Two Types of Motivation: Extrinsic or Intrinsic

When we think about motivating employees in the corporate environment, Maslow's Hierarchy of 5 Needs is often used as a way to justify the types of recognition or rewards offered.  However, the best companies that are committed to motivating their employees to personally identify and reach a higher performance potential.  Why?  High potential employees are more effective and thus more valuable to the organization.  Employees who are motivated to increase their skills, improve their behaviors, and grow personally – are more flexible and can transfer what they learn to their jobs.

So what motivates people?  Take a look at two types of motivation - intrinsic verses extrinsic – to see what can be learned for recognition and rewards use in business.

·       Extrinsic motivation is caused by factors external to the employee and often unrelated to the task they may be performing. Most rewards programs are around an extrinsic offering (such as money and gifts), which the recipient may be able to use to meet needs 1, 2, or 4 in Maslow’s Hierarchy.  Motivation from external rewards is typically short-lived and requires further rewards to sustain desirable behaviors or attitudes.

·       Intrinsic motivation is related to internal desires to perform tasks or activities because they give the employee pleasure, develop a particular skill, or just feel right.  Examples of intrinsic on-the-job motivators might include:  opportunity to learn something new, work in a team, be on a high-profile project, or collaborate with an expert in an area of interest.  Consider needs 3, 4, or 5 in Maslow’s Hierarchy when trying to make recognition programs that are internally focused.

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