Michael BrokenburrManagement 490 2: 00 May 4, 2005 The focus of this paper is to discuss what motivation is and ways managers can acquire the most out of our employees. Managers must ask themselves certain questions in the work place when comes to motivation. Why do some people work hard and others coast? Why do some leaders have high-producing units and others, with employees of comparable background, have low producing ones?
Why are some organizations noted for a culture in which employees are highly motivated and enjoy work, whereas others are noted for high turnover rates? The remainder of the paper will identify seven theories that can help answer these and other questions. In addition, this paper will determine methods in which these theories can motivate our employees. In order to understand how to motivate employees, one must know the true definition of motivation. Organizational Behavior defines motivation as "the processes that account for an individual's intensity, direction, and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal". Knowing this definition, it's easier to grasp the concept of motivation.
There are seven important theories of motivation. The first and most well known theory is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. There is a hierarchy of five needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization. As each need is substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant (Organizational Behavior pg. 171). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Maslow is based on his concept of a hierarchy of needs on two principles.
First, human needs may be arranged in a hierarchy of importance progressing from a lower to a higher order of needs. Second a satisfied need no longer serves as a primary motivator of behavior. The next theory is Clayton Alderfer's EGR theory. This theory states that there are three groups of core needs: existence, relatedness, and growth (Organizational Behavior pg. 175). In this theory, Alderfer has reworked Maslow's theory to fit with supportive research. The differences between the two theories are more than one need may be active at the same time and when a higher level need is satisfied the need to satisfy a lower level needs increases.
This theory is more inline with the knowledge of individual differences between people. Next, Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory will be elaborated on. In general, employees tend to focus on lower-level needs, particularly security, in their first jobs. After those are satisfied, however, they try to achieve higher-level needs, such as initiative, creativity, and responsibility.
It is by reacting to those needs that we can see real improvement in efficiency, productivity, and creativity. Also, Herzberg suggested that focusing on factors that deal with the job such as promotional opportunities, opportunities for personal growth, recognition, responsibility, and achievement can also motivating to an individual rather than focusing on just their needs. The Expectancy theory focuses on how workers decide which specific behaviors to perform and how much effort to exert. In other words, expectancy theory is concerned with how workers make choices among alternative behaviors and levels of effort.
With its focus on choices, expectancy theory focuses on workers' perceptions and thoughts. Sometimes workers are not motivated to perform at a high level because they do not think that high performance will lead to extra benefits such as pay raises, time off, and promotions. When workers think that good performance goes unrecognized, their motivation to perform at a high level tends to be low. When workers do not believe that performance is important to obtaining rewards, management can take steps to rectify the situation and ensure that performance leads to rewards for as many workers as possible. The reinforcement theory is another important theory. Leaders must constantly reinforce and motivate high performance with employees.
The equity theory is based on the premise that a worker perceives the relationship between outcomes, what the worker gets from a job and organization, and inputs, what the worker contributes to a job and organization. Outcomes include pay, fringe benefits, job satisfaction, status, and opportunities for advancement, job security, and anything else that workers desire and receive from an organization. Inputs include special skills, training, education, and work experience, effort on the job, time, and anything else that workers perceive that they contribute to an organization. According to equity theory, however, it is not the objective level of outcomes and inputs that is important in determining work motivation. The last theory we will discuss is the goal-setting theory.
This theory states that specific and difficult goals, with feedback lead to higher performance. This theory basically states employees will do better when they receive feedback on how well they are progressing toward their goals. This acts as guide for them to see what they have done and what they want to do. Also this theory has an impressive base of research. Now we will look at ways we can apply these theories and apply them to the work place. One way to apply the heart of these theories is using management by objectives (MBO).
This a program that contains specific goals set for a specific time period with feedback on goal progress. It replaces of imposed goals. Managers and employees set the goals jointly. Another way to apply these theories is with an employee recognition program. This program covers a wide variety of activities. They range from on the spot and private "thank you" to widely publicized formal programs, which specific types of behavior are encouraged and the procedures for attaining recognition are shown.
Another group of programs that can be used to motivate employees are employee involvement programs. Participative management is one of these programs. In this program subordinates share a significant degree of decision-making power with their immediate superiors. Representative participation is another program, which encompasses some of the theories discussed earlier. Workers in this program participate in organizational decision making through a small group of representative employees.
Work councils are another program that empowers and motivates employees. This where a group of elected employees are consulted when management makes any decisions involving personnel. A similar type of program is a board of representatives. In this form of representative participation employees sit on a company's board of directors and represent the interests of the firm's employees. The last type of program in this group is a quality circle. This where a work group of employees regularly meet to discuss work associated problems, investigate cause, recommend solutions, and take corrective actions.
Other ways of using the information that the theories give us is in job redesign and scheduling programs. These types of programs help reduce boredom and increase motivation through diversifying the employee's activities. Job rotation is the first of these programs. It is also known as cross-training this where an employee is periodically shifted from one task to another.
The second type of program we as managers could use is Job enrichment. This where we increase the decision making power of the employee to control the planning, execution, and evaluation of their work. The last type of program we could implement is telecommuting. In this program, employees who do their work at home at least two days a week on a computer that is linked to their office. This program in particular shows evidence of higher productivity and higher creativity. In closing, motivation has to do with understanding the 'why' of human behavior.
Having some knowledge of why people do what they do, employees can do a better job of understanding, predicting, and influencing that behavior. There are many factors that affect employee's performance, but a primary variable is motivation. Motivational theories are often viewed as unrelated to the real world. A good theory provides the basis for understanding, explaining, and predicting what will happen in the work environment. These theories also help answer some of the questions mentioned in the introduction.
It is important to consider the type of environment managers can provide in order to stimulate performance and employee development. Leaders and managers, working with people, must operate from some theory. When theories are adapted to programs within the work place, they help motivate and empower employees. When a company has happy and motivated employees, they are more inclined to stay and help the company achieve the goals that they set.