Influence and motivation

How can managers influence their staff to act in a particular way, and how can staff influence managers (50 per cent)? Illustrate your answer with at least two examples of a power source being used (50 per cent). 2. Chapter 15. 3% of the total grade in the course Aileen works for a company where she manages a group of IT staff who maintains existing systems and designs some new ones. Demand for their services is high within the company and there is constant pressure on them to complete projects. She wonders if they are as committed to the work as she would like them to be. Equally there are many opportunities elsewhere for such staff and recruiting replacements will be difficult if anyone leaves. Aileen knows that you are attending a management course and asks if any ideas on motivation theory might help her to devise a solution.

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Use either Maslow’s or Herzberg’s theory to suggest topics you would want to raise to help her find a practical way to proceed (50 per cent). Evaluate the usefulness of the theory chosen as a guide to examining motivational problems of this kind (50 per cent). When it comes to the question of “how to get people to do what you want”, we have reached the holy grail of management issues. This question has probably been around for as long as mankind has been around and to this day it continues to baffle even the smartest of us.

Through the course of time, though, there have emerged several different ways to �hold the strings’, many of which we can experience in everyday life. Managers have many ways to choose from, pending on environment, situations and surroundings. They can reward performance and diligence and/or punish idleness and errors (reward power); exert their power through orders and demands (legitimate power); lead by experience and knowledge (expertise power) or, finally, they can sway people with charisma and charm (referent power).

Similarly, the staff can influence their managers by showing knowledge in the field; by proving themselves through results; by putting their charisma (if any) to work or by using a bit of psychology to indirectly influence the manager by ‘rewarding’ his good decisions with appraisal and better performance or ‘punishing’ his bad decisions with criticism and underperformance. This sort of behavioural modification is widely known within the world of psychology, it’s popular in child raising and could surely be used here.

An excellent example of a mix between power sources is the person we call ‘mom’. As a parent, she has legitimate power over her children as they are not of legal age. As such, she can intervene in their lives as she wants, taking control over any or all matters, exerting coercive power. However, she may not choose to do so since she knows that such actions risk discontent and possible retaliation. Instead, she relies on her other sources of power: Reward power; she can influence behaviour by rewarding what she likes and punishing what she dislikes. Referent power; as a mother she should have a certain status in her children’s eyes; nobody should want to disappoint their mother! Finally, she has expertise power; in most cases she should know better than her children, which gives her the ability to give guidance and advice and lead by example.

According to Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs within every person which they strive to meet. Starting from the bottom, each person gradually becomes aware of their following needs as current needs are met. These needs range from primitive basics such as proper conditions to reaching new heights with promotions and further learning.

By using Maslow’s theory, we can go through the different needs from the bottom up and carefully examine possible motivational solutions. To begin with, Ms. Aileen should try to find out her employees hierarchy of needs. Although the majority of people have a hierarchy such as the one Maslow proposes, he does admit that this can vary from person to person so that for some, esteem comes before love and so on. By finding out what is most important for her employees and in what order, Ms. Aileen can then start making necessary changes, if needed, to ensure the efforts and continuing employment of her staff. From the bottom up, here are some of the points she should consider:

Good conditions and good money. These two add each other up since excellent working conditions can excuse lower pay and excellent pay can excuse worse conditions. In the big IT companies, such as Microsoft and Google, the emphasis has become on conditions rather than pay. The companies realized that they could not continue endlessly to compete on salaries so they started providing benefits along with better and better working conditions to attract new staff as well as keep their old staff. Safety. On top of conditions and money, the company could offer benefits such as full health and dental insurance and pension funds as well as implementing rules and regulations to improve the overall safety, in the broadest sense of the word.

Social life. The company should have an active internal social life with clubs and comities and social gatherings. One possibility is to allow staff members whom are familiar with each other and like each other to work more closely together while encouraging staff interactions and mingling. Have a ‘no one left out’ policy to ensure that every member of the staff feels included. Partner staff members with each other to create co-working and dialog. Allow informal attire for non visible staff, even the visible staff to if company policy allows it.

Inwards and outwards. Make the staff aware that what they are doing is important to an entire organisation; that they are holding up the IT department, allowing all other departments to run smoothly. Such an effort should be rewarded with prestige and pride in ones work. Create divisions within the department an assign supervisors or lower managers to them. Give responsibility along with the chance to prove one self.

Provide opportunities for promotions and pass onwards and upwards you positive knowledge of an employee. Self-actualisation. Encourage those that have proven themselves. Aid with promotions and keep them on track. Give them the opportunity to expand their knowledge to benefit of the company. Do this by paying for further education and giving them time of to pursue it, hold seminars and distribute informative material.

The Maslow theory can prove a valuable tool in motivational tactics. It dissects the needs of people and sorts them from the most basic to the most advanced. It also makes room for different orders of needs for different people. This gives that knowing your employee and what he values can greatly help you in creating the right motivation at the right time. In the given problem we had a group of people whom are important to the company and have to perform well but there may not be much keeping them there. Using the Maslow theory we can create an environment in which these important employees want to stay, work and perform well. We respond to their needs so that (hopefully) they will respond to the companies needs.

Even though there is much good to be said about this theory, there is some criticism also. There are those who say that ranking of human needs is not really possible, we are as different as we are many and the only way is to embrace the diversity rather than creating a universal mould while others argue that fundamental needs are non-hierarchical and invariant in nature.1 If this is the case and Maslow’s theory is not an accurate depiction of human needs, then his list is useless an every motivational tactic has to be done on a person by person basis.