Blog Post

Tapping into Motivators to Facilitate Change

Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What noun motivates you?


Yes…what noun motivates you? Is it a person, place, or thing that motivates you?

There have been longstanding debates about motivation triggers. One belief is that motivation is inspired by others. A contrary belief contends motivation is self-induced. Regardless of its derivative, motivation is a catalyst to driving behavior change. As leaders, it will be important to understand what motivates your team to action, especially during significant transformation.

 The  variables to research, plan and implement when you need the team to change direction or upskill their capabilities are plentiful. Make sure part of the approach focuses on the people itself. The people side of change is typically the first thing that gets lost in the plans,  although it's what's most important. Tapping into what motivates your team can help you cater change approaches that lead to successful transformation.

 We are exposed to intrinsic and extrinsic variables that motivate us to act in various ways. Intrinsic motivators come from within. They are internal, intangible drivers rooted in an individual's values and belief system. It is self-reflective and self-assessed in nature. Intrinsic motivation is often defined as the desire to perform behaviors for its own sake as a result of the personal pleasure and satisfaction received[1]. Examples of intrinsic motivators within an employee role would include anything that stimulates internal satisfaction, joy and interests. When employees have a genuine interest in a role, task or responsibility, the intrinsic motivators are driving the action.

Extrinsic motivators are external, tangible elements that are typically contingent upon performance. The desire to perform behaviors is based on positive or negative consequences ensued[1]. Employees are motivated to act or behave in a way that grants them additional rewards (bonuses, awards, promotions, etc.) or prevents unwanted punishment for lack of compliance.

 In essence, intrinsic motivators are self-driven and can be viewed as a proactive approach to behavior change. Due to one's own internal behavioral make-up, opportunities to self-initiate behavior change is present. External motivators are reactive in nature as there needs to be an incentive in place to cause the behavior change. Each can play a part in altering behaviors.


As a leader, your job is to determine what variables motivate your team. Intrinsic or extrinsic? Or both?  Here are a few tips to help figure it out:

 Self Check -- what are your own motivators? Discovering your motivation treggers will help draw connections to your employees while allowing you to objectively preprare for interactions with those who may have contrasting triggers. 

Observation -- note how employees respond to announcements about change. What's the reaction? If your employee readily offers up additional ideas to enhance the change, it is likely due to heightened interest in the new state.  If your employee inquires about incentives as a result of the change or consequences if change is not adopted, this may be a sign of an employee moved by extrinsic motivators. Understanding the makeup of your team's motivators helps you plan the right approach to facilitate change. Get intrinsic motivators involved in the brainstorming, planning, and testing the change variables. Offer recognition for early adopters of the change to appeal to the extrinsic motivator perspective. 

Network Support -- lean on your network of peers, mentors, and coaches to support in this effort. This is a perfect opportunity to learn best practices, pitfalls, and successes to better inform your approach to leading the team through change. Never re-invent the wheel or design in a bubble. Leveraging your network affords a grand level of efficiency and expertise…use it!



[1] Kuvaas, B., Buch, R., Weibel, A., Dysvik, A., & Nerstad, C. G. (2017). Do intrinsic and extrinsic motivation relate differently to employee outcomes?. Journal of Economic Psychology61, 244-258.




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