Why do we do the things we do? What is it that drives our behaviors?

The answer to this question is motivation.

There are generally two types of motivation models that are used in the workplace, namely:

Extrinsic motivation: This occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment.

Intrinsic motivation: This involves engaging in behavior because it is personally rewarding.

The difference between the two truly lies in the outcome of each model. For example it has been proven that whenever an extrinsic reward is promised as a result of innovative, quick thinking it has the adverse effect. For example, ‘If you come up with an excellent product launch by next Friday, you will receive a R10 000 bonus.’ It is scientifically proven that it (surprisingly) backfires and decreases commitment to a task.

Rewards can transform an interesting task into a drudge. It can turn play into work.

By offering a reward, the employer signals to the employee that the task is undesirable. If the task were desirable the agent wouldn’t need an incentive.

Below is what results from a Carrot and Stick approach (Extrinsic Motivation), otherwise known as the Seven Deadly Sins of Motivation:

  • They can extinguish intrinsic motivation
  • They can diminish performance
  • They can crush creativity
  • They can crowd out good behaviour
  • They can encourage short cuts, cheating and unethical behaviour
  • They can become addiction
  • They can foster short-term thinking

According to psychologists the only time extrinsic rewards work is when we someone is doing a routine task such as packing envelopes.

Cash and trophies are much more corrosive than praise and positive feedback.

In our next newsletter, we will discuss ways to avoid this nasty habit, by aiming for intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic motivation. In order to engage your staff more and reach greater productivity and innovation.

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