There are many ways to motivate employees. We will take a closer look at the possible motivational tools in this article and will discuss the possible outcomes and the effect it might have on the organizational performance.
To motivate someone, one has to find something in that person that will make that person want to do whatever the motivator asked for. Subsequently, the word motivation comes from the Latin word "movere". The movement of workers to act in a desired manner has always consumed the thoughts of managers. This is because an organization can only be successful if employees are motivated. Theories of motivation are therefore a good starting point when attempting to understand the behaviour of employees with the intention of learning how to stimulate their motivation. The objective of this essay is to draw some conclusions regarding the practical value of motivation theories to managers. In order to evaluate the importance of these theories, it is necessary to examine formal theories such as physiological theories, cognitive theories and behaviourist/social theories.
The physiological motivation theories are based on the assumption that humans have a set of natural needs and that these form the biological determinants of our behaviour. Physiological theorists such as Maslow, Hertzberg, McGregor and McClelland suggest that human beings are just reacting to their natural needs in such a way to satisfy them.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is probably the most popular amongst theories of physiological motivation. It suggests that each human being has a series of innate needs. These are organized in a series of levels, starting with physiological and safety needs, followed by social needs. Higher levels needs concern the self (self- esteem, self- fulfilment or self-actualization) and they can only be fulfilled once the lower needs are satisfied. According to Maslow, people are motivated by money, status and power only at lower and middle levels of the organization. However, Maslow's theory is not based on studies of the different values people bring to work, and there is no evidence that lower needs trigger higher needs or that any of these needs could ever be satisfied.
F. W. Hertzberg and his colleagues performed a study that found that the levels of job satisfaction, motivation and productivity of workers are affected by two sets factors: dissatifiers (hygiene factors) and motivators. Dissatifiers are aspects of the job that prevent the employee from being dissatisfied (for example: working conditions, salary, and supervision). These will not motivate the employee but remove the obstacles to motivation. Motivators are aspects, such as achievement or recognition, which result in the worker being satisfied at work. Because these certain factors are essentially intrinsic, they are difficult to satisfy.
D. McGregor's theory of motivation is based on the belief that there is a direct connection between the way managers treat their workers, and worker motivation. Managers tend to have two views on employees' attitudes toward work, theory X and theory Y. Theory X assumes that the average worker dislike work and must be controlled, as opposed to theory Y which assumes that employees are interested in their work and emphasizes delegation and consultation. Although this is a good basis for providing information to managers on types of behaviour of their employees, it is common wisdom that people will be more motivated under a constructive environment rather than in a penalizing one.
The theory of motivation developed by D.C. McClelland is based on the assumption that people have three innate needs: the need for achievement (nAch: competitive success and personal excellence), the need for affiliation (nAff: need for good relationships with other individuals), the need for power (nPwr: need for control of others).
The main strength of physiological theories of motivation is that they identify the innate needs as a basic influence for motivation. It is clear that all human beings are motivated to satisfy their natural physiological needs. The main critique of the physiological theories is that they do not suggest that the individuals can be motivated by any other factor apart from physiological needs and therefore rely completely on passive reaction to innate needs.
When examining the motivation of employees, the implication of physiological theories is important considering the behaviour of individuals can be influenced many different factors. By finding a certain management style that can satisfy innate needs of workers, it is possible to encourage specific forms of behaviour such as motivation. For example, a new employee who has just come out of university needs to obtain a lot of support and encouragement in order to learn quickly and not be de-motivated. Understanding the needs of employees will trigger understanding of their attitude, which will in turn allow acknowledgement for ways of motivation.
Cognitive theories of motivation are based on the assumption that human behaviour is determined by the beliefs, expectations, and anticipations individuals have concerning the outcome of their actions. Behaviour is thus is seen as goal-directed and based on conscious intentions.
E.C. Tolman's expectancy theory of motivation suggests that individuals are not driven by deprivation but are guided by important goals and the expectancy that their behaviour will lead to these goals. The behaviour of individuals is determined by their expectations of the consequences of such behaviour. Individuals form a mental association between behaviour and the outcome of behaviour. V.H. Vroom supported this theory but introduced the notions of valence and instrumentality. Valence is essentially the value of outcomes; outcomes can be desired and thus valued highly (positively valent), and outcome can be avoided and thus valued lowly (negatively valent). Behaviour depends on the outcomes that a person values, and on the expectations that behaving a particular way will lead to these outcomes. In addition, Vroom introduced the concept of instrumentality: the behaviour of individuals is influenced by the extent to which additional goals can be reached as a result of appropriate behaviour.
The attribution theory of motivation developed by H. Kelly implies that our behaviour is influenced by a cognitive process which tries to relate causes to specific behaviour. It is concerned with how individuals attribute explanations to specific events. Attributions refer to the causes of the outcomes of previous forms of behaviour, which influence motivation of future behaviour. Internal attributions explain actions as the result of intrinsic characteristics such as personality, intelligence, etc. External attributions explain actions as the result of extrinsic factors such as weather or society. Attributions of behaviour also depend on three sources of information: consensus, consistency and distinctiveness.
Although goal setting is now treated as a process theory of motivation, Locke argues that it "is more appropriately viewed as a motivational technique rather than a formal theory". His theory suggests that individuals are motivated when they set specific goals. The important aspects of his theory are setting difficult goals, participation of workers in goal setting and feedback on performance with guidance and advice. "Positive reinforcement is key to maintaining self-esteem and motivation". The goal theory of motivation is similar to the concept of management by objectives where managers can motivate by setting up specific targets.
The main strength of cognitive theories of motivation is that they recognize the importance of conscious decision making as a determinant of behaviour. Their main argument is that before individuals behave in a certain way, they consciously decide the outcome and the value of such behaviour. For example, before buying a house, the person will make choice after thinking about its cost, location and other alternatives. The cognitive theories suggest that all human behaviour follows such a rational process. These theories do not take account for reflexive actions, and therefore do not allow for the presence of innate needs.
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