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Motivation

 

Human beings as individuals are very complex in their psychological make-up. When they interact with one another in groups and in large organizations, the complexities are multiplied. Beyond the more noticeable and obvious differences among people in physical appearance, voice, intelligence, race and language and general habits are the less apparent difference is emotional responses to various stimuli and in motives, attitudes and modes of thought. Motivating employees to become more productive and efficient is difficult and there are no short cuts to it (Kovak, 1999). Arguably, motivating employees takes more than just the usual holiday trips, the usual cash bonuses and incentives. This paper lays out the essential things that a manger should know about motivating the workforce and this includes the importance of communication, the use of motivation strategies, the consequences of using different rewards and bonuses and how employees respond to motivation.

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There are vast differences among people of different cultures and subcultures and even though biologically they are the same. For example, one can observe great differences in the competence, behavior, and attitudes between the subculture composed of varied corporate executives and that of the working poor. If a manger tries to operate various personnel programs for a group of poorly educated factory workers he soon learns that that they do not respond to the same kind of communications and incentives that he is accustomed to.  Even within the social milieu we find considerable variation in the abilities, attitudes and temperaments of people. If a manger gives identical projects to two engineers, he will find that their mode of attack may be quite different. People react to praise, criticism, promises, frustration and the like quite differently (Bruce & Pepitone, 1999). A challenging assignment may frustrate one man but stimulate another. The manager must be perceptive. He must be ever alert to the world and the personality of his subordinates, peers and superiors.

 

Initially, it is important to know that all human behavior has a cause and that there is a reason for a person’s behaving as he does. A stimulus is present to initiate behavior on the part of the individual. The cause for human behavior constitutes an interaction between a stimulus like noise, light or threat and the person’s own internal interpretation of that stimulus. Thus to one person a sound may be annoying, whereas another may consider it like soothing music. If one employee smiles at another, the second may view the smile as a leering smirk. On the other hand, someone else may consider it a smile of approbation. One’s perception is determined by his background, personality and the circumstances surrounding the event. The actions of rational human beings are goal directed. Our behavior is aimed toward the fulfillment of basic wants, drives and needs. The politician who does favors for his constituents hopes thereby to gain their votes at election time so that he can retain his office. The piece-rate worker in the clothing factory may work very hard to increase her earnings because she desires to buy a new coat or a car. It is important to understand behavior is purposeful and that it is caused. People are not uncooperative just for the sake of being perverse. There are causes for such behavior. The successful leader is one who can uncover these causes and take steps to correct them  (Bruce & Pepitone, 1999). Bawling out an uncooperative worker does not get at the cause. This constitutes treating the symptom only.

 

Motives are the mainsprings of action in people. The leader who wishes to incite his men to reach an objective must hold out the promise of rewards once the objective is attained. What rewards do people seek in life? The answer is that they seek to fulfill their wants, drives and needs. The term motive implies action to satisfy a need. The terms need, want, drive and motive are often used to mean the same thing. Motivation can be defined as a willingness to expend energy to achieve a goal or reward (Hiam, 1999). Assume that an engineer in industry seeks to win the admiration and esteem not only of his boss but also of his fellow workers. This feeling on his part is called a need or a motive. Although there are perhaps a number of ways of achieving this, let us assume that our engineer chooses to work unusually diligently on a particular design project  so that it becomes evident to his supervisor he has made a major contribution. The supervisor may then choose to reward the engineer for his performance with oral praise, with a pay increases at salary review time, with certain formal recognition in the company newspaper or by means of a letter of commendation to higher management. Depending upon how the individual perceives these forms of reward, his original need may be wholly or partially satisfied (Bruce & Pepitone, 1999).

 

The psychology of learning tells us that the law of effect says that behavior that is perceived to be rewarding will tend to be repeated whereas behavior that goes unrewarded or is punished will tend to be extinguished (Skinner, 1953). This has great importance for trainers, personnel directors and managers. Over the long run, they can induce desired behavior such as high quality workmanship, good attendance, loyalty or imitative by their choice of rewards and the way they are administered. Unrewarded behaviors tend to disappear, thus when an effort that is not acknowledged by the supervisor or manager, that behavior will not be repeated.

 

To understand human needs adequately, it is useful to classify them as to type. Thus, we have innate or primary needs such as food, shelter, water, rest to overcome fatigue and so on. These are innate needs that are physiological in nature and the gratification of this needs are necessary for survival. The other major type of need is called acquired or secondary need. These needs are dependent upon our experience. They are learned and vary from person to person and from one group to another. The need to wear the best dress to company gatherings is not inborn, it is culturally determined. It is largely a manifestation of the desire to belong and to be accepted by others. We know that serious emotional problems occur in children who are rejected by their parents. And the same need to belong, to be important, to be loved are found in adults also. An employee can readily sense when his boss disapproves of him. If a supervisor or manager by his attitudes and action makes it apparent that he dislikes one of his employees, this usually causes anxiety, tension and frustration in the subordinate. If the supervisor’s behavior is readily apparent o other employees, his attitude often has an effect upon their relation with the rejected employee. The drive to obtain safety and security has several ramifications. Partly it is related to the innate physiological need for self-preservation. That aim is to avoid bodily harm, to avoid suffering, to continue to exist. The need for security is also social in context. The fact that one knows that others like him, respect him, and want him continues to be part of the group or organization enhances his feeling of security. The struggle to achieve a measure of security is fundamental for most people. Some achieve financial security by means of hard work, superior ability and fortuitous circumstances. Others turn to collective security from their group, thus we have various health and welfare programs for eligible members. The egoistic needs are concerned primarily with a person’s view or conception of himself. Satisfaction of this needs tend to enhance one’s ego. They are often called higher order needs because a person is seldom motivated to fulfill them until after he has first met his physiological and social wants. Business leaders and political leaders tend to be strongly motivated to meet their egoistic needs. They have the drive for power, prestige and status. They seek to make their mark in the world, they want to accomplish and achieve. But persons of lesser fame also desire satisfaction of their personal needs. The bookkeeper with 40 years service who has labored long and hard in the back room of a merchandising establishment feels a warm glow when someone praises him and he feels very important if his boss asks fro his advice on an accounting problem.

 

We have argued so far that behavior is purposeful and that it is driven by some want or need or motive that could either be physiological, social or egoistic. Several theories on motivation have tried to explain motivation find the cause for which people behave as they do. These are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which says that man strive to satisfy the lower needs before he can act on the other needs in the pyramid (Maslow, 1943). Herzberg proposed a motivation-hygiene theory wherein he identified the basic job components that he called hygiene factors which if absent will cause discontent in employees but if present will not necessarily motivate workers to higher productivity. This has led to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, wherein some people are motivated by their jobs and do not need to be motivated. Extrinsic motivation refers to those motivation strategies that are external to the job like bonuses and rewards. McClelland’s achievement motivation theory says that high achievers are those who have the incessant need to accomplish something in a daily basis and by itself is already a motivation. Lastly, Skinner’s behavior modification model has also been used to explain employee behavior and how this can be used to motivate workers. Skinner argued that all behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences (Skinner, 1953). A man does something because of the reinforcement he received from similar behavior in the past. If the outcome of his action is pleasing ton him, the likelihood of his repeating that same action is high. A reinforcer is something that increases the probability of a behavior occurring again. We can look upon a reinforcer as a reward or incentive to behave in a certain way. Reinforcers may be tangible like food or money sand they can be intangible like praise and approval. There can be 3 distinct types of reinforcement: punishment and negative reinforcement, extinction and positive reinforcement.

Punishment is the most widely used technique in our society for controlling behavior. The purpose of punishment is to decrease or top the occurrence of certain behavior. Skinner (1953) argues against the use of punishment for controlling behavior. He said that when the punishing agent is absent, the individual may again exhibit the undesired response. Punishment tells someone what not to do but it does not shape behavior to the desired direction. It shows what is wrong but not what is right. Another disadvantage is that a person who is being punished may strike back at the punisher and lastly it can cause physical and psychological damage to the punished individual. Extinction consists of applying a neutral stimulus after the behavior occurs; the behavior is neither rewarded nor punished. This method has fewer undesirable consequences than punishment but it still does not induce or teach the desired behavior. Positive reinforcement is most recommended by Skinner. It is efficient because it increases the likelihood of a desired response. Favorable emotions are aroused. The individual tend to develop favorable attitudes toward the person who applies the positive reinforcement. Behavior modification (Berk, & Berk,1991) can be applied to such activities as employee training, job design, wage payment, supervision of workers, control of quality and output and attendance control. Measurement of performance or feedback of the accomplishments of the group or employee is already reinforcement. The supervisor could provide praise, recognition, approval and personal interest in various ways to indicate reinforcement for what the individual is doing right (Ledford,  Mulvey &  LeBlanc, 2000). The positive reinforcement may consist of a smile, a nod of approval, a specific statement that the person met a quota and offer him to buy a cup of coffee.

 

The manager must be able to apply his knowledge of human behavior dynamics to real work situations in order to elicit acceptable performance from his work force. There is no simple formula to tell the manager how to lead and motivate people. The executive must be perceptive with regard to the character of his people and the demands of the situation. He must be adaptable and flexible in applying motivational principles. Responses of employees are a function of the reward system and how they perceive the rewards as satisfying their needs. Many motivation techniques have been used in various ways in different organizations. Some have been quite successful in some groups and others have not done as well. What is important to consider is that choosing what motivational strategy to use is dependent on the kind of organization the manager has, the organizational culture and the type of employees that they have.

The traditional method of motivating employee to work in private business has been to apply the “carrot and the stick” form a strong power base (Morillo, 1990). The manager who is unschooled in the fundamentals of human behavior feels that this is the best way to motivate people. The carrot has been the weekly pay check, direct wage incentives or bonuses fro managers. The stick has been the threat of demotion, transfer to an undesirable assignment or discharge. Even thought discharges may be invoked infrequently in a given organization they occur just often enough to cause employees generally to be apprehensive about their job security. The use of pay increments that are tied to performance is sound from the point of view of motivation theory. However, pay is seldom administered in a manner fully consistent with motivation theory hence it does not commonly generate the kind of strong performance it could. The use of threats or the sticks suffers from all the disadvantages of negative reinforcement, in addition the workforce has become highly educated, has higher standards of living such that they are more concerned with satisfying their social and egoistic needs.

 

Money should be looked upon as one instrument among many for managing motivation (Kovach, 1987). Managers in industry often tend to place major reliance upon pay, bonuses and money incentives because they are the easiest to manipulate. But the results do not always justify the efforts to use money as a motivator. There is abundant evidence that many blue-collar workers will deliberately restrict output even when working in a direct wage-incentive plan. The prospect of a steady income does not always induce the culturally deprived to work steadily. Yes, pay is important for providing material necessities of life. But it is most important for what it symbolizes to the recipient. To use pay effectively as a motivational tool, the manager must study his people, the conditions under which they work and the tasks they perform. Many jobs require close team cooperation. For such jobs an individual pay-incentive plan can be destructive of group cooperation. The value of money is determined by what people have learned to associate it with. For the young female secretary, it symbolizes stylish clothes in abundance, to the newly married father, it is the down payment of their new home and to the executive it tells him that his superior’s art pleased with him.

 

Competition as a form of motivation is widely used in our society. In business, competition is most commonly used in sales departments. It is practically standard practice to have salesmen compete against one another for various rewards and prizes. Another form of competition is that which takes place among members of the management hierarchy in most organizations for the prize of promotion (Kovach, 1999). Because there are fewer positions as one approaches the top of the organizational pyramid. If a number of people are striving for the same goal and that goal is attainable by only the one who wins, we know that such competition can motivate people to give their maximum efforts. However, competition has serious limitations when used within an organization. If for example, all the members of one department are competing for a single promotion, considerable jealousy and hostility are bound to develop among employees. Mutual cooperation will be poor, so that in this case, individualistic competition destroys the teamwork of the department. Moreover, the standards for selection of the winner can seldom be completely objective that the losers may justifiably consider that bias and favoritism entered into the selection. Another disadvantage of competition as a motivator is the frustration experienced by the losers. Any off the various forms of behavior induced by frustration like aggression, regression, resignation, fixation or withdrawal may occur.

The nature of work itself strongly influences whether employees show interest and zest or whether they experience boredom and monotony. Actually the matter is determined by the nature oft eh worker himself, the nature of the job and the leadership and the social environment in which the employee performs.

 

A desirable and somewhat idealized system of work motivation is to provide opportunities for need satisfaction through doing the job itself (Hiam, 1999). The object of this pattern of motivation is to develop employee commitment to the objectives of the organization. Management sets up a system of rewards that causes high levels of job satisfaction at the same time that the employees are working productively to meet the objectives of their jobs, department ands plant. This approach holds that people will exercise self-direction and control in working for objectives of which they feel committed. It emphasizes openness, trust, supportive supervision and participation in decision making. It activates all motives, economic, social, and egoistic. To some extent employees can gratify many of their drives for security, belongingness, status, self-expression, self-significance and achievement. This approach is more suitable to executives, managers, and professors, engineers and scientists who have a certain amount of freedom in their jobs. However, it is very difficult for workers on low level, repetitive jobs to experience this form of motivation

 

Participation means the physical and mental involvement of people in an activity. Specifically in the field of personnel management, the term has come to mean the involvement of employees in decision making. Many managers refer to participation in their department employees in terms of helping management cut costs, attend company social functions and to give generously to the community chest drive (Bruce, &  Pepitone, 1999). These activities do not constitute participation. Genuine participation includes those situations in which management actively encourages employees and workers to help make decisions regarding the business and work.

 

Motivating employees is a unique concoction that the manager has to stir and taste every so often to make use that it is still effective and really motivate employees and if not, then it is time to look for other means to increase motivation. It is evident form this paper that a good motivator needs to have a clear understanding of human nature, of human behavior, of theories of motivation and the ability to apply this theories to actual work situations and the ability to sense and be perceptive of the sentiments and individual differences of his employees (Blanchard & Johnson, 1993).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

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