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Last Updated on July 29, 2021

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

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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.

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“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, Self-Awareness Coach, and a Podcaster at Being Meraklis

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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