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Intrinsic Motivation

Behaviour in exchange for the sense of personal satisfaction or fulfillment.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to the stimulation that involves adopting or changing behavior for-personal satisfaction or fulfillment of a person. It drives an individual to perform an activity for his or her own sake rather than for the reason that a reward is involved. In other words, the incentive for a task, is performing the task itself. For example, when someone decides to eat ice cream, typically their intrinsic motivation is to enjoy the pleasure of eating the ice cream, they are not doing it for some external reward.


Intrinsic Motivation - Portrait of happy business woman in office rejoicing success of completing task


Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is derived from a direct relationship between the person and the situation, or intangible factors. One example of intrinsic motivation is when someone writes poems for his or her personal reading pleasure. A person who sings and derives satisfaction out of it is relying on intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the opposite of extrinsic motivation, which drives someone to perform an activity because there’s a reward or to avoid punishment. An example of extrinsic motivation is when someone writes poems to sell it. An individual performs an activity to get something out of it.


Intrinsic Motivation in Organizations

In any organization, regardless of industry, intrinsic motivation is an important element to get maximum productivity from employees. Employers tend to look for potential candidates that have a strong sense of intrinsic motivation for the work they would perform. It can also help them achieve their goals for career growth and development. Here are some areas where intrinsic motivation can be beneficial for both the employees and employer:


1. Responsibility

In general, the more responsibilities an individual assumes in the workplace, the higher their salary becomes. When a person becomes a manager, he or she will receive higher compensation than their teammates or subordinates. However, some people do not accept a managerial position to earn more money.

Some employees possess the intrinsic motivation of assuming more responsibilities to inspire or encourage others to step up and eventually climb the corporate ladder. Added responsibility can also mean that you play a direct role in shaping the future of the organization.


2. Recognition

Most, if not all, companies offer rewards and recognition programs that come with monetary prizes or paid vacation leaves. Who wouldn’t want to be recognized with cash or an out-of-town trip? However, some employees with strong intrinsic motivation are already contented with being considered as a valuable member of the organization instead of doing well to get extra money. They find a different sense of pride to know that they are being recognized for their hard work.


3. Knowledge

Another strong intrinsic motivation for some employees is the pursuit of knowledge. They want to learn more about their field and hone their skills. Companies can offer a range of training courses to take advantage of the motivation to enrich knowledge.


4. Accomplishment

In many cases, you don’t need grand gestures or spend a lot to fuel the intrinsic motivation of employees and make them feel accomplished at the workplace. Many feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when helping other people without expecting anything in return. Even just saying “Thank you!” is more than enough for people with strong intrinsic motivation. In some cases the sense of fulfilment of completing a task is more than enough to take the challenge on.


Related Readings

CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful:

  • Soft Skills
  • The Analyst Trifecta®
  • Interview Tips – How to Interview Well
  • Resignation Letter

Financial Analyst Certification

Become a certified Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® by completing CFI’s online financial modeling classes and training program!