How to Inspire Different Types of Motivation

Different types of motivation

Motivation / August 25, 2022

ecosystem.jpgMotivation is not an easy thing to master, but the reward for getting it right can be massive.

Much of the challenge comes from the varied and individualistic nature of motivation. Everyone is motivated by slightly (or dramatically) different things, and in different ways. Despite those variances, there's always a common thread you can follow to find success.

Motivation is personal, but you don't need to roll out an individualized motivation program for each person on your team. Understanding the major types of motivation and some of the things that drive them will help make any program more effective, and more universally applicable.

Incentives and Motivation

There's a subtle, but important delineation to draw between motivation and incentive, and it's that point of distinction a lot of programs fail to make.

Incentive is something you can provide anyone with in an attempt to motivate them to take (or not take) an action. You might provide incentive for someone to do something, but if that incentive fails to provide the critical level of motivation to inspire action, it's simply a cost center.

Let's use an example:
You've got a huge deadline you need to meet, but there's not enough time in a standard business day to get it done. You declare, "free skydiving lessons for anyone willing to stay late and help me out with this."

employee-motivation.jpgThat incentive might be extraordinarily attractive and motivating to some, and utterly unappealing to others. Among those who are motivated by it, that same incentive could provide different types of motivation.

One taker might be driven to accept because skydiving is a critical step in their personal growth, while another might find it to be a convenient way to save on their monthly skydiving bill. Others might be actively deterred from staying late to help out, because the thought of skydiving terrifies them.

That's why it's important to understand how different motivators work together, and how they sometimes don't - particularly in the context of your own unique team.

A Motivational Ecosystem

The two main categories of motivators are intrinsic and extrinsic - but don't mistake their categorization as a polarized relationship. Many extrinsic motivators are closely related to intrinsic motivators, and each can have a significant impact on the other in what could best be described as a motivational ecosystem.

Extrinsic Motivators

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside an individual. It's something that a person can earn, but cannot produce themselves. These are the motivators you have the most power to directly influence through incentives.

Pay is probably the most common incentives organizations use to motivate employees, because it's one of the simplest. But it's not the only way, and it's not necessarily the most impactful.

Here's the biggest challenge with pay: it's a fungible and finite resource.

If you pay someone more to do something, the motivation you're providing only exists while you continue to pay them more. When the money runs out, so does the motivation.

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