Dan Pink has done some great work at helping us understand motivation. His work suggests motivation has three distinct elements:
It has been really powerful insight for managers, leaders and organisations looking at understanding how they might approach the critical issue of intrinsic motivation differently.
Often creating a sense of purpose for the individual can be the more challenging, so here are a few questions (source HBR) you can ask to foster an employees's sense of purpose:
What are you good at? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths.
What do you enjoy? In a typical working week, what do you look forward to doing? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about work.
What feels most useful? Which work outcomes make you proudest? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organisation? The answers can highlight the inherent value of certain work.
What creates a sense of forward momentum? How is your work today getting you closer to what you want? The point here is to show people how their current role helps them advance toward future goals.