A Study of Motivation Theories

What motivates you? This question is a very complex one to expect a prompt answer to it. Motivation itself is a very difficult concept to explain and practice. However, motivation is still the one thing that makes people productive in their jobs. Motivation is generally defined as any force that energises and directs people to perform their jobs. According to Jerald Greenberg (1999) motivation is defined “as a process of arousing, directing and maintaining behaviour towards a goal. ” The act of arousing is related to desire and vigour to produce.

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Directing is the election of behaviour and maintenance is the inclination to behave in a certain manner until the desired outcome is met (Greenberg,1999). The above statements are clear from the basic motivational model shown below. Adapted from Mullins, L, 2002:P418 Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation: “Intrinsic motivation is related to psychological rewards such as the opportunity to use one’s ability, a sense of challenge and achievement, receiving appreciation, positive recognition and being treated in a caring and considerate manner.

” (Mullins, L, 2002:P490). It refers to motivation to engage in an activity because that activity is enjoyable and satisfying to do so. Intrinsic rewards refer to those feelings of satisfaction that individuals obtain directly from their work performance. People at work, for e. g. , may satisfy their needs for achievement, for competence and for self actualisation through solving problems that are built into their jobs. Job enrichment and management by objective can be adopted by the managers to satisfy employees to a certain extent.

(Hampton, D, 1987). “Extrinsic motivation is related to tangible rewards such as salary and fringe benefits, security, promotion, contract of service, the work environment and conditions of work. Such tangible rewards are often determined at the organisational level and may be largely outside the control of individual managers. ” (Mullins, L, 2002:P490). Thus we can say that extrinsically motivated behaviours are those carried out to achieve some instrumental end, such as earning a reward or avoiding a punishment.

Study and analysis of motivation theories: Motivation theories are like wine; they get better with age. The maximisation of an employee’s motivation is necessary to achieve an organisation’s objectives successfully. The challenge to an organisation’s leaders and managers to motivate is extremely complex. ‘It is because of the complexity of motivation and the fact that there is no ready made solution of single answer to what motivates people to work well, that the different theories are important to managers, (today). ‘ (Mullins, L, 2002:P424).

The theories of motivation have come to forefront from the realisation that the “scientific management” as proposed by Taylor (1911), involving the drastic division of labour (Smith, 1904) by managers relied too much on monetary rewards as the source of motivation to employees. The evolution of the concept of work motivation started with Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” (1954), where Maslow has divided an individual’s needs into a series of steps, each step identifying a specific need. Maslow argues that once an individual’s lower level needs are satisfied, individuals tends to move up the hierarchy pyramid to seek more advanced needs.

Maslow’s ‘need hierarchy theory’ helps us to understand why organisations find ways to recognise employees and encourage their participation in decision making. This is highlighted in the example where ’employees at Federal Express service receive “Bravo Zulu” awards for outstanding performance, and the recognition letter is more important to recipients than money. ‘ (Daft, R, 1993:P511) However, such a widely proclaimed hypothesis, as of Maslow has a number of limitations when related to a work situation. Maslow talks about people satisfying their needs, specifically the high level ones, just through work situation.

This is not possible. People usually tend to satisfy their needs through other areas of their life as well. There may be individual differences in the terms that people place different values on the same need. ‘Maslow viewed satisfaction as the main motivational outcome of behaviour. But job satisfaction does not necessarily lead to improved work performance. ‘ (Mullins, L, 2002:P428). “What tends to get lost from Maslow’s schema and its application to the work place is the morel issue that asks: What does my creativity create? What is the impact of my self actualisation beyond me? ” (Shrank, 1978:P43).