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Extrinsic Motivation: Motivation from Outside the Self

By: Ken Austin

Extrinsic motivation is very nearly a contradiction in terms. All motivation is self-motivation. Nevertheless, external forces can motivate people to perform work.

Threats of pain and promises of pleasure that come from outside the person will provide motivation. The problem with external motivation is when it conflicts with a person’s own internal motivation.

Coercion and force represent the old model of extrinsic motivation. Slavery, forced conscription, threats of punishment and aggression have all proven themselves as practical methods of motivating others to work. The growth of human rights and the human use of human beings have made such practices unethical, unlawful or shameful.

Further, in terms of productivity, negative consequences fail to produce results that can compete with a more positive approach (such as removing dissatisfying elements in the work environment and increasing job satisfaction) as a planned method of management.

The most effective way to increase productivity is to enhance the workplace as an environment and provide for worker satisfaction through the intelligent use of cooperative management. Engaging the worker as a part of a team, identifying and fulfilling individual needs through participation by management and applying rules with equality and fairness are the new model of extrinsic motivation.

The manager who removes as many dissatisfying elements in the work environment helps prevent the loss of motivation due to the distraction caused by pain, hardship, stress and fatigue. This is often referred to as “hygiene”. Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist who studied workplace motivation, coined the term. Removing negative elements in the work environment will not increase motivation, but dissatisfaction will prevent motivation until it is removed.

Hygiene includes:
•    The organization
•    Its policies and its administration
•    The kind of supervision (leadership and management, including perceptions) which people receive while on the job
•    Working conditions (including ergonomics)
•    Interpersonal relations
•    Salary
•    Status
•    Job security

The wise manager or leader will also take the time to build a workplace that encourages the growth of worker satisfaction.

These motivating factors include:
•    Achievement
•    Recognition
•    Growth / advancement
•    Interest in the job

Hygiene and motivation act independently of each other. Hygiene will not create satisfaction, but ignoring it will create dissatisfaction and prevent motivation. On the other hand, workers may be motivated toward their work, but dissatisfied with the workplace and less productive as a result. Managing the two aspects with balance and planning will allow increases in productivity to be maximized.

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