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In the management research project, it focuses to investigate on the impact of motivation on performance and productivity of staffs in DBS Bank Customer Centre which is their call centre. It views on the challenges faced by the call centre agents which often results in low morale and negative psychological effect on staffs.
Motivation is one area in an organisation that has no right or wrong practice and it will either have a positive or negative results depending on the mentality and quality of employees. It may act as driving factor towards positive or negative performance and productivity of staffs which varies from individual to individual. To bring out the best in the staff's willingness on completing a task and broaden their skill set to enhance their capabilities depends on how well the motivation plan is being carried out by the organisation.
To end the report, recommendations and conclusion are to be made in order for improvements on the current situation. This will be done with inter-linking some of the motivation theories and research on the factors causing the problem.
Company and Organisation Background
Back in 1968, was the early years since Singapore gain its independence, a medium was needed towards Singapore's economic development and DBS Bank Ltd was founded and recognized at Development Bank of Singapore.
To date, the bank has successfully turned itself into a strong and stable financial institution with a wide and comprehensive range of financial products and solutions to reach customer needs. DBS Bank is committed to empowering, educating and engaging its people to further achieve the company's performance.
DBS Bank Ltd is a big company and the organisation that is focused on is their Customer Centre which is their call centre.
DBS Bank Customer Centre has evolved to be one of the most competitive call centre in Singapore. The focus of DBS Bank Customer Centre is mainly on customer service and motivating their staffs to keep up with performance and productivity is a challenge due to the nature of environment of the job which can easily pull down its staffs with low morale and negative psychological effect.
1.2 Problem statement
As of current, staff selection has not been the root causing problem because the customer centre has a strict and comprehensive selection model which eliminates job seekers without the needed basic capabilities. Refer to illustration 1 to have a visualisation on the flow of their recruitment process for customer service officer.
Illustration 1 - Flow chart of DBS Bank Customer Centre recruitment process
So if the staff selection is not the root causing problem of staff's performance and productivity, then it points towards the direction of staff's motivation which might be driving their willingness to work and having positive customer service attitude.
1.3 Rationale & Selection
Motivation is not the only way to bring up performance and productivity but it is one of the way possible to implement and acquire results. The question here is, how can it be implemented and how effective will it be?
Motivation in definition as the process that account for an individual's intensity, direction and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal. (Robbins & Judge, 2012). From here, is the reason for the selection of topic on motivation as one of the key factor towards positive results of performance and productivity.
The author is a member of the workforce management team for DBS Bank Customer Centre and by deciding to do a research on this is beneficial towards the author in terms of further understanding and finding out the impact of motivation on performance and productivity of the human capital in the centre.
1.4 Objective & Research Questions
The objective of this report is to identify how can an effective motivation plan of an organisation can have an impact on staff's performance and productivity which may lead to understanding staff's job satisfaction which may be another topic.
To stay focus and aligned to the report objectives, this report will research on motivation theories and inter-linking them to the potential root-causing problems in the organisation and the following research objective in point form:
To find out if western motivational theories can be applied to DBS Bank Customer Centre.
To identify the origin causing problems of negative customer service performance and productivity.
To discover the potential solutions to improve customer service performance and productivity.
It is a heavy challenge to motivate and retain staffs in an environment of constant uncertainties. (Mitchel, 1982). Current market and economic conditions, topped with highly aggressive business situations sets a highly energetic and unpredictable working environment. Thus, improving methods on planning and implementing motivation program by DBS Bank customer centre towards their staffs is inevitable to achieve improvements on customer service performance and productivity.
In terms of motivation, the range of literature review available in books, online and offline is huge. One of the books that is first reviewed by the author for this report is "Essentials of Organizational Behavior", Eleventh Edition by Stephen P. Robbins & Timothy A. Judge (2012). There are three key elements in terms of motivation and they are intensity, direction and persistence (Robbins & Judge, 2012). Intensity is considered as quality of efforts. Direction is how the efforts are directed, towards and aligned with organisation's and company's target. Persistence is a dimension that measures the time frame that an individual can maintain effort. A highly motivated individual can focus on a job long enough to attain the goal.
Under the subject of organisational behavior, topic of motivation is part of it. It covers the study of organisations from multiple view points, methods and level of analysis into three perspective; modern, symbolic and post modern (Robbins, 2004).
The survival of an organisation and for it to be effectively and efficiently functioning draws down to the needs of different types of motivation practice for different types of staffs' behavior is very important (Bauer & Erdogan, 2009).
The rationale of this literature review is due to four reasons:
The importance of motivation in customer service industry.
The level of impact of staff motivation on organisation performance.
Evaluation of earlier theories and modern motivational theories that can be used to motivate staff.
Review best motivation practice that impacts performance and productivity.
Importance of Motivation and its Impact on Performance
Individuality and intricacy can be the terms to be used to categorise motivation. It is a must for managerial policies and strategies to be opened and "out of the box" way of thinking to tackle the motivation relating to individual staff (Mathis & Jackson, 2008). Interrelation between motivation and performance is inevitable which results in staff the performs better due to motivation. Profitable organisation comes from productive staffs and in order for them to be productive, they have to perform better and that can be due from motivation.
Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction and the sense of achievement falls under intrinsic whereas rewards, penalty, punishment and goal accomplishment falls under extrinsic.
A better reward system is something that DBS Customer Centre can look into as a motivating factor as well as staff recognition. The force that moves or shifts the performance of an organisation points towards motivation of staffs. The factor that differentiates an organisation from another is their human capital. Human capital, the staffs, is not an object or rather things, policies, processes or structures that can be copied or duplicated from one organisation to another. Poor rewards system and motivation practices often succumbed in high turnover rate and this is not regarded as a positive outcome because present routines will be disrupted and this will have an alternating disadvantage in performance.
The opposite of motivation is demoralisation. Demoralisation is easier to succumb to and it can have a viral effect from one staff to another. Continuous motivation and rewarding performing staff is one of the effective methods to retain them (Heracleous, 2003)
Motivation is a must in order to uphold optimum level of ingenuity and inventiveness in staffs and it is very important to sustain a diamond-like quality of performance to motivate excellent service (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2010).
The theoretical basis of research studies on motivation which have been undertaken by industrial psychologist and behavioral experts, draws from schools of management discourse of modern motivation theory (McGregor, 1960; Hofstede, 2001; Maslow, 1954).
Motivation theory is classified into two sections:
Discovering what actually motivate individuals. Example theories like Maslow's (Hierarchy of Needs), McCelland's (Theory of 3 Needs) and Herzberg's (Two Factor Theory).
Maslow's (Hierarchy of Needs)
Maslow hypothesized that within every individual, there exists a hierarchy of 5 needs: Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem and Self-Actualization (Robbins & Judge, 2012). The lower needs are Physiological and Safety needs and the higher needs are Social, Esteem and Self-Actualization needs. The difference between the lower needs and higher needs is that lower needs can be fulfilled by external factors like salary and tenure, the higher needs can only be fulfilled by internal factors which is within the individual.
Illustration 2 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
McCelland's (Theory of 3 Needs)
McCelland's theory of needs focuses on three needs (Robbins & Judge, 2012):
Need for Achievement - The drive to excel, achieve and succeed in relation to ordinary goals.
Need for Power - The need to command or make others behave in a certain way.
Need for Affiliation - The need for sociable, friendly and close interpersonal relationship.
Herzberg's (Two Factor Theory)
Herzberg's (Two Factor Theory) believes that individual's relationship to work is basic and that attitude towards work can very well conclude success or failure (Robbins & Judge, 2012).
Represents the current state of thinking in explaining staffs motivation. Example theories like Goal-Setting Theory, Equity Theory and Expectancy Theory.
When goals are made specific, accepted by staffs even though it is tough and feedbacks are welcome, it may points towards the direction of increase performance.
The contingency planning in goal-setting theory is deciding on public goal is better, making simple and familiar task characteristics and the national culture.
Goal settings has positive outcomes but some goals may be too effective (Latham & Locke, pp332-340). It views behavior as an environmental cause and ignores the inner-self of staff and stresses strongly on what had happened and what is going to be done.
Unclear job expectation will most likely result in tendency from staffs to reduced their efforts to attain the preferred behavior.
This theory was developed by J. Stacey Adams. Staffs see and compare their input-output ratio with the input-outcome ratio of relevant others. The relevant others that the staff decides to compare with adds on to the complexity of Equity Theory (Goodman, 1974, pp170-195).
It causes staffs to believe that relationship is unbiased if ratios are balanced. If ratio is biased then there is an existence of unfairness and unhappiness is inevitable.
Illustration 3 - Equity Theory
This theory is by Victor Vroom. Expectancy Theory is one of the most accepted elaboration of motivation, even with the existence of critics on this theory, most evidence supports it (Vroom, 1964)
It stresses on three relationship:
Effort-Performance Relationship > Exerting a given amount of effort will lead to performance.
Performance-Reward Relationship > Performing at a particular level will lead to the achievement of a preferred result.
Rewards-Personal Goals Relationship > The magnetism of the potential rewards for the individual.
This theory states that the force of a predilection to do something in a certain way is directly related with the force of the potential or the rewards that are anticipated from the steps taken (Geoff & Drucker, 2005).
Illustration 4 - Expectancy Theory
Limitations and Integrating Western Motivation Theory into Asian Culture
Since the development of most motivation theories arises from the west, mainly from Great Britain and United States of America. Most likely it might be based and set upon the cultural settings from the west and it might not be applicable in a practical manner towards Asia and the rest of the world (Adler & Gundersen, 2008; Robbins & Judge, 2004; Hofstede 2001)
Many aspects of organisation motivation theory that is developed in one culture may not be totally applicable towards another culture (Adler & Gundersen, 2008). Each organisation has their own culture and culture is the factor that will partially directs on the behavior of how an organisation moves and staffs' behavior.
In DBS Bank Customer Centre, it practices more on chain reaction strategy. In another words, it is practicing the organisation behavior which is not self-centered but team focused. A practice that harmonize one another's work instead of contradicting, towards the goal. This can be seen as a similar concept from Taoist philosophy called the, "Ying and Yang" (Lopez, 2004).
In DBS Bank Customer Centre, a collective behavior is a norm where esteem needs and social needs seems to overrule self-needs and self actualisation (Hofstede, 2001; Robbins & Judge, 2012). Individual goals seems less important compared to team harmony. Similarities within jobs scope does not mean there are not differences in the understanding of what is being received from the job (Shenker, 1991).
The western motivation theory like Maslow's (Theory of Needs), McCelland's (Theory of 3 Needs) and Herzberg's (Two Factor Theory) may not necessary apply to all culture.
Maslow's theory, provided no experimental confirmation and several studies that sought to authenticate the theory found no support for it (Lawler III & Suttle, 1972, pp265-287) There is little evidence that need structures are prearranged along the dimension by Maslow.
Herzberg's theory, has not been well supported in literature and to top of it off, it has many detractors (House & Wigdor, 1967, pp369-389). The procedure Herzberg used is limited by its methodology. Example: People take credits for themselves when things are good and well but on the perversely, on an extrinsic situation, they fault failure. The consistency of the methodology is uncertain where raters have to make interpretations and this might taint the findings by interpreting one answer in one way while treating a similar answer in a different way.
McCelland's theory, might have the best research support among the early western theories of motivation but sadly it has less realistic outcome compared than the rest of the western theories of motivation. McCelland states that the three needs are subconscious (Robbins & Judge, 2012). The process is time consuming and expensive.
Staffs were seen as objects, just like another contribution into the production line of goods and services but this was before Hawthorne studies which was conducted by Elton Mayo during 1924 to 1932 (Dickson, 1973) and this tremendously changed on how it was though. The study resulted with findings that staffs are not only moved by monetary rewards, their behavior has a linkage to their attitudes (Dickson, 1973) Since then, the needs and motivation of staffs started to be as the primary focal point of managers which is term as human relations approach to management (Bedeian, 1993).