The Classical and Modern Theories of Motivation

2890 words (12 pages) Essay in Business

5/12/16 Business Reference this

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Motivation basically refers to the drive that leads someone to work in an effective and efficient manner. A worker or on this case scenario as we are talking of the organizational environment, the employee needs to be motivated, the reason for this is the fact, that the loyalty and the sincerity of the employee towards the work depends upon the consequences that are promised with him or her. The benefit of the leader and the employee is always mutually exclusive, which leads to an effective team work, thereby, leading to the accomplishment of the goals.

Now, there are a lot of ways through which this drive can be aggravated. The most important among them is the financial benefits that are promised to the employees, setting the targets and announcing the financial incentives which bring the energy to the employees to work in a coordinated manner to accomplish goals. Motivation is always not material but the employees can be motivated in several different ways. This can be like announcing a reward that is recreational such as a trip to somewhere with the company’s other team members etc. the reward basically build an inner satisfaction in one’s mind and builds a sense of accomplishment among the employees. The motivation can be in the form of appreciation. This enables the workers to be bucked up and retain their reputation as achievers, thereby, maintaining to work harder and in a more efficient manner. The rewards can also be in the form of ceremonial performance awards and also with some tags like best sales man of the year and vice versa (Watkiss, 2004).


Theory of Motivation by Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg is the name who had a lot of contributions to the theories of motivation. The theories by him are named as two factor hygiene and motivation theory.

In the theory of hygiene the author explains that for an employee to work effectively in the organization the environment has to be friendly and hygienic. Following are the factors that include to the hygiene of the organization and are a under:

The organization

Its policies and administration

The kind of supervision that workers receive while doing their jobs or in other words leadership

Working conditions including ergonomics which is a science that studies the relationship between the workers and the environment they are working in

Interpersonal relations



Job security

These factors do not take the people to the higher levels of the satisfaction, but still they are the very important factors because of the fact that they lead to the dissatisfaction in the employees, or in other words demotivate the employees in the work. Then, the factors that influence the motivation of the employees are also there in the second component of the theory along with the explanation of their impacts on them and are as under:


Building the sense of achievement in the employees is a very important thing in the motivational process. This can be done by setting achievable targets for the employees, giving them resource and specific time to accomplish these targets. Also, a very important thing is the fact that the employees should expect a reward against the achievement of their goals. This builds in the employees a sense of loyalty and belongingness towards the company, thereby, boosting the energy levels to work harder and become achievers.


Another very important reward for the employee is to be recognized for the effort that he undergoes. This recognition can be brought about by awarding the employees for their performance in the different ceremonies. This builds an inner satisfaction in the hearts of the employees and they build self confidence in themselves and try to build consistency in their performance behavior.

Interest in the task:

In order to build the interest of the employee in the task the leader or the supervisor of the group is supposed to show their cooperation and their interest in the task, thereby, giving the employee the feeling of association. The degree of cooperation provided by the company or by the leaders of the company increases the morale of the workers of the organization.

Responsibility for the enlarged task:

The responsibility for the enlarged task is also a very good motivator for the employees, the reason is the fact that they feel a sense of achievement in a way that they are learning more from bigger tasks and they also feel delighted over the fact that they are able to handle bigger tasks with greater sense of responsibility.

Growth and advancement to higher levels:

Greater responsibility also leads the employees to the higher level of posts in the form of promotions with revised salaries and revised packages etc. this growth in the levels is the most important in the employees and is the biggest factor of motivation in them (Accel Team Development, 2010).

McGregor’s Theory of Motivation

The very famous Psychologist McGregor gave his theory of motivation in the year 1960 in his book “The Human side of Enterprise”. These theories are called as theory X-Y theories. According to the psychologist, different sort of organizations undergo different procedures to control their employees. Some follow the theory X which according to him not a very productive approach to the style of management and generates poor results. The others follow the Y theory, which is in fact an effective style of leadership and enables the company to perform in a better way.

Theory X has an authoritative style of management. This theory is for the average and unambitious employees that are not very much focused with the work and are forced to perform in the organization by threatening them with the consequences of no accomplishment of tasks. But the thing is that the managers that follow the theory X are actually the ones who destroy the sense of team work. They are only result oriented and most of the times too arrogant to hear excuses. They have set punishments for the employees. They are very short tempered and are distant with the employees. They kill the sense of the involvement from the side of the employees, thereby, making the employee very demotivated towards the work. However, the bosses that follow the theory X can also be managed.

A very effective manner to engage them is by talking of the results, by being direct with them, by telling them how things can be achieved, and what time they will require to be accomplished.

With the managers like them, the employees should help themselves for motivation. They should themselves become result oriented just as their leaders. Confrontation with such leaders should never be done. A constructive argument with reasonable justification with a hold in temper is the most important and in case that is not being taken care of, then, it will have a very negative impact in the future.

In theory Y on the contrary, the boss expects a reasonable practical effort from the employee. It is more of a reward oriented approach. The manager motivates the employee by building the expectation of reward in him. People through this theory build more commitment to their work and feel more self-directed and controlled. This is more of a responsibility building approach for the employees and is definitely, a very effective management style that enables the company to achieve objectives and accomplish goals.

The best thing about this approach is the fact that the managers like these do not need to be tackled by you rather they manage the employees themselves (Business Balls, 2010).

Maslow’s Theory of Motivation

The famous psychologist Maslow introduced his theory of motivation that explains that a person is motivated to perform and spend his life on the basis of few needs. The fulfillment of these needs puts into him the drive to work and earn a living. This hierarchy of needs and their brief description is as under:

Physiological Needs:

The physiological needs are the most basic needs that a normal human being wants to fulfill. The physiological needs are the corner stone for the emergence of all the other needs. These needs are the kind of needs without which the survival of the human being will simply be impossible. They include the needs such as food, water and shelter etc. any human being whether he is an effective member of the society or not has to be fulfilling his hunger in order to breathe and lead a life.

Safety Needs:

Once the physiological needs are satisfied the next category of needs that emerge is the safety needs. The safety needs also hold a prime importance and if they are fulfilled, they motivate a person to earn a life that is secured for themselves and their offspring. These can be understood by an example. As we are the part of this world, and the environment not the social, but the biological, has its impact in the life that we are living. The climatic conditions and many other factors can bring a lot of diseases in our infants and adults. Here, our safety needs will emerge and they would want to be satisfied.

Social needs:

The fulfillment of the safety needs leads to the emergence of the social needs. The man is a social animal as said by a very famous philosopher named Aristotle. The social needs refer to the needs that are related with the collaboration, commitment, expectation and love of one being with another. We come in this world through our parents and develop a lot of relations either that are gifted to us through nature and also build new relations in the form of friends and love. This develops a sense of belongingness that we feel for different persons and different relations. These needs have to be catered because of the fact that the man can never live in isolation from the society he is living in. Then, all the activities that a man plans of his life are in accordance with the fact that he wants himself to be socially acceptable.

Self Esteem:

Once the human being has been successful in fulfillment of the social needs, then according to Maslow the next set of needs emerge that are the self-esteem needs. The self-esteem needs are the ones that are related with gaining confidence and making ourselves visible in the society, being capable to perform and also, being a useful part of the society. These needs are essential to bringing the mental satisfaction of the human being and build a feeling in the person of being respectful in life.


The fulfillment of the self-esteem needs lead to the motivation of fulfillment of self-actualization needs. This refers to defining the need of a person living in the society in much more specific form. For example, I cannot be a doctor if I hate biology. I need to be a fashion designer. This is what I am meant to be in my life. Here, we are only talking in terms of suppositions. But this is how the need of self-actualization emerges. This gives me a prestige in others eyes and also helps to maintain my inner self esteem that I am successfully what I am meant to be (Green, 2000).


Theory of Motivation by McClelland

The famous psychologist McClelland introduced his theory of needs which was called as his trichotomy, in which, he explained the three different forms of motivational needs that enable to build satisfaction in the employees for their better performance. These needs are:

The need for affiliation

The need for affiliation builds with the recognition that is given to the employees. They feel affiliated with their team thereby, standing beside them in time of their need. Thus affiliation also builds with the work they are doing thereby, bringing enhancement in their work quality and consequently accomplishment of the goals.

The need for power

Appreciation and regard are not the only things that the employees need. For the positive reinforcement of the employees, sometimes, you also have to empower them with the brainstorming sessions in which you build a sense of responsibility and belongingness and empowerment in them, that they can also give ideas and be a part of the decision making process.

The need for achievement

The need for achievement is also built by the leaders in the team, because this need leads to the accomplishment of the tasks that are assigned in accordance of the set targets to the employees. This greatly enhances the need in them to achieve their respective targets so that they efficiently perform their part in their organization (Accounting, Organizations and society, 1984).

Adam’s theory of Motivation:

In contrast with the other motivational theories that are always focusing with oneself of the employee or the person, the Adam’s theory is the equity theory. This refers to the fact that, the motivation does not only involve how you are satisfied only with your own self but also, with the fact that whether the managers are treating you in comparison with the other subordinates with respect to the principles of equity. If all the employees in an organization are following similar principles and are being rewarded or punished for their performance in fair terms as all others then the employees fell a sense of great drive and fairness. On the contrary if there is leg pulling and partiality in the behavior of the leaders then the employees are greatly demotivated. Adams in his theory calls the third party that the employee is comparing himself with as referent. Here, the employee measures the set of input that he has given to the organization and the output in reference to the other subordinate. Here, the input refers to the hard work, efficiency, work effectiveness etc. of the employee. The output refers to the reward, incentive or the recognition that the employee acquires for the input. The equity is maintained when there is a balance in the input and the output of the employee and his referent. The imbalance is definitely a de-motivator for any of the two employees (Business Balls, 2010).

Vroom’s Theory of Motivation

The theory of the motivation b the psychologist Vroom is called the expectancy theory which elaborates that in order to motivate the employee there is a need to build expectation in him that he or she is going to have an output if he gives the right kind of input. This theory is unlike the Maslow’s and the Herzberg’s theory of needs because it does not focus on the needs of the employees rather it focuses on the output that the employee expects to be motivated to accomplish tasks and achieving goals.

This indeed encourages the belief in the employees to give their effort to bring about the quality performance. Then it encourages them to accomplish tasks because now they believe that the high level of performance will bring a high level of reward.

Managers should make sure that the reward for the employees for the performance of their duties should be attractive enough so that they do not ignore the seriousness of the matter and are motivated at all stages of the task.

In this theory Vroom has suggested a very efficient way to positively reinforce the employees by linking the effort with the outcome (Sousa, 1993).

Handy’s Theory of Motivation

This theory is named as the Handy’s Motivational Calculus. According to this theory Handy explains that each person has his own calculus of motivation which is based on few factors. This calculus can be both conscious and unconscious. These factors that are involved in the motivational decision are


They can be considered just as defined by the other psychologists and philosophers like Maslow and Herzberg, but tell the fact that the need of the person whatever sort may be, is a definite motivator for the employee to work in an effective manner.

Desired Results:

These are basically the outcomes that the person was expecting while he was working accomplish his task. A gap in the expectation and the actual result might be a demotivating factor and therefore should be kept in mind by the leader.

Expenditure Factors:

This refers to the expense that is related with the effort that was put in to accomplish with task. In case the effort, the expectation and the actual reward are not consistent then, the employee gets demotivated. So all these things should be catered and should be seriously taken by the managers to get the work done in an effective manner (Pepper, 2006).

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