People Management

The Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Mar 09, 2022 | By Jenna van Schoor
The Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation - Global SACAP

A crucial part of understanding human behaviour is getting a handle on what motivates us. Does the promise of a reward motivate you to complete a task? Or does it have to be enjoyable to drive you to achieve results?

Psychologists have studied the topic of motivation for many years and narrowed it down to internal and external and motivation. Let’s look at the difference between intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivation.

What is intrinsic motivation?

We can classify intrinsic motivation as doing an activity or completing a task because you enjoy it. The satisfaction you get from doing a task is enough to make you want to do it in the first place.

Making an effort to study because you have a genuine interest in a course topic is an example of intrinsic motivation. The enjoyment of learning and acquiring knowledge are intrinsic motivators.

Apart from enjoyment, other motivating factors in this category include purpose, growth, curiosity, passion, self-expression, and fun.

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is finding the inspiration to do an activity because there is the promise of a reward. Therefore, your inspiration to achieve, succeed, or complete a task is because you’ll receive praise and recognition for doing so.

An example would be studying because you want to pass, complete your qualification, and apply for a job. Alternatively, you might want to further your studies.

Other motivating factors include promotions, pay raises, bonuses, benefits, prizes, perks and winning.

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation might seem like the best encouragement to do something. Why should you do it if you do not find value in a task or activity? Extrinsic motivation can sometimes be seen as negative, as it could be used to coerce someone into doing something they do not find fulfilling.

However, neither of these are essentially positive or negative. It’s more about how the types of motivation are used and understood. Understanding the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can help you assess your priorities and strategise how to tackle certain tasks. Understanding your motivators can help you determine where to exercise grit and determination and fulfilment that drives you.

Of course, one can motivate many activities simultaneously by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators! However, studies show that if you are intrinsically motivated to do a task and rewarded for doing it early on, you could lose interest. A healthy balance is using both types of motivation in your life, so you are consistently engaged, and inspired to grow and develop yourself further.

How to manage and motivate people

It is beneficial to look at your own personal motivators when creating new habits or setting personal and professional goals. Understanding what drives you as an individual, and the people around you, can help with building connections and leveraging the power of collaboration.

In a professional context, knowing how to motivate yourself, and other team members, is crucial in reaching targets and ensuring continuous business growth. Those in management positions often feel the pressure of having to encourage staff to achieve specific goals. Therefore, understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors is a valuable tool for management, as not all aspects of work will be inherently enjoyable.

Depending on your current job role, the size of the business, and the industry you work in, getting through challenging times might require you to exercise grit and determination. Incentivising staff can be helpful motivator. Rewards such as promotions and pay raises (extrinsic) can drive staff and assist with creating a motivating work environment. Making time for regular check-ins to assess if a role is fulfilling (intrinsic) and aligns with an employee’s goals, and sense of purpose, contributes to employee wellness.

While many continue to work remotely, we would argue that staying motivated is even more critical in the workplace than ever before!

Learn more about managing and motivating people with SACAP Global

If you’re looking to further develop your skills as a manager the Managing and Motivating People course will provide you with valuable skills to encourage and inspire your staff. Through videos, readings and discussions, you will learn how to motivate and inspire people to be their best.

Explore current theories and approaches that inspire people to succeed within the workplace. Look at why staff engagement and employee wellness is essential for organisational success, and most importantly, learn how to apply these new insights and skills to your current working environment.

Contact us for more information or register today.

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