Internal and external motivation in the workplace

Being in the box has a negative impact on an individual’s internal and external motivation in the workplace. We lose our “what-focus and who-focus” because we are too occupied with justifying the characteristics we have created in our minds. (The Arbinger Institute, 2002) For example when I was an intern in the civil rights office, my first rotation was with the only diversity specialist. She had a fairly poor attitude but was excellent at the work that she produced. She insisted that employees should overlook her attitude and focus on the point she was making.

Over time I watched as her approach to interacting with her co-workers slowly escalated into arguments and the refusal to work with her. People wanted clear boundaries for what their responsibilities were versus the diversity specialist.

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Other people in the office lost motivation or developed a very short temper with the diversity specialist. The civil rights office could not work together to accomplish any group tasks if they were paired with this individual.

However it was the civil rights division that suffered as a whole.

Upper management noticed the internal discord and lost trust in the office. Internally I am positive that each employee blamed someone else for the loss of trust within the office. My office is a very great example of “collusion,”each person continues to act according to the characteristics they are placing on themselves and co-workers to justify not working as a team. (The Arbinger Institute, 2002) I am also guilty of shying away from working with the diversity specialist.

There were times when I could have stepped in to help her out but I refused to volunteer due to some of our interactions, I truly felt justified in my thinking also. Although I know that my Christian beliefs/values should have a positive affect on internal and external motivation in the workplace. I also know that this positive affect is accomplished by ensuring that I behave in a manner that would be pleasing to God. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes a Christian will know the right thing to do but will ignore their inner spirit.

It is challenging to offer someone that last bit of advice that will make a difference in their project when they constantly belittle your suggestions or take credit for the work you do. Christians must remind themselves that their rewards will come from God, not man. Motivation has a huge impact on the amount of conflict in the workplace. When people are motivated in a positive manner to interact with co-workers and employees, you have a positive, productive work environment.

However when you have a few people “in the box” it has a negative domino affect on the work environment. (The Arbinger Institute, 2002) People want to leave early and only produce what is required of them. As blame begins to shift to everyone around them, there is a loss of motivation to go the extra mile or be helpful to others.


The Arbinger Institute (2002). Leadership and Self-Deception. Sand Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

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Internal and external motivation in the workplace. (2018, Oct 11). Retrieved from

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