Motivation Theory: Ensuring Success of the Workplace
Since the beginning of mankind, leaders have risen to take charge of societies and make decisions. These decisions often meant the difference between having food and going hungry, having shelter or being left outside, and sometimes the difference between life and death. As society has progressed, we have seen great technological advances such as television, computers, cars, and space travel. Despite such advancements, the basic needs of mankind still remain the same. Business is the means by which people make the money to acquire their needs, and managers today are the leaders who rise to make decisions and ensure the survival of the business. The success of a business is largely dependent upon the ability of mangers to motivate workers to achieve the highest results. All engineers, whether in a management position or not, should understand motivation theory so that they can help ensure the success of their workplace. Having a firm understanding of motivation theory will allow us to draw conclusions from case studies and decide how engineering managers can be most successful.
A. History of Motivation Theory:
Thousands of years before the word motivation entered the manager's vocabulary,
people realized the importance of influencing workers to accomplish tasks for an organization. The oldest technique used to motivate others is known today as the Carrot and Stick method. The name evolved from the stubbornness of donkeys who could only be moved by taunting them with a carrot. Early managers regularly offered economic "carrots" to entice people to work harder. This technique was passed on from generation to generation and was a deeply rooted part of society for hundreds of years. This theory created a misconception that money always motivated a person to work harder. More often, managers were beginning to realize that the methods of the past where not effective. The awakening field of psychology was looking for new ways to motivate people, and in a short time, managers would begin looking to psychologists for new methods of management (Mescon).
Early attempts to combine psychological theory to management were rejected. The news of Sigmund Freud's radical postulate of the unconscious mind was rapidly spreading through Europe and heading toward America, but was dismissed by managers. It was not until 1923 when Elton Mayo made clear the inadequacy of the pure carrot-and-stick motivation that psychological theory began to trickle into management. Performing an experiment in a Philadelphia textile mill, Mayo concluded that the reason for the low productivity was that spinners had few opportunities to communicate with one another. Financial incentives failed to increase productivity. Mayo felt that the solution to this productivity problem was to change the atmosphere of the workplace. The introduction of 2 ten-minute breaks for the spinners produced...