How to Accomplish Workplace Goals through Intrinsic Motivation



Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation


If we want to understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we simply need to look at the roots of the words. “Intrinsic” comes from the Latin intrinsecus meaning “interior or internal.” “Extrinsic” comes from the Latin extrinsecus meaning “outwardly or on the outside.”


When we translate this into motivational terms, we see that intrinsic motivation is a desire which comes from within and extrinsic motivation is a desire motivated by something that comes from elsewhere. In economic terms, extrinsic motivators can work as positive reinforcement for good behaviors, such as the way a bonus can be given for better work.


But in psychological terms, intrinsic motivation is sure to get you further. This is because intrinsic motivation is (somewhat) under an individual’s control. Extrinsic motivators such as money could disappear or not be offered again. Having an inner desire to do something is a surer way of getting something done.


Three Drivers of Employees


In a Dale Carnegie study, we found three main drivers of employees. When workers feel valued, confident, and empowered, they are more likely to think creatively and produce novel and useful ideas to be turned into innovations. Creative workers take initiative, work harder, and have inner motivations that drive them at work.


In highly creative companies, 64% of employees strongly agreed their managers make them feel valued, 71% said they strongly agree that they feel confident in their skills, and 59% strongly agreed that they are empowered to make decisions at work. In companies deemed less creative, those percentages were much lower: 17%, 29%, and 15% respectively.


Creativity is vital for companies to continue growing and innovating. But it requires a strong sense of intrinsic motivation for employees to want and be able to be creative. So, what is intrinsic motivation in the workplace? And how does that manifest?


Intrinsic Motivation in the Workplace


Managers have the power to influence workers’ intrinsic motivation. And there are many benefits of intrinsic motivation in the workplace. When employees are internally motivated, managers can relax their oversight and allow workers to proceed, knowing they are valued, confident, and empowered to do so. Intrinsic motivation in the workplace also enhances creativity which leads to faster and better innovation.


Finding Intrinsic Motivation


As managers, we must ask ourselves how to increase intrinsic motivation in the workplace. The first step is finding where it lies within each employee. You can help workers:

  • Figure out why they are setting these particular goals

  • Find work they enjoy doing which will likely increase engagement

  • Focus on enjoying the process rather than having attachment to the results

  • Foster creativity by piquing their natural curiosity

Utilizing Intrinsic Motivation


When it comes to utilizing intrinsic motivation in the workplace, examples include:

  • Connecting each employee’s “why” to the large company mission

  • Using acknowledgement and appreciation to keep others motivated

  • Focusing on empowering employees to make decisions and move forward with ideas

  • Training workers and providing continuing education so each employee can feel confident and grow in their position

As managers, we must ask ourselves how to increase intrinsic motivation in the workplace. Since it comes from within, the old tactics of rewards just won’t work. Rather, it’s about engaging with employees by making them feel valued, confident, and empowered. These are the true drivers of intrinsic motivation.

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