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Me

My name is Marko Mrdjenovič. I’m a web developer, manager and an entrepreneur from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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I like solving problems. I do that by writing code, managing projects and people. I like creating good experiences. And going to conferences.

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I work full time on Klevio so I'm currently not available for freelance work (UX, frontend, backend).

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Motivation and hiring

I don’t think I ever wrote about motivation much here even though it’s one of my favorite subjects and was also the main topic of my thesis. Recently I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot again and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very important to use it to hire the right person.

Back to the beginning. There are loads of theories on motivation and most of them just cover different aspects and mostly they can all live together. One of the aspects of motivation is where it comes from. That gives us intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Obviously it’s not a boolean thing as any individual sits on a line between the extremes. And there’s also the matter of having a different source of motivation for different things. Let’s not get into that.

Intrinsic motivation

Let me quote Wikipedia on this:

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure.

We are motivated by the fact that we’re getting something done and by the feeling we get ourselves when we’re done. We’re not in it so someone can tell us we did a good job. We don’t really care. A friend of mine once said: “It’s for me. If somebody else likes it – great.” We like to think that the more we get into the subject, the better we’ll be at it and the better the result. In other words no relying on luck, no shortcuts, no marketing/selling, no subpar stuff. Because of all this we don’t like when others interfere with stuff we’re responsible for.

Extrinsic motivation

Another quote from Wikipedia:

Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and grades, coercion and threat of punishment. Competition is in general extrinsic because it encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity.

These people often need to be “managed” to give them the sense of direction and success and are in that way more demanding. They also need more information about what is going on and might see the successes of their co-workers as their own and be empowered by them.

Who to hire?

You might want to hire intrinsically motivated people when you don’t have the management layers to keep them motivated or you just don’t have time to do that. On the other hand it’s very hard to keep them motivated when all the fun work is gone and thus tend to either switch tasks/assignments or try to over-explore/discover. These two reasons are also why some people want to hire intrinsically motivated employees only to later regret it as they can’t motivate them anymore or don’t know how.

Hiring extrinsically motivated people might be better for cases where you can manage them properly as they might feel lost without guidance. They are somewhat easier to motivate as you have a lot more ways to do it – sometimes even just a public pat on the back suffices. They are surely a better choice for a company in an established market as they thrive on beating the competition. If you have an “employee of the month” you should hire extrinsically motivated people.

I think it’s very important to hire a homogenous team motivation-wise. An extrinsically motivated manager might have a problem motivating an intrinsically employee and the employee won’t get why his extrinsically motivated colleague is bummed that he wasn’t complimented on the great work last week.

The intrinsic problem

We intrinsically motivated have a problem. Even though that extrinsically motivated people can internalize motivation when it matches their values and beliefs it is much more common for somewhat extrinsically motivated people to become more and more extrinsic with time due to the Overjustification effect. As that means that their number will go up with time, most of us are used to just getting in to solve the problems and then get out. Somewhat ironic that it sounds like a mercenary.

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