Motivation As The Key To Performance Improvement Commerce Essay

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There is an old saying-you can take a horse to the water but u cannot force it to drink; it'll drink only if it is thirsty-so with people. They will do what they want to do or otherwise motivated to do. Whether it is to excel on the workshop floor or in the 'ivory tower' they must be motivated or driven to it, either by themselves or through external stimulus.

Motivation is essential for any business to survive and succeed.

Performance is considered to be a function of ability and motivation, thus:

Job performance = f (ability)(motivation)

Ability in turn depends on education, experience and training and its improvement in a slow and long process. On the other hand, motivation can be improved quickly. There are many options and an uninitiated manager may not even know where to start. As a guideline, there are broadly seven strategies for motivation:

Positive reinforcement/high expectations

Effective discipline and punishment

Treating people fairly

Satisfying employees needs

Setting work related goals

Restructuring jobs

Base rewards on job performance

Essentially, there is a gap between an individual's actual state and some desired state and the manager tries to reduce this gap. Motivation is, in effect, a means to reduce and manipulate this gap. It is inducing others in a specific way towards goals specifically stated by the motivator. Naturally, these goals as also the motivation system must conform to the corporate policy of the organization. The motivational system must be tailored to the situation and to the organisation.

Intrinsic motivation comes from rewards inherent to a task or activity itself - the enjoyment of a puzzle or the love of playing.[2] This form of motivation has been studied by social and educational psychologists since the early 1970s. Research has found that it is usually associated with high educational achievement and enjoyment by students. Intrinsic motivation has been explained by Fritz Heider's attribution theory, Bandura's work on self-efficacy, [3] and Ryan and Deci's cognitive evaluation theory. Students are likely to be intrinsically motivated if they:

attribute their educational results to internal factors that they can control (e.g. the amount of effort they put in),

believe they can be effective agents in reaching desired goals (i.e. the results are not determined by luck),

are interested in mastering a topic, rather than just rote-learning to achieve good grades.

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the performer. Money is the most obvious example, but coercion and threat of punishment are also common extrinsic motivations.

While competing, the crowd may cheer on the performer, which may motivate him or her to do well. Trophies are also extrinsic incentives. Competition is in general extrinsic because it encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity.

Social psychological research has indicated that extrinsic rewards can lead to overjustification and a subsequent reduction in intrinsic motivation. In one study demonstrating this effect, children who expected to be (and were) rewarded with a ribbon and a gold star for drawing pictures spent less time playing with the drawing materials in subsequent observations than children who were assigned to an unexpected reward condition and to children who received no extrinsic reward[4]

These articles on motivation theory and practice concentrate on various theories regarding human nature in general and motivation in particular. Included are the articles on the practical aspects of motivation in the workplace and the research that has been undertaken in this field, notably by Douglas McGregor (theory y), Frederick Herzberg (two factor motivation hygiene theory), Abraham Maslow (theory z, hierarchy of needs), Elton Mayo (Hawthorne experiments), Chris Argyris Rensis Likert and David McClelland (achievement motivation).

The incentive theory of motivation

A reward, tangible or intangible, is presented after the occurrence of an action (i.e. behavior) with the intent to cause the behavior to occur again. This is done by associating positive meaning to the behavior. Studies show that if the person receives the reward immediately, the effect would be greater, and decreases as duration lengthens. Repetitive action-reward combination can cause the action to become habit. Motivation comes from two sources: oneself, and other people. These two sources are called intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, respectively.

Applying proper motivational techniques can be much harder than it seems. Steven Kerr notes that when creating a reward system, it can be easy to reward A, while hoping for B, and in the process, reap harmful effects that can jeopardize your goals.[5]

A reinforcer is different from reward, in that reinforcement is intended to create a measured increase in the rate of a desirable behavior following the addition of something to the environment.

Drive-reduction theories

There are a number of drive theories. The Drive Reduction Theory grows out of the concept that we have certain biological drives, such as hunger. As time passes the strength of the drive increases if it is not satisfied (in this case by eating). Upon satisfying a drive the drive's strength is reduced. The theory is based on diverse ideas from the theories of Freud to the ideas of feedback control systems, such as a thermostat.

Drive theory has some intuitive or folk validity. For instance when preparing food, the drive model appears to be compatible with sensations of rising hunger as the food is prepared, and, after the food has been consumed, a decrease in subjective hunger. There are several problems, however, that leave the validity of drive reduction open for debate. The first problem is that it does not explain how secondary reinforcers reduce drive. For example, money satisfies no biological or psychological needs, but a pay check appears to reduce drive through second-order conditioning. Secondly, a drive, such as hunger, is viewed as having a "desire" to eat, making the drive a homuncular being - a feature criticized as simply moving the fundamental problem behind this "small man" and his desires.

In addition, it is clear that drive reduction theory cannot be a complete theory of behavior, or a hungry human could not prepare a meal without eating the food before they finished cooking it. The ability of drive theory to cope with all kinds of behavior, from not satisfying a drive (by adding on other traits such as restraint), or adding additional drives for "tasty" food, which combine with drives for "food" in order to explain cooking render it hard to test.

[edit] Cognitive dissonance theory

Suggested by Leon Festinger, this occurs when an individual experiences some degree of discomfort resulting from an incompatibility between two cognitions. For example, a consumer may seek to reassure himself regarding a purchase, feeling, in retrospect, that another decision may have been preferable.

Another example of cognitive dissonance is when a belief and a behavior are in conflict. A person may wish to be healthy, believes smoking is bad for one's health, and yet continues to smoke.

Need theories

[edit] Need hierarchy theory

Main article: Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow's theory is one of the most widely discussed theories of motivation.

The theory can be summarized as follows:

Human beings have wants and desires which influence their behavior. Only unsatisfied needs influence behavior, satisfied needs do not.

Since needs are many, they are arranged in order of importance, from the basic to the complex.

The person advances to the next level of needs only after the lower level need is at least minimally satisfied.

The further the progress up the hierarchy, the more individuality, humanness and psychological health a person will show.

The needs, listed from basic (lowest-earliest) to most complex (highest-latest) are as follows:

Physiology (hunger, thirst, sleep, etc.)




Self actualization

[edit] Herzberg's two-factor theory

Main article: Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg's two-factor theory, AKA intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, concludes that certain factors in the workplace result in job satisfaction, but if absent, they dont lead to dissatisfaction but no satisfaction.[6]

The factors that motivate people can change over their lifetime, but "respect for me as a person" is one of the top motivating factors at any stage of life.

He distinguished between:

Motivators; (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) which give positive satisfaction, and

Hygiene factors; (e.g. status, job security, salary and fringe benefits) that do not motivate if present, but, if absent, result in demotivation.

The name Hygiene factors is used because, like hygiene, the presence will not make you healthier, but absence can cause health deterioration.

The theory is sometimes called the "Motivator-Hygiene Theory" and/or "The Dual Structure Theory."

Herzberg's theory has found application in such occupational fields as information systems and in studies of user satisfaction (see Computer user satisfaction).

[edit] Alderfer's ERG theory

Main article: Clayton Alderfer

Clayton Alderfer, expanding on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, created the ERG theory (existence, relatedness and growth). Physiological and safety, the lower order needs, are placed in the existence category, while love and self esteem needs are placed in the relatedness category. The growth category contains our self-actualization and self-esteem needs.

[edit] Self-determination theory

Self-determination theory, developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, focuses on the importance of intrinsic motivation in driving human behavior. Like Maslow's hierarchical theory and others that built on it, SDT posits a natural tendency toward growth and development. Unlike these other theories, however, SDT does not include any sort of "autopilot" for achievement, but instead requires active encouragement from the environment. The primary factors that encourage motivation and development are autonomy, competence feedback, and relatedness.

Broad theories

The latest approach in Achievement Motivation is an integrative perspective as lined out in the "Onion-Ring-Model of Achievement Motivation" by Heinz Schuler, George C. Thornton III, Andreas Frintrup and Rose Mueller-Hanson. It is based on the premise that performance motivation results from the way broad components of personality are directed towards performance. As a result, it includes a range of dimensions that are relevant to success at work but which are not conventionally regarded as being part of performance motivation. Especially it integrates formerly separated approaches as Need for Achievement with e.g. social motives like Dominance. The Achievement Motivation Inventory (AMI) (Schuler, Thornton, Frintrup & Mueller-Hanson, 2003) is based on this theory and assesses three factors (17 separated scales) relevant to vocational and professional success.

[edit] Cognitive theories

[edit] Goal-setting theory

Goal-setting theory is based on the notion that individuals sometimes have a drive to reach a clearly defined end state. Often, this end state is a reward in itself. A goal's efficiency is affected by three features: proximity, difficulty and specificity. An ideal goal should present a situation where the time between the initiation of behavior and the end state is close. This explains why some children are more motivated to learn how to ride a bike than mastering algebra. A goal should be moderate, not too hard or too easy to complete. In both cases, most people are not optimally motivated, as many want a challenge (which assumes some kind of insecurity of success). At the same time people want to feel that there is a substantial probability that they will succeed. Specificity concerns the description of the goal in their class. The goal should be objectively defined and intelligible for the individual. A classic example of a poorly specified goal is to get the highest possible grade. Most children have no idea how much effort they need to reach that goal.

Models of behavior change

Social-cognitive models of behavior change include the constructs of motivation and volition. Motivation is seen as a process that leads to the forming of behavioral intentions. Volition is seen as a process that leads from intention to actual behavior. In other words, motivation and volition refer to goal setting and goal pursuit, respectively. Both processes require self-regulatory efforts. Several self-regulatory constructs are needed to operate in orchestration to attain goals. An example of such a motivational and volitional construct is perceived self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is supposed to facilitate the forming of behavioral intentions, the development of action plans, and the initiation of action. It can support the translation of intentions into action.

See also:

Health Action Process Approach

I-Change Model

[edit] Unconscious motivation

Some psychologists believe that a significant portion of human behavior is energized and directed by unconscious motives. According to Maslow, "Psychoanalysis has often demonstrated that the relationship between a conscious desire and the ultimate unconscious aim that underlies it need not be at all direct.[9]" In other words, stated motives do not always match those inferred by skilled observers. For example, it is possible that a person can be accident-prone because he has an unconscious desire to hurt himself and not because he is careless or ignorant of the safety rules.[citation needed] Similarly, some overweight people are not hungry at all for food but for fighting and kissing. Eating is merely a defensive reaction to lack of attention.[citation needed] Some workers damage more equipment than others do because they harbor unconscious feelings of aggression toward authority figures.[citation needed]

Psychotherapists[who?] point out that some behavior is so automatic that the reasons for it are not available in the individual's conscious mind. Compulsive cigarette smoking is an example. Sometimes maintaining self-esteem is so important and the motive for an activity is so threatening that it is simply not recognized and, in fact, may be disguised or repressed. Rationalization, or "explaining away", is one such disguise, or defense mechanism, as it is called. Another is projecting or attributing one's own faults to others. "I feel I am to blame", becomes "It is her fault; she is selfish". Repression of powerful but socially unacceptable motives may result in outward behavior that is the opposite of the repressed tendencies. An example of this would be the employee who hates his boss but overworks himself on the job to show that he holds him in high regard.[citation needed]

Unconscious motives add to the hazards of interpreting human behavior and, to the extent that they are present, complicate the life of the administrator. On the other hand, knowledge that unconscious motives exist can lead to a more careful assessment of behavioral problems. Although few contemporary psychologists deny the existence of unconscious factors, many[who?] do believe that these are activated only in times of anxiety and stress, and that in the ordinary course of events, human behavior - from the subject's point of view - is rationally purposeful.

[edit] Intrinsic motivation and the 16 basic desires theory

Starting from studies involving more than 6,000 people, Professor Steven Reiss has proposed a theory that find 16 basic desires that guide nearly all human behavior. [10] [11]

The desires are:

Acceptance, the need for approval

Curiosity, the need to think

Eating, the need for food

Family, the need to raise children

Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one's clan/ethnic group

Idealism, the need for social justice

Independence, the need for individuality

Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments

Physical Activity, the need for exercise

Power, the need for influence of will

Romance, the need for sex

Saving, the need to collect

Social Contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)

Status, the need for social standing/importance

Tranquility, the need to be safe

Vengeance, the need to strike back

In this model, people differ in these basic desires. These basic desires represent intrinsic desires that directly motivate a person's behavior, and not aimed at indirectly satisfying other desires. People may also be motivated by non-basic desires, but in this case this does not relate to deep motivation, or only as a means to achieve other basic desires.

[edit] Other theories

Reversal theory

Motivating operation


Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 - 1917) put forward the idea that workers are motivated mainly by pay. His Theory of Scientific Management argued the following:

Workers do not naturally enjoy work and so need close supervision and control

Therefore managers should break down production into a series of small tasks

Workers should then be given appropriate training and tools so they can work as efficiently as possible on one set task.

Workers are then paid according to the number of items they produce in a set period of time- piece-rate pay.

As a result workers are encouraged to work hard and maximise their productivity.

Taylor's methods were widely adopted as businesses saw the benefits of increased productivity levels and lower unit costs. The most notably advocate was Henry Ford who used them to design the first ever production line, making Ford cars. This was the start of the era of mass production.

Taylor's approach has close links with the concept of an autocratic management style (managers take all the decisions and simply give orders to those below them) and Macgregor's Theory X approach to workers (workers are viewed as lazy and wish to avoid responsibility).

However workers soon came to dislike Taylor's approach as they were only given boring, repetitive tasks to carry out and were being treated little better than human machines. Firms could also afford to lay off workers as productivity levels increased. This led to an increase in strikes and other forms of industrial action by dis-satisfied workers.


Elton Mayo (1880 - 1949) believed that workers are not just concerned with money but could be better motivated by having their social needs met whilst at work (something that Taylor ignored). He introduced the Human Relation School of thought, which focused on managers taking more of an interest in the workers, treating them as people who have worthwhile opinions and realising that workers enjoy interacting together.

Mayo conducted a series of experiments at the Hawthorne factory of the Western Electric Company in Chicago

He isolated two groups of women workers and studied the effect on their productivity levels of changing factors such as lighting and working conditions.

He expected to see productivity levels decline as lighting or other conditions became progressively worse

What he actually discovered surprised him: whatever the change in lighting or working conditions, the productivity levels of the workers improved or remained the same.

From this Mayo concluded that workers are best motivated by:

Better communication between managers and workers ( Hawthorne workers were consulted over the experiments and also had the opportunity to give feedback)

Greater manager involvement in employees working lives ( Hawthorne workers responded to the increased level of attention they were receiving)

Working in groups or teams. ( Hawthorne workers did not previously regularly work in teams)

In practice therefore businesses should re-organise production to encourage greater use of team working and introduce personnel departments to encourage greater manager involvement in looking after employees' interests. His theory most closely fits in with a paternalistic style of management.


Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970) along with Frederick Herzberg (1923-) introduced the Neo-Human Relations School in the 1950's, which focused on the psychological needs of employees. Maslow put forward a theory that there are five levels of human needs which employees need to have fulfilled at work.

All of the needs are structured into a hierarchy (see below) and only once a lower level of need has been fully met, would a worker be motivated by the opportunity of having the next need up in the hierarchy satisfied. For example a person who is dying of hunger will be motivated to achieve a basic wage in order to buy food before worrying about having a secure job contract or the respect of others.

A business should therefore offer different incentives to workers in order to help them fulfill each need in turn and progress up the hierarchy (see below). Managers should also recognise that workers are not all motivated in the same way and do not all move up the hierarchy at the same pace. They may therefore have to offer a slightly different set of incentives from worker to worker.


Frederick Herzberg (1923-) had close links with Maslow and believed in a two-factor theory of motivation. He argued that there were certain factors that a business could introduce that would directly motivate employees to work harder (Motivators). However there were also factors that would de-motivate an employee if not present but would not in themselves actually motivate employees to work harder (Hygienefactors)

Motivators are more concerned with the actual job itself. For instance how interesting the work is and how much opportunity it gives for extra responsibility, recognition and promotion. Hygiene factors are factors which 'surround the job' rather than the job itself. For example a worker will only turn up to work if a business has provided a reasonable level of pay and safe working conditions but these factors will not make him work harder at his job once he is there. Importantly Herzberg viewed pay as a hygiene factor which is in direct contrast to Taylor who viewed pay, and piece-rate in particular

Herzberg believed that businesses should motivate employees by adopting a democratic approach to management and by improving the nature and content of the actual job through certain methods. Some of the methods managers could use to achieve this are:

Job enlargement - workers being given a greater variety of tasks to perform (not necessarily more challenging) which should make the work more interesting.

Job enrichment - involves workers being given a wider range of more complex, interesting and challenging tasks surrounding a complete unit of work. This should give a greater sense of achievement.

Empowerment means delegating more power to employees to make their own decisions over areas of their working life.