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Moving Beyond Intrinsic Motivation

November 09, 2016 Dilip Barot

For years, the leading theory in motivation has involved extoling the virtues of intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation. However, the latest research indicates that even intrinsic motivation is not enough to gain optimal performance in the workplace. The newest results of research points out the legitimacy of moving beyond intrinsic motivation and assigning value to the work they do.

As many people know, extrinsic motivation is based on tangible rewards that a person receives. This type of motivation occurs outside of the individual and can include fiduciary rewards such as money or emotional rewards, such as favoritism or an alteration of behavior based on what is received. Research has always pointed to the failings of extrinsic motivation as a temporary measure that cannot be sustained long term. The reason for these failings are two-fold: motivation will lag once the reward is removed or increasingly larger rewards have to be granted in order to sustain motivation. Another threat to extrinsic motivation is that the individual will start to feel overwhelmed by the work.

Traditional studies on motivation point to intrinsic motivation as long-term and sustainable. Intrinsic motivation theory relies on the fact that good feeling of accomplishment. Intrinsic motivation is internalized to the individual and relies on the principle that work is its own reward. Therefore, it is considered more sustainable and long term.

However, modern research suggests that while intrinsic motivation is important, it is not the end of the motivational spectrum. Modern leadership theory holds that in order for a person to truly remain motivated, that a sense of ownership must be involved. This increased sense of ownership creates three sets of optimal performance:

  • Alignment, where an individual’s goals are in synchronization with that of the company. With alignment, ownership is implied because the person strives to what is in the best interest of the company and sees that as the same interest he or she holds.

  • Integration, where implied ownership exists because the person sees an organizations goals as meaningful and purposeful.

  • Inherent, where the company’s goals follow instinctual goals of the individual. Ownership is apparent because the goals of the company fall in line with the individual’s sense of self.

In terms of employee motivation, moving beyond intrinsic motivation involves the positive influence of encouraging workers to take ownership of their work. In many ways, this ownership can be likened to that of any ownership relationship versus that of leasing. Owners tend to invest more time and care into something that belongs to them, assigning it value based on that stock that they have. Employees who value their product and see it as an extension of themselves will produce more in less time and of better quality.

Dilip Barot

Dilip Barot is the Founder and Chairman of Etech Global Services. Mr. Barot uses his vast entrepreneurial experience to establish the strategic direction of the company and prioritize business imperatives. His success story has been published in several national and international publications like Forbes magazine – “Imported Entrepreneurs” and Reader’s Digest – “Keepers of the Dream.”