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It is the number one reason why millionaires and billionaires exist today. It is also to blame for homelessness and the self demise of countless individuals. What could possibly cause someone to suddenly abandon their quest for obscene wealth and take up humanitarian efforts in a third world country? According to Management, "motivations can be thought of as the set of forces that energize, direct, and sustain behavior". (p. 240) The human race would have become extinct a long time ago if we did not possess some sort of internal drive to survive, and improve our quality of life. While we may recognize motivation and what spurs us into meaningful action, harnessing it in a way to promote higher levels of productivity is what keeps employers up at night. Satisfying the needs of each individual can work for or against an organization. It's important to understand the internal workings of an organization and how its leaders often struggle with satisfying the needs of each person within the organization. This paper will focus on the most effective motivational theory capable of instilling sustainable prosperity for its employees.
iFiction is a business that started publishing electronic books written and marketed exclusively for owners of iPods, iPads, and iPhones. The business started off as a boutique publisher that catered to the socially elite, but later opened up to a more versatile readership of tech mongrels and affluent trend setters. Books and articles were written after requests were received from rich clients, while access to their products and services was viewed as restrictive to most. In an effort to reach a larger market, iFiction lowered the $50,000.00 membership fee by offering a basic membership for a meager one hundred dollars. As iFiction company grew, so did their clientele and respective revenue. Membership had grown tremendously over the following year, but many of the writers began losing interest in producing quality pieces. Interpersonal conflicts began to appear, where employees in different departments became increasingly segregated. Productivity spiraled down to an all time low in respect to mediocre content and lethargic workflow. Production had slipped enough for the sales and administrative departments to begin blaming each other for the diminished output. The culture within the business began to deteriorate to the point where drastic measures were taken by iFiction's CEO Jose Stevens, when he faked a seizure during the company's televised annual meeting. iFiction's spokesperson later claimed that the seizure was caused by a malignant brain tumor with ripple effects slowing production and sales. During the ensuing downtime the organization began to investigate ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness through increased motivation for excellence. A comprehensive incentive plan was introduced and quickly scrapped as decreased or increased compensation did not motivate employees. Duties and positions were shuffled around as an effort to inject a breath of fresh air into employees who seemed burned out and unwilling to contribute meaningful effort.
Specialists, consultants, and celebrities like Oprah were hired to develop a new program that would encourage renewed productivity. Even Steve Jobs had visited the business and contributed his thoughts on improving their productivity. Oddly enough, his assistant was the one who brought up an interesting point that ended up spurring change in the right direction. According to Blumenthal's book, Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, "His father's careful craftsmanship and commitment to the finest details made a deep impressionâ€¦ His father also stressed the importance of doing things right" (p.9-10). He went on to claim that if quality and pride was not an integral part of their service, they would not sleep well at night. Jobs' assistant touched upon the basic principle used in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. While each department had their own unique level of needs, it become apparent to iFiction's senior management their issue was that of professional satisfaction and pride. This seemed to be too simple of a solution and instead a few different theories were applied to the situation with iFiction employees.
The equity theory is sometimes ineffective because sources of motivation often focus on the individuals' perceptions of how fairly they are treated in relation to others. The direction and persistence of work behavior parallels that of the job function ( Daft, Marcic, 2013, p. 493). The differing perspectives will allow a team to have input from many angles, however the platform for which each employee is working on is not equal to that of others. Equity would be applicable from an administrative level, however the theory loses its effectiveness when crossing from the tasks of an administrator as opposed to those of the production team or a salesperson. Problem solving is easier with multiple perspectives, as opposed to attempting to serve all through the same platform.
The company's top leaders continued to research many theories, but substantial flaws were identified with the unique scenario in regards to iFiction employees. Herzberg's Two-factor Theory seems to work for some employees, but the hygiene factors and motivators were less applicable to identifying how to more effectively motivate employees. This theory was used to outline improvements but some employees were discouraged with the prospect of increased responsibility and autonomy within the characteristics of the job. If a single department were experiencing problems this theory may be more applicable, but the complexity and depth of the problem at iFiction needed a conceptual solution, one that focuses on the core values behind the needs of each individual.
The essence of Maslow's need hierarchy theory is that an individual is motivated to satisfy the most basic needs first (such as physiological needs) and then, once those are satisfied, move to the next level (Hitt, Black, & Porter, 2012, p. 243). This is entirely true with iFiction, the needs of the production, sales, and administrative employees were being met but the higher order needs presented in Maslow's theory were not being addressed. The sales department had achieved massive growth through increased levels of esteem after meeting their basic sales goals. Additional growth was being realized until the production team began to submit low quality work which in turn flooded the company's administrative department. Credit card charge backs, complaint letters, and even litigation resulted from iFiciton's decrease in quality. Maslow's theory addressed the basic needs at all levels, from physiological to social and eventually self-actualization needs.
The beauty of Maslow's need hierarchy theory is that it encompasses not only the basic essentials of life, but it also touches upon the needs of employees to feel safe and secure, through acceptance and respect from other people. How can the production team expect to produce quality work unless they are personally fulfilled and are eligible to accomplish meaningful goals? It was necessary to shift the focus back to the skills and talent of each individual in the company. Communication between departments was also necessary, so each employee could showcase their talent and feed off of the success of one another. Once the individual identity of the employee was developed, they would then be able to better contribute to the success of the business. Individual recognition reinforced their accomplishments and self worth, boosting esteem and social status within the company. Improved recognition worked well with the sales force as well, with compensation and respect from colleagues taking the back seat to personal achievements realized through personal development.
iFiction began to run more cohesively, with administrative employees working directly with production and the sales force, focusing on setting goals that would benefit not only the business, but also the employees. Professional satisfaction began to leave the workplace and infiltrate the personal lives of employees. Employees not only were financially secure, but also began to work on accomplishing industry firsts, such as being the first business to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.
iFiction has grown to become the world's premier authority on well written documentaries, technical books, and social/economic news. The iFiction book titled Fact or iFiction is the worldwide number 2 best seller and is now being taught at most colleges and universities. Not only is iFiction the industry leader in the segments that it serves, it continues to grow through affiliated businesses and business partners who are eager to work with the international powerhouse. Google was once thought of as being the avant-garde and were studied for their success. Now Google is taking notes from iFiction on how to better cater to the needs of the employees while marketing their products and services to the masses. Maslow's limitations are now being pushed to the point where the spiritual plane is now being discussed as the final piece necessary to top the pyramid of categories.
There is a need for sustaining growth within companies rich with diversity within their workforce. Improved job design through Maslow's needs hierarchy has allowed the next level of job fulfillment, one that goes beyond the superficial compensation of dollar bills. Self esteem, respect, belongingness, and self actualization is the currency of today's workforce. iFiction is a perfect example of how enriching the employee experience can prove to be profitable, and fulfilling at all levels.