What Is Achievement Motivation? (With Tips and an Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 27, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employees usually require some form of motivation to remain productive at their workplace. Recording success or achievements at work can often motivate professionals. Understanding how achievements drive motivation can help you apply this concept to increase your workplace productivity and output. In this article, we discuss the question, "What is achievement motivation?", examine motivation types, explain how your core values affect motivation, show how to use achievement motivation in the workplace, and detail an example of applying it at work.

What is achievement motivation?

Answering the question, "What is achievement motivation?" can lead you to explore the reason behind people's actions. This theory recognizes that there are motives behind certain decisions people make and the goals they set. It also claims that people find inspiration, stimulation, and motivation in accomplishments and success. Employees who find motivation in their achievements usually seek roles where they can best perform and experience success. These roles often reduce the chances of failure, make them feel more competent, and motivate them to take on more responsibilities.

Achievement motivation may drive individuals to be high performers and excel in the workplace. It can motivate them to take on tasks that they can easily complete, decreasing their risk of failure. In addition, achieving an objective can inspire employees to dedicate more time and effort to completing their tasks when they understand that working to a high standard can help them achieve their goals faster. Motivated individuals may also put extra effort into seeking assistance and reviewing their work. They often use feedback from their supervisors and colleagues to improve the quality of their work.

Read more: A Guide to Self-Motivation in the Workplace

Types of motivation

The types of motivation that an employee can experience include:

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the external satisfaction that comes from completing a task. It may include rewards or compensation such as money or acknowledgment. For example, employees may find extrinsic motivation in career advancement and paychecks. Extrinsic motivation can help you complete tasks and avoid consequences like wasted opportunities, monetary loss, or discipline.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation happens when you find internal inspiration to complete a project. If you consider a task personally rewarding, you're usually more likely to accomplish it as you enjoy the process. While you may not always get tangible or measurable results, you still feel personally satisfied and believe that the effort was worthwhile.

Read more: Intrinsic Motivation Examples (Plus Why It's Important)

Incentive motivation

Incentive motivation happens when you draw inspiration to complete a task from a potential reward. If employees derive motivations from incentives, they often focus less on the process and more on the reward. For example, when working on tasks requiring a high level of concentration, such as studying, you can use incentive motivation to increase your learning capacity, or you might focus on the increased pay when completing a project at work.

Affiliation motivation

Affiliation or social motivation comes from social interaction with other people. For example, employees may become self-motivated to do more and become better if they collaborate, giving them a sense of belonging to a group and recognizing the common good of their actions. Individuals experience social motivation even if there's no financial reward for a task. For instance, as an employee, you might derive motivation from colleagues and managers working toward a shared goal without any incentive or compensation.

Expectancy motivation

Expectancy motivation occurs when employees consider the prospects of their work and the results they expect in the end. Employees often put more effort into their work if the expected result is higher. Individuals who derive motivation from expected results focus on activities with a high certainty of a positive outcome.

Competence motivation

Employees often seek competence motivation because they want to be better at their tasks. Professionals like aeronautics engineers or neurosurgeons often become specialists in their niche fields and, therefore, benefit from competence motivation. They typically focus on increasing competency and becoming renowned for their proficiency.

Read more: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation: Which Is Best?

Identifying your core values for motivation

Different value systems can drive and motivate people in the workplace. These fundamental beliefs, ideals, and personal values often inform their decisions and act as a moral compass when they face difficult situations. When you identify your fundamental values and core ideas, it can be easier to discover your motivations and determine if achievement motivation can work for you. Then, you can learn to motivate yourself to achieve your personal and professional goals faster.

You can identify what motivates you by determining the goal or items that are important to you. Assess your daily routine and activities and notice the part you enjoy. Ask yourself if you're working toward a set goal or prefer to do the bare minimum. Also, look for opportunities that allow you to express your skills or talents. You can then decide if extrinsic awards, achievements, or intrinsic feelings drive you and use that knowledge to optimize your work.

How to use achievement motivation in the workplace

Here are some ways in which you can use achievement motivation in the workplace:

1. Set goals

Identifying goals you want to achieve is usually the first step in applying achievement motivation. Ensure you set specific and measurable goals with factors within your control. For instance, while a promotion at work requires top executives' approval, you can achieve your goal of addressing 25 customer complaints in a day independently.

Setting a measurable goal can help you regularly evaluate your progress and determine the time and resources you require to complete it. In addition, when you set goals within your control, you can easily accomplish them and increase your motivation. Choose goals that align with your long- and short-term career plans.

2. Receive feedback and improve

When you have high achievement motivation, you value feedback from your manager and colleagues. You can use their suggestions to review your work and challenge yourself to do better. You could discuss this with your manager and set up a periodic feedback system, either weekly or bi-weekly. You might also request performance reviews to assess your overall performance at work and receive insights on how you can improve.

During these meetings, you can ask your manager for new challenges to motivate you. You may also inform them of your motivations and explain why you want to take on more tasks. If you impress your manager, they may create a more comfortable work environment to help you achieve your goals.

3. Find new projects

You can always find new tasks and responsibilities at work if you don't currently have a task that challenges you. Before taking on these challenges, list the skills and experience you want to gain from the new task and ensure they're measurable. Then you can set key performance indicators and metrics to judge your performance. Next, you can find a new project within your team or department. Depending on your goals, you can also look for a task outside your department.

4. Begin your day, week, and month with a plan

Planning can help you motivate yourself to achieve your short- and long-term goals. You can start by creating a physical or online journal where you write your plans. Then, begin each morning by writing all you want to achieve that day. While you have specific daily objectives, you can include them in plans for your weekly or monthly goals. Detailing your objectives at the beginning of each day can help you prioritize your tasks and determine how much time to spend on them.

Likewise, you can begin the first day of the week by planning your goals for the week and month. Before writing down your plans, evaluate your previous goals to determine if you achieved them. This evaluation can allow you to identify how you can optimize them. You may also identify items on your list that you achieved the previous year and add any unfinished plans to your new list. Planning each day properly usually increases the chances of achieving your goals and improves your sense of accomplishment.

An example of applying achievement motivation at work

If you're a customer care representative at a communication company, you often have specific tasks to complete daily. You may set a personal goal to complete 30 calls in a day. Completing a call and attending to a customer query can make you feel energized and motivated. Your supervisor may also offer feedback that you can use to improve your work.

After that, you could consider the feedback while increasing your daily goal to 35 calls. Your reward is the completion of the calls and the customers' satisfaction. In addition, your manager may offer you a new task in a different department that you might decline if you think you may perform less impressively. Instead of taking the task, you could ask to remain in your current position.

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