motivate leading to reward is seeing a great sunset

Motivate, setting goals and recognition.

Not everyone has a price to motivate…

It may be a coincidence, or maybe a result of planning cycles beginning their annual re-boot; but we’ve noticed that a number of clients are thoughtfully scratching their chins and debating bonus, incentive, reward or commission schemes (again!) And it causes real angst and debate.

Designing reward structures:

Much of the arm wrestling often appears to hinge upon how to link achievement to reward:

  • Should it be input or output focused?
  • Should it be absolutes or percentage gains?
  • Should it be about skills improvement (and who’s competent enough to assess this)??
  • How high should it be, how wide should it go and how the heck do we measure it anyway?
  • It is cash, is it trophies, is it experiences the MD thinks everyone else should enjoy because they do?
  • Does anyone care anyway, or does everyone take the rewards foregranted?
  • Should we scrap them?
  • Aaaaahhhhh, what should we do?

But does everyone really have a price…and where does intrinsic motivation fit into this?

Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation:

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside a person, rather than from any external rewards such as money or trophies. The motivation comes from the pleasure that person gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task.

An intrinsically motivated person will work on resolving a sticky client problem or untangling a bonkers process just because it is enjoyable. They will work on a solution to a problem because the challenge of finding a solution provides a sense of pleasure and satisfaction.

In neither case does the person work on the task because there is some reward involved (We’re excluding Jaffa Cakes from this, as they are integral to any prolonged brain work!)

Intrinsic motivation doesn’t mean, however, that a person will not seek rewards. It just means that such external rewards are not enough to keep a person motivated…to keep them engaged and committed for the long run…no matter how may vouchers are waved under their nose, or trips to the races promised…

…And then there’s the question about what happens when people don’t even trust how the decisions about achievement and access to rewards get made. How is a reward a reward, if half of your business thinks it’s rigged, or flaky, or patronising and embarrassing?

The danger of too much extrinsic motivation:

And as final food for thought, research has demonstrated that over time too much extrinsic motivation can kill off the intrinsic, and then the trouble can really begin and the CVs get updated.

Buy your way to motivation at your peril; as not everyone does have a price…at least not in the usual currencies.

What next? Take a look at our approach to business or other articles we post on LinkedIn