Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation to Create High Performance

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation A cartoon businessman chases money on the end of a fishing pole

How to Use Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation to Create High Performance
Most leaders want to inspire their teams to perform at their peak.  Most employees want to feel motivated to do their best work.  Unfortunately motivating the behavior and activity of others is a complicated endeavor; not all leaders know the difference between intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation to create high performance.

The Definition of Extrinsic Motivation
In general, extrinsic motivation refers to influences from outside of the individual that drive them to do something.  Extrinsic motivation at the workplace typically refers to behavior that is directly influenced by and driven by external and tangible rewards such as:

  • Pay
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Profit-sharing
  • Fringe benefits
  • Improved working conditions
  • Promotions
  • Praise

The Definition of Intrinsic Motivation
While extrinsic motivation is tangible and arises from outside of an individual, intrinsic motivation is intangible and comes from the inside of an individual.   This is the major difference between intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic motivation can be as simple as the delight and contentment an employee feels after successfully completing a worthwhile task.

Daniel Pink recently wrote a book, Drive, outlining three types of intrinsic motivation:

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to continually improve at something that matters
  • Purpose – the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves

Is Extrinsic Motivation Effective?
Extrinsic cash incentives have long been used in the workplace to motivate employees to work harder, faster and better. It was believed that these extrinsic incentives would raise the level of employee engagement and performance while helping to build a culture of high and talented achievers.

But are incentives truly effective? Do they work?

  • Pay, Bonuses, Commissions and Profit-Sharing – Experts say to be wary of using monetary incentives to increase employee engagement. A meta-analysis in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels.  We believe extrinsic monetary rewards are most effective when the tasks they reward have a specific cause-and-effect outcome and require drive and focus.
  • Praise – Most research on praise asserts a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative praise and interactions motivates and occurs on high performing teams.  Our Best Places to Work data tells us that employees who receive positive recognition are more productive.  So authentic, warranted and proportional praise appears to be an effective performance motivator in the right circumstances.

Is Intrinsic Motivation Effective?
Research shows that for more complex tasks, intrinsic motivation helps to drive higher performance. When the job itself is enjoyable and interesting, employees work harder and with greater focus and commitment without the need for extrinsic motivators. In fact, cash for this kind of work can be demotivating; the work becomes dependent on the prize and when the award disappears along with the commitment.

The kind of work that demands performance quality stands on its own as a motivator. When an employee expends more thought, uses more judgment, and becomes personally invested in the outcome of a complex task, intrinsic motivators can and should provide the drive to succeed.

The Bottom Line
Incentives can be an important component of a healthy and high performance culture if they are carefully matched to your strategy, your unique workplace culture, specific situation and the task itself.   Most rewards are best used for discretionary effort, not work that is expected.  As for more complex tasks that are enjoyable on their own, be careful not to undermine the natural intrinsic motivation.

To learn more about helping your employees to perform at their peak, download Top 5 High Performance Culture Warning Signs that You Should Not Ignore

Comments are closed.

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

We engaged LSA to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.

Ivan Fukumoto
Senior HR Manager - Staffing, Training, & Development

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.

Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

We consider LSA our true business partner in the areas of Learning and Organizational Development. From Strategic Planning to Presentation Skills and Management Training, they continue to provide excellent value and extremely high quality solutions – not just one time events. I recommend them to anyone looking to drive true business results.

Michelle A. Mitchell
Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More