Motivation Theories

Motivation is the process of encouraging someone to do an act by providing an incentive that drives his power and ability to a certain desired behavior. It was due to the desire of managers and top officials to increase the productiveness of their employees which led to increase in production and profits thus resulted to the discovery of motivation (Miller and Rice, 1967).

Employees need to be encouraged to work but this would not be effective enough, and that is why they are awarded salaries. This in turn motivate them but does not make them work to their full potential thus, additional incentives are introduced to push them to work to their limits. This pushing is the one referred to as motivation. Motivation can be from within one’s potential or can be from external.

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Abraham Maslow is considered the father of motivation since he identified and grouped the needs of employees’ which he advocated for managers to consider and apply in order to have a conducive working environment. He postulated that humans have needs which cannot be satisfied at once and the unsatisfied needs are the ones which motivate them, while satisfied needs do not have any impact on them.

He designed the basic model which he grouped humans needs and ranked them accordingly and argued that in order for employees to work unselfishly and properly their needs have to be met (Maslow, 1954). These needs were prioritised from the most basic ones to the least but important ones.

He developed a hierarchy of needs with the basic needs at the lowest of the group. These basic needs include items needed for survival like food, clothing, shelter, health, sex and sleep. After the basic needs have been fulfilled then other needs arise and are categorised as safety needs. These are needs that humans need to feel secure in their working environment which entails both social and safety needs.

Common safety needs include law, job security, protection, stability, and medical insurance and financial reserves. If it happens that either the basic needs of the safety needs are not met, priority will be on them and an individual will not go the next level of needs. The other level is the social needs. In this level individuals need to feel loved, appreciated and accepted in the society. One has to blend in the society by having friends, have a sense of belongingness and feel loved.

After achieving these needs, they move on to the higher level of esteem needs. This is where an individual develops the sense to be important thus, wants to increase his/her self esteem and boast on his achievements. Such needs are like self respect, achievement, independence, status, attention prestige and managerial responsibility.

Not many people reach this level due to low levels of income and need to meet the lower levels. Only a few are able to meet the esteem needs thus, move on to the next level which is self-actualization stage. At this stage, individuals realise their full potential, self fulfillment and become what they always wanted to be. This level needs are never satisfied as there are always new ventures that one can never fully discover or achieve like truth, justice and wisdom (Maslow, 1954).

Motivation can be from within or influenced by external forces thus, divided into two: Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is where an individual gets motivation from within himself and the desire to do his task without any external force or pressure induced. It is where an individual enjoys his work and the desire to achieve his goal and mission drives him. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is the opposite of intrinsic in that it is a force outside him that drives his ability to carry out a task.

This external force may be due to threats, incentives such as promotions and higher wages and commissions or the desire to be the best through competitions. In some cases an individual may be cheered or applauded by his colleagues or manager and behaves extraordinary or through engaging in competition in an organisation is a form of an extrinsic motivation which limits the intrinsic motivation.

Motivation has been discussed by in many theories brought forward by different scholars. Abraham Maslow is commonly known by his theory of hierarchy of needs. He classified human needs into several levels and argued that for individuals to be motivated they have to find a way to satisfy their unsatisfied needs as discussed above (Maslow, 1954).

Another scholar who contributed in the theory of motivation is Frederick Hertzberg. He postulated the motivation-hygiene theory. He argues that different forces motivate people differently. This hygiene factors such as salary, job security and physical working environment could not fully satisfy workers He argued that hygiene factors together with fringe benefits are usually taken for granted by individuals thus, hygiene was not a motivating factor.

Instead factors that led to increased job satisfaction are like achievement, recognition, responsibility, promotion and the nature of job (Bowman, 1992). Alderfer Clayton is another scholar who advanced Maslows theory by correcting his weaknesses. He proposed the ERG theory which stands for Existence Relatedness and Growth. It borrows most of its aspect from Maslow theory but differs in some views.

According to Alderfer, needs are classified into three categories in a hierarchy. First group at the top of the hierarchy is the growth needs which consist of development of competence and realization of ones potential. It is where one achieves and reaches self actualization. The second group, relatedness needs is the need to connect and relate with other people of the group through good understanding and relationship.

The last group which is at the bottom of the table is the existence or physiological needs. It is concerned with the individuals well being. ERG theory is similar to hierarchy of needs theory in that it is more rational (Maslow, 1954). For some factors such as sexual satisfaction, do not necessary have to be in the physiological group as depicted by Maslow since individuals can go to work or school without having sex. This is where Clayton differs with Maslow and places such factors in the second category.

Another difference is that if an individual reaches the growth stage and is unable to satisfy the needs in that level; relatedness needs re-emerge and appear easier to satisfy a process known as frustration-regression analysis. Similarity is that both are hierarchical and one has to satisfy the existence needs first before going to the others.

Alderfer believes that higher needs become addictive once you start satisfying them. Another motivation model is by McClelland David. He measured and categorised people in three dimensions using the Thematic Aptitude Test technique (McClelland 1961).

He developed three groups where he argued that everyone belonged in either of the categories which were, the need for power, need for achievement and need for affiliation. Those with the need for power take actions that are intended to influence others behaviors, can be expressed in a socially acceptable way or in a selfish manner. Others have a strong need for achievement and accomplishment and enjoy competitions.

They prefer tasks that are not easy and that can be done by anyone but those tasks that are difficult and abandoned by all (Bowman, 1992). Their capability to do a task depends on their efforts rather than luck. Those with a need for affiliation enjoy being liked, accepted by friends and society at large. They tend to keep a close personal relationship with others.

Vroom Victor took another approach concerning motivation of employees. He developed the expectancy theory which unlike the other theories of motivation focused on outcomes rather than individual needs. He suggested choices be selected with the aim of minimising pain and maximising pleasure. He separates efforts, performance and outcomes, and suggests further that the three must be linked for an individual to be motivated.

The variables he proposed to account the three factors called them Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality. Expectancy is the probability that if you pump enough effort in your tasks the outcome will be more or less equal (Miller and Rice, 1967). This may be as a result of availability of resources, a good working environment, right skills for the right job and having the necessary support to do the job.

Instrumentality refers to insight that performance will enable them achieve the desired outcome. Valence is the emotional and value attachment one has with regard to the outcome. Linking the three above factors, an employee adjusts his level of effort with in mind the value expected from the outcome, with this he maximises pleasure and reduces pain.

Porter and Lawler expounded on the expectancy theory in developing their expectancy model. They based their argument on that employees are motivated by the reward they get together with ability and perception of the task in hand. Adam John Stacey developed the equity theory which he argued that a fair balance should be evidenced between the employee’s efforts and rewards. If an employee is fairly treated at his place of work, he is more likely to be motivated than when the environment is unfair.

He referred to employees efforts and rewards as ‘give and take’ issues in which he the ‘give were the inputs and the ‘take’ were the output. According to Locke (1958), motivation was comprised of three components which are direction, effort and persistence. He assumed that the secret to performance is motivation geared by goal of the employees.

Motivation of employees is of importance in an organization in that it leads to increased efforts and production by both employees and the employers. It also leads to job satisfaction and the well being of an individual which leads to comfort pleasure, kindness among others that improve on the stability of the individual’s emotion (Locke, 1958) .

It helps employees work together as a team rather than as a group in achieving organizational goals. It is a way of fulfilling the organizations mission which in term creates loyalty to the organization and a positive image to the public. Employers on the other hand get to learn their employees’ strong and weak points and are able to sort any deficiency that may arise in an organization.

In summary, individuals have to be motivated in order to realize their full potential and increase their working efforts for the gain of the organization, and also to increase the morale and enhance their careers. Employees’ who are not motivated tend to lag in their duties and become disloyal thus we find an organisation having high labour turnover as the move from one organisation to another in search for a better working environment.

References

Bowman, D. (1992) Interpreting competitive strategy in The Challenge of Strategic Management. London: Kogan Page.

Locke, J. (1968) Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Organization Behavior and Human Performance, 3, 157-189.

Maslow, A. (1954) Motivation and personality, New York: Harper and Row.

McClelland, D (1961). The Achieving Society. New Jersey, Van Nostrand.

Miller, A. and Rice, A. (1967) Systems of Organization: London, Tavistock Publications.

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