Workplace Influence; Internal and External Motivation

Workplace Influence; Internal and External Motivation  


Employees are motivated and influenced in different ways, one way is through internal or external references (or meta-frames for all you NLP-ers)

For some employees they are motivated externally, they need a ‘pat on the back’ or colleagues and managers to tell them that they did a good job. External motivated workers need to see the smile or their customers face and they buzz from meeting their targets. By gaining external praise these employees know they have done a good job which motivates them to work harder.




At the opposite axis, internal motivated people don’t need or want the ‘pat on the back’ because they know when they have done a good job, they don’t need to see a customers smile, or a chart representing how well they are doing. Internal people just know ‘know’ when they have done well and that’s all the praise they need. Even when a manger says you’re not doing well, the internally motivated employee will be unconvinced unless they agree with them.

Two chefs bake cakes, one internally motivated and one externally motivated. The internal chef will know he has done a good job he can just tell, if a customer leaves part of the cake after only one bite the internal chef won’t care as he knows this is the best cake he has made. The external chef may like his cake, but the proof will be all the empty plates he sees around him and the thanks he receives from his satisfied customers. Without this external reference he may worry about his ability and at the extreme never bake that same cake again.

Frame of Reference

Internal and external feedback is just a frame of reference; in the workplace you can use these frames of reference to motivate your employees, by speaking their language.

External employees need reassurance at all times, give it to them and their workload will increase. If you want them to do X tell how wonderful this thing is, how everyone would like to be a part of this team or project because external people will go with what others tell them.

Internally motivated employees just don’t care what others think, you may shout about the wonderful project until your red in the face but the internal employee will make his own decision.

To influence the internally motivated, you have to appeal to his own experience “last year you were part of the X team, I remember you telling how much you enjoyed the marketing side of the project, well this new project has a large marketing campaign, you should take look and decide if this is something you would like to be involved in?”

Is it one or the other?

We are all motivated by both our internal and external frame of reference, but generally people have a strong preference to one of these motivational traits. By speaking in language that they can reference can motivate and influence the employee in the workplace.

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