Motivation & Management


Before we begin defining motivation and study its need in Management, lets look at an overview of the contents of the post:

motivation overview

Overview of Motivation And Management

What is Motivation?

The factors that cause (direction), channel (effort) and sustain (persistence) the behavior of an individual. At its core, Motivation is potential energy which transforms into the kinetic energy of behavior. Behavior towards a particular direction and for a specific cause. Formally, it can be defined as a human psychological characteristic that contributes to an individual’s degree of commitment.

What is motivation?

Importance of Motivation in Management
Since an individual’s behavior depends on the motivation, It can be used to increase the employee’s performance and commitment to the organization. If managers know what motivates the people working for them, they can assign jobs & rewards tailor-made for the individuals.
So how exactly do managers go about finding what motivates people and then motivate them? Here  is the game plan they follow:
motivation management

Management game plan

Theories of Motivation

The most important thing is to identify what motivates a person-what makes them “tick”. Management Theories help us do just that. Each motivational theory describes what humans are, and what humans can become. Each theory, is thus, a particular view about people and what motivates them, from a particular perspective.

Hence, Each Theory enables managers to fill in the following statement in one way or another:

“A person is motivated when he or she ___”

The theories can be categorized as:

  • A) Need Theory
  • B) Reinforcement Theory
  • C) Equity Theory
  • D) Expectancy Theory
  • E) Goal-Setting Theory

A) Need Theory

It is based on the principle that ‘people do what they do to get what they want’.
need theory

Need theory

Need-Based Theories Include:
  • 1) Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs
  • 2) Alderfer’s ERG Theory
  • 3) Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

1) Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

According to Maslow, individuals will be motivated to fulfill whichever need is the most important for them at a given time. In Maslow’s Hierarchy, if a lower need is satisfied, the next higher one becomes dominant. The higher the level, the greater is the motivation provided.

maslow hierarchy

Maslow’s Hierarchy

However, the following arguments were made against Maslow’s Hierarchy:

  • It is argued that human needs are not, and cannot be ordered.
  • They are non-hierarchical, universal & invariant in nature.

2) Alderfer’s ERG Theory

This theory agrees with Maslow that motivation can be gauged according to a hierarchy of needs. The difference is that ERG theory classifies needs into 3 categories & more importantly, Alderfer stressed that when higher needs are frustrated, the lower needs will return.
erg theory

ERG Theory

3) Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory
According to Herzberg’s Theory, job satisfaction & dissatisfaction arise from two separate sets of factors. The Dissatisfiers are called hygiene factors & the Satisfiers are called the motivating factors. Both factors are present in a person-the contribution of all the factors of each set give an estimated result of the degree of satisfaction.
B) Reinforcement Theory
It is based on the “law of effect”-the idea that behavior with positive consequences (like rewards) tends to be repeated; and behavior with negative consequences (like punishment) does not.

Reinforcement Theory

The theory states the following four kinds of Reinforcements that may be used:
reinforcement theory

Reinforcement components

C) Equity  Theory
According to this theory, people are motivated when they experience satisfaction with the rewards they receive; when the rewards are equitable to their efforts. Equity can be defined as a ratio between the individual’s job inputs to the job rewards.
D) Expectancy Theory
It consists of three major components:
•Performance-Reward Expectancy – Individuals expect certain consequences of their behavior, which, in turn, affects their behavior.
•Effort-Performance Expectancy – People’s expectations of how difficult it will be to perform successfully affects their behavior.
•Valence – The motivating power of a particular behavior; varies from individual to individual.
E) Goal-Setting Theory
It focuses on the process of setting goals. According to this theory, the individuals are motivated when they behave in ways that move them to certain goals they can expect to attain. Goals should be accepted by the individual. As long as they are accepted – demanding goals lead to better performance than easy goals.
goal setting theory

Goal setting theory

F) Incentives & Rewards
Not all needs lead to action. It is the incentive’s function to activate a need. An incentive is a stimulus that activates the need as opposed to motive, which is the activated need. Thus, incentive is the means to motivation. Incentives can be Financial (in terms of money-wage, bonus, allowance, etc) or Non-Financial (status, job security, etc).
  • Extrinsic Rewards –  Rewards which are tangible; Rewards managers can provide; Rewards in the form of money, benefits, promotions, even flexible schedules, praise, feedback, a good boss and other inspirational people.
  • Intrinsic Rewards –  They are rewards that are internal to the individual; these are healthy relationships, meaningful work, competence, choice & progress.



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