Employee Motivation - Theory and Practice
What is motivation? Motivation is difficult to explain and even harder to 'turn on' in people. Webster defines motivation as ?an act or process of motivating; the condition of being motivated; a force, stimulus, or influence: incentive or drive? (?Motivation?). It is most often the job of the manager to use motivation to drive employees to accomplish acts which they normally would not have done. The study of motivation helps managers understand what prompts people to initiate action, what influences their choice of action, and why they persist in their action over time (Daft and Marcic 444). Over the years many theorists have studied the human condition of motivation, and learned various techniques to help managers figure out what makes employees seek to attain higher knowledge, wealth, prosperity, and happiness in their work.
One most noted theorist is Abraham Maslow; he carried out his investigations into human behavior and developed the hierarchy of needs theory. Maslow suggested that there are five sets of goals which may be called basic needs. These five are physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization?that exists in a hierarchical order and can be compared to climbing a ladder. Once a lower level need has been fulfilled, the person seeks to fulfill the next higher level. This progression leads to self actualization as being the highest level (Daft and Marcic 447-49).
Another best known contributor to the behavior of individuals at work was Douglas McGregor. McGregor had an extensive background in management and consultation; he was also a trained psychologist (Daft and Marcic 37). In 1960, he published a book called, ?The Human Side of Enterprise.? In his book he examined two models which he called Theory X and Theory Y.
The Theory X management assumes most people prefer to be directed, are not interested in assuming responsibility, and want safety above everything. Management attempts to structure, control and closely supervise their employees with no opportunity to fulfill themselves.
On the other side of the spectrum, McGregor developed Theory Y, which describes individual?s behavior differently. This theory assumes people are not by nature lazy and unreliable. It forwards the notion, that people can be self directed and creative at work if properly motivated. It is essential for management to create an environment and culture where employees can display this behavior. The Theory Y also, affects the management of promotions and salaries and the development of effective managers. McGregor, in addition, seen Theory Y as conducive to participative problem solving. Once a manager that has a Theory Y mind set is willing to give their employees some freedom in completing a project, they will find that the participative approach to problem solving leads to much improved results. McGregor theorized that employees contribute to the...