Motivation is a funny thing. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. What drives your accomplishments?
Motivation can be achieved in two ways – and while both have their own benefits and use cases, one is believed to have a better success rate in both your business and personal life.
👉 Do you work for the money? Push yourself because you want that shiny award?
👉 Ensure your company values speak louder than words or focus on CSR because you like the praise?
👉 Do you find you’re a sucker for business loyalty programs?
👉 Do you love to post where your business travel takes you on social media?
👉 Do you keep your home office tidy and your paperwork organised to avoid your partner or EA from moaning at you?
👉 Do you work on your front garden to keep up with the Jones’s next door?
👉 Do you work best when there’s a deadline?
These are all examples of extrinsic motivation.
You tend to do things mainly because you’re motivated by external factors, whether that’s for the reward or to avoid being punished. Image is everything to you. Nor do you like unpleasant situations and unfavourable consequences.
Externally motivated business leaders are fired up by the status and recognition it gives them, not to mention the financial incentives. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, however some days you won’t always get the rewards you’re looking for.
Within the workplace, it should really only be used for short-term, one-off situations.
👉 Do you do little things for other people – whether that’s random acts of kindness – because it gives you a kick?
👉 Do you get excited about going to the office as you’re keen to learn something new or get better at what you do?
👉 Are you always looking for ways to improve yourself?
👉 Or have an exercise routine because it makes you feel good?
👉 Is business travelling a thrill for you as you get to experience different cultures and lifestyles?
👉 Do you like teamwork because you find collaboration fun?
👉 Do you want to inspire others with your leadership?
This is what’s called intrinsic motivation.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs succeed because they are motivated from within – which means you find what you do satisfying and enjoyable and fill your need for autonomy, competence, and relatability.
Intrinsically motivated individuals tend to love challenges, embrace curiosity and feel satisfied when cooperating with others towards a shared goal. They also appreciate it when their efforts are recognised.
With intrinsic motivation, the very behaviour is reward itself – you don’t need external praise or fear of punishment to do something.
The downside of always using intrinsic motivation is that it’s not easy to quantify – and it usually only works on you or your team members if you are intrinsically motivated.
The Quiz: Are you extrinsically or intrinsically motivated?
Most people experience a mixture of both motivation types within their lifetime but tend to lean more towards one way for certain types of activities.
You may also find that your motivation is continuously a mix of both. What energises and nurtures you the most? Find out by taking this quick quiz!
- You participate in sports because mostly:
- You find sports enjoyable and fun
- You love to win and want to keep physically in shape.
- You spend most of your social time hanging out with:
- Friends and family whose company you enjoy, who you can have fun and be relaxed with
- Individuals who can help you improve your business prospects and/or social standing
- You have a really busy week coming up and there are two projects that could help you secure investment. Which do you choose first:
- A project that is fun but will give you less returns, but has the potential to become regular business.
- A one-time project that is incredibly dull and not quite in line with your target market, but will give you immediate, higher rate returns.
- You have learnt a language in the past because:
- It was fun to experience and learn something new
- You needed the language to improve your overseas client relations
- Your dream client gets in touch wanting to work with you, but the money they’ve put on the table is terrible and they’re not willing to negotiate. Are you most likely to:
- Accept the terms. You’d rather work with a client you love.
- Play hardball and if they won’t budge, decline.
- You arrange regular volunteering opportunities for you and your team mainly because:
- You find it fulfilling work, and it’s not only good for the team’s personal development, it’s a worthwhile cause.
- It’s important to support to show you’re supporting the local community and looks good on the company website
- You take on more clients even thought the books are already because:
- You’ll get a kick out of the challenge and feeling accomplished
- It’s a nice little earner. How can you say no?
If you answered mostly A’s, you’re more likely intrinsically motivated.
If you answered mostly B’s, you are more likely extrinsically motivated.
So what type of motivation is best?
The key to success is understanding what motivates you.
Extrinsic motivation may sound negative, but it can be very beneficial to help propel you forward when you’ve got to do something you don’t particularly enjoy.
During challenging times however, it’s often easier to lean on intrinsic motivation if it’s already built into your mindset.
Here’s the thing: studies show that if you receive more external rewards for behaviour that you already do as standard, that in turn can reduce your intrinsic motivation. This phenomenon is known as the overjustification effect.
What does this teach us? Don’t put too much emphasis on external rewards if you or your team are already self-motivated and acing it without them.
As a leader, use rewards – be that praise or otherwise – wisely. Don’t give them everyday to reinforce good performance.
Instead, use rewards selectively when you need to motivate a team to work extra hard or increase their skill set, such as getting them interested and proficient in using the new company software, for example.
Remember: Rewards don’t need to be a big fat bonus at Christmas. They can simply be:
- Appreciation and acknowledgement of a specific action at work that’s worthy of praise
- Giving your team autonomy to make their own decisions, which will help them feel valued.
- Giving your team interesting challenges to solve themselves and opportunities to shine.
What motivation tactics do you employ in the workplace? Join the Founders Hub community, and join the conversation.