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Motivation can be defined as beliefs and attitudes that affect the use and development of thought and mental skills (Schraw, 2006). A person who feels no energy or inspiration to perform means that they are feeling unmotivated, whereas someone who is energised or who is felt to be activated towards an end is considered motivated.
This essay will give an in depth definition of motivation and its main characteristics. Following an examination of several different motivational theories and their censures, further to this examine how contrasting attitudes of an employee affect motivation. To finish this essay will observe how motivation can be connected to commitment and performance within workplace.
It is believed by Mitchell (1982) there are four characteristics which underline the definitions of motivation (Naoum, 2001). Firstly, motivation can be viewed as an individual occurrence; this suggests that each individual has dissimilar characteristics and are different from one another. This allows each individual to display their own uniqueness. Secondly, motivation is planned and can be controlled by an individual. From this assertion it can be concluded that the actions made by an individual are in fact a choice of action. Thirdly, Mitchell had described the definition of motivation as being complex (Naoum, 2001); he argued that the important factors of motivation are encouragement and direction of choice or actions. Fourthly, the sole purpose of motivational theories is to predict an individual's behaviour. To summarise, Mitchell has defined motivation as an extent to which a person wants and chooses to participate in a certain specified manner.
Abraham Maslow (1943) developed a theory, the need hierarchy concept which is another way of looking at motivation in terms of a range of comparatively separate and distinctive drives (Naoum, 2001). Maslow suggests that an individual's needs are classified into five categories displayed using a pyramid and each category is arranged in a hierarchy of importance. The categories includes; physiological, security, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. According to Maslow, an individual is motivated first to satisfy their physiological needs. When an individual remains dissatisfied, they turn to be motivated only to fulfil their needs. When an individual's physiological needs are satisfied they finish acting as main motivational factors causing with the individual to move up the pyramid and seek to satisfy their security needs ( Maslow & Bennis, 1998). An example of safety and security needs include an aspiration for employment stability, good health, a safe home and protection from the environment. The process continues until finally self-actualisation needs are satisfied. According to Maslow the underlying principle is quite simple individuals are motivated to achieve fundamental needs before moving on to other, more progressive needs.
According to Clayton Alderfer 1972, a response to Abraham Maslow's famous 'Hierarchy of Needs' Alderfer makes a distinction between three levels of human needs that influence an employee's behaviour; existence, relatedness and growth (Alderfer & Schneider, 1973). The first level is existence needs they are physiological and safety such as hunger and thirst which are also Maslow's first two levels. The second level is relatedness needs which are social and external esteem such as involvement with family, friends and colleagues these are also part of Maslow's third and fourth levels. Lastly, growth needs are an intrinsic desire and self-actualisation which provides an individual with desires to be creative, show higher productivity levels and to complete meaningful tasks for an employee's own personal development, this level is also Maslow's fourth and fifth.
The difference between the ERG Theory and Maslow's Hierarchy Needs are as follows; The ERG Theory shows that unsatisfied needs motivate an individual's behaviour and that as lower level needs are satisfied they also become less important. On the other hand, if an employee's higher needs are not reached than an employee may revert on lower needs, this is called frustration-regression principle which means that a lower level of satisfaction need can become reactivates and influence certain behaviour when a higher level need cannot be fulfilled. In result to this, managers should provide employees with opportunities to help each individual to benefit from the importance of higher level needs.
Now motivation has been defined and the needs behind individuals, it is important to explain the different ways individuals can be motivated within the work environment.
Victor Vroom (1964) proposed the expectancy theory. The Vroom theory suggested that employees are motivated by how much they want to achieve something and how an employee thinks they will obtain it. Vroom suggested that motivation leads to efforts combined with the individual's ability together with environmental factors and individual's performance leads to various outcomes. The Vroom theory was further explained by a model which is constructed by three variables: force, valence and expectancy (Lunenburg, 2011). Force shows the effort an employee will use in order to carry out an action towards a goal or objective. Valence refers to the emotional orientations which a person may hold with respects to each outcome and rewards (Okpara, 2008). Expectance is the employee's expectation that the outcome or objective will be met. Vroom suggests that motivational force is a combination of valence and expectancy. This can be presented as the following formula: Force = Valence x Expectancy or (F = V x E). For example, if an employee strongly desires a promotion and believes that arriving at work earlier each day will earn them that promotion, then they will attach a positive valence and be motivated to arrive at work earlier.
This theory suggests that if an individual lacks confidence, desire or a reward it may lead to a decrease in an employee's productivity. the Lyman Porter and Edward Lawler theory further revised this theory in 1968 by using categories consisting of two types of rewards: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards are the inner satisfaction or sense of achievement an employee feels for completing a goal or project, whereas extrinsic rewards are external forms such as a bonus, prize or promotion one may receive for a job which has been completed to a high standard, resulting in increased productivity.
Lawler (1968) stated that using job design can affect an employee's motivation He argued that using job enrichment by making tasks more challenging and job enlargement by giving an employee more tasks and authority will increase an employee's sense of accomplishment and achievement after a good performance. This theory suggests that employees satisfy their higher needs when job design is implemented within a working environment. For example, organisations in a rapidly changing environment choose multitasking and delegation because of greater scope for their employees to learn new methods and skills.
The Human Relations Model famously known as the 'Hawthorne Effect' was created by Elton Mayo (1880 - 1949) it is also very significant in relation to motivation in management. It introduced the idea that paying attention to employees regardless of how big or small can increase motivation. The Hawthorne study was the relationship between working conditions and production at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric Company. Mayo began these studies by examining physical and environmental influences of the work place; examples: changing the lighting conditions showed that employee production increased when lighting was improved (Hoffmann, 2007). Mayo later moved to psychological influences; example: Mayo noticed that friendly attention, rather than changes in lighting, caused the workers' morale and production to improve. Moreover, making employees feel important will improve the conditions of an employee's work environment and productivity. Mayo concluded that motivation was a very complex subject. He believed that employee motivation wasn't triggered through high wages, but through good work conditions and moral as well as psychological and social factors too.
To conclude, this essay has shown that there are many different types of motivation theories and approaches that allow employers to design jobs for employee motivation, high levels of productivity and future growth. However, employees are only motivated through needs and the desire to do so or force which was mentioned in the Maslow and Vroom theories. Moreover, it can be shown that employers cannot motivate employees; however they can provide their employees with an environment where employees will motivate themselves. Employers should focus on intrinsic motivation factors allowing an employee to feel personal accomplishment and achievement. Employees are motivated by more than just high wages the need for recognition and a sense of belonging is very important as mentioned in the 'Hawthorne Effect'. Finally, employers should build strong working relationships with their employees and allow those relationships to expand so that employee's performance and commitment is consistency shown within the work environment.