Motivation makes the business world go ’round

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Illustration by Terra DeHart

Finding out what motivates an individual is important when creating effective communication, professional success, and finding happiness in work. There are two sources for motivation. The first is an external type, which is also called extrinsic motivation. The second is internal, which is called intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within: The joy of an activity or completing a task is what makes this worth doing. Think of running, skiing, or recreational reading. This article will focus on extrinsic motivation because this particular motivation is the kind the working world usually relies on.

Extrinsic motivation requires reinforcement. Whether we are talking positive reinforcement, like taking raises for excellent performance at work, or negative reinforcement, such as the threat of getting fired for not following the standards of a work environment.

There are several sources of extrinsic motivation. According to a paper published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology by Luc G Pelletier and associates titled, “Towards a New Measure of Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation, and Amotivation in Sports: The Sports Motivation Scale (SMS),” there are three types of extrinsic motivation that can be related to business.

The most important of these is external regulation. For external regulation, tasks are completed to receive a reward or to avoid a negative reinforcement. These external motivators become a form of currency for workers and can be different from person to person.

As a future graduate and current student, it is important to learn how to find these different personal motivators in order to use them effectively. Understanding what drives not only you but also the people around you is essential to getting things done. Students are bombarded with group projects during school. These opportunities are the ideal practice ground for honing the ability to find motivators for peers, leaders, and subordinates.

The first thing to figure out is the goal that is driving you to get this done. Good grades? Experience for a resume? Involvement in a cause you believe in? Making connections for the future? Once you figure out what is driving you, figure out what is driving the rest of the group members.

Some of your teammates will need praise or criticism. Others might respond best to forming a beneficial connection for the future. Offering up ways to save time might be the best recourse. The only way to figure it out is to get to know your teammates and making successful appeals to them in ways they will respond positively to.

Learning how to appeal to personal motivators is what gives a person the ability to communicate effectively and get what they want. These motivators can be money, time, favors, connections, and esteem, among other forms.

If you know someone is motivated by the idea of saving time, make yourself valuable to them by offering to save them time. If your boss likes money, make them more money. Find out what motivates someone and use it to increase your value. The reward will come back to you in whichever forms you personally value when correctly applied. This is the pathway to getting promoted, getting more money, or making more influential connections.

Understanding what you want is the first step. Getting it relies on finding out what others want.

Start developing the ability to see these motivators and appeal to them. Watch your rewards start piling up. External motivation is what makes the business world work, so make it work for you.

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