Culture of Intrinsic Motivation LO10139

John Constantine (
Mon, 23 Sep 1996 08:22:32 -0700

Replying to LO10125 --

Many excellent ideas and interpretations have come down the pike regarding
the notion of "intrinsic motivation", most recently by Carol who offers:

> Can intrinsic motivation exist in an organization if the
>relevance and importance of the job is perceived ONLY by the worker?

The easy answer is yes, of course. That the whole idea of intrinsic
motivation DEPENDS upon the individual in the first place to use his/her
filters to:

1. Define what the "job" is for themselves, not necessarily by reading
their job description. (Often this is not entirely clear to them, thus
creating potential havoc in an organization which is control oriented or

2. Identify what it is about the job that generates enough personal energy
to show up in the morning. (They might love the equipment, are waiting on
their vacation/benefit timing, are in the midst of a training session
which either gets them away from the office or is a requirement for
another position, etc.

3. Reconcile themselves to the fact that things are not improving
sufficiently in areas external to them so that they must operate at a
fundamental level as to the task of coming to work at all.

> What I often see happening in cases like this is that renewed meaning
>and purpose for the job helps the individual but not the organization in
>that many people who can turn negative energy to positive find another
>job fairly quickly.

True enough, and it points out that they have reached that point #3, at
which time they are already "separate and apart" from the rest of the
organization. At this point they can do no more harm to the organization
than express themselves to their fellow workers and supervisors, etc.
Whether they are receptive or not is a moot point, since they have made
the mental switch to be outside the company or organization.

What damage CAN be done at this point lies in the remainder of the
workforce evaluating their own situation in light of their fellow worker,
and thus going through the entire process for themselves. In a fear-based
organization, workers often "leave their brain" at home, and choose to
insulate themselves from further harm by rationalizing their present
position as in their family's best interest, or some other short-term
answer. Unless the larger organization changes their insulation will not
work, and the impact upon them personally and the organization they work
in both will be tremendously damaging and damaged.

>If group support is needed how do we(or should we) help people within
>the organization recognize their power (and perhaps obligation) to
>develop this culture by addressing the needs and desires of their

Does one person have the responsibility to change the behavior of another?
That support can be, and often is, given to others in the organization,
but the interpretation by the group of the individual's state of mind is
external to the situation faced by the person needing support. Does the
group have a clear perception of the nature of the organization? Do they
choose to offer "support" or is it a matter of criticism? Very basic, very
delicate, very personal matters. Who will "cast the first stone", whether
support or criticism? Who will speak for the "group".

In a healthy, supportive organization, many will be in a position to offer
"support". But no one has the right to think for another. Hopefully,
ideally, this is one of the hallmarks of a learning organization...that
all may speak up for themselves, for what they do, and why they do it.
This, without hesitation or fear. Should this include "addressing the
needs and desires of the co-workers"? Would you want to be the first?

These are my thoughts on this very personal subject...intrinsic


Regards, John Constantine Rainbird Management Consulting Santa Fe, NM

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