Managing motivation

This week’s topic is closely connected to week 6. The team discussed in week 6, was introduced to improve the efficiency that Taylor not in the long run achieved. The chapter from the book in this week’s topic, explain how motivation theories have evolved during the history and until today. The most dominant perspective in motivation focuses on job redesign. Job redesign was introduced to try to increase the performance outcomes that Scientific Management and Taylor not managed to do.

The theories tried to overcome the problems caused by deskilling and improved job satisfaction which caused the productivity to increase. The earliest motivation theories based on job redesign focused on a homegenous view of the employees’ needs, actually the male’s needs, and the theorists from this time believed wages were the basic motivating principle. This chapter, like the reading in the book from last week, explain how Human Relation Management tried to be a solution to the negative effect from Taylor, but it never questioned the work and task specialization in Taylorism.

Maslow organized human-beings’ needs in a hierarchy and argued that people are motivated by unsatisfied needs and will never be completely satisfied. Herzberg took Maslow’s theory one step further when he said that the main source of motivation was the job itself. He introduced the job enrichment model where motivation seekers would gain more responsibility which would increase their skills and expertise and make the job less boring. The enrichment model had some limitations which the STS, sociotechnical system, approach overcame when it integrated technical and social aspects to make a group responsible for the whole task.

TQM, total quality management, was a new job redesign theory that focused on quality and management where it tried to reverse some of the most negative sides of Taylor’s theory and use the best elements from job enrichment model and STS. The last week’s topic described TQM as the first theory to recognise the limitations of Scientific Management. During this week I have seen that TQM also has limitations. The theory was an alternative to Scientific Management and Taylorism, but actually it has turned out to be a theory with a lot of Tayloristic aspects and it is an example of the theory used in the NUMMI example from last week.

During the process where new motivation theories have emerged, the newest theories have ignored the question of what work means to the employees. In the theories’ attempt to overcome the limitations of the earliest theories, they have left out this important aquestion. In conclusion, it is difficult to find a motivation theory that consists of every important aspect that gives us good motivation. Burkard Sievers (1995) says that works have got more meaningless and jobs have been deskilled as a result of change in structure meant to give a positive effect.

This week’s article, “Manufacturing Management Ideology” by Smith, gives examples of this. In trying to decrease the bureaucracy, a company changed their structure by eliminating a part in their managerial work force. In a situation like this, different people with different skills have to go, and the company will then loose people with important knowledge. Companies try to save money in this way, but actually they loose money because they do not run as good as before. The article shows how companies try to restructure the business by having seminars for the employees where they tell them how to behave.

This is a quit Taylorisic way and is not caring for the individual. A better solution would maybe be to change the working system. The article is a contrast to the situation the guest speaker, Tony Gould, talked about. He has an anti-Tayloristic way of operating as a manager where his most important aspect is caring for the individual. He said that having close contact with the employees, show interest in their meanings and caring for their needs, will build a good relationship. This good relationship will have a motivating factor on the employees and they will respect him as a manager and do a good job for the organisation.

In this leadership style no rational control is used and the guest speaker as a manager has a lot in common with the manager in IDEO. The situation the guest speaker talks about is quite hard to achieve in large organisations, but it is no doubt that this is an ideal way of managing. Every aspect of management varies from different cultures, and motivation is no exception. In the US, job enrichment and great perform to operate as an individual is important factors of motivation, and we find examples of this in NUMMI as mentioned last week.

In Scandinavia the situation is a bit different, and we find less personal competitiveness and more democracy. The Volvo manufacturing in Uddevalla in Sweden is an example on this. During the lecture, we had a discussion about which needs we rank highest in our workplace. The conclusion of this discussion was that different cultures have different needs. In the constantly growing globalisation it is important to be aware of this if we want to achieve highly motivated employees.