Rather than considering these motivational factors as opposites, try to remember that most people are motivated by a combination of the two.

And that such motivation is also influenced by a number of other complex, social and economic factors, such as age, family status, and so on.

For more information you might find it useful to look at our related articles on Workplace Motivation. Or, if you’re still pressed for time, follow this link for the full list of Manage in a Minute pages.

If you want some more insights into intrinsic extrinsic motivation, look at some of the e-guides in the Happy Workplace section of our store.


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