Carrot and Stick: What Really Motivates You in the Long Term

An increase in salary does not guarantee an increase in job satisfaction. The internal drive is considered more promising in the long run. How do professionals discover what really motivates them?

Mira Mohlenhof knows what she’s missing when she becomes a little “unbearable” in her daily work. Then you should appear in front of people, confirm and applaud – and then return, impulse. “I like to stand in front of the group,” says Mohlenhof, who works as a coach and university lecturer.

No matter what it is, everyone has something that pushes them from the inside. The so-called intrinsic motivation. It is good to know this inner drive and the needs that underlie it. Those who are satisfied at work are seen as more balanced, more productive, more team-oriented and able to work more efficiently.

Financial incentives do not motivate in the long run

“According to studies, employees often spend half their work hours unproductively, often simply in outside jobs because they are unmotivated,” says book author Florian Becker. Managers who are able to identify and respond to the needs of their employees can achieve a 20 to 40 percent improvement in performance.

External incentives such as a salary increase or bonuses do not do this in the long run. “It would be really sad if companies didn’t think of anything better than motivating people with money.”

Those who are intrinsically motivated do things on their own and not because something is jumping on them. According to Mohlenhof, no company or executive can ignore this.

Where can the needs be satisfied?

But what really drives me? How can I increase this motivation in myself or in others? In her book “Chefsache Intrinsic Motivation”, Mühlenhof lists ten different styles of thinking, feeling, and acting that are reflected in human behavior and therefore internal motivation.

They range from perfection, love, success and uniqueness through knowledge, security and struggle to pleasure, strength and harmony. It is important to find the right professional fields and positions in which the needs associated with this inner drive can be met.

Creating awareness of the inner drive

But no matter what activity you do, you can increase satisfaction by being aware of what drives you. Even with the monotonous assembly line work. “If I have perfection as my inner motivation, I can live it up by improving work processes further, designing them more efficiently and working more accurately,” Mohlenhof says.

If the idea of ​​strength is more clear, one will try to climb the career ladder to express oneself as a foreman or team leader.

Get active feedback

According to Florian Becker, the way work is organized plays a particularly important role in motivation. “One should try to set up the work in such a way that one actually has a sense of accomplishment along the way and not just at the end,” he says. This also includes getting feedback from the team or clients and thus receiving recognition and praise, and possibly also constructive criticism of the next action steps.

It may be obvious that as a professor you can ask your students how the lecture was received. But as a supermarket employee, it’s hard for me to ask after every purchase if I paid well – isn’t it? But in the end, according to Becker, it always comes down to the importance I attach to my mission.

The cashier can ask himself, for example, whether the most important thing for him is that all customers can pay quickly. Or rather, it makes people happy. “When a lot of customers smile at me or prefer to stand in line at checkout, these are reactions and a sense of accomplishment for me,” Becker says.

Not everything will always be logical and fun

According to Becker, it also contributes to motivation if employees are given more freedom and responsibility in decision making and can design tasks themselves. Good work atmosphere and praise are also part of it. This is true though. Becker recommends descriptive praise and explaining what the special effect is precisely because the work has been done that way.

But what if I have the job I love, if I find nice colleagues and an understanding boss and there are still moments when I don’t feel like doing a certain job? Of course, not everything will always have meaning or joy, Becker admits. “Sometimes you get to a point in life where you just have to perform, even if it hurts.”

Only in such moments can self-regulation help. You can train them by not giving up immediately if you no longer want to or if something becomes uncomfortable. “There will always be a phase you have to go through to achieve a goal.”

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