We’ve all heard a lot of discussion about the importance of motivation both in ourselves and in our employees. While the topic comes up a great deal, it’s difficult to define motivation because, like leadership, it’s a bit of an abstract term. You can find a great deal of information available on motivation, and this can help you create a definition to work from as you are working on increasing this important trait in yourself and in others.

The Broad Definition

If you’re looking for the most common way to define the term, the most common definition is that motivation is whatever causes people to act the way they do. For example, if a person robs a convenience store, he or she probably had some reason for acting that way – some motivation that prompted the action. Everything we do, including the choices we make, is going to be affected by our motivation.

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic

These are two of the basic aspects of motivation. You need to understand these concepts in order to better learn how to motivate yourself and others to take desired actions. Intrinsic motivation refers to reasons that originate inside the person. For example, if you have a deadline, you might be motivated to meet that deadline because doing so gives you a sense of accomplishment. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, involves motivation that originates outside of the individual. With this type of motivation, you would want to meet that deadline out of need to keep your job or to be rewarded for meeting the goal.

When you define motivation in these ways, you can see how complex the idea is and why it’s so important to start thinking about what is going to work with different people.

The Goal Setting Theory

Different research methods have been studying human motivation for decades, one of the more popular approaches that have been discovered is known as the goal setting theory. Basically, the idea here is that people are going to be motivated more frequently if they have some type of goal to reach. The beauty of this theory, besides the fact that it seems to be true, is that it can work on both intrinsic and extrinsic methods of motivation.

For example, you may have your own goal to reach so achieving that goal would be intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, if the company offers some type of reward as a goal that would be a good example of extrinsic motivation.

Importance of Motivation

Research has discovered that employees who are motivated do provide a wide range of benefits. You don’t have to define motivation to see it work effectively. For example, well-motivated workers strive for higher quality, increased productivity, and improved methods of doing the job. Clearly, these features have far reaching benefits for your business. They can also have far-reaching benefits for you. Whether intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is what works in your workplace, you can be sure that it will be beneficial.

Victor Ghebre is the editor of http://www.settinggoals101.com where you get practical tips and information on goal setting, motivation, leadership and more.

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