Hybrid Motivators: A New Challenge for Organizations

Is your company, like Facebook, acting to motivate employees both intrinsically and extrinsically?


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"Go Inside Facebook's Strategy to Grow, Innovate and Engage Its People" was the title of a presentation we gave last month before an audience of 1,500. Facebook's head of learning and development joined us. And during our presentation we made an interesting discovery.

Related: How to Turn a Huge Vision Into a Reality

Facebook's heads often talk about the way they motivate employees, both intrinsically and extrinsically. "Extrinsic" covers the company's onsite services, like medical care and car washes, which make employees' lives easier. "Intrinsic" goes a step further, motivating employees, for instance, by hosting "hackathons" in which they stay up all night to write amazing new code just for the fun and challenge of it.

While our presentation about Facebook hit all six of the motivational factors we usually talk about, which are either intrinsic or extrinsic, what we found intriguing was the number of factors that could fall into both categories. This led us to coin the term hybrid motivators for Facebook and companies like it, whose vision is clear and used everyday for making tough decisions.

The social media giant's vision, of course, is to make the world more open and connected. And it could be argued that such a strong mission is extrinsically motivating: Any employee clear about Facebook's vision knows how to align his or her goals and make progress toward them. The clarity and alignment that result then have an impact and are recognized and rewarded.

It could be argued, on the other hand, that a strong vision and mission ignites the passion in people and is thus intrinsically motivating. Facebook employees are excited to help give people access to the Internet and change their lives. This action is intrinsically motivating because those employees believe they are making a difference in the world.

Which is it, then? Here, categorized under three of our basic human needs, are those six motivational factors we talk about, which your company, like Facebook, might use to motivate its people, both intrinsically and extrinsically


Humans are driven (Abraham Maslow would agree) to first fulfill their basic needs of food, shelter and safety. In a workplace context, "security" is identified by motivational factor number one, compensation, and motivational factor number two, job security. If, as an employee, your compensation needs are adequately met, you can check this box. If they are not fully met, compensation might be a source of motivation.

If, as an employer, you want better performance, offer stronger incentives and bonuses.

Related: How to Determine the Correct Things to Focus On

Next comes job security. Regardless of the shape the economy is in, we are all motivated to work for a company that is thriving and not going under, and we are motivated by knowing that our performance is adequate enough to assure us security. If your employees are getting paid enough and know they have job security, then you've just met two of their six needs.


Humans are social creatures driven by the need to "affiliate" with things they care about. With motivational factor number three, we want to feel connected to our team and organizations. Given that we spend most of our lifetime working, we are motivated by working for a company, department or team that makes us proud and eager to tell friends and family about our winning team, e.g., "How cool is it that Joe works for Facebook [or Apple]?"

We want to feel an affiliation with the companies and teams we work with and the change they are making in the world. Motivational factor number four, then, is your own identity. Some people are motivated by the identity associated with a profession (being a doctor) or a title (vice president). Some of us are motivated by that next promotion to the title that we deserve and want to be recognized for. It will become part of the new identity we strive to embody.


Humans desire to be intellectually challenged and stimulated. In the workplace, we are looking for motivational factor number five: new and exciting opportunities that keep us engaged and stretch us at the same time. Specifically, we like to work on new and cool projects/initiatives, or to be put on a task force that will change how we operate internally.

Who doesn't want to be on the project that will change the way we experience mobile apps? Chances are that some of your direct reports, particularly high performers, need that level of stimulation to stay engaged and continue their career with the company.

Finally, we are motivated by motivational factor number six: mastery in a new domain. We all want to learn new skills and gain mastery, then move on to learn something else. This pattern not only keeps our skills fresh but keeps us relevant and marketable in the world of work.

It is only when we have mastery over an area where we feel that we are performing at our best, that we can have a sense of autonomy rather than a need to rely on others or to be micromanaged.


So, here is your first challenge: Decide if your own organization is motivating employees, intrinsically or extrinsically (or both). Then, accept the second challenge: Move your enterprise from a good company to a great company by discovering what additional, hybrid, motivators you need to put in place.

Related: The 10 Biggest Motivation Killers and How to Fix Them (Infographic)

Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell

Principals of Skyline Group International

The Sindells are principals in Skyline Group International, Inc., Skyline Group is the leading provider of scalable leadership solutions with a foundation built upon decades of executive coaching with some of the most recognized companies in the world. Skyline is revolutionizing the leadership development industry with the C4X coaching platform. C4X is the only coaching solution that gives you the ability to develop all leaders consistently and systematically from onboarding to executive development. C4X combines a flexible and mobile technology platform (integrated assessment, personalized content, metrics, and coach management system) with the impact and connection of 1:1 coaching. Learn more at www.SkylineG.com and www.C4X.com.

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