Its Extrinsic Motivation That Gets All The Attention And Budget, But Its Intrinsic Motivation That Builds Real Competitive Advantage

By | February 16, 2007

Extrinsic Motivation = doing something in the expectation of gaining a reward for doing it.


Rats get chocolate drops for navigating a maze, children get stars on the classroom wall, and salespeople get bonuses or holidays for beating target. When somebody is only doing something for the reward there is a danger of focusing only on the reward, not the task in hand, i.e. beating target is what counts, not the quality of business written to achieve it. Extrinsic motivation works well when the task is repetitive and/or uninteresting, people are incentivised to get through it quickly, not taking any risks and focus in on the narrowest definition of the task as possible. Measuring its success is problematic. If a salesperson exceeds target and earns a bonus that makes it successful. However, if this person is mainly extrinsically motivated, they might not like their job (or themselves) very much and leave for more money or a change of lifestyle. Extrinsic motivation is largely transactional

Intrinsic Motivation = doing something for the love or pleasure of doing it.
Two things lay at the heart of intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction and goal congruence. Most amateur hobbies are about job satisfaction. How often do we hear professional sports people talking about still playing even if they weren’t paid, even saying that if they viewed it just as a job they wouldn’t enjoy it as much, so by implication not perform as well? Goal congruence is about having the same reasons for coming to work as the people (including bosses) we work with. We all behave as if it’s our company, whether it is or not. Somebody who turns other peoples computers off at end of business, or thinks about a work problem in the bath and writes a short note to their boss in their own time, is intrinsically motivated.

It’s intrinsic motivation that inspires people to perform, to really delight the customer and to pro-actively develop their role.

The best sales organisations focus on both these forms of motivation, average ones just use money (extrinsic motivation).

To discuss your own motivation, reward or recognition strategies contact us.

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