The study of motivation is strongly interested and concerned with why people act in a particular way. Motivation is a person's want to achieve something, combined with effort and energy in which to obtain such achievement. We see motivation everyday for example; education is a person's motivation towards their thirst for knowledge.
But what is motivation, what are peoples need and wants and how do they affect their behaviour and performance.
Motivation is a personal thing, and if affected by lots of different factors. All these factors which can be found at work and at home can be categorized; specific factors can lead to certain actions. There are two main types of motivation, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the psychological motivation that is brought on from genuine enjoyment or interest in achieving a goal; it is a motivation that lives within a person rather than depending on any outside pressures.
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Extrinsic motivation is motivation that does not come from inside the individual. Characteristic extrinsic motivations are rewards for example; fringe benefits, promotions, salary, contract of service and security. Competition itself is extrinsic motivation because it brings out peoples competitive side and provokes people to win and beat each other.
An everyday place, where we see motivation is needed to be applied is in the work place. Motivation is the key to performance improvement and a key role in leadership success in the work place.
The success of any business relies largely on the motivation of its employees. A company that has any wish of becoming a success will focus on keeping its best performing employees by motivating them to perform to the best of their abilities. Unmotivated employees are unhappy employees and unhappy employees in the workforce can lead to low productivity and many other problems which can take up the management's time and effort to figure out and fix.
Companies have begun to see how important motivating their employees is, in order for them to retain their services and to push them to achieve higher goals. Companies are now spending large amounts of money to conduct seminars and workshops for their employees to brush up on their skills.
The job of the manager in the work place is to be able to get work done through his/hers employees. In order for the manager to this he/she should be able to motivate their employees. Motivating employees is about helping them to connect the success of the company with their own success. An employee who doesn't care about the company is never going to be able to be properly motivated, and therefore will not be able to put his/hers best effort in.
Managers can maintain their employee's motivation by noticing individual factors that can affect their behaviour, apprehending and assigning motivation theories encourages a higher level of motivation for an individual employee. A motivated workforce can make a company a competitive force. Motivated Employees usually produce at a higher level, create superior products or services and can be a good foundation for innovative ideas. The aim is for managers to understand individual behaviours and to calculate where improvements may be needed. After comprehending what areas may need improvement the application of motivation can be executed using a motivation theory. Once the worker is being motivated at a more superior level the manager's task is now to use that motivation to help employees to remain motivated and optimistic. Managers are in charge of questioning and examining of employees, and the area in which they need to improve in and apply motivational theories in the employee's behaviour modification plan.
There are many different theories that try to explain motivation. These theories are all partly true and help to explain some of people's behaviour. Motivation is acute for people in the middle of their careers or for those who have limited opportunities for further advancement and of course for young people beginning their careers. For leaders there may be difficulties in motivation employees in short term and in long tern employments. This is due to the complexity of motivation, and that the fact there is no easy or guaranteed solutions to these problems.
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Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory basic proposition is that people have wants and that they are always wanting more. This depends on what they already have. He believes that people's needs are arranged in a series of levels, a 'hierarchy of importance'.
He identifies five levels from the first and lowest level, physiological needs, through love needs, esteem needs, safety needs to the need for self actualization which is the highest level. The hierarchy of needs can be shown as a series of steps but is most commonly displayed in the form of a pyramid. The pyramid is an appropriate illustration as it shows the thinning out of the needs as an individual progress.
But there are numerous problems relating Maslow's theory in the work situation. These include that there is a doubt about the time that can elapse between satisfaction of the lower need to the emergence of the highest level need, Individual difference, some outcomes and rewards at work satisfy more than one need and that there is many ways in which people may seek satisfaction, so people within the same level of hierarchy, will not be the same.
Herzberg's two factor theory, Herzberg's original study consisted of interviews with 203 accountants and engineers, chosen because of their growing importance in the business world, from different industries in the Pittsburgh area of America.¹Herzberg used what was known as the incident method. Individuals were asked to acknowledge times when he/she felt good or bad about their current job or previous jobs. Responses to these interviews were mainly consistent and relevant that they were 2 different sets of factors that were affecting people's motivation and work. This led to Herzberg's 2 factor theory of motivation. One factor was concerned with job environment and extrinsic to the job itself and the other set of factors are, if present, serve to motivate the individual to greater effort and performance. These factors are related to work itself and job content. Herzberg's theory however is often a source of debate. There have been many other studies in which test the theory. Some of these studies provide support for Herzberg's theory. The two main criticisms of Herzberg's theory are that the theory has limited application to 'manual' workers and the other is that it is 'methodologically bound'³
McClelland's achievement motivation theory, McClelland's work came from the investigation of hunger needs and the affect to which food dominated thought processes. McClelland indentified 4 main motives, these motives were: the achievement motive, the power motive, the affiliative motive and the avoidance motive4
The first 3 motives are similar to Maslow's self-actualisation, love needs and esteem. The intensity of these 4 motives varies between people. It also can tend to vary with peoples different occupations. McClelland believed that the achievement need was the most important for the countries success and economic growth.
Alderfer's ERG theory. Similar to Maslow, Alderfer suggested that individuals progress through hierarchy from existence needs to relatedness needs to growth needs as the lower-level needs become satisfied.²However Alderfer brought to mind that these needs were more a continuum, more than one need may be brought to mind at a time, he suggested that lower level needs don't always have to be satisfied before a higher level need comes as a motivation influence. ERG theory stated that a person is motivated to satisfy one or more needs.
Process perspectives or extrinsic theories, try to identify why people choose to behave in certain ways to fulfil their needs and the dynamic variables that make up motivation. These theories provided us with a further contribution to our understanding of motivation at work.
Vroom's expectancy theory, Vroom was the first person to propose an expectancy theory aimed specifically at work motivation5. His theory is based on 3 variables, valence instrumentality and expectancy. Vroom's theory informed us on the idea that people prefer certain outcomes from their behaviour over others.
Valence is termed from the feeling about specific outcomes. This is a person's preference to or the attractiveness of a specific outcome. Valence is the assumed satisfaction from an outcome. Instrumentality is the belief that a person's success will bring rewards. And expectancy is when an individual choose a behaviour which will have uncertain outcomes, the choice is affected by the preference for a certain outcome and the probability that an outcome will be achieved.
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The combination of valence and expectancy determines the person's motivation for a given form of behaviour. This is the motivational force.6
The porter and Lawler expectancy theory.
Vroom's expectancy theory has been developed by Porter and Lawler7. Similar to Vroom's theory, Porter and Lawler drew that a person's motivation to complete a task is affected by the end reward. However Porter and Lawler introduced additional aspects to the expectancy theory. Porter and Lawler saw motivation, satisfaction and performance as separate factors and attempted to understand and explain the relationships among these factors. Their theory noted that job satisfaction is more dependent on performance than performance is upon satisfaction.
Equity theory of motivation, this theory focuses on people's feelings towards how fairly they have been treated in comparison of how others have been treated. People compare their own position with the position of others. They determine the equity of their own position. A feeling of inequity causes concern which is not a nice experience. The presence of inequity motivates the person to decreased the amount of concern and perceive inequity. The amount of concern or tension determines the amount of motivation.
Goal theory, this theory is usually considered under the heading of motivation. This theory is mainly based on the work of locke8. The basic outline of this theory is that people's goals play a big part in determining their behaviour. People seek to achieve goals, usually in order to facilitate their emotions and desires. Locke pointed out that 'goal-setting is more appropriately viewed as a motivational technique rather than as a formal theory of motivation'9
Empowering employees is also another good way to motivate them. Empowering occurs when individuals in a workplace are given authority and trust. This encourages the workers to achieve and accomplish a task.
Providing employees with a reward system is a very good technique in motivating them. Managers quite often use rewards to reinforce behaviour they hope to continue. Rewards are work outcomes of positive value to employees. Employees receive rewards in the intrinsic and extrinsic form. The organization needs to provide a reward system that is effective to motivate employees. Effective rewards systems have 4 main elements;
Rewards need to be able to satisfy the needs of all employees.
They need to be comparable to local organizations.
They need to be available to employees working as the same position and should be distribute equitably.
The reward system needs to be multi facilitating, people are different. The managers should provide a range of rewards from promotion to time off.
Redesigning jobs is motivation strategy used to keep employees interested. Many people go to work every day to the same work, at the same desk and have to go through the same unenthusiastic actions to perform their job. Some managers try to avoid this un-enthusiasm by introducing job redesign. This concept, which requires the manager to have knowledge of and concern for qualities that employees bring to the organization, applies motivational theories to work for improving satisfaction and productivity.
Job enlargement introduces a new variety of tasks a job includes. Although it does not increase the challenge of the employee's job it does take away the repetitiveness.
Job rotation assigns employees to different jobs or tasks on a temporary basis. This is to add variety for employees. Job rotation renews employee's interest and enthusiasm and the organizations benefits from a cross trained workforce.
Job enrichment includes not just an increased variety of tasks but also gives employees more authority and responsibilities.
Flexibility is a successful motivation strategy, especially now, because today's employees value spare time. Traditional work times of 9-5 might not always suit an employee, especially those with family needs. Therefore flexi time, which allows employees choose and control their own work hours, is one way in which organizations are facilitating their employee's needs. Other options that are used are;
A Compressed workweek, which allows a full time job to be completed in less than the standard 40 hour, 5day work week. Its most common form is 4/40 schedule which gives employees 3 free days a week. The organization should benefit from less absenteeism and better performance
Job sharing occurs when 2 or more people share on full time job. Job sharing often involves each person working a half day or can be done on a weekly or monthly basis. When jobs are shared, organizations can benefit by employing talented people who would not be able to work full-time.
Telecommuting, this is a work arrangement which a portion of scheduled work to be done outside the office. Home workers often demonstrate increased productivity, enjoy the freedom of being their own boss, enjoy having more time for themselves and report fewer distractions.
Given that most theories of motivation date back years, it is inevitable that questions will be raised about their relevance today. People question if motivating people in the 21st century with these theories contrived over the last hundred years is likely to be beneficial. The main message is that managers should take into consideration the outdated motivational theories utilized to retain role performance in organizations and create new motivation theories and strategies for the 21st century work force.