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Motivation in the Workplace Essay

Motivation is difficult to explain and practice. However motivation is still the one thing that makes people productive in their jobs. Whether the motivation is tangible or not, it all depends on the individual and how management takes the information and applies it. There are many theories and practices that can be studied and applied to any situation. Motivational theories are studied and practiced by theorists and companies to increase productivity. According to Jerald Greenberg (1999) scientist have defined motivations “as the process of arousing, directing and maintaining behavior towards a goal”. The act of arousing is related to the desire and vigor to produce. Directing is the election of behavior, and maintenance is the inclination to behave a certain manner until the desired outcome is met (Greenberg 1999).

Much of the motivation theories will be related to the definition provided. Some major motivation theories along with the method to successfully motivate employees will be introduced. The theory and method that a manager may choose to use will depend on the environment and on the individual. There are two types of motivation theories content and process. The Content theories are based on the basic need and drives. The other theories focus on the process by which people are motivated (Pepitone, 1999). Content theories of motivation focus on this question: What causes behavior to occur and stop? The answers usually center on (1) the needs, motives or desires that drive pressure and forces employees to action and (2)employees’ relationships to the incentive that lead, induce, pull and persuade them to perform.

The needs or motives are internal to the individual. They cause people to choose a specific course of action to satisfy a need. Incentives are external factors that give value or utility to the goal or outcome of the employees’ behavior (Pepitone, 1999). Abraham H. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a content motivational theory. Maslow’s basis was human behavior. He conducted his investigation between 1939 and 1943. The hierarchy of needs has five sets of goals that are called basic needs. Maslow’s idea was “ people will not be healthy and well-adjusted unless they have their needs met” (Greenberg 1999). Maslow arranged the needs in different levels in order of importance. As in a hierarchy the lower level are the most basic needs and the top are the higher level needs. Looking at the figure below one can see how the hierarchy works.

The lower order needs must be met before proceeding to the higher order needs. According to Greenberg (1999), Maslow’s needs are in the following order: physiological need, safety need, social need, esteem need, and self-actualization. Man’s basic needs are physiological, for example, hunger, thirst, sleep, etc. When these are satisfied they are replaced by safety needs reflecting one’s desire for protection against danger or deprivation. These in turn, when satisfied are replaced by the need for love or belonging to, which are functions of man’s desire to belong to a group, to give and receive friendship and to associate happily with people. When these needs have been satisfied, the esteem needs seeks to be met. One desires self -esteem and self-respect, which are affected by a person’s standing reputation, and his need for recognition and appreciation. Finally, individuals have a need for self-actualization or a desire for self-fulfillment.

The urge by individuals for self-development, creativity and job satisfaction (Boeree 1999) In the past, management rewards systems have attempted to satisfy an individual’s lower level needs for safety and physiological security, for protection against deprivation and the threat to a worker or his family. However, management rewards systems should be, aiming to satisfy the individual’s actual need (Boeree 1999). When believed that a certain reward is important and can be attained, the individual will demonstrate a given amount of effort. This in turn will be demonstrated in performance. The link between effort, performance and expectancy is about accomplishing the task. The links between the performance and reward are connected. One’s assumption for whether the rewards are available if the person worked effectively describes the link. In this link the manager/organization is responsible of acknowledging the performance of the employee. If the manager/organization does not acknowledge the employee, there can be a breakdown in the motivation. The acknowledgment needs to be direct, strong, and immediate.

Employees usually determine in advance what their behavior may accomplish and the value they place on alternative possible accomplishments or outcomes. Goal setting theory is the specification of goal to increase performance. Assigning difficult goals usually result in higher performance. Goal setting has three components that have to be used to successfully apply this concept. First the identification of the process, then the characteristics and finally the feedback. The characteristics of goal setting consist of making the goal specific and challenging. The goal must be challenging to increase self-efficacy. It has been noted that a difficult task tends to increase an employee’s performance. This may be because usually people work harder to reach a challenging goal as long it is believed that it can be done.

Lastly, feedback will allow people to be informed of their progress. This stage usually included praises about the good job that has been done (Wheaton & Cameron, 1998). The descriptions of content and process theories of motivation dealing with organizational and individual behavior are briefly explained. The explanation is only a basis for a better understanding on why and how to approach the concept of motivating employees. All the theories conclude that the manner that managers perceive their organizations and their employees affect their productivity. Whether they are private, public or non-profit organization their aim is to be productive and effective. When looking at the different sectors, they have different goals and objectives, and therefore they must take different approaches in management.

Though this may be true we must also acknowledge that all sectors require one to motivate their staff to produce. As managers we must into consideration the different type of individual that make up our organizations. One must modify management styles and behaviors. Dr. Renis Likert has researched many organizations and developed an effective manner to motivate employees and have a productive organization. He has identified four management styles that he feels should be a part of management style in an organization. First exploitive style is where management makes all the decisions and the lower levels are given no power this style has an authoritative approach. The second is the benevolent style that has an authoritative approach, however in this case the management has some trust. The consultative style has substantial amount of trust in their staff. The staff is motivated by reward and some involvement.

There is some communication and teamwork involved. Lastly the participative style is more of the group approach. Management has confidences in their staff and the staff feels responsible in accomplishing the organizations mission. This style encourages communication and teamwork. The participative style is the best approach for profit and customer service organizations. Organizations should make the transition to train management to motivate their staff using the participative approach (Cook 1991). As a manager it is difficult to motivate your staff to be productive; however, using certain methods can create a positive environment. It was thought that money motivated people but that has changed. Much of the theories discussed before deal with individual behaviors and needs. One can conclude that motivation is internal and as employers one must make observations and decide what each individual desires.

According to Cook (1991) manager must give their staff as much as an organization can. Many employees want to have benefits and security, however; what happens after a job has provided those needs. Remember that Maslow theory has the five needs of an individual and they do not all deal with the necessary needs. As an employer identifying what stage your employee is in will help in putting a plan into action. Collaboration is a way to give employees the feeling of importance. Eliminating any kind of obstacle will create an atmosphere that your staff is eager to perform (Bruce, A. & Pepitone, J. 1999). Another approach is educating your employees and matches them to projects that they find interesting and those on which they are knowledgeable. Employees are willing to work harder on projects that they can relate to. This will also increase their success rate that will help in improving their self-esteem. Yet another way to increase productivity is with empowerment.

Giving people the choice to make decisions and giving them the tools and supports to their job will increase the inner motivation force within the employees. Encourage staff to satisfy their need for affiliation and create a relationship with the employee to be part of the organizations mission. It is difficult to motivate employees when a manager’s view is negative. For instance a manager’s behavior is explained with McGregor’s Theory X or Theory Y. In this case a manager must identify what style of managing is most effective. Building morale is an important concept when motivating employees. Morale will help create productivity in an organization. Developing a shared vision is a way to begin building morale. For instance as managers, one must communicate views honestly a directly during discussion with employees about performance. Make sure they have the necessary information to do their job. Allow employees to influence their own performance goals. Get out of the office, be visible and accessible. Communicate a clear view of the long-range direction of the organization. Listen carefully and consider the opinions of others open-mindedly before evaluating staff. Communicate high personal standards informally with day-to-day contact.

Remember to acknowledge the progress that the staff has achieved either with certificates, a note or just a tap on the shoulder. The staff wants to be told that they are doing a good job (Pepitone & Bruce, 1999). Again empowering staff requires some basic principles. Inform the staff what their responsibilities are. Give them authority equal to their responsibilities. Set standards of excellence. Provide people with training that will enable them to meet these standards. Provide feedback on performance. Recognize them for their achievements. Trust and treat them with dignity and respect (Nelson 1997). Showing staff that management is listening and affirming that you understand their view will create positive work environment. The language that use is also very important. Using “we” and “us” when speaking of the organization this will make the staff feel a part of the organization, thus improving the productivity of the staff.

Encourage employees to make suggestion no matter how small the idea may be, and this will create a comfortable environment and inspire more significant ideas (Cook 1991). It is important to point out, however, that motivation must be used wisely. The misuse of some theories and techniques could result in negative consequences. Remember that employees who receive rewards on performance tend to perform better than employees in groups where rewards are not based on performance. Understanding the causes of human behavior can predict the behavior to the extent that the behavior can be controlled. Therefore, if managers understand the relationship between incentives, motivation, and productivity, they should be able to predict the behavior of their employees.

Consequently, managers who know this, and know how to apply given incentive, can expect to realize increased productivity from employees. Today, 70% of employees are less motivated while 50% only put enough effort into their work to keep their job (Spitzer 1995). Many managers are not sure of the technique to use to motivate their staff. The best way to find what motivates staff is to ask them directly. This may be done informally or during performance evaluations. Find out what he/she wants from the organization and what makes them happy. A happy employee will be more productive than an unhappy one. If there has been a problem with absenteeism it may be because the organization is not fulfilling their needs. Whether it is need for achievement, the need for power, the need for affiliation, or the basic needs as studied by Herzberg, McClelland, or Maslow as a manager must examine and modify the management approach.

References

Boeree, C. George (2006) Abraham Maslow. Available: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/maslow.html

Cook, M. (1991). 10-Minute Guide to Motivating People. New York: Alpha Book

Greenberg, J. (1999) Managing Behavior in Organizational (2nd Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Learning, Reinforcement, Reward System and Self-Management Teams. Available: www.emporio.edu

Nelson, B (1997). 1001 Ways to Energize Employees. New York: Workman Publishing

Pepitone, J. &Bruce, A. (1999) Motivating Employees. New York: McGraw Hill

Spitzer, D. (1995). Super Motivation. New York: AMACON.

Wheaton & Cameron.(1998) Developing Management Skills 4th Ed. Addison –Wesley Inc


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