Motivation Techniques and Motivation Theories

"To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities." – Bruce Lee

Motivation is a key to making things happen, whether you’re developing software, leading teams, or just getting yourself out of bed and on with your day.

It's hard to change the world, or even just your world for that matter, if you lack the motivation or drive.  In a world where there is plenty that can bring you down, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with motivation techniques that work, and motivation theories that explain *why* they work.

Motivation Techniques
You can motivate yourself with skill, as well as others, if you know the key motivation techniques.  Here is my latest collection of motivation techniques and methods at a glance:

You can use the motivation techniques to motivate yourself and others.

Motivation Theories
There are a lot of motivation theories that are relevant, and some have evolved over the years.    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is useful to know for understanding some basic drivers.  It’s also useful to know David McClelland’s Theory of Needs , and that focuses on achievement, affiliation, and power as key drivers. 

It’s also useful to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  For example, if you depend on other people to carrot or stick you, you’re driving from extrinsic motivation.  If instead, you’re doing something because it makes you feel alive or unleashes your passion or simply just for a job well done, then you’re driving from intrinsic motivation, and that is a powerful place to be. 

It’s also useful to know that at the end of the day, purpose is the most powerful driver, and if you can connect what you do to your purpose, then you bring out your best and you’re a powerful force to be reckoned with.  Purpose, passion, and persistence change the game.

Timeline of Motivation Theories, Studies, and Models
Here is a timeline of some interesting work on the study of motivation:

  • 1939 - The Hawthorne studies focused on supervision, incentives, and working conditions.
  • 1957 - Argyris focused on the congruence between individual's needs and organizational demands.
  • 1959 - Focused on sources of work satisfaction to design the work to make it enriching and rewarding (Herberg, Mausner, and Snyderman)
  • 1964 - Valence-instrumentality-expectancy model (Vroom.)
  • 1975 - Organizational behavior modification - Focused on the automatic role of rewards and feedback on work motivation, but downplayed the impact of psychological processes such as goals and self-efficacy.
  • 1977 - Self-efficacy (Locke)
  • 1980 - Focused on ways specific work characteristics and psychological processes that increase employee satisfaction. (Hackman, and Oldham.)
  • 1986 - Goals and self-efficacy (Bandura)
  • 1986 – Social-cognitive theory (Bandura)
  • 1986 - Attribution theory - Focuses on how the ways you make attributions affects your future choices and actions. (Weiner)
  • 1987 - Goal theory - Focuses on the effects of conscious goals as motivators of task performance. (Lord and Hanges)
  • 1997 – Self-efficacy has a powerful motivation effect on task performance (Bandura.)
  • 2002 - Goal-setting theory (Locke and Latham)

Motivation Quotes
If you need some inspiring words of wisdom, be sure to explore my collection of motivation quotes.

Comments (3)

  1. sql-troubles says:

    Sometimes is enough to avoid the de-motivation techniques.

  2. Motivation says:

    I am absolutely thankful for the techniques you had given, it would really help us a lot.

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Adrian — True that.

    @ Motivation — Thank you.

Skip to main content