Summary of Intrinsic Motivation at Work

Building Energy and Commitment

Berrett-Koehler, more...

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Intrinsic Motivation at Work book summary
Forget “Show me the money!” These days it’s “Show me the meaning!”


8 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


Kenneth W. Thomas presents a model for using intrinsic motivation in the workplace to assure a more committed, self-managed workforce. He advocates leading for meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. He emphasizes the need to use this approach to give employees the greater independence and decision-making authority they need as bureaucratic management models break down. While many of these themes are presented in other books on leadership, motivation, training and worker empowerment, Thomas pulls them together in a well-organized, clearly written presentation that gives readers clear directions. The succinct style of writing is easy to understand, even though it is directed toward the serious reader. getAbstract recommends this book to executives, managers, trainers and management consultants, as well as to employees, who will find helpful ideas for exercising greater self-management.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why employees seek intrinsic value at work
  • Why managers need to make work meaningful and purposeful
  • Why worker self-management has become so important


Management and Motivation
Since the beginning of the 20th century, management has been based on simplifying, organizing and coordinating tasks; developing policies and procedures, and creating hierarchies to assure worker compliance with the rules. Managers emphasized creating standardized...
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About the Author

Kenneth W. Thomas, Ph.D., is a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He has also served on the management faculties at UCLA, Temple University, and the University of Pittsburgh, where he was director of the doctoral program. He is known for his research and training materials on conflict management. He is the author of Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which is widely cited in the literature on conflict resolution, and is featured in the training video Dealing with Conflict.

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    Janice Nessel 11 months ago
    Meaningful work - for employees with the desire to make a difference and work an honest day's workload - is extremely important to some employees. Listening to what makes an employee tick is important to understand and know the direction of each of your employees.
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    Morrison Shawn Marie 1 year ago
    I find that both my professional and non -professional staff have a sense of ownership of their work as it speaks to their intrinsic motivations. Finding, cultivating and keeping these folks is the trick!
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    Jones Joni Denise 1 year ago
    I find my higher level, professional staff are interested in self-direction and rise to the challenge when responsibilities are "handed-off" to them. My challenge is trying to figure out what the intrinsic motivators are for my lower level, non-professional staff because "handing off" and encouraging pride of ownership in their work and its outcomes doesn't seem to work.
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    Catanzaro Marianna L 1 year ago
    This article is on target! I see this with my own team. They are self-directed. They know what they have to do and the deadlines. We discuss and plan as a team, every one contributes. This collaborative environment is much more productive, and staff really owns it. They are not afraid to speak up.

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