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Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – nature of employee engagement and motivation.

When it comes to understanding the difference between rewards that motivate people, it helps to understand which ones have a longer, lasting effect versus those that are momentary and only work like a bit of a flash in the pan. Unfortunately, there’s no general standard that works all the time. People are different from each other and their motivation drives them differently as well. There will be groups that respond to the same motivation, but no particular reward will capture everyone 100 percent. So it’s a smart idea to understand how to work with a portfolio of motivations to move and lead employees to better productivity.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – reward value types

There are two big reward types that define the major categories of motivation:

  • Intrinsic Rewards
  • Extrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards are designed to provide an employee satisfaction when a particular challenge or task is achieved, involving in decision making process, giving a higher rank in hierarchy. These are far more common and come in the form of promotion, social recognition and similar.

Intrinsic rewards are mostly qualitative in nature and cannot be quantified for example more respect, recognition etc. Whereas extrinsic rewards are more of a quantitative in nature.

The opposite of these rewards tend to be forms that cause deep dissatisfaction such as being rejected in a hiring or promotion, taking a pay cut, being disciplined or being fired, but social put into a closet away from the group, etc. The key element in the intrinsic approach is that it is fairly formulaic – specific inputs will result in predictable outputs. Other descriptions for this approach can be mechanistic or a design of cause and effect.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – how to motivate correctly

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivationThe intrinsic motivation is far more complicated. However, it can often produce for better and longer-lasting productivity in employees. This type of reward is personal; people do their work and tasks because they feel a sense of fulfillment in their jobs and careers. The income and accolades don’t matter much. Instead, employees motivated on an intrinsic level will act and work at a higher level because they feel it is for the greater good. This type of employee performance is often seen in politics or government, but it can also be generated in the business world as well.

In the world of sales, clearly extrinsic rewards tend to be the initial motivators. Beginner employees start off trying to generate enough income to continue. When they are then set in competition with each other, the sales bonuses and sales awards provide further formulaic gratification. However, these are temporary boosts to performance, and eventually the employee starts looking around to see where the next bigger opportunity exists. This is why it’s so hard to hold onto stellar salespeople for very long. They just can be promoted or pay-raised far enough. Eventually, someone else offers a better deal and they move on, or they become too expensive and complicated and are told to move on.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – applying to sales teams

If salespeople can be cultivated to develop an intrinsic motivation, i.e. being part of a new program or a new idea, then the salary and bonus chase isn’t necessary. Instead, these employees become emotional and mentally invested in the company to do their best just because. However, once this is obtained, it shouldn’t be abused. Nothing spreads faster than a case where an employee was used hard and then dumped. If it can happen to the loyal one, the same behavior can potentially happen to anyone else. So if a business wants to develop a sales team that are motivated to work for a greater good, they should be valued like gold and utilized wisely with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as well.

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