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.

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

Emily Couey
Director of Human Resources

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

What a refreshing change from the half-baked psycho-babble you normally get from training and consulting organizations. LSA gives you the practical and results-oriented assistance you need to define and reach your goal.  They provide a results driven plan – not just a temporary fix. They are great to work with, and even more importantly, they “get it!”

David Fiano
Vice President Human Resources

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

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

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

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

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

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 helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

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