Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation and How to Use Them

July 31, 2018 • Rehack Team


What is that undefinable quality that makes one person strive to be the best they can be? If you’ve ever worked with someone who is driven, then you likely studied them and tried to figure out how to be as motivated as they were. More than likely, their drive came from the inside — intrinsic motivation.

There is a place for both extrinsic (external) motivation and intrinsic motivation, and you can use both to your advantage in business and life. Researchers found you can use extrinsic motivation at first to spur on intrinsic motivation.

Rewarding Productivity

Perhaps your employer rewards effort. If they do, then you have the extrinsic motivation you need to be more productive, which in turn creates the desire to do better — intrinsic motivation. However, if they don’t offer rewards, you’ll need to create your own rewards for productivity.

One of the easiest ways to become more productive is to master time management and overcoming blocks. Set up rewards for milestones. For example, tell yourself that if you finish that big report by noon, you’ll take a nice lunch break at your favorite restaurant.

Knowing the Motivation Types

There are several types of motivation, including extrinsic, intrinsic, social, growth and addiction. Learning which kind of motivation creates the desire in you to work harder allows you to focus on things that will allow you to be productive and engaged.

Recognizing Burnout

When you work long hours without any reward or recognition, it’s understandable that you’ll start to feel burnt out. Recognizing burnout and differentiating it from no motivation is the key to overcoming burnout.

Burnout tends to lean more toward depression due to everyday stress brought on by your job. On the other hand, lack of motivation means you have no desire to perform the tasks your position requires of you. This may be due to boredom, exhaustion or feeling unappreciated.

If you believe you are depressed, seek professional counseling and figure out what steps you need to take to feel better. On the other hand, if you are not motivated, take time to sort through the reasons why.

If your job isn’t challenging enough, talk to your superiors about taking on more stimulating work. If you feel unappreciated, learn to inspire yourself to greater heights, just for the sake of achieving something great. Dealing with a lack of motivation requires creativity and determination.

Inspiring Others

What if your goal is to inspire your workers to be more productive and dedicated? Extrinsic motivation is simple. Offer a reward for meeting specific goals or hold a weekly meeting where you recognize your staff’s achievements.

However, motivating your team to feel inspired on the inside isn’t always as easy. You must learn how to tap into each person’s drive. The best way to do this is to get to know your employees and leaders on an individual basis, so you know what drives them.

One person might feel inspired by a simple word of appreciation, while another needs public recognition. Spend time one-on-one with your employees, so you know what will work for each one. Keep notes if needed. Learn how to inspire them to motivate themselves.

Don’t Rely on One Type of Motivation

It isn’t good to rely on either extrinsic or intrinsic motivation too much. You might think that being inspired from the inside is the best course of action because it doesn’t need external influences. However, without some reward for achieving your goals, intrinsic motivation can flounder.

Instead, offer yourself and your employees both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Over time, you’ll find that your team is more engaged and productive than ever before.