The Magic Ingredient Which The Modern Manager Uses Commerce Essay

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The most important responsibility of a modern manager is to ensure that the employees carryout their designated tasks in a manner that adheres to their individual performance targets which contributes to the achievement of organizational goals & objectives. The magic ingredient which the modern manager uses to ensure that they do so is called motivation. It's accepted that an integral part of todays' management is the ability to motivate employees to contribute to organizational goals. But evidence suggests that motivation is not only poorly understood by managers but also is practiced even poorly, simply due to the fact that human behavior is so complex.


a) Abraham Maslow (1970): Hierarchy of needs theory

Self-actualization needs

Esteem/ego needs

Social needs

Safety needs

Physiological needs

Figure: Maslow's need hierarchy

According to Maslow, human behavior is dominated by a continuous pursuit of unsatisfied needs. He categorizes the basic human needs in to five levels;

Physiological needs (lowest): food, water, clothing, sleep, etc

Safety needs: security of body/health, of employment, of family, of property

Social needs: friendship, family, love, intimacy

Esteem/ego needs: sense of achievement, self-respect, respect of others

Self-actualization needs: acceptance, experiencing purpose and inner potential

Maslow says that when a person achieves one set of needs, he aspires to move onto achieving the next level and this continues to do so until the achievement of self-actualization. In Maslow's own words, "man is a perpetually wanting animal" who will consider any thwarting of these basic human needs as a psychological threat.

b) Frederick Herzberg (1959): Two factor theory

Herzberg's theory examines various factors which affect job satisfaction of an employee. Through his studies, he identified two factors which he called motivators and hygiene factors. Hygiene factors were factors that would not by themselves provide satisfaction but would keep the employee from being dissatisfied. They include the organization and the working environment. Motivators were the factors which would provide satisfaction and presumably motivate the employee.

A typical list of factors which would come under the two ideas would be;

Hygiene factors: Working conditions, salaries, relationship with superiors, peer relationships, governance & company policy.

Motivators: Achievement, recognition, satisfaction from work, responsibility, advancement, growth

The ultimate decider, whether a factor would be a motivator or a hygiene factor would be based on each individual, their goals and their personal circumstances. Therefore management must develop insights into employees and use tactics such as job enrichment which would create interest for employees and would also contribute to job satisfaction.

c) Douglas McGregor: Theory X and Theory Y

McGregor has developed this theory as a basic principal to managing and problem solving under day to day business activities. These two theories represent two fundamental approaches of management style, one involving authority and the other involving participation.

Theory X: Authoritarian Management

Here he assumes that an average person is unambitious and dislikes work and will try to avoid it when they can. They also prefer security above all and therefore like to be directed in order to avoid responsibility. In situations like the above, he suggests that most people must be forced by threat of punishment in order to accept managerial decisions and contribute to organizational goals.

Theory Y: Participative Management

This approach to management is useful where employees seek and accept responsibility, apply self-direction and self-control in pursuit of organizational goals and effort in work is as natural as work & play. It allows the managers to discuss matters with their subordinates who can grasp the purpose of action in order to achieve their commitment rather than resorting to giving orders.

d) Carrot & stick approach

The carrot and stick approach is a simple method used by managers to motivate individuals and groups. The changes to behavior are brought upon by two methods, either by force or by offering incentives.

The Stick: Use of force

It's an approach with short term effect which is used to bring instantaneous compliance and results. But its application like Theory X above can lead to problems as it uses the threats and punishment which creates stress for employees and hinder their productivity.

The Carrot: Use of incentives

Here, employees are expected to contribute more as long as the incentives seem to be attractive to them. The carrot represents monetary and non-monetary rewards (tours, awards, etc) which are expected to motivate the individual. But it has to be accepted that there are limitations of applying this policy (Evaluated further in discussion)


Most of today's organizations are characterized by the presence of teams and a sense of membership in a group. A task is no longer performed by an individual and is rather performed by a group of specialists who are assigned a specific part of the task which ensures the efficiency with which the task can be completed.

Another aspect to this is that an employee, when taken as an individual may respond to signals from the manager differently from the way he/she might respond as part of a team. Team dynamics play a very important role in todays' organizations. Therefore todays' managers are required to develop more insight and understanding into the different circumstances to be encountered when motivating employees both as individuals and as part of a team in order to become effective leaders.

John Adair introduced a theory which suggests of a single individual within a team who is able to mobilize a group using his/her personal power and art of speaking. He represented a theory which represents three circles;

Achieving the task

Building and maintaining the team

Developing the individual

He states that a team is required as the task cannot be completed by one person, importance of meeting team needs so that the task would not suffer which in turn leaves the individual unsatisfied and finally meeting individual needs which affects individual performance and satisfaction of the team. His theory is in line with the theories of Maslow, Herzberg and McGregor which suggests the importance of motivation in providing job satisfaction.



Employees pursue more than one level of needs at one time (Ex: Nurses strike). As it's evident from that they demand esteem needs (promotions), physiological needs (rest) and safety needs (protective equipment).

Authoritarian or stick approaches have their pros and cons. But with employment laws such as laws against harassments in force, its applicability is limited.

Various individuals move through the hierarchy in different ways.

Diversity of individuals calls for personalized approach in identifying motivators for each.

Using incentives to motivate individuals have limits. The effectiveness of incentives as motivators reduces with time when employees seek other type of motivators such as Herzberg describes. People are focused on more moral achievement

Because of the existence of teams in the organizations management has to focus on motivating teams rather than motivating each individual.


Maslow A.H. (1970), Motivation & Personality. 2nd Edition. New York: Harper & Row

Maslow A.H. (1998), Maslow on Management. New York: John Wiley and Sons

Herzberg, Frederick (1959), The Motivation to Work, New York: John Wiley and Sons

McGregor D. (2006), The Human Side of Enterprise: Annotated Edition, New York: McGraw- Hill

Papa, M.J., Daniels, T.D., & Spiker, B.K. (2008), Organizational communication: Perspectives and trends. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Adair J. (2005), How to grow leaders: Seven key principles of effective leadership development. Sterling, VA: Kogan Page