Linking employee’s personality and the big five to motivation theory application

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Introduction

Employee is the core of a business organization because every company needs employee to support its daily business operation and the organizational performance is highly depending on employee behavior. The employee behavior is affected by their incentive. In other words, if a company strategically intend to motivate employees, then the employees are likely to behave positively, such as having high morale, being loyal and willing to go forward. Consequently, the company can have a better performance because of those positive behaviors. Therefore, motivating employee is one of the ways that maintaining the business run continuously.

Many Psychologists, researchers, and organizational managers had been concerned motivation for a long time. Numerous theories of motivation were brought up. However, there is no guideline for manager to choose and implement a suitable motivation theory. There are also many variable factors affecting the effectiveness of implementing those theories. Personality is the strongest variable among them. Personality is a primary predictor of elements of motivation (Weichmann, 2003).Different types of people hold different views towards a same issue/ treatment. That means, as a manager, if I want to enhance subordinate's motivation, I need to use different methods to motivate different employees.

In this paper, there are two objectives. One is to see whether a motivation theory can be applied to all employees and motivate all of them successfully. Second is to investigate the relationship between motivation and employee's personality. Then build up a model matching up the motivation theories and personalities.

B. Literature review

Motivation represents those psychological processes that cause the arousal, direction, and persistence of voluntary actions that are goal oriented (Mitchell, 1982). There are numerous theories of motivation. The five most famous theories of motivation are introduced in the following.

Need theories of motivation

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory uses five basic needs that are arranged in hierarchy beginning with basic needs and then moves further to more complicated and self-fulfilling needs. Maslow (1943) stated that the needs include; Physiological needs Safety needs, Belongingness needs, Esteem Needs, and Self-Actualization. It is noted that employees are only motivated by unsatisfied needs.

McClelland's Need Theory, which focusing on three needs: achievement, power, and affiliation. The need for achievement was defined as the drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, to strive to succeed. The need for power was defined as the need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise. The need for affiliation was defined as the desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships. (Kreitner, 1998). The motivation occurs when these three needs are satisfied.

Equity Theory

Equity theory recognizes that individuals are concerned not only with the absolute amount of rewards they receive for their efforts, but also with the relationship of this amount to what others receive. Based on one's inputs, one can compare their outcomes with others outcomes. When people perceive an imbalance in their outcome-input ratio relative to others, tension is created. This tension provides the basis for motivation, as people strive for what they perceive as equity and fairness (Robbins, 1993).

Expectancy Theory

The expectancy theory is centered on a person's motivation to exert some level of effort is a function of three things which defined by Vroom (1964). First, Expectancy: that effort will lead to performance. Second, Instrumentality: the connection between performance and the appropriate reward. Third, Valence: the value the person places on the reward. There is motivation to work when all these three factors exist.

Reinforcement Theory

To understand behavior one must understand the consequences of that behavior. Behavior that leads to a positive consequence (reward) tends to be repeated, while behavior that leads to a negative consequence (punishment) tends not to be repeated. Providing the properly scheduled rewards or punishments can change the behavior.

Goal setting theory

Goal setting which is a motivational technique that uses specific, challenging, and acceptable goals while including feedback mechanisms to enhance understanding and performance. The famous goal setting theory is known as managing by objective (MBO). Subordinates set and evaluate goals with manager on periodic basis and managers must help their staff accomplishes their goals that have been set.

C. Analysis

Part 1: whether a motivation theory should be applied to all employees

According to a result of an investigation called 'Hawthorne Experiment' by Pugh & Hickson (1989) cited Elton Mayo (1933), if managers provided a suitable working environment considering each personal requirement, workers were encouraged to be more hard-working and efficient. It also verified that if managers of an organization do not consider about individual works' needs and wants. As a result, workers were not being effectively motivated. Therefore, manager should evaluate their staff properly before implementing the motivation theory/ factors and implement according to the differences.

However, is it really possible to implement different theories according to different employees' personality? NO! It is too costly and time-consuming. Also, if a manager uses different ways to motivate different employees, it just likes treating each of them differently. They may feel being discriminated and discouraged. For these reasons, only one motivation theory should be applied, but the manager need to choose a suitable motivation theory according to the personality characteristic that majority employee had.

Why uses "majority"?

First, finding out the personality characteristic that majority had can find out the motivator that majority needed and ensure most of them can be motivated to maximize the effectiveness of the theory

Second, the minority group may be affected by group behavior, when the majority group are motivated, then the minority group are also be motivated and eliminate the dissatisfaction because of the influence by group behavior and citizenship behavior.

Part 2: Relationship between motivation and employee's personality

Big Five Personality Factors

Generally, psychologists agree that there are five robust 'Factors' of personality which including Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Openness.

According to the personal characteristics, the needs or motivators of each employee can be easily found out. Manager should choose a suitable motivation theory that the motivators correspond with the needs. The motivation theories provide a possible way for the employees to try obtaining the needs. Once the employees notice the needs can be obtainable and try to do something to get it, they will be motivated. The following part will discuss which motivation theories can be best matched with each personality and be ranked according to the effectiveness.

Extraversion

Extraverts have a tendency to like people, prefer being in large groups and desire excitement and stimulation and likely to be assertive, active, talkative. (Costa & McCrae ,1992)

According to these facets, the motivation theories are ranked as the following.

1. McClelland's Three learned needs theory

Extraverts have a tendency to seek all the three needs. First, high scorers for this area of personality are easily bored without high levels of stimulation. They have a need for achievement to reach challenging goals

Second, extraverts always have high scorers for assertiveness and like to charge and direct the activities of others. They have a need for power to control one's environment.

Third, Extraverts enjoy being with people, and they like to talk, assert themselves and draw attention to themselves. They have a strong need for affiliation to seek approval.

Since, people who scored high on extraversion have a strong need on these three aspects, three learned need theory can motivate them effectively because it can closely meet their needs.

2. Expectancy Theory

Extraverts have a tendency of excitement seeking. They like to seek higher level of stimulation. Therefore, they are willing to try hard and challenge themselves to perform at a high level. Expectancy theory can be useful in motivating extraverts.

3. Goal setting theory

The goals are set together (employees& employers, Subordinates & managers). Extraverts enjoy the excitement of crowds. They are willing to work together to achieve to common goal. In order to draw attention to themselves, they even work harder than others to be an outstanding one. Also, their positive emotion can sometimes affect and also motivate others.

4. Equity theory

Extraverts are genuinely like other people and openly demonstrate positive feelings toward others. They are more self-oriented and less likely bother things about others. Therefore, the equity theory is ineffective to motivate extraverts.

5. Reinforcement theory

Extraverts do not want to be restrained. They like to charge and direct the activities of others but not charged by others (even by his/her supervisor). If apply reinforcement theory to extraverts, they are more likely to be discouraged

Conscientiousness

Individuals scoring high on conscientiousness tended to be achievement-oriented, self-motivated, and task-oriented. (Barrick & Mount, 1993) They tend to focus on attaining goals in a determined and disciplined manner. (McCrae & John,1992)

According to these facets, the motivation theories are ranked as the following.

1. Equity theory

According to Costa & McCrae (1992), Individuals scoring high on conscientiousness are dutiful people. They strict adherence to one's ethical principles and take seriously of fulfilling moral obligation. Therefore, justice and fairness are very important factors to them. Conscientiousness is the only factor of the big five that prior research has expressly positively linked to motivation, (e.g. Colquitt &Simmering, 1998; Colquitt et al, 2000). Conscientious people tended to be self-motivated, whatever which theory is applied, they still positively related to motivation. However, using equity theory is different. The negative side of conscientiousness is also considered. For example, they may be compulsive perfectionists and workaholics, so they fuss over the work place fairness, care about how much others desired and judge they are deserved or not. If everything is appropriate, it leads to work motivation.

2.expectancy Theory

Conscientious people have a Sense of Competence. Competency describes an individual's confidence in their ability to accomplish things (Costa & McCrae, 1992) therefore, they are confident to try the difficult task and believe that they are able to perform at a high level.

3. Goal setting Theory

Conscientious people are Achievement-Striving. Their drive to be recognized as successful keeps them on track as they work hard to achieve their goals. Once the common goals are set, they will try their best to accomplish the goal.

4. Need Theory

Conscientious people have a sense of responsibility. When the basic needs are satisfied, they will engage in development to prepare for the future or to take on more responsibility. (Major & Jonathan & Thomas,2006)

5. reinforcement theory

According to McCrae & John (1992), Conscientious people are self-disciplined and Cautious, they would like to think carefully through possibilities before acting. Therefore, there is no need to discipline them through reinforecement or punishment.

Neuroticism

People high in Neuroticism have a tendency to experience negative effects, such as fear, sadness, embarrassment, anger guilt and disgust. (Major & Jonathan & Thomas, 2006)According to these facets, the motivation theories are ranked as the following.

1. Reinforcement theory

According to the research done by OPAQ, People high in Neuroticism are self-indulgence. They tend to be oriented toward short-term pleasures and rewards rather than long-term consequences. They can be effectively motivated by immediate positive reinforcement.

When someone completed a desired behavior, a positive outcome, such as promotion and reward, should be immediately delivered to the performer. Since Neuroticism prefers short-term pleasures and rewards, they are easily encouraged to repeat the same behavior to get the short term reward again. Also, extinction should be used when they acted an unwanted behavior. But a reward should be given after they corrected the unwanted behavior. In the reinforcement process, managers can develop neuroticism's confidence through positive reinforcement and lead them to do something on the initiative.

2. Equity theory

People high in Neuroticism have a tendency to feel angry (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Negative behaviors occur when negative emotions occur. So, we can predicted that inequity situation will make neuroticism angry (must angrier than others because of the personality) and that negative emotion would diminish their ability to think clearly, make decisions and behave wrongly. If can maintain a workplace fairness, the Neuroticism is more likely to have a stable emotion and work up.

3. Need theory

Since individuals with high levels of anxiety and few coping skills are not expected to actively seek out new learning opportunities. (Major & Jonathan & Thomas, 2006)They only concern about basic needs, like safety and stop at medium level but won't go one step further.

4. Goal setting theory

People high in Neuroticism are Self-Consciousness. They are sensitive about what others think of them. In the goal setting process, they are necessarily needed to communicate with others. Their concern about rejection and ridicule cause them to feel shy and uncomfortable around others. It may highly affect their performance.

5. Expectancy Theory

People high in Neuroticism are Sensitive to Stress. They experience panic, confusion and helplessness when under pressure or when facing emergency situations.

Therefore, it is impossible to motivate them through expectancy theory because they will never try to think that they are able to perform at a high level.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness is indicated by one's tendency to be cooperative, considerate, generous and trusting of others (Barrick & Mount, 1991)

According to these facets, the motivation theories are ranked as the following.

1. Goal setting theory(MBO)

Individuals who scored high on agreeableness are Altruistic people. They Altruistic people find helping other people genuinely rewarding and doing things for others is a form of self-fulfillment rather than self-sacrifice. Therefore, when a common goal is set, they would like to help others to accomplish to this goal and would like to corporate with others. For example, when an agreeable people have a higher ability that above the common goal standard, they would like to choose to help others to complete the goal together. On the contrary, if his ability is not enough to accomplish the goal, they would work hard to catch up the scheduled progress in order to complete the goal together.

2. Reinforcement theory

This theory can Maintain a relatively Fair treatment to the Individuals who scored high on agreeableness because they are always denying their own needs in order to get along with others. Under this theory, just reward them when they done well and punish them when they done something wrong.

3&4 Expectancy & Need Theory

Individuals who scored high on agreeableness dislike confrontations. They are perfectly willing to compromise or to deny their own needs in order to get along with others. That means there is a high possibility that they would like to give up the chance of self actualization.

5.Equity theory

People who scored high on agreeableness have a tendency to trust in others. They assume that most people are fair, honest and have good intentions. Although they are in an inequity condition, they would like to think that other got higher outcomes because they are hard-working and deserved. Therefore, it is useless for applying equity theory to people who scored high on agreeableness

Openness

Individuals who scored high on openness have a tendency to have an active imagination, esthetic sensitivity, intellectual curiosity and be attentive to feelings. ((Major & Jonathan & Thomas, 2006)

According to these facets, the motivation theories are ranked as the following.

1. Expectancy theory

Individuals high in openness are always willing to experiment. They are eager to try new activities, and experience different things. They would expect completing a challenging task can bring something new and different experiences to them. Therefore it is suitable to use expectancy theory to satisfy their need on curiosity of new things. The task which assigned to them should be challenging, meaningful and attainable. Then, they would have high expectancy, high instrumentality, and high valence and then there is a high motivation to work.

2. Need theory

As I mentioned before, Individuals high in openness have a willingness to experiment and they are curious about knowledge. Therefore, they have a high need for Self-Actualization.

3. Equity theory

Individuals who scored high in openness have a Depth of Emotions. They have good access to and awareness of their own feelings. When they are in an inequity situation, they might have a negative emotion and affect their work performance. Therefore, restoring equity can be a potential motivator.

4. Reinforcement theory

Individuals who scored high in openness have a tendency to challenge authority, convention and traditional values. Therefore there is a need for punishment and extinction to avoid the unwanted behavior to be repeated.

5. Goal setting theory

A common goal is set together. When setting an appropriate goal, it needs to consider the ability of all employees and ensure this goal is attainable for everyone. Therefore the goal might be set a little bit below standard. When the Individuals high in openness realize that this goal is not challenging, there is no any new thing that they can get from it, and then they would feel bored of the task and no motivation. But there is no problem if the goal is set above standard. To conclude, goal setting theory may not be a good choice for applying on Individuals high in openness.

According to Antonioni, David (1998), each of the factors is bipolar and the binaries align as follows:

Extraversion-introversion, which is associated with being reserved, timid and quiet

Agreeableness - antagonism, which is related to being rude, harsh, insincere and unsympathetic

Conscientiousness - undisciplined, which is related to being lazy, disorganized, unreliable

Openness - closeness, which is conservative in opinions, set in ways and practical

Neuroticism -Emotional stability, which is associated with being calm, self-confident and patient

Because these five factors are contrary to the other five, therefore, the ranking should be turned round.

Part 3: Consequences

When there is a suitable combination with motivation theory and personality, two positive behaviors will occur. First one is citizenship behavior (OCB), which refers to voluntary employee activities that may or may not be rewarded but that contribute to the organization by improving the overall quality of the setting in which work takes place. (Organ, 1998)

There are two types of OCB. First is interpersonal citizenship behavior which benefits coworkers and colleagues, such as helping, courtesy, and sportsmanship. Second is organizational citizenship behavior which benefits the larger organization by supporting and defending the company and working to improve its operations, such as voice and civic virtue.

The second positive behavior is proactive behavior. Proactive behavior refers to "taking initiative in improving current circumstances or creating new ones; it involves challenging the status quo rather than passively adapting to present conditions." (Crant, 2000) For example, feedback- seeking behavior, innovative behaviors and proactive stress coping are defined as proactive behaviors.

However, if there is an unsuitable combination, two negative behaviors will occur. First one is Counterproductive behavior which means employee behaviors that intentionally hinder organizational goal accomplishment, such as property deviance and production deviance.

Another negative behavior is in-role work performance which means the behaviors that are recognized by formal reward systems and are part of the requirements as described in job descriptions. (Williams, 1991)If see this behavior alone, it may not be a negative behavior. But if look at the motivational situation, that means you are fail to motivate the employees.

Figure 1 Consequence:

PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR

Suitable

Combination

Motivation Theories

Need theory Expectancy theory Equity Theory

Goal setting theory

Reinforcement theory

Personalities

Extraversion

Conscientiousness

Neuroticism

Agreeableness

Openness

POSITIVE

MOTIVATION

CTITZENSHIP

BEHAVIOR

IN-ROLE PERFORMANCE +

Unsuitable Combination

NEGATIVE

MOTIVATION

COUNTER-

PRODUCTIVE

BEHAVIOR

D.Conclusion

To conclude, it is very important for modern managers to understand the different forms and characteristic values of different motivation theories, and how to properly implement them in their organization. Many motivation theories and tools were brought up but not every motivation theories can effectively work in every corporation because each corporation has different kind of employees and situations. Employees' personality is a great variable factor affecting the effectiveness of those theories.

Therefore, Manager should evaluate their staff properly before implementing the motivation theory/ factors. Choosing the motivation theories according to the employee's personality may be a best choice for them.

Summary

POSITIVELY MOTIVATED

(CTITZENSHIP BEHAVIOR-OCB)

Extraversion

1. Three learned needs theory

2. Expectancy theory

3. Goal setting theory

EXTRINSIC

(IN ROLE

PERFORMANCE)4. Equity theory

5. Reinforcement theory

※Need Theory

â-ŽExpectancy Theory

â-ŽGoal setting theory

INTRINSIC

(PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR)

â-ŽEquity Theory

â-ŽReinforcement

Theory

NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED

(COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS)

Conscientiousness

1. Equity theory

2.Expectancy theory

3. Goal setting theory

EXTRINSIC

(IN ROLE

PERFORMANCE)4. Need Theory

5. reinforcement theory

POSITIVELY MOTIVATED

(CTITZENSHIP BEHAVIOR-OCB)

※Equity Theory

â-ŽExpectancy Theory

INTRINSIC

(PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR)

â-ŽGoal setting theory

â-ŽNeed Theory

â-ŽReinforcement Theory

NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED

(COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS)

Neuroticism

1. Reinforcement theory

2. Equity theory

3.Need theory

4. Goal setting theory

EXTRINSIC

(IN ROLE

PERFORMANCE)5. Expectancy Theory

POSITIVELY MOTIVATED

(CTITZENSHIP BEHAVIOR-OCB)

※Reinforcement

Theory

â-ŽEquity Theory

INTRINSIC

(PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR)

â-ŽNeed Theory

â-ŽGoal setting theory

â-ŽExpectancy Theory

NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED

(COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS)

Agreeableness

1. Goal setting theory(MBO)

2. Reinforcement theory

3.Expectancy Theory

EXTRINSIC

(IN ROLE

PERFORMANCE)4 Need Theory

5.Equity theory

POSITIVELY MOTIVATED

(CTITZENSHIP BEHAVIOR-OCB)

※Goal setting theory

â-ŽExpectancy Theory

â-ŽReinforcement

Theory

â-ŽNeed Theory

INTRINSIC

(PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR)

â-ŽEquity Theory

NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED

(COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS)

Openness

1. Expectancy theory

2. Need theory

3. Equity theory

4. Reinforcement theory

EXTRINSIC

(IN ROLE

PERFORMANCE)5. Goal setting theory

POSITIVELY MOTIVATED

(CTITZENSHIP BEHAVIOR-OCB)

※Expectancy Theory

â-ŽNeed Theory

INTRINSIC

(PROACTIVE

BEHAVIOR)

â-ŽEquity Theory

â-ŽReinforcement Theory

â-ŽGoal setting theory

NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED

(COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS)

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