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Building Intrinsic Motivation with your Workforce

JobsPikr | Building Intrinsic Motivation with your Workforce

There’s a reason the topic says “with your workforce” instead of “for your workforce”. Having some self-awareness, along with high conviction in taking up intrinsic motivation as a goal, is a prerequisite for internalizing it across the organization. Following which it’s a process of continuous learning with everyone involved.

At PromptCloud, it started with us asking some difficult questions about why we exist, and what we want to become which eventually translated into our vision; something we strongly connect with. And then when we were discussing what our org level goals should be for the next 2 years, intrinsic motivation automatically took its spot, however hard we tried to resist the vague goal it is.
Especially because we had “transforming lives” in our vision, and this phrase has had an unimaginable impact on the way we operate. We keep coming back to our mission and vision for every operational or strategic decision, and this has helped shape our culture and literally transformed us post-PC 2.0.

Now coming to the difference between motivation as we know it in business (extrinsic) and intrinsic motivation which has piqued our interest. Intrinsic motivation is basically when we feel the drive to do something purely for the fun of it, regardless of the rewards associated with doing the activity or proving something to someone. 

Check out this article for two different types of research, one on kids and another on adults, that concludes “tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation (…) Even when tangible rewards are offered as indicators of good performance, they typically decrease intrinsic motivation for interesting activities.” 

A similar research done by Dan Pink, author of the bestselling book Drive, showcases that there’s a gap between what science tells us and what businesses do. A lot of other research has been done in this area, but surprisingly it hasn’t captured the interest of many organizations to the extent that we see it being operationalized in the workforce, and I wonder why. Maybe it’s too vague a topic, or not easily scalable given the varied individual drives or maybe it’s just that we have picked the easy way out – through money or perks. When one amount doesn’t work, let’s do more of it rather than digging into the why. Admit it or not, we have all been prey to this thought process. 

From various resources available online and through our mentors, we have identified 4 tenets of intrinsic motivation for our organization.

1. Purpose

Do I align with the mission of the work we do? Am I creating an impact that aligns with my values and sentiments?

Purpose is not always about a quest or bringing about a paradigm shift. A purpose can be as simple as doing good work, that aligns with the company’s mission. What’s important is to be aware of this purpose and to truly believe in it to continue doing good work regardless of the extrinsic motivators. 

2. Autonomy

Do I have enough control over my work? Do I have enough freedom to choose how I want to work in order to meet the outcomes?

Autonomy is more self-drive and less direction. An environment where managers are rather mentors.

3. Mastery 

Do I have the right skills to do my job? Am I learning enough? Do I have enough challenges to further hone my skills?

Mastery is not only about being good at what you do but also about the potential of the work that you do. Something that sets you up for growth through constant challenges.

4. Relatedness

Do we have a community at work? Are we collaborating over shared goals? Do we have a sense of connect & belonging? 

Remote company or not, we need to be conscious about “connect” not just via the HRs as a fun Friday activity, but across the board- managers with their reportees over a regular 1:1 connect, teams with their peers over daily standups or even random discussions, and even cross-functional connect to learn from/and more about each other. 

Without the connect, any job is only half as exciting. 

We have mindfully mapped each of these tenets to our core values and behaviors, so they are inherent in our culture. 

Intrinsic motivation in an organization needs to go through 3 phases with this cycle repeating itself:

Awareness- Have we communicated enough about this topic? Do we understand what it means to be intrinsically motivated? 

Understanding- Do we understand why this is important? Do we connect with this goal? Have we had deeper dialogues with our peers/managers/selves to understand what drives us intrinsically? Do we see this term being used a lot in our conversations?

Adoption- Do our senior leaders and managers stand by the idea? Do we recognize and reward such behavior? Are our policies aligned with this goal? Are our LnD initiatives aligned with this goal?

Each of these phases requires evaluation for successful implementation before you could move into the next phase. Below is a quick snapshot of what we heard during our recent employee survey about what motivates our people. It’s inspiring (and motivating) to see our people being so far in their intrinsic journeys. 

Written By,

Arpan Jha 
Chief Strategy Officer 

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