L&D: Sometimes We Assume Too Much About Learner Motivation

Is It Fair or Realistic To Expect the Same From Every Learner?

In terms of their motivation to learn?

Should they be as motivated to learn and grow and learn and grow as we ourselves might be?


I think not.

As The Kinks taught some of us – back in the day – back in the 1960s:

‘Cause I’m not like everybody else
I’m not like everybody else


From Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in the Classroom

Psychologists have identified two distinct forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation refers to an inherent interest in pursing a topic (“learning for learning’s sake”).  These individuals find a subject enjoyable and they naturally desire to learn mastery of it.

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to a desire to pursue a subject for reasons outside of the individual, such as rewards, grades, parental or instructor approval, etc.  These individuals are motivated to learn a subject not because they want to learn it, but because learning the material will get them good grades, parental praise, or because jobs in that field pay well; all of which are external rewards.

But for me there’s another angle on this motivation thing – and that is Not Motivated:

I’ve got other things on my mind/ in my mind. And they don’t include this at the top of the list.

Your expectations be damned – so to speak.


Not Motivated to Learn?

Not motivated to learn and grow and learn and grow?

No Lifelong Learning!?!

Say it ain’t so!


Sorry. But sometimes “it is so.”

Even in the ranks of folks working in the L&D Profession. 

Sometime they have another life outside of work. Something that balances out in favor of that life outside of work.

Their situation might be temporary or somewhat permanent. It could include:

  • A sick child, parent or loved one
  • Financial troubles
  • Marital troubles
  • A different preference for a career path – and this right now is just a job and not my career

And frankly – NONE of it is YOUR business. So don’t prod to be helpful.

So there’s that.

It Is – Perhaps – A Selection Issue

Or a counseling issue.

And not a Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management Issue.

Take People As They Are

Don’t expect everyone to measure up to your standards, to your expectations, to your motivation levels.

Bag That – is the nice way to say what I mean.

Do the best you can – and let everyone else do the best that they can – and/or are willing to attempt to do – right now – or forever.

If it truly gets in the way of the demands of the Work Processes – for productivity – for safety – for continuous improvement – then leave that to management. That is their job, no? Let them deal with it directly – or indirectly.

Maybe they need to “just let Guy go.” Or maybe they need to “cut Guy some slack for the moment or foreseeable future.”

Questions/ Comments/ Concerns

If so motivated, please comment below.

Your comments are always appreciated.

# # #





Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.