Engaging Managers: Extrinsic, Intrinsic & The Managers I Want To Work For


social corporate responsibility

Someone wants you to do it or you want to do it,  Successful managers make you forget there is a difference. The science of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is often explained in segments, quarters, or pizza slices, and when talking about theory, it makes sense to separate thinking into simple terms. But how does this help your managers, become more engaging managers.

Firstly, are you recruiting the right managers? You don’t need managers who just talk results, deadlines, and targets, any more than a manager who only talks happiness, employee recognition, and well being. The art of a good manager is building teams that receive and understand both, and to do that employees need to be willing participants, engaged, and involved. They want to do it, whether asked or not.

Today, as culture and engagement are rising to the top of the HR agenda, an employee’s ability to motivate themselves is increasingly important. Employees who don’t want to do it, or as importantly, don’t know what they want to do, are not finding it as easy to get through the door as they once did. So this leads me onto how managers can be more effective in the art of motivation, and crucially, understand how integral they are to us finding our own motivation.

Looking at the thousands of recognitions that whizz through our software each day, it is easy to see the managers you would want to work for, and those you would not. The bang my own drum beaters, the one dimensional carrot eaters, the company value underminers and the budget cheaters are in stark contrast to the managers you would want to work for. What a manager sees, what they don’t see, and what they say, tells a story, as does the way they use reward. Their philosophy shines through over a short period of time, as does their ability to motivate, or de-motivate their team. Can you recognise these managers in your business, who do you work for?

No Thanks

  • They never do it, far too busy
  • Their recognition pays lip service to personal and company values, you don’t respect what they say and do.
  • Recognition is out of character, you don’t feel it.
  • A small reward at Christmas ticks the box, you are now officially recognised.
  • It makes no sense, you know your good work is being missed.
  • Peer recognition is inferior to manager recognition.
  • They recognise “their big” things and ignore “your small” things.
  • They play games, it’s a secret, just between you and them, Shhhhhh.
  • They cant tell stories.
  • They have made it into a competition, with winners and losers.

Yes Please

  • They are first class “noticers”  and focus on recognising the small things.
  • They are proud to elevate their team through peer and social recognition.
  • Their messages are thought out, they tell stories.
  • They don’t need to give you a million dollars, to make you feel a million dollars.
  • They understand your strengths and weaknesses, they know what your best work, and progress, look like.
  • They are fair and consistent, recognition is on merit. It’s not an exercise in trying to keep everyone happy.
  • They think Christmas is for trees and photocopiers, not over due recognition.
  • They understand company values and objectives, and how you and the team have contributed.
  • They don’t interchange recognition and reward, they know the difference, the value,  and the role of each.
  • It’s NEVER about them.

Are you evaluating a manager’s ability to inspire, and encourage your people? The best managers see giving, and encouraging recognition, as an integral part of their management skills. They understand recognition is an emotional expression, and a human connection that helps frame performance, and bring organisational values, behaviour, actions, and transparency into the day to day lives of every employee.

The beauty of social recognition is that it supports managers in helping employees find their own motivational strengths and opportunities, while maintaining their own.


Jason Harney

Founder, also Director of Product and Marketing at Workstars. Jason has been instrumental in progressing social recognition software to the forefront of HR, against a backdrop of the traditional reward industry. As HR strategy begins to shift and innovate to meet the people and social challenges of the day. Trust, culture, values and engagement, matter more than ever. This is where Jason spends his time.