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Motivation Theories Essay

The concept of ‘Motivation’ involves an individual’s characteristics or attributes, circumstances of a situation and the perception of that situation by the individual involved. As individuals react in different ways to similar situations, organisations have found difficulties in trying to understand what drives or motivates people to behave in certain ways. Mullins (2005) defined motivation as ‘a decision-making process, in which the individual chooses their desired outcomes and sets in motion the behaviours appropriate to acquiring them. ‘ It is easy to distinguish a motivated person from one who is not motivated.

A motivated person usually works harder, is alert, interested, enthusiastic and full of ideas. Organisations have to establish what will motivate their employees. Several studies have found a link or relationship between a motivated workforce and increased work performance. Most organisations attach a great deal of importance to having a motivated workforce largely due to this reason. Company is one of such organisations. Maslow’s Theory assumes that individuals are motivated by satisfying both social needs and requirements in the workplace.

These needs must each be satisfied in order of a hierarchy (See Appendix A). He argues that an individual’s needs affect their behaviour according to 2 principles. The deficit principle

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and the progression principle. The Deficit principle states that a satisfied need does not motivate an individual, because individuals only take measures to satisfy their unmet needs. They do what is possible to rectify where a deficit exists. Organisations therefore, can not expect increasing levels of motivation from employees if they constantly give them the same rewards.

The Progression principle states that an individual can only progress through the levels of the hierarchy by satisfying each of the needs in turn starting from the bottom of his pyramid. For example, until an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, safety based rewards will have little effect on his or her motivation. At the level of Self Actualisation, the individual is continuously concerned with self fulfilment so continues to be motivated. It is believed that Maslow created this theory to apply in an ideal situation, but an ideal situation is hardly found in organisations.

Individuals, in practice do not pursue their needs in an orderly way as Maslow suggests, but trade off needs according to the circumstances they find themselves in. Herzberg in a bid to examine the suggestions made by Maslow, conducted an experiment. Employees were asked to describe times when they felt satisfied or dissatisfied with their jobs. It was shown that in situations where the individual has a high level of self control and which is an integral part of the work itself was seen as sources of satisfaction, but were rarely mentioned as a source of dissatisfaction.

It could be argued that Company restructured their HR department due to the fact that employees were not motivated in their position. However, research from HR Managers at Company shows the importance of psychological growth as a basic condition for lasting job satisfaction. This in turn led to the introduction of various HR job design systems which looked into the question of how jobs might be designed to promote such understanding of why these links are necessary to become central to job design.

Robbins (2001) describes job design as ‘the deliberate, purposeful planning of a job, including any or all of its structural or social aspects. ‘ This combines the specification of the task attributes of the job and the creation of appropriate work settings for these attributes. This means for managers that they have a responsibility to design both task attributes and work settings that will motivate each employee. Job enlargement is a type of job design. It involves increasing the number of activities in a job therefore expanding the scope of the job.

This was Company’s mission for the restructure of the department. They decreased numbers which resulted in an increase of responsibilities for existing members of staff. This increased task variety and consequently will lead to an increase in work performance and job satisfaction. So how does Company measure employees’ talent and high performance working? Company is committed to improving its service delivery to both employees and clients. To promote and monitor these improvements, it is essential that service objectives are well defined, understood and achieved by its employees.

Performance management through performance appraisals enables managers to monitor and measure the achievement of service goals. For the employee, objectives should represent an acknowledged personal contribution to corporate goals and so must be (SMART) ie specified, measurable, achievable and relevant to their job and for monitoring purposes, must be time specific. The company scheme requires that objectives are set and agreed jointly by the appraiser and appraisee.

The extent to which they have been attained is then assessed in a one to one discussion during an Appraisal interview. At the end of the interview, any work deficiencies are addressed with appropriate training packages identified and agreed by both parties. From Herzberg’s point of view, participation in goal setting should motivate an employee because it will give him the feeling that his views are being recognised and should increase his senses of responsibility in ensuring he meets organisational targets.

The appraisal scheme also reflects employees that are self-motivated and are eager to participate in decision making and goal setting. Feedback is also a central feature of the scheme; and the scheme provides for appraisees to record disagreement with the appraiser’s views of their performance where appropriate. Regular discussions between managers and staff take place on performance issues, with a genuine desire by managers to understand the constraints and external influences that affect work performance.

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