Relevant Theories And Performance At Work Commerce Essay


"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing, it's a day where you've had everything to do and you've done it". This motivational quote from Margaret Thatcher reflects perfectly the essence of the question studied today. The question analysed is the following; how does motivation affect employees' performance and commitment at work? In other words how does an employer managerially motivates his staff in order for his organisation to keep a competitive edge? Motivation can be defined as the psychological process that gives behaviour purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995). Motivation is used to push individuals, groups or teams to reach certain goals, and is therefore viewed as a positive driving force to enterprises. Used in multiple different innovative ways in the workplace, motivation has many purposes most of which changing employees' commitment and or performance. It is important to emphasise that the way workers will be motivationally affected over the performance and engagement is driven by different motivational theories. Hence it is primordial to study what these theories are and how they can influence businesses' work force nowadays.

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This essay will be demonstrating how motivational theories' aim is to predict human behaviour to find out what motivates workers. It will first be explained three different content theories of motivation which place their importance on the factors within us that drive or push individuals. Thus it will be explained how individuals all have different needs; acquirements of the followings being strived by inherent motivation at work. Following this will be explained the concept of three distinct process theories which will give the reader a full understanding of actual motivational developments. The content theories and process theories will give a full view of how they can affect employees in their performance and commitment towards companies. The analysis of the question will contain qualitative and quantitative material given through examples and case studies to provide the reader with a full apprehension of the topics being discussed.

The psychological concept of motivation is more than 100 years old but has solely been implemented managerially inside organisational structures 60 years ago (Clegg et al, 2008). Lack of motivation at work is an employers' nightmare. Motivational issues encountered in the work place are multiple and can be triggered from various factors. Content theories of motivation are those that emphasises what drives individuals and it is fundamental to understand that all individuals have different needs and wants.

Sir Brian Wolfson, Chairman of Investors in People UK once said in 1998 "Over 22 million people are currently in employment and we cannot afford to underestimate the extent to which our economy depends on maintaining the motivation and improving the ability of the workforce". Being stressed, nervous or lacking of interest are considered as motivational issues encountered at work every day. The purpose of motivational theories is to predict these issues such as behaviour (Bratton & Gold, 2007). According to Douglas McGregor, there are two types of individuals, both of which can be classified in distinctive groups depending on their behaviour (Clegg et al, 2008). McGregor Theory X and Theory Y are two extreme opposites. They divide individuals into two groups and show how managers will be influenced to motivate these two categories according to our beliefs on human nature. Theory X places its importance on the fact that some individuals are lazy, and if they could, wouldn't attend work. This theory states that these entities require structure direction and control in addition to be rewarded with money (Pitsis, 2008). To motivate such individuals a form of management must be created. This management implementation should accept the hierarchical relation between worker and manager. Therefore it is ought to adopt a Scientific Management (Taylorism), or Hard Human Resources Management way of dealing with this group category.

McGregor's Theory Y assumes that other individuals seek fulfilment and want responsibility and autonomy at work and require to be respected (Pitsis, 2008). The theory also states that motivational tools such as empowerment, career development and self-leadership are advised for individuals falling in the Y category theory. This theory indicates that Human Relations and Soft Resource Management would be recommended to manage such individuals. McGregor was a humanist psychologist and believed that people came before profits, therefore his theory Y appeared more appealing to him. The procedure to determining which of both theories is the most appropriate is a difficult one to manage. Unfortunately, McGregor never attempted to measure his theses, nor conducted any research that directly tested the validity of his theory (Miner, 2002). However, in a research paper entitled Construct validation of a Theory X/Y behaviour scale issued from Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, Falk et al 2010 demonstrate a broad indication as to management style and individual preference, using the 'X-Y Theory' definitions. Falk et al, managed to prove that most people are in favour of the Y theory management. The stated subjects are generally uncomfortable in X theory situations and are unlikely to be productive which therefore decreases their performance stamina. Additionally this behaviour has proven to be more apparent on long-term analyses, and cases are proven to seek substitute situations showing lack of interest in their work and therefore a reduction in work commitment.

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Contemporary approaches show that humans are pushed to seek needs such as love, protection, and food. Abraham Maslow introduced in 1943 the hierarchy of needs theory, which is one of the most broadly discussed motivational theories (Mark, 2006). He perceived human needs to be placed in a hierarchical order. Maslow believed that individuals had to satisfy their needs at the lower level of the hierarchy in order for them to move on to the next. The first of the five needs found in Maslow's theory are the physiological needs which represent the basic survival indispensables such as water or food necessary for one to survive. The second represents safety needs which humans require to feel out of harm's way such as a home and having a secure job. The social needs, third in the hierarchy places its importance on love, affection and social integration of individuals. The fourth; esteem needs underlines the importance on humans wanting to build their reputation through different achievements and thus building their self-confidence and prestige. The last and fifth need is self-actualisation. It is described as the need that enables one to become what he is capable of becoming. William Arthur Ward once said "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it" which reflects accurately the motivational objective in Maslow's last hierarchical need.

Maslow's theory is practiced worldwide by managers. Various principals created by Maslow have been introduced to our working lives such as quality management, self-managing work teams and empowerment (Payne, 2000). Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) managers find the time to focus on individual employees and therefore localise what exactly their staff are in need of. Thus by undergoing such method, managers can discover what motivates them. David Stum, president of an institute uniquely dedicated to the investigation of workforce commitment (Aon Consulting's Loyalty Institute) wrote a very interesting article named; Maslow revisited: building the employee commitment pyramid. In his article he states that for each of the needs present on Maslow's pyramid of needs can be created the "Aon Consulting's Performance pyramid" helping to fulfil employees with these needs. Hence to fulfil successfully each hierarchical need (Stum, 2001) created levels of workforce performance. Psychological needs will be carried out by providing safety and security for employees to feel physically and mentally safe and for commitment to occur. To fulfil safety needs, a system of extrinsic rewards, compensations and benefits should be installed. In continuation in following Maslow's need hierarchy, meeting social needs can be executed by an intrinsic affiliation process within which a sense of belonging to a team and to the organisation is felt. Growth is recommended to attaining Maslow's esteem needs, by making sure employees are positively motivated to drive commitment at speedy and increasing levels. The last need being self-actualisation can be fulfilled by making sure that individuals at this need level create a balance between work and life responsibilities. This last need is often fulfilled independently from external factors.

"If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do" (Hertzberg, 1959). The last content motivation theory discussed today is Frederick Hertzberg's two factor theory. Hertzberg's theory is often to be described as a modified Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory. According to his theory also called "Motivator-Hygiene Theory" there is a distinction to make between factors that prevent dissatisfaction and other factors which constitute satisfaction. The first key component is the following; Hertzberg underlined the importance that workforce within organisation were demotivated for being troubled about what he defines as "Hygiene Factors". These factors are environmental one that surrounds employees in their everyday working life. Health and safety, personal life, company policies, status, relationship with other members of staff and work condition are all included in the Hygiene factors (Bedeian, 2003). This represents essentially the environmental structure of the organisation and the work factor. The second aspect of Hertzberg theory is that there are some factors such as challenges, responsibilities, empowerment, personal fulfilment, and growth prospects that represent no demotivation if absent but add great motivation if present; Hertzberg call these factors "Motivational Factors".

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In a study called: "Does Hertzberg's motivation theory have staying power?" (Bassett-Jones et al, 2005) research was made to consider if Hertzberg's theory still has validity in today's contemporary organisations. This case study was developed to examine what motivated individuals in their performance and commitment contribution towards organisation. In this research there was 3,209 respondents but only 1,924 (760 women and 1164 men) assigned to the study. The contributor's had different work backgrounds so that the study didn't focus on "one type of worker"; thus 525 respondents were working for the Government, 474 in finance, 311 worked in manufacturing, 278 in services, 162 worked in the police force, 109 in utilities, and 65 are in the retail sector. Findings in motivational preference order showed that 62% of subjects were motivated by a desire to overcome frustration at work, 45% by a desire to save the organisation money and 45% to improve organisational success. Curiously, only 29% of the subjects thought that the idea of winning money or gifts was a motivator and only 3% thought that seeing a work colleague being given a reward was inspiring, which shows that generally there is a lack of competition between members of staff in regard to salary. Therefore, this case study implements that rewards, money or bonuses aren't connected to motivational factors. Instead this case shows that employees are intrinsically motivated which proves that Hertzberg's was correct in his predictions.

So far, only content theories have been explained in this research. There are other motivational theories which are process theories of motivation. Process theories of motivation concern themselves with the various ways that are involved in motivating people. One of them is the Vroom's Expectancy Theory. Victor Vroom's theory appraises the reasons through the vision of what individual think will happen. Hence it is concerned with the beliefs but also the values of humans. His theory follows the concept that when employees start working and make an effort their performance is increased and this same performance will lead to rewards; "Our willingness to act is governed by our perception of the value of any potential reward and our expectation that the action will lead to the reward" (Vroom, 1964). In his book Work and motivation, Vroom insists that the needs that individuals want to fulfil have to be strong enough for them to maintain a constant motivation and get rewarded adequately. The theory states that the power of an individuals' motivation will vary according to whether their efforts will satisfy their own needs and targets. Consequently this motivation is a result of a rational calculation. The calculation takes into consideration peoples' thoughts on the odds that efforts might or might not push them to perform (expectancy (E)) multiplied by the probability that performance will lead to reward (instrumentality (I)) times the perceived cost of the reward (valence (V)). Hence the following equation: Motivation = E x I x V can be utilised to predict whether or not a reward will successfully motivate an individual or not. According to Vroom it is also important that organisations manage to make it clear to employees that there is a link between effort and performance. The methods used to do this are to improve efficiency by training staff so that a bigger amount of potential effort is transformed into performance and to respond to staff opinions and point of views about work processes. Additionally organisations should boost employee confidence so that performance is facilitated and rewards gained faster. To do this manager should make it clear that only certain behaviours will lead to rewards and explain what exactly these rewards are. Depending on the type of companies three main types of rewards exist (Bratton & Gold, 2007). Individual rewards such as overtime, bonuses, commissions, benefits and pay leave are given directly to an individual employee on the bases of commitment of time and or energy. Team rewards such as gain-sharing and team bonuses use mainly in North America and Europe place the importance on proper self-managed teams. Finally organisational rewards such as profit sharing, shared ownership or gain-sharing have also been proved as a popular way of motivating staff and increasing their commitment. Even though Vroom's Expectancy theory looks appealing it can be criticised with simple examples. For instance if an employee has no interest what so ever about getting a pay rise (valence=0) or think that the work that he has created will not result in a better performance (expectancy=0) or that his performance will never meet the organisation's requirements (instrumentality=0) then in any of these three cases his motivation force will be equal to zero. This means that all three variables have to be positive or motivation will not occur and in today's work climate this is difficult to achieve.

The second process theory of motivation which extends the expectancy theory adds that people generally compare their level of input and outcomes to other's people inputs and outcomes (Adams, 1963). This theory is by far one of the most influential and dynamic process theories (Clegg et al, 2008). An example to illustrate this theory would be the following; some people work 40 to 50 years and hardly make enough to retire decently whereas some other people have never work but luckily win the national lottery and never worry about retirement problems. This theory just seeks to demonstrate that the world is naturally unfair. Indeed Adams' Equity theory emphasises that equal levels of inputs (hard work, social skills, tolerance, respect, and reliability) and outputs (pay, benefits, commissions) should be created. According to him finding this perfect balance secures a good relationship productively with the employee and increases motivation and commitment. He also adds that demotivation is perceived in employees due to employers and their work. They feel that their levels of inputs are far greater than their level of outputs compared to employers. This is the reason why they can feel demotivated, make less effort, or even eventually be disruptive. So how should managers restore this balance? According to Adams, employers should develop tools to pay people in proportion to their contribution. An increasing number of businesses have adopted this. British and North American companies have adopted individual performance-related pay (IPRP) (Bratton & Gold, 2007). Indeed it has been found that in 1996 out of 316 Canadian companies more than 74% of the employer offered an IPRP to their employees. Additionally more than 40% of British companies offer this pay system too. IPRP have proven to show various advantages. Firstly they distinguish themselves from other types of pay as they enable employers to see how employees behave and also provide them with performance levels. Secondly they reduce the application of other managerial control such as direct supervision, technology, or pressure) over labour processing. Finally they create an "entrepreneurial" behaviour to employees (by being their own boss and motivating themselves) by changing the culture of the organisation. In new public utilities, some of the most publicised IPRP programmes have been used for "ideological" purposes in many organisations (Sisson & Storey, 2000).

The last and final motivational process theory which will be discussed is Locke and Latham Goal setting theory.

To conclude it is important to bear in mind that employees nowadays need to be and stay motivated. Days when employers could leave their members of staff unsupervised are gone. There are various methods and theories that have been used to keep businesses work force motivated. These motivational theories are divided into two main categories. The first category represents content theories of motivation which refers to the "contents" within us that push and incite us to do the things we do. The second one denotes itself to be process theories of motivation. It is characterised by the idea that behaving in a certain way will change outcomes that is to say that it answers the question of which and what processes are associated in the creation of motivation.