Essay on Motivation and Strength

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Essay on Motivation and Strength

According to Landy and Becker (1987), “the psychological meaning of motivation is the internal mental state of a person which relates to the initiation, direction, persistence, intensity, and termination of behaviour”. The internal force or desire that drives an individual towards the achievement of a fixed goal. Since, motivation alone is not enough to achieve a goal, ability is needed for a motivated individual to accomplish a given task. Therefore, ability is the knowledge or capacity of executing a task. Ability is strength. Linley (2008), suggests that, “strength is a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energising to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance. The aim of this essay is to demonstrate how needs motivate individuals and affects their behaviours.

Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do and how you do it. Motivation is the process that explains how and why human behaviour is directed and affected (Latham, 2007). There are two types of motivation, intrinsic, the internal factors such as desire to work hard and the reward for working hard and the satisfaction to have accomplished something (wood et al, 2006). For example, if a manager announces that the hardest working employee will be crowned the employee of the month. It will trigger in an individual the desire to always finish and submit a task before the given time so as to be nominated as an employee of the month. Extrinsic motivation, external factors such as money, holidays and other tangible incentives. And it can be caused by the desire of an individual to achieve a certain aim. When an individual is satisfied by external factors, it can be said that he/she is extrinsic motivated (Osterloh & Frey, 2000 p.539).

The main theories of motivation are content theory and process theory. The content theory explains the reason for a motivated behaviour; that is, “what” causes it. A content theory would explain behaviour aspects in terms of specific human needs or specific factor that “drive” behaviour (Henry, Tosi and Mero, 2000 p.129). For example, I am motivated to study for a degree or Jude is working hard to gain promotion. The desire to achieve a goal or something that affects an individual behaviour. Four major content theories of motivation are: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory, Herzberg’s motivation – hygiene theory, Alderfer’s ERG theory and McClelland’s theory.

According to Maslow A. (1943), human needs can be categorised into five categories:

(1) Physiological needs, are those primary needs required for survival like physical well-being food air clothing.

(2) Safety needs reflect a desire for protection against loss of shelter, food and other basic requirements for survival.

(3) Social needs such as affiliation, love and affection the need for family.

(4) Esteem needs the desire to be respected by others and for a positive self-image.

(5) Self-actualisation needs personal growth, individual desire to do what he or she has the potential of doing.

The basic needs must be fulfilled before moving to next level of need. Physical well-being must be provided before anything else can assume importance for a person. A person in real life must eat, breathe air before he can tend to move to another level of hierarchy needs. If a person is threatened or sick advancement to the next level of needs will be ignored until the issue is resolved. Higher order needs are unimportant unless the lower order needs are satisfied. According to Maslow’s theory a person is not motivated by a need that is satisfied.

Alderfer’s (1972), classified Maslow’s theory in three categories of basic needs. They are existence needs, relatedness needs, and growth needs (ERG Theory).

  1. Existence needs summarised Maslow’s physiological needs and security needs for material needs.
  2. Relatedness needs encompass security needs for interpersonal matters, affiliation and needs of an interpersonal nature.
  3. Growth needs concentrate on the need to confirm personal esteem and self-actualization

Similar to Maslow’s theory, ERG theory suggests that unsatisfied need does not arouse the desire for higher-order needs. According Miner (1980), ERG theory states that “the less relatedness needs are fulfilled, the more existence needs will be desired. And the less growth needs are fulfilled, the more relatedness needs will be desired”. This means that if a person is not able to satisfy the higher order needs, he/she will focus on the lower order needs, that is, he/she will regress on the need hierarchy.

Herzberg (1959), considers “hygiene and motivating factors in determining productivity and is called the two-factor theory. Hygiene factors are job contextual. They are satisfiers and not motivators and their absence create dissatisfaction.” The presence of hygiene factors are satisfying and motivating because motivating factors are associated with the content of the job.

According to McClelland (1965), “the two important concepts that underlie achievement-power theory are: Motive and The force of motives on behaviour. Motives are affectively toned associated networks arranged in a hierarchy of strength and importance within a person”. Motive has a big effect on behaviour and can generate the following needs: the needs for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation. “Achievement motive is extent to which success is important and valued by a person. The strength of motive is related to socialization experiences” (Heckhausen, 1967). The need for power having the desire to influence and control others and the environment. The need for affiliation, motive to develop and maintain close and meaningful relationships.

Motivation – The Process Theories

According to Tosi et al (2000), Process theories of motivation deals with how changes occur in behaviour without much emphasis on the specific factors (or “content”) that causes behaviour. The process theories include the following:

  1. Reinforcement theory
  2. Expectancy theory
  3. Equity theory
  4. Goal-setting theory
  5. Organisational justice theories

The four types of reinforcement consequences are: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction.

Positive reinforcement recompenses desirable behaviour. When a positive behaviour is rewarded with incentives like promotion, end of year bonus or salary increase, the individual tend to repeat the desired behaviour.

Avoidance is trying to show an employee the result of an improper behaviour which he/she will not experience if behaved otherwise.

Extinction is mainly ignoring the behaviour of a dependent and not providing either positive or negative reinforcement.

Punishment using a negative action to prevent reoccurrences of an improper behaviour.

Rewards can be extrinsic when external factors such as money, fringe benefits or job security are used as rewarding elements. Intrinsic – internal satisfaction outcome from doing work. Satisfaction – employee’s attitude about work situation.

Expectancy theory according to Vroom (1964), deal with the idea that “when you put an effort to a work, the outcome will be that you desire.

Equity theory basically when an employee compares the outcome of his input and output with those of others and then respond to eliminate any inequities. Equity theory states that people are motivated to maintain “fair relationship with others and to rectify unfair relationship by making them fair” (Baron, 1983).

Goal-setting is based on a simple premise: performance is caused by a person’s intention to perform (Locke et al; 1981). Goals are what a person is trying to accomplish or intends to do, and according to this theory, people will do what they are trying to do (Locke, 1968).

Organisational justice theory- procedural justice is the extent to which people believe they are treated fairly in terms of how decisions are made about things that affect them in the work. And distributive justice is the degree to which people believe that they are treated fairly and equitably with respect to work outcomes.

According to Aristotle strength is the best thing in us and things we are good at. There are two approaches of study of strength and they are:

  1. Strength Based Approach by Linley
  2. Positive Psychology by Seligman

Linley (2006) focuses on what is right, what is working and what is strong. That strengths are part of our basic human nature, therefore every person has strength and deserves respect for their strength. Our areas of greatest potentials are in the areas of our greatest strength. We succeed by fixing our weakness only when we are also making the most of our strength. Therefore, using our strength is the smallest thing we can do to make the biggest difference.

Seligman (2000) observed an imbalance in psychology research as it focused more in the negative side of personal psychology. That positive psychology is about well-being, contentment and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimum (for the future); and flow and happiness (in the present). The positive and development state of an individual are characterised by high self-efficacy, optimum, hope and resiliency.

According to Snyder (1995) hope is a person’s desire to achieve a goal (agency) and ability to envision varied options to achieve their goal (pathway).

Peterson and Seligman identified the 24 strengths or character traits which can benefit happiness and wellbeing. According to Seligman we can identify our signature strength and use these regularly in our lives. The 24 character traits are divided into groups of six distinti virtues as follows:

  1. Wisdom and knowledge (creativity, curiosity, judgement, love of learning, perspective)
  2. Courage (bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest)
  3. Humanity (love, kindness, social, intelligence)
  4. Justice (teamwork, fairness, leadership)
  5. Temperance (forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation)
  6. Transcendence (appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humour, spirituality)

In conclusion

Landy, f.J. and Becker, W.S. 1987: Motivation theory reconsidered. In L.L. Cummings and B.M. Staw (eds) Resarch in Organisation Behavvior, 9th edn, Greenwich, CT: JAI press, 1-38.

Tosi, H., Mero, N. and Rizzo, J. (2000).Managing organizational behavior. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell.

Maslow, A.H. 1943: A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-96