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There are a lot of theories which try to explain the essence of motivation. The theories vary from main concepts to how they are applied. I am going to compare and contrast Expectancy theory and Goal-setting theory through finding similarities and differences between two theories, as well as suggest how managers can motivate employees to encourage hard work and better performance.
Expectancy theory and Goal-setting theory have a lot in common. The theories are quite similar because they refer to process theories of motivation that focus on how individuals make choices in relation with desired goals. They explain how different personal factors influence their behavior. These theories are based on assumption that people are rational and behave themselves in a way that leads to the outcomes that are wished. Expectancy and goal-setting theory are based on idea that people think in a way which is individualistic and calculative. However, sometimes people do not follow rational succession of thoughts and actions. That is one of the limitations of these two theories. The next likeness is that for expectancy and goal-setting theories satisfaction is very important factor. Expectancy theory argues that employees anticipate satisfaction when preferred outcome is achieved. An individual may wish an object but then get little satisfaction from it or an employee may not anticipate any satisfaction from an outcome but find later that it gives him feelings of satisfaction. Satisfaction may differ from value of reward and outcome achieved. Goal-setting theory suggests that difficult tasks motivate employees. That is because employees with high objective generate more, because they are dissatisfied with less. The level of their satisfaction is much higher than those with easy goals. The theories are also common in necessity of feedback. Goal-setting theory puts a great emphasis on the feedback of information that reveals progress of employee's goals. Knowledge of results of past performance helps to improve efficacy of the performance. Expectancy theory suggests that a significant feedback loop is the probability that performance lead to valued reward. Further, one of the most important propositions of goal-setting theory is that goal should be clear, precise and unambiguous. Employee must be provided with a good understanding of the goal and performance standards to avoid any confusion. Expectancy theory also maintains that task must be clear and definite, because employees must know how best to do performance and how best to direct their exertions. The last, Expectancy and goal-setting theories are much easier to apply for short-term targets. Goal-setting theory argues that it is difficult to motivate people for a long time, say for a year, because goals or strategy are likely to be changed in relation with circumstances. In case with expectancy theory, the problem is that employee works exclusively for reward. It leads to inference that what employees value at present time does not mean that they will value it at another point of time. It means that employees are motivated for a limited time. Such a situation arise not at all time, but it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that employee can lose his or her motivation if it is long-term targets.
It can be seen that expectancy and goal-setting theories have a lot of similarities, but what are the differences between these theories? Firstly, these theories differ in core concepts. Expectancy theory is founded on the idea that people choose activities which they believe will have a successful performance and will generate desired result. It maintains that individual motivations depend on the valence of results, expectancy that effort will result in a good accomplishment and the instrumentality that performance lead to valued reward. According to expectancy theory, people will work effectively when they are afterward rewarded with something they value. In contrast, goal-setting theory argue, that people are motivated by goal difficulty, goal specificity and feedback. The theory suggests that employee should participate in the goal-setting process to increment the acceptability. In addition, the theory reasons that employee and managers should set up goals together, because it helps to control employee behavior until the goal is reached. Secondly, expectancy theory suggests that people are motivated when the success rate is high. In contrast, goal-setting theory supposes that individuals are motivated by challenging goals where success is not assured. Thirdly, expectancy theory is based on rewards or compensation to be obtained for effort and good performance, usually in monetary form. Employee loses their motivation if there are no rewards or the reward is which employee do not value. My arise such a situation when a person is not satisfied with reward or reward has become not so meaningful as it was anticipated. In this case a person may examine his or her judgment about the value of this outcome and choose another behavior. In contrast, goal-setting theory assumes that employee is working towards specific goal and working without drawing away and it will satisfy their emotions and wishes. Reward is not guaranteed it is gained if performance is successful. The fourth difference, goal-setting theory argues that difficult tasks lead to better performance, because challenging goals promote us to work harder. Nevertheless, the performance will be bad if the goals are too difficult or unrealizable. It means that goals should not be beyond our ability level. Unlike goal-setting theory, expectancy theory contends that difficult tasks are harder to reach than easy ones. And finally the last one, expectancy theory is much difficult to apply than goal-setting theory. Expectancy theory is complex because actions we take are conducted with some various outcomes. Motivation is determined by person's evaluation of the significance of each outcome. For instance, an individual who works hard can be promoted or can get a salary raise. On the other hand, that person who spends much extra time may be forced to cut back on his family and social life. In other words, for one person the promotion and pay rise is pre-eminent, but for other person the family and private life is the most important. It suggests that people have different motivations and employees work for different reasons.
How these theories can be used by managers to motivate employees? Motivating employee is not so easy, because it includes a lot of organizational and individual factors. These theories help managers to understand how they can motivate employees. First of all, managers should understand that effort is not enough to do work well, employee must be provided with supportive work environment such as tools, fitting, budget and time. Successful performance can not be without these things. Employee's task is to do a good performance, managers task is to help employees to reach desired outcomes. Then, managers should offer necessary trainings and practice to raise employee's motivation, skills and self-confidence. It is important to encourage employees to make them feel confident that they are able to perform at the required level.
Next, according to goal-setting theory managers should set clear and precise goals. Employees should focus on precisely stated goals rather than vague objectives such as 'do your best' or work hard all the time. It is much easier for employees to choose their behavior when they know definitely what is required and what they must do. Meantime, managers should make sure that the task is attainable and realistic. For instance, if manager ask to sell all the goods which are out of demand due to season change or the market is full of such goods. It is rather difficult task which can not be reached. Furthermore, expectancy theory suggests that to motivate employees effectively, managers must pay attention to individual differences and preference for reward. Different workers value various kinds of rewards, so manager's task is to offer a reward, which employee will value. Employees are highly motivated when a good performance will lead to desired outcome. Individual differences also are very important. One employee might be a very active, socially confident, and enthusiastic who with pleasure takes difficult and innovative tasks. Another might be passive, calm and embarrassed who is afraid of challenging work. Next, managers convince employees that reward and performance are closely tied. Allowing employees to believe that a good performance lead to high performance. Employees are more motivated to do the task, when they a confident that their efforts will be rewarded. One more suggestion for managers, they should recognize that employees in a good mood do better performance. An employee who is tired, exhausted and afflicted has lower motivation than person in joyful mood. The person in a great mood has better link between effort and performance and also there is much great belief that performance lead to valued reward or outcome. Managers should provide employees with safe and pleasant work environment, as well as, avoid stressful situations. Further, employee must have a good understanding of role perception in the company. Also they must know why set goals should be reached and why it is so important. Employees should be confident that their efforts are not misdirected and wasted.
Lastly, to raise the motivation among employees leader should eradicate factors which are in resistance to the effectiveness. For example, conflicts between the group members or unfriendly work environment may result in loose of motivation and decrease in efficacy.
Let's summarise briefly the main points. Expectancy and goal-setting theories emphasize on different concepts but both theories try to explain how people select behavior to fulfill their desires and needs. . Goal-setting theory is closely similar with expectancy theory if the goals are linked to rewards that the individual values. The theories have much in common but they differ in how people evaluate the significance of goals in relation with their behaviour options. The theories help managers to understand what they should do to induce employee to work with full potential and contribute to the company. Sometimes these theories may not be successfully applied due to the fact that all people are different, they have different personalities, traits and level of ability. That is why one employee is better motivated than other. The main intention of these theories, as well as, other motivation theories is to predict behavior and define how people make decisions.