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Introduction to Business

Motivation is an important function for actuating people to work for the accomplishment of objectives of the organization. Management plays a significant role to foster the work environment through motivating employees. Conventional theories about employee motivation have wide-ranging to a great extent over the past century. A backlash in the 1940s and 1950s against such policies, work was an intrinsically undesirable pursuit and that workers naturally sought to do as little as possible.

This translated into a sort of carrot-and-stick managerial policy whereby companies tried to maximize motivation by providing adequate compensation as an incentive but also by guarding against any sign of wayward behavior through authoritarian control regimes. Current notions of employee motivation started to take root in the 1960s. The motivation process, involves tailoring the work environment and incentive structure to harness as much of this potential as possible.

This approach emphasizes granting employees’ greater flexibility, power, responsibility, and autonomy so that, to some extent, they may shape their own work environment as they see fit. Some attempts to bolster employee motivation still consider only extrinsic rewards. Reviewing studies back to 1924 demonstrate that simplified, repetitive jobs, for instance, fostered boredom and the taking of frequent, unauthorized breaks by those who performed them.

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In 1950, a series of attitude surveys found that highly segmented and simplified jobs resulted in lower employee motivation and output. Turner and Lawrence suggest that there are three basic characteristics of a “motivating” job: It must allow a worker to feel personally responsible for a meaningful portion of the work accomplished. It must provide outcomes, which have intrinsic meaning to the individual, and it must provide the employee feedback about his or her accomplishments.

Selecting a telephone company as a test site, they surveyed 200 employees to determine relationships between employee attitudes and behavior and the characteristics of the employee’s job. Giving employees more responsibility and decision-making authority increases their control over the tasks for which they are held responsible and better equip them to carry out those tasks. Management can do its job effectively only through motivating employees on work place to meet out organization’s goal.

Theories of human motivation developed by Douglas McGregor, Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom describes that it is difficult to understand motivation without considering what people want and expect from their work. Douglas McGregor propounded two contrasting theories of human behavior which he called theory X and theory Y. These theories contain two pair of assumptions about employees that were implied by the action of autocratic and permissive managers. Theory X indicates the traditional approach to managerial motivation and control and theory Y assumes that people are not unreliable and lazy by nature.

In my opinion, theory Y is most reasonable, if employees are properly motivated, they could really be creative. The main task of management is to unleash the potential in the employees. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work activities. There is an opportunity for greater productivity by giving employees the freedom to be their best. McGregor’s work was based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He grouped Maslow’s hierarchy into “lower order” (Theory X) needs and “higher order” (Theory Y) needs.

He suggested that management could use either set of needs to motivate employees but that better results could be obtained by meeting the Theory Y needs. Frederick Herzberg (1923) had close links with Maslow and believed in a two-factor theory of motivation. He argued that there were certain factors that a business could introduce. This would directly motivate employees to work harder (Motivators) by improving the nature and content of the actual job through certain methods such as Job enlargement, Job enrichment, Empowerment.

The behavioral research of the past two decades has some fairly consistent implications about the ways in which people encounter their work, what factors influence that encounter, and how the encounter affects their accomplishments. These implications attempts to explain research results and to predict what further research may reveal, what it means when we refer to motivation theory (Saul W. Gellerman, 1968). McGregor’s ‘Y’ Theory remains a guiding principle of positive approaches to management, to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture.

References: 1) Herzberg. 1968. Frederick. “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? ” Harvard Business Review. January-February. 2) Kerr, Steven. 1997. Ultimate Rewards: What Really Motivates People to Achieve.

Boston: Harvard Business School 3) Steers, Richard M. , Lyman W. Porter, and Gregory, A. Bigley. 1996. Motivation and Leadership at Work. 6th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. 4) Saul W. Gellerman. 1968. Management by Motivation, Publisher: American Management Association. Place of Publication: New York. Publication, Page Number: 27.

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