When work needs to get done and the going gets tough, we need to somehow procure the motivation to keep going. This, in the face of an ever-growing array of digital distractions and dwindling focus, can be our savior.
It’s only a matter of motivation and inspiration to get something done effectively and accurately. Chris Roebuck, author of Lead to Succeed, says that an employee’s motivation to perform comes down to 43% emotional and 57% rational. When we talk about the emotional aspect, roughly 80% of it can be directly controlled by the worker’s manager. He believes that managers who can tap into the emotions and desires of employees are the ones who will beat out their competition.
Here are the most common types of motivators which managers need to know for employee motivation.
The Two Main Categories of Employee Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is where the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from within. A person feels compelled to perform a specific task, because it fulfills an innate desire or its results align with a deep-rooted belief, and therefore attaches a certain importance to it. Our deepest desires have the highest motivational power. For instance:
- Acceptance: The need to feel accepted is deeply ingrained within us. We all feel a need to be accepted and liked by our co-workers
- Curiosity: As they say, curiosity killed the cat. Nobody likes to be kept in the dark. We all want the latest dibs on what’s happening.
- Honor: We know that we need to be ethical and respect the rules in place.
- Independence: we don’t want to feel like we are dependent on anyone. We all feel like we are unique.
- Order: We all feel a need to be more organized.
- Power: We all want to be able to exert a certain degree of influence over others.
- Social contact: Being social animals, we all crave some social interactions.
- Social Status: We all want to feel importance, to be considered an authority.
Extrinsic employee motivation is where the individual’s motivational stimuli are coming from outside. Let’s say that instead of being motivated by the need to feel healthier or look better, bob is being coaxed by his wife into improving his physique and slimming down so that she will continue to live with him. Since his desire to tone down a notch is coming from outside, this is what we call extrinsic motivation. When applied to an average workplace, extrinsic motivation could include:
- Organized activities
- Promise of a promotion
- Benefit packages
- Employee of the month award
- Salary raise
- Threat of a punishment
Minor Forms of Employee Motivation
1. Motivation from salary
Money is one of the biggest incentives that can push even the most languid of us into action – as anyone with a job can tell you. However, an extrinsic motivator like salary only works when there are some intrinsic motivators behind it. Edward Deci, a psychologist at Rochester University, is of the opinion that salary alone doesn’t suffice to drive us and that there are three deeply ingrained needs that fuel financial motivation: sense of feeling connected to those around us, competency, and autonomy. In fact, he goes as far as to say that overemphasis on financial reward can even kill intrinsic motivation.
Many companies use financial incentives like bonuses, salary raises, and commissions to push employee performance. For instance, if you complete X sales by the weekend, you get Y extra cash. However, here is the catch: even if you have already maintained a perfect balance of intrinsic and extrinsic factors when you are offered a performance-based financial incentive, things change.
In a study, participants were asked to play games that tested their motor skills, creativity, and memory. Each study group was to receive a financial reward based on their performance. However, while one group was offered a large reward for their efforts, one group was offered a somewhat moderate reward, while the last was to receive a very small one.
The study concluded that participants of the group with the largest reward performed the worst. This proves that while performance-related rewards can boost employee performance and give them a renewed sense of purpose, there comes a pivot. If the reward is larger than is merited, people tend to become overly focused, which wreaks havoc on their performance.
From this, we can safely venture to say that an excessively large financial incentive comes nowhere near to helping employee performance escalate, as does a reasonably-sized financial incentive when combined with intrinsic motivators. Since reward-based motivation is received only once a goal has been achieved, they will always have something to look forward to, which will make sure that they don’t feel overwhelmed or downtrodden during the journey. The better the reward, the stronger the motivation will be!
2. Fear-Based Motivation
What if you wake up to a dreadful email from your boss, assigning a drastically unrealistic deadline that sounds downright preposterous. What can you do? Fear would ensue, you would feel your palms sweating up. This fear would get you out of bed in a jiffy, head over to your workplace, and do whatever it took to minimize the likelihood of offending your boss.
Fear is one of the biggest drivers behind productivity since we all want to avoid the prospect of punishment or threat or losing our jobs at worst. And while the dread of “due in one day” can’t parallel the absolute throat-clenching horror you experience if a wild boar charges at you, the neurochemical response it produces does work along the same lines. It causes your amygdala, the part of the brain critical in the formation of decision-making, processing emotions, and memory formation, flies off the handle. It sends your body into fight-or-flight mode at the slightest hint of a threat, during which survival is its number 1 priority.
Similarly, anyone who sets a high score by achievement and goal setting knows that accountability plays a huge role in helping you see your goals through. When you become accountable to the general public or someone you generally care about, the motivation you create for yourself is automatically rooted in the fear of failure. This fear helps you to proceed with your vision so that you do not fail in front of those who are aware of your goal.
However, just because fear kicks your productivity up several notches, doesn’t necessarily mean that the work you produce is one of quality as well. When fear hijacks your brain, it diverts your brain’s resources from their usual tasks to perform that survival function; really compromising your decision-making in turn.
When fear is the main motivator, you might feel compelled to work more or harder, but it leaves no room for intrinsic motivation. You might as well chuck learning, curiosity, creative expression, or individuality out the window. And without the basic urge to let ideas flow through or seek out new information, you can’t produce well-rounded work. In the urgency to get done as quickly as possible, your employees can’t possibly be thinking about quality. In a nutshell, fear usually leads to a lower-quality–albeit timely completed–product.
3. Achievement-Based Motivation
Roles, positions, and titles throughout our jobs are important to all of us. Those who are constantly striving to move up the echelon ladder and earn titles, deal with achievement-based employee motivation. One the one hand are people who work well with incentive motivation since they focus on the rewards that come after the job is done instead of the work itself. On the other hand, achievement-based motivation suits employees who reach a goal just for the sake of achievement. This sort of motivation best suits employees who are career oriented and are looking for a boost in their professional life.
A desire to learn and curiosity are traits inherently programmed in each of us. Productivity by curiosity/learning motivates us the most when we are presented with a new type of stimuli that poses optimal challenges outside of our extant knowledge. We feel a pull towards things that we don’t understand or those that fall outside the scope of anything that we have experienced.
Let’s look at what happens inside the brain when we encounter a new experience? As with all types of motivation, Dopamine comes into play when we are curious. Dopamine neurons exhibit two modes of activity: phasic and tonic. When in tonic mode, neurons fire at a steady rate, mirroring the “general strength of animals’ exploratory seeking tendencies”. While in the tonic mode, you are more your normal self, walking around listening, seeing, smelling.
In the phasic mode, neurons exhibit short bursts of activity or inactivity as a result of a specific stimuli, causing your dopamine levels to oscillate between an all-time high and low. While you may feel a compulsion to look at a weird looking tree in the tonic mode, an unusual sound from that tree may transition you into the phasic mode, making you yearn to discover the source of the noise. This form of motivation leads to a more thoroughly researched, fleshed out final product than other forms of motivations.
5. Affiliation Motivation
Some people say that ‘who we know’ is more detrimental to success than ‘what we do’. For people driven by affiliation motivation, this couldn’t be more apt. Those who use affiliation motivation as a driving force get the reward when they connect with others in higher power positions than them. They live for recognition and praise and can’t be happier than when people compliment their achievements or superiors sing praises of their work. Affiliation motivation helps you move up in the world and achieve your social goals.
6. Competence Motivation
Do you want to be better at what you do? Is it your dream to be the best at what you do, be it your job or a recreational activity, perhaps a sport? If you are nodding in affirmative, competence motivation is your cup of tea. This form of motivation would help you push yourself to transcend the boundaries of what you can do and become more competent in your area. This type of motivation helps when you are trying to find your ways around unprecedented obstacles or striving to learn new skills to progress in your career.
7. Attitude Motivation
Most of us face problems in our own beliefs, perspectives and attitudes. A problem with our beliefs, perspectives, and attitude can get to the point where it can cause us to lose our happiness and fail to realize our dreams. If you feel like you are missing out on your life a lot, all due to your attitude towards life, attitude motivation will help you let go and move forward. This kind of motivation helps those who are willing to change the way they see themselves and the world around them. Attitude motivation will help you accomplish goals associated with self-change and self-awareness.
8. Power-Based Motivation
This sort of employee motivation fuels individuals who thrive off their power and find happiness in creating massive change or gaining a voice of authority over others. Through power-based motivation, you can urge others to seek more control, especially via seeking a certain role or position in an organization. Although it sounds bad, power-based motivation helps those who want to change the world around them based on their personal vision. Power-based motivation is the only way to go when you are looking to change the way things are.