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Utilizing Intrinsic Motivators

Remember, motivation is just a fancy word for wanting, so whether it’s an intrinsic or extrinsic reward, you can’t make somebody want something. However, there are ways that you can move the intrinsic motivations (feed the fire) that already exist within a person. First, since we’ve established we can’t create these motivations, can we really assume that they already exist? Usually, but not always. There will always be a portion of the workforce that for whatever reason has chosen to disengage. Reigniting engagement in this group is a subject for another blog. Today we’re going focus upon people who still care about their careers.

Intrinsic motivators are the “why” a person does a job and about how a person feels, so we’re going to get super touchy-feely right here. Any intrinsic motivator can be the conclusion of the following statement:

I find my work fulfilling because…

Now let’s try this exercise extrinsic motivators.

I find my work fulfilling because…

  • …They pay me. (Money)
  • …I have health insurance. (Benefits)
  • …I get vacation time (Benefits)
  • …My work gets acknowledged (Public Recognition)
  • …I get lots of positive feedback. (Praise)

Did you notice the same thing I did? It would be pretty ridiculous (and shallow) for a person to claim their work was fulfilling because they get paid, have health insurance, or get vacation. But to say that your work is fulfilling because you are acknowledged for your accomplishments or you get positive feedback certainly makes sense. Public recognition and praise are clearly extrinsic rewards; they are tangible (visible) and are offered by a third party. BUT they do wonders on supporting the intrinsic motivators responsible for the “fire in the belly”. Quite simply, they are fuel for the fire.

As a manager, how do you feed the fire of Intrinsic motivators (WHY someone is motivated) with extrinsic motivators (the WHAT that you can control)?   


Seth Preus

Seth Preus is an advisor to Mivation, and the creator of both Racing Snail and Leaderboard Legends.  As a thought leader, he uses his 25 years of experience in sales, software development and business ownership to change the equation from “How can I get my team to perform?” to “How can I get my team to WANT to perform.”

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