Build your dream team

Intrinsic motivation and it's impact on your company's success

Why intrinsic motivation depends on more than just personal willingness, this article will help you understand and step by step find your intrinsic motivation, your right employee or employer.
intrinsic Motivation
Min Read
April 27, 2021

Intrinsic motivation is the act of doing something without any obvious external rewards. When thinking of examples, many can think of one or two hobbies they pursue because they are enjoyable and exciting. At your place of work, this is an entirely different topic. Why is intrinsic motivation important at work? It seems obvious enough. You want an intrinsically motivated colleague.

But why? The answer I found is that intrinsic motivation is input to values like respect, positivity and helpfulness, which are inputs for a great culture!

Everyone wants a work environment where they can actualize their potential and enjoy themselves!

I have heard from people currently struggling to find motivation in their day-to-day life from all parts of life. Being stuck at home during COVID has deprived many of their hobbies, friends and family. This feeling of “being stuck“ creeping up on you is dangerous for your mental health. Maybe it’s time we use our current situation and think more carefully about what we want to do and why that is.

Have you heard of Ikigai

Ikigai is the Japanese concept for “reason for being”. It’s a Venn diagram of What I loveWhat the world needsWhat I can be paid for and What I’m good at. Ikigai can help you find direction or your purpose in life.

Credit to

How to make use of Ikigai:

1. Think about the four central circles and come up with your answers. Over multiple sessions, try to be honest with yourself and note down insights and ideas.

2. Sort those ideas into the intersections of the Venn diagram. Just mapping this out should already help you visualize your perfect day.

3. Incrementally try to include aspects of this into your life.

One intersection of the diagram is Profession. Even after finding the Profession that you want to pursue, you still need to find the right employer. Depending on your Profession and personal mobility, the choice can be overwhelming. Intrinsic Motivation can be your pathfinder.

How can intrinsic Motivation assist you in finding the right employer?

The source of intrinsic Motivation is different for every person. What is universal is a factor that determines your degree of intrinsic Motivation. That factor can be visualized with another Venn diagram (sorry) — the overlap between your value system and the systems value set. The system can be many things — society, family, employer or job. The more significant the overlap between, let’s say, your personal top 5 values and the top 5 values of the system, the higher your intrinsic Motivation will be! This critical insight can help you choose the right employer.

How to define your personal top 5 values?

Personality tests? Possible, but I’d recommend the following process that will take you around 30 minutes:

  • Write down characteristics of people in your life that you value (e.g. honesty, fairness etc.)
  • Think of the opposite! What characteristics and values can you not stand in others? Write these down.
  • Transform the values from step #2 into positive ones. (e.g. being stingy -> generosity) At this point, you should have 15+ values
  • Check this slightly overwhelming list of values. Skim through the list and add the ones that you’d like on your one.
  • Time to filter. Out of your list of values, choose in no particular order the top 10.
  • Time for the top 5. Out of your top 10, choose in order your personal top 5.

Note: Take ~ 5 minutes for each step. This is just a current snapshot of your values. It will change over time, and I can recommend you repeat the steps periodically.

For the curious ones, here are my personal top 5 in descending order: loyalty, rationality, fairness, punctuality, altruism

Now, finding the right employer based on your top values will be a different process for everyone. Be creative. Scour the internet for employee reviews, check mission and vision statements or ask for their values in the interview! And for those that already have an employer, examine the status quo. How high is the match between the values represented by you and by the company? If high, perfect. If low, take a decision. A low-value overlap and a low degree of intrinsic motivation result in more energy expenditures during your daily tasks.

For the entrepreneurs and founders, you want your colleagues and employees to be aligned with the values you want to represent as a company. For this, you’ll have to check for values in the hiring process! Ask candidates implicitly or directly their values and look for the fit with your startup. It will impact your culture immensely and reduce your pain of employee turnover and having to fire someone.

You cannot force intrinsic Motivation.

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Written by
Marko Stokic
Written by
Marko Stokic

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