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Published on January 20, 2021

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

We all dream big about how our lives should be, but it’s the motivation that drives us to act consistently towards making those dreams a reality. However, despite our best intentions, for a lot of us, this motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes, and the fluctuating drive often takes a toll on our productivity. For centuries, psychologists have been fascinated and intrigued by human behavior and have developed various motivation theories on what drives humans to act a certain way.

Let’s look at how you can use these motivation theories to boost your productivity.

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

Understanding that there is a direct link between satisfaction and productivity is the easiest way to move towards increased efficiency. Think about it—if your work gave you a sense of pleasure and satisfaction instead of stress, would you complain about work or procrastinate? The question we must ask ourselves then is, “what brings work satisfaction?”

Frederick Herzberg’s motivation theory explains two types of factors that can be used to regulate our levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction—hygiene and motivation factors.[1]

Hygiene factors are the bare minimum essential aspects that prevent dissatisfaction. While the presence of hygiene factors will not give rise to enormous satisfaction, the absence of this satisfaction will create extreme discontent. Hygiene factors include compensation, job security, social needs, work environment.

How Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory Increases Your Productivity

1. Compensation

Being underpaid is the silent killer of satisfaction. If you’re continually feeling undervalued or taken for granted at work, then compensation can be the problem.

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Observe yourself in a regular workday and assess if your lack of motivation to work arises from not getting paid what you deserve. If so, then it’s time to rake up the courage and ask for a raise or renegotiate the pricing for your services, so you feel rightfully compensated for your time, energy, and efforts.

2. Work Environment

Your environment has to be conducive to your productivity. Whether you work from the office or home, choose a spot where you can work uninterrupted. De-clutter your desk, decorate it to your personal preferences, and set the ambiance right to get you going as soon as you enter your work environment.

3. Socializing Needs

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, building harmonious relations is key to developing a healthy state of mind.

4. Security

You cannot be productive or motivated if you’re constantly feeling insecure about your role. If you’re an employer, ensure that security for your team members to flourish and thrive. If you’re employed, reach out to your supervisor to have a conversation on your role, position, and the company’s vision to get that confidence.

Motivator Factors

Once the basics are right, Herzberg identifies another set of factors called motivator factors. These help individuals’ level-up their performance and motivate them to work harder.

Here are some examples of motivator factors:

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  1. Engaging in Meaningful work: We are much more productive if we believe in what we are doing. Find meaning in what you do and be clear on why you’re doing what you do—this is the ultimate way to boost your productivity.
  2. Celebrating Wins: Often, we fail to recognize our accomplishments and celebrate what we get right. Being mindful of the tasks on your to-do list and having a small ritual at the end of the day to celebrate accomplishing them can motivate you to work harder to celebrate more often.
  3. Identify rewards: Humans are aspirational, and knowing what rewards you’ll get for the work you do can be a great way to keep yourself going. Rewards could be a promotion you become eligible for or a trip to Iceland on hitting that business turnover goal. Defining the reward and visualizing it can be a great way to boost productivity and stay motivated.

Today’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygiene because the latter stop influencing their behavior once they achieve them. So, as you grow, you need to upgrade your motivator factors to fuel the drive that keeps you going.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the most relatable motivation theories. The theory is based on the fact that nothing motivates us more than our own needs.

Here, humans’ needs are bifurcated into a hierarchical manner from a lower order to higher order forming a pyramid. Once a given level of need is satisfied, it no longer serves to motivate a person. Then, the next level of need becomes the motivating factor.

The 5 levels of needs, according to Abraham Maslow, are:[2]

  1. Physiological needs: This is the primary and most basic need of any human being-the survival need for food, shelter, air, water, etc. Physiological needs are most critical as the human body cannot function optimally unless these needs are fulfilled.
  2. Safety needs: Once survival is assured, humans begin to long for safety and security. Examples of safety needs are emotional security, financial security, protection from physical danger, health and well-being, etc. Fulfilling these needs requires more money, and hence humans are motivated to work harder.
  3. Social needs: Humans are social beings. Our need to socialize, longing for companionship, and craving to belong comes next in the hierarchy. For example, friendships, love, trust, and a sense of belonging to a tribe or community are required to better quality of life.
  4. Esteem needs: We have the need to be respected. Fulfillment of these needs leads to building self-confidence, realizing one’s own strength, capability, and value.
  5. Self-actualization needs: Only when all other needs are fulfilled does the self-actualization need comes into the picture. This is the highest spiritual aspiration where one can dive within and become the best version of oneself. Maslow estimated that only 2% of the people would reach the state of actualization.

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Increases Your Productivity

According to the theory, the lowest level of unmet need is the prime motivator of behavior. Figure out where do you stand in the hierarchy, which is your unmet need. That is your motivator. Take steps towards fulfilling those needs so that you can move towards self-actualization ultimately.

Begin with making concrete plans to fulfill your fundamental needs—safety and financial security. Then, look at love and belonging.

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Do you have like-minded people you connect with? If not, find ways to meet new people and form relations. It could be a spin class or a yin yoga session nearby. Be a part of social groups or communities and engage in meaningful conversation.

For the self-esteem needs, examine your life and assess if you engage meaningfully across. If your career seems stagnating, explore how you can transition to more challenging job opportunities. If your personal life seems to be slacking, have conversations with your significant other to see how you can make your relationship stronger and meaningful for both of you.

When all these needs are met comes the biggest question of finding your purpose. Each of us has unique experiences that make specific work more meaningful to us than others. Finding your purpose is finding that area of work that speaks to you and calls to you and finds expression through you. You can introspect to identify this for yourself or work with a coach to find your true calling and chart out the path towards living that life for yourself.

Hawthorne Effect

Another useful motivation theory is the Hawthorne Effect, which suggests that there exists a tendency to work harder and perform better when we are being observed. During an experiment, researchers altered several physical conditions to affect productivity, but employee productivity increased each time.[3] The study proved that we are motivated to work harder and perform better when we know that our work is being observed.

How the Hawthorne Effect Increases Your Productivity

At work, this happens automatically as we all have supervisors and leaders observing and evaluating our performance periodically. So, we don’t slack professionally. However, since we are not answerable to anybody in our personal lives, we end up dropping the ball.

A simple way to implement the Hawthorne Effect in your personal life to boost productivity is to have an accountability buddy. You don’t need a boss or your supervisor to keep an eye on you twenty-four seven. All you need is a buddy.

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  1. Pair up with your friend or co-worker to be your accountability buddy. If your friend is from the same field, even better.
  2. Communicate your short-term—weekly or daily—goals to each other.
  3. Design a schedule on how you plan to achieve these goals and monitor each other’s progress
  4. For better control, you can even decide punishments if the other one fails to achieve their goals.

Personal growth can be fun and fulfilling with an accountability partner by your side throughout the journey.

Expectancy Theory

This motivation theory states that our behaviors are directly influenced by the results we expect as an outcome of our actions.[4]

The theory proposes 3 elements our motivation relies on:

  • Expectancy: We act based on how likely our efforts are expected to deliver favorable results. Our expectations are molded by our past experiences, self-confidence, and the level of difficulty of the goal we plan to undertake.
  • Instrumentality: This is the belief that we will receive the reward if we put in the necessary efforts or behave in a particular fashion.
  • Valence: This refers to how valuable the reward is to an individual. For some, money could be a powerful motivator while for others, recognition is. Our motivation is higher when the reward is valuable for us.

How the Expectancy Theory Increases Your Productivity

Whenever you set intentions for yourself, spend time actually penning down why you’re aspiring for the goal and the results you hope to achieve. This is why vision boards are beneficial because you visualize the outcome of your efforts, which motivates you to keep at it.

For any goal you are working towards, write out the outcomes you anticipate, how you will feel when you achieve them, and why the result is crucial to you. As you work towards it, review this document time and again to keep yourself motivated.

Final Thoughts

Motivation theories provide insight into how we can find that motivation in our daily lives and be more productive. As we start a brand-new decade, it is time we make our dreams a reality. Employ the motivation theories that resonate most with you and enhance your drive and energy to work towards your goals consistently, and make it count.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last for long. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar

More Tips on How to Increase Your Motivation

Featured photo credit: Cam Adams via unsplash.com

Reference

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Shwetha Sivaraman

Entrepreneur, Podcaster, & Life Coach @BeingMeraklis

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Published on May 12, 2021

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is One Better Than The Other?

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is One Better Than The Other?

Have you observed the behavior of children as they carry out daily tasks? They may naturally be inclined towards playing games with friends but would need a push to do their homework. Children may enjoy eating junk food by themselves but need adult monitoring while reluctantly having vegetables.

As these kids grow up, the behavior remains the same. There are many reasons we do certain things. Sometimes, we’re internally motivated to make something happen, and other times we’re driven externally. Such a dichotomy involves contrasting intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation:[1]

“When intrinsically motivated, people engage in an activity because they find it interesting and inherently satisfying. By contrast, when extrinsically motivated, people engage in an activity to obtain some instrumentally separable consequence, such as the attainment of a reward, the avoidance of punishment, or the achievement of some valued outcome.”

Read on to learn more about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and find out how reward-oriented behavior influences our productivity and how we can regulate it!

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What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

All the theories that describe what classifies as intrinsic motivation talk about a natural drive from within to pursue an activity because it gives us pleasure.

Some psychology researchers have associated intrinsic behavior with basic human needs, creativity, performance enhancement, and contentment.[2] When we carry out a task that fulfills our natural urges, such as hunger, thirst, and sleep, we are better equipped with the drive to complete a task. Other times, we might simply do something because it stimulates the aesthetic experience of being in that state of activity, such as hobbies.

Simply put, activities that bring us satisfaction and joy are powered by intrinsic motivation because an internal reward system fuels them.

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation

  • Studying because you enjoy the process of gaining knowledge and not simply because you want good grades
  • Helping out a friend/family member with something out of love without expecting anything in return from them
  • Standing in the kitchen for hours to prepare your favorite meal because the end product satiates your hunger and gives you joy
  • Pursuing a hobby, such as gardening, trekking, camping, and playing sports, among others, to experience an aesthetic pleasure
  • Running a marathon to feel physically rejuvenated instead of seeking the prize money
  • Taking up extra responsibility at work/school to improve your skills without the intention of gaining recognition or earning someone’s favor

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

When we are not inherently motivated to perform a task because it does not bring about a sense of satisfaction, we are extrinsically motivated. Such motivation facilitates our desire to attain a reward or avoid punishment.

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Not all the work we do brings us joy, owing to its repetitive nature, urgency, necessity, frequency, duration, or monotony. Whether it is dragging ourselves to work/school every morning or working on weekends, we tend to undertake tasks that might not inherently please or satisfy us. Usually, an external force or ulterior motive drives us to complete such tasks. Rewards like money, praise, and fame drive our motivation extrinsically.

However, extrinsic motivation does not necessarily mean that we are unwilling to do something. We just seek an external reward from it. For example, a person might like writing but goes the extra mile to make money out of it.

Point to be noted: Offering external rewards for something that already rewards inherently can decrease motivation, known as the overjustification effect.[3]

Examples of Extrinsic Motivation

  • Working a part-time job to make extra money while still being a student
  • Participating in competitions to win prizes and earn fame
  • Attending classes regularly not because the lecture is exciting but to maintain the attendance record
  • Going to the office on lazy days to avoid pay-cut
  • Completing a task well before time to earn praise and recognition
  • Doing something you don’t like just to avoid public judgment
  • Doing chores to flatter parents before requesting something from them

The 3 Regulators of Productivity

As social beings, we interact with our surroundings to tend to our satisfaction and gain. Despite being interlinked with various social factors, we still act independently as individually identifiable beings with preferences and opinions.

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Daniel H. Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, talks about the evolving state of the digital economy and leaders can adopt more effective methods of motivation. He proposes three principles of increasing productivity: autonomy, mastery (alternatively, competence), and purpose. Detaching his propositions from the workplace context to universalize it, I shall discuss the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on these three principles.

  • Autonomy refers to the amount of creativity and control we hold over individual expression without any external influence. It determines our independence in making choices and deciding the course of future actions.
  • Mastery or competence is our capacity to execute a task to the best of our ability without any external help. Our competency level governs how well we can perform when tasked with something.
  • Purpose alludes to the yearning within individuals to contribute to humankind’s more meaningful existence beyond the self.

Productivity is a cumulative result of the above three that motivation regulates. In the following section, we shall explore the differing impacts of the two kinds of motivation on individual performance: intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is There a Third Option?

In a psychological study, Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci found out that “conditions supportive of autonomy and competence reliably facilitated this vital expression of the human growth tendency, whereas conditions that controlled behavior and hindered perceived reflectance undermined its expression.”[4]

In other words, whether a task is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, it should not negatively impact our natural abilities.

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They also concluded that “Excessive control, nonoptimal challenges, and lack of connectedness…disrupt the inherent actualizing and organizational tendencies endowed by nature, and thus such factors result not only in the lack of initiative and responsibility but also in distress.” Simply put, unachievable challenges and emotional detachment can diminish individuals’ natural abilities and negatively impact performance.

Hence, it is safe to conclude that positive motivation is the key to performance enhancement without mentally, physically, or emotionally tiring out an individual. Whether it is at school, work, or social circles, superiors must ensure that an assigned task must be positively motivated in a way that warrants commitment, interest, and productivity. Hence, the type of motivation is not significant to performance as long as it does not hinder the three principles of productivity.

How Can You Positively Motivate Others?

Provide regular feedback: Individuals putting in efforts to make something happen, like hearing about their strengths and weaknesses. But before doing that, you must establish feedback-giving as a positive and encouraging process towards development within the social setup!

  • Set attainable goals: Asking too much from people negatively impacts performance as it does not respect their abilities. It can also be severely discouraging as it prevents individuals from giving their best, thinking that it is unattainable.
  • Challenge them by gradually increasing the level: Once you have gauged a person’s skill level, you can slowly give them more significant tasks to expand their abilities.
  • Inspire them: Setting an example is the best way to motivate others. You could perform your best to let people know what you expect from them.
  • Establish a trust relationship: Trust is the key to maintaining any human relationship, whether personal or professional. Ensuring the existence of this emotion comforts and inspires them to do better.
  • Maintain a healthy reward system: Humans cannot resist rewards, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Maintaining a healthy reward system can propel others to work harder and productively.
  • Seek feedback from them: Finally, seeking feedback is just as important as giving it. Don’t forget to ask people’s opinions on the changes you can make to your approach!

Final Thoughts

Looking at your life with a bird’s eye view isn’t always easy. You sometimes need external motivators who see your potential and help you pave a path to success. But even when you have external motivators backing you up, paying close attention to your internal dialogue will help you cross the roadblocks.

And do not forget, motivation isn’t the goal in itself—it’s the pathway to a long journey where you achieve more milestones, and looking at the bird’s eye view of your life becomes easier. Have a happy journey!

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