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Homework answers / question archive / Introduction to motivation (Connect) People are often motivated by rewards, which can be categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic

Introduction to motivation (Connect) People are often motivated by rewards, which can be categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic


Introduction to motivation (Connect)

People are often motivated by rewards, which can be categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic. The following case study includes examples of both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.


Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, describes a number of studies that suggest that people are motivated by financial incentives when they do simple tasks, but that for more complex tasks, financial incentives can actually decrease performance. People have to be paid enough so that they are not worried about money, but giving them additional money beyond that doesn’t motivate them to do more.

For complex tasks, research shows that there are three things that motivate people: autonomy, or the ability to direct your own behavior; mastery, or the desire to get better at the things you do; and purpose, or caring about what you do.

Pink uses Atlassian, an Australian software company, as an example of how autonomy can motivate. At Atlassian, engineers get one day every three months to work on whatever they want to—the only rule they have is that they have to report on the results of their work the next day. This policy of autonomy has led, in part, to Atlassian having a higher employee engagement score (87% compared to an average of 80%) than any other company in a Hewitt survey of 110 Australian and New Zealand companies.

(Source: D., P. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. In New York: Riverhead)

In a business setting, financial incentives areintrinsic  




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At Atlassian, autonomy is anextrinsic  




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As an experienced manager, you know that it is important for your employees to be intrinsically motivated. Which of the following actions is most likely to achieve that goal?

Giving employees better benefits

Giving employees information about why their work is important to the company

Rewarding your highest-performing employees with extra days off work


Giving employees bonuses when they do good work



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Close Explanation


Financial incentives are extrinsic rewards—they come from outside of a person and are given in response to a behavior that has occurred. Other extrinsic rewards at work include promotions and recognition awards such as trips and time off.

At Atlassian, autonomy is an intrinsic reward—the satisfaction employees get when they can decide what to do comes from the work itself, not from an outside source. Mastery and purpose are also intrinsic rewards. Managers can create environments that allow employees to receive intrinsic rewards (for example, by allowing employees to choose which tasks they will do), but the reward doesn’t come from the manager; it comes from the satisfaction the employee gains from the work.

Managers can increase employees’ intrinsic motivation by helping employees understand why the work is meaningful (which increases the employees’ sense of purpose), giving employees access to training (which increases mastery), and allowing employees to determine how they will use their time and what projects to complete (which increases autonomy).

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