Motivation: How to Manage Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

January 23, 2023


A person stands with their arms outstretched in victory at the top of a mountain. Image demonstrates the power of motivation.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are both extremely powerful when you know how to call on them.

Motivation can be a tricky thing. Not everyone is motivated in the same way, so motivational efforts in the workplace can be very hit-or-miss. 

One person might be motivated by the challenge of solving a difficult problem, while another is motivated by outward recognition. Understanding the different styles of motivation can be important for managing your own productivity, as well as those around you. 

For administrative professionals with leadership responsibilities, finding ways to motivate others can present a unique challenge. At the same time, we can also benefit from understanding how to motivate ourselves.

Motivation can be divided into two broad categories: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Both categories represent different styles of motivation which may work for different personality types.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is inspired by internal rewards. Simple enjoyment of a task is one highly effective example of intrinsic motivation. An individual who is intrinsically motivated is less likely to respond positively to the promise of reward. Instead, these individuals are better suited by motivation tactics which help them to feel satisfied with their performance. 

This does not necessarily mean that the individual’s work motivation is derived entirely from their enjoyment of their task. Many workers can be intrinsically motivated, even when performing stressful duties. Here are a few common types of intrinsic motivation you might encounter or experience:


Those motivated by responsibility feel rewarded by being held accountable and fulfilling their duties. These individuals can be motivated by being given a task with a clear understanding of its importance.


The feeling of fitting in is a strong intrinsic motivator for some. This sense of community or belonging to a team can be used by finding common ground or working collaboratively.


Some people are motivated by difficult challenges. Those who enjoy solving problems are often highly self-motivated when confronted with new obstacles in the workplace. An effective way to motivate these individuals is to frame tasks as challenges, or to assign tasks with no clear solution.

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is motivation based on external rewards. The most common form of external work motivation would be a worker’s salary. At the end of the day, most employees would not perform their job to their fullest without being paid. But some are more motivated by external rewards than others. 

In these cases, it is possible to build in additional rewards to motivate extrinsically motivated individuals. For instance, someone who is externally motivated might set a specific sales goal for themselves and aspire to meet that. Others might be motivated by the promise of a physical or emotional reward after a job well done. There are many ways a person might be extrinsically motivated. Here are some common examples.


Recognition is the extrinsic complement to belonging as a motivator. Intrinsically motivated people may be inspired by a sense of “fitting in.” Whereas externally motivated people are inspired by feedback and praise for a job well done.


Perhaps the most straightforward form of extrinsic motivation is a reward. Rewards can come in the form of pay increases, treats, benefits, or a staff party. Reward-based motivation is usually fairly straightforward, and can be highly effective.


Competition can be a powerful motivator for extrinsically motivated individuals. These individuals might thrive in work environments that encourage friendly competition. Performance metrics and other forms of direct feedback can also be highly motivating to those who are driven by competition.

Learn More About Work Motivation

If you want to learn more about self-motivation or work motivation, consider becoming an ASAP member today. ASAP provides training and educational resources for administrative professionals like you, who want to grow their professional skills.

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