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Discuss the elements of motivation  How would you discuss the three key elements of motivation: 1. persistence 2. direction 3. definition

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One important aspect of persistence that I feel is often ignored is the impact that early success on a given task can have on future persistence.  You hear the concept discussed in sports and business most often as “success breeds success.”  The general idea is of course that once someone experiences a small measure of success on a given task this will increase their effort, which will of course lead to more success.


I think this phenomenon occurs for two reasons.  One, the initial barrier to success can be a powerful psychological wall.  No matter what evidence or testimonials may indicate, until someone can personally experience a given course of action result in a rewarding outcome, they are always going to harbor some doubt.  The other component is that once someone has been successful at a given task the feelings of success can become addictive, thus pushing them to repeat their success.     


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Since you want information on the elements of motivation and you've presented (almost) the three-part model of motivation, let me just clarify it for you a bit first. As litteacher states, and according to Virginia Commons University, the key elements of the three-part model of motivation are:

  1. Direction
  2. Intensity
  3. Persistence

These elements answer the questions of "What?" "How much?" and "How long?" Please note: the model only enunciates the "What?" question but as a comprehension and memory aid, iit is helpful to some to also phrase the other two elements in terms of related questions as well.

Direction is the choice for decision or action that is made out of the various alternatives available: What will you choose do to address the problem, the project, the issue, the need? Intensity is with how much energy and vigor you work in fulfilling the choice of decision or action you have made: How much effort will you expend? How much energy will you devote? Persistence is how long a duration you will expend effort and energy on the action or decision you make: How long will you expend effort and energy? How long a duration of time will you put effort and energy into the action or decision?

It is important to remember that motivation models predict effort, not outcome: motivation facilitates choosing a direct to go, expending intensity of energy and effort, and persistence in continuing to expend energy and effort. It does not facilitate outcome except insofar as direction of action, intensity of effort and persistence in exertion relate to outcome. In addition, motivation may be multifaceted--have more than one direction of exertion--because motivation may stimulate a response to more than one need: each need may require a unique direction and a different effort over varying durations; thus motivation may be multifaceted.

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I agree that the crucial aspect of management is investment in outcomes, but of the three choices provided, I have to say direction. It is the easiest to institute (provided you have a clear vision for what you want employees to do) and the form of...

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motivation that most workers are accustomed to responding to. Of course, as my qualifier about clarity of vision suggests, most of these aspects of management are interlocking. You can't provide direction without definition, and you probably won't receive positive results without persistence. But without direction or leadership, a business falters.

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Each of these elements of motivation seem like they can be potentially subsumed by a larger idea of investment in an outcome. 

Motivation, generally, seems to come down to exactly this. When a person is invested in an outcome, he/she is motivated. What leads to this kind of investment? 

Putting the question this way, I think we can see a way to address the issue practically from a management standpoint. Encouraging individual investment in an outcome can be achieved in a variety of ways, including the assignment of direct responsibility for projects and tasks to employees/staff.

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I highly recommend that you read Daniel Pink's book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  In this book, Pink addresses persistence, direction, and definition in terms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  He basically unravels the old 'carrot and the stick' approach, and focuses on direction, specifically autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  He makes the argument that rewards and consequences do not really affect human behavior or motivation as much as man's internal desire to be self-directed, creative, and feel that his work is making a difference somehow.  Many companies and school districts, including my own, are moving to a more project-based platform of work and engagement based on the Pink's model and research.

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I'm going to assume that you intended to list "intensity" instead of "definition" as the third key element of motivation, ranger 1980.

Persistence deals with the dedication one brings to the completion of a task. One might be motivated to stick with a project for a variety of reasons, such as enjoyment of the task, feeling challenged to conquer the work, curiosity to learn about the end result, fear of failure or threat of penalty if the work is not completed, desire for reinforcement that occurs as long as the work continues,...

Direction, as noted above, refers to choice. When a person is presented several options, one chooses one particular possibility to follow because, for whatever reason(s), that option is most appealing to the person. Direction reflects that choice of alternatives and the activity that follows the choice. One usually chooses the option that is the most highly motivating and therefore the most likely to be fulfilled or completed.

Intensity deals with the depth of involvement in the work being done. A person who is highly motivated by a task may choose to spend much more time and effort working on the project than is expected or required, devoting much intense thought and concentration upon the task. A person who is not intensely motivated may complete the task, but not display any enthusiasm and certainly not with any extra effort put forth.

In terms of organizational behavior, the leader of an organization raises the level of involvement and cooperation of the followers in the group as the followers increase involvement and buy-in regarding the direction. As commitment to the project is supported and positive outcomes are explained, the leader should be able to raise the levels of persistence in finishing the work and intensity in doing it well.

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In a more behavioral theory of motivation, all motivation begins with a stimulus.  Basically, it is what gets your attention.  Then there are three elements.

Direction refers to where you look, or which alternative you take.

Intensity is basically how motivated you are.

Persistence means that you continue to attempt to do something in that direction.

What motivates people?  It will vary by person.  However, most people are not exactly motivated by money.

Study after study has found that the most effective motivators of workers are nonmonetary. (enotes)

Basically, money is divisive.  If you motivate people by offering money, they will resent the ones who get the money rather than just work harder to get it themselves.

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Is there any further information that you might be able to give us about what you need discussed?  For example, what aspects of these elements do you need discussed? 

Since you have placed this in the Business section, let me discuss which of these elements is most likely to be affected by management.  In other words, how much can management really do to affect motivation? 

I would argue that direction is the element of motivation that managers can do the most to affect.  It is much easier for a manager to teach an employee which choices to make than it is for the manager to persuade the employee to care deeply or prolongedly about a decision or action.  Thus, the first element is the one that managers should try most to affect.

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