Managerial Motivation

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Motivation is the process of stimulating people to act in ways which serve the needs of the organization providing the stimulus. Simply put, motivation is discovering and applying whatever is needed to get the employee to carry out designated activities in specified ways. However, a clear distinction is made between attitude, which is a state of mind, and behavior, which is a state of action.

A milestone in the relationship between the behavioral scientist and the manager was the "Hawthorne Experiments". In that project, behavioral scientists were invited to a large plant to help explain some employee behavior phenomena which were baffling to the managers. The success in this collaboration was achieved in a setting which included the following elements:
1) The study was a joint undertaking between behavioral scientists and practicing managers.
2) The locale of study was the factory, not the psychological laboratory.
3) The problem studied was not staged; it consisted of real life.
4) The tools used for study were the analytical tools of the behavioral scientists, not the empiricism of the managers.
Motivational Theories
All behavioral scientists agree that human beings act in response to stimuli which appeal to their internal needs and drives. Obviously, it is important to understand just what kinds of stimuli are effective. While the behavioral scientists agree the needs are multiple and that they are unequal in importance, they do not agree on the order of priorities or on the relative importance of potential stimuli.

According to Maslow, people have and tend to satisfy the following five basic needs:
Physiological: food, clothing. Shelter, which people satisfy before all others.
Security: safety and stability, absence of pain, Threat and illness.
Affiliation: desire for friendship, love, and belonging.
Esteem: self-respect, personal achievement, and recognition from others.
Self-actualization: personal growth, self-fulfillment, and realization of ones own full potential.

Although Maslow's theory helps considerably in understanding the growth processes of individuals from birth through maturity, the relevance of his model to the workplace seems somewhat questionable. By the time most employees begin working, many of their lower-order needs already have been fulfilled. Moreover, the nature of many jobs makes it almost impossible for many employees to achieve self-actualization, the highest need in the hierarchy, on the job. The strongest criticism of Maslow's approach is that it was developed from Maslow's clinical experience, and that empirical work has consistently failed to find major support for the theory. These critics argue that while the theory may have described Maslow's patients, it does not reflect the realities of people at work.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Managerial Motivation." 27 Feb 2017

Furthermore, it is not clear that deficient needs are the strongest motivators. In Maslow's defense, Maslow did not originally intend his theories to be applied to the workplace; rather, management specialists such as Douglas McGregor popularized his ideas in the management literature.

David C. McClelland, professor of psychology at Harvard University, is also credited with extensive contributions to motivation theory. McClelland identifies three needs:
1. NEED FOR ACHIEVEMENT. The desire to accomplish some goal or task more effectively than has been the case in the past.
2. NEED FOR AFFILIATION. The desire to have close, amenable relations with other people.
3. NEED FOR POWER. The desire to be influential and to have impact on a group.

Much of McClelland's early work suggested that the need for achievement was important to business people, scientists, and professional persons. A later report restricted to managers concluded that the need for power was most important to management. McClelland identifies three types of managers:

1. AFFILIATE MANAGERS (affiliation greater than power, high inhibition).

2. PERSONAL POWER MANAGERS (power greater than affiliation, low inhibition).

3. INSTITUTIONAL MANAGERS (power greater than affiliation, high inhibition).

He concluded that the institutional managers, who were high in the need for power and self-control, but low in the need for affiliation, were typically the most successful leaders.

Many managers prefer Herzberg's theory because:
1. Easy to understand, the motivators and hygiene factors are easily identified.
2. Provide actions required to improve employee performance that are straight forward.
3. Herzberg model underpins the importance of intrinsic factors in the job and lead to the need to improve job-related content, re-design or re-structure the current job in order to improve motivation and job satisfaction.

The motivators are typically intrinsic factors, largely administered by the employee. The hygiene factors are extrinsic factors, under the control of the supervisor or someone else other than the employee.

1. Herzberg implies that satisfaction and motivation are essentially the same. We know, though, that motivation is often the result of dissatisfaction. So, it is dangerous to draw conclusions about what motivates employees on the basis of what satisfies them.
2. Herzberg's findings appear to be tied to his critical-incidents methodology. That is, the two factors revealed by Herzberg only-show up when employees are asked to recall satisfying and dissatisfying events. We are likely to attribute good things to internal factors and bad things to external factors. Herzberg's results may just be a reflection on this self-serving bias.
3. Herzberg classified items as satisfiers or dissatisfiers on the basis of the relative number of times they were mentioned as causing satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

There is much similarity between Herzberg's and Maslow's models. A close examination of Herzberg's ideas indicates that what he actually is saying is that some employees may have achieved a level of social and economic progress such that the higher-level needs of Maslow (esteem and self-actualization) are the primary motivators. However, they still must satisfy the lower-level needs for the maintenance of their current state. So we can see that money might still be a motivator for non management workers (particularly those at a low wage level) and for some managerial employees. In addition, Herzberg's model adds to Maslow's model, because it breaks down the five need levels into two job-oriented categories: maintenance and motivational.

The figure compares the structure of the two. The table shown on the nest page compares areas in which they differ.

1. Relevance

2. Impact of needs on behavior

3. Role of financial rewards

4. Perspective

5. Type of theory People in society in all types of jobs and in retirement.

All needs can motivate behavior.

Financial reward can motivate.

Applies to all people and their lives.

Descriptive (what is).
Most relevant to white-collar and professional employees.

Only some intrinsic needs serve as motivators.

Financial reward is not a key motivator.

Is work centered.

Prescriptive (what should be).

According to McGregor, theory Y managers would seek to motivate their subordinates through the goals of achievement, self-esteem and (possibly) the prospect of self-actualization. Theory X managers, on the other hand, would limit subordinates' abilities to exercise discretion and use incentive schemes and penalties as primary inducements for increased effort.
Theory X and Theory Y
According to McGregor, a manager of the Theory X model views his or her subordinates as by nature
disliking work
lacking in ambition
resistant to change
preferring to be led than to lead

Theory Y, by contrast, involves an alternative set of assumptions. A manager operating under a Theory Y perspective views subordinates as naturally
willing to work
willing to accept responsibility
capable of self-direction
capable of self-control
capable of imagination, ingenuity, creativity.

Motivation in Real Life.
Example: A salesperson has worked hard to consistently achieve a 125% sales quota. She was given a $200 per month raise in recognition of her achievement by her boss. However, she discovered that a salesperson with no previous experience had been hired into the organization by her boss for $100 more a month than she was making. This resulted in a loss of motivation for the salesperson and her performance began to drop. In my opinion, this loss of motivation can be seen in Maslows' theory under esteem because she wasn't receiving the recognition, in the form of higher pay, for her outstanding sales. The difference in salary was very small, but having a history of working hard and great performance and not receiving recognition for it would make most people lose heart and possible seek employment elsewhere. Money can be a big motivator when trying to get the most from an employee. But I think it's also very important to look at all the other qualitative needs employees have that fill their emotional needs as well.

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Carlisle, Howard M., "Management: Concepts, Methods, and Application", (2nd edition), Science Research Associates, Inc., 1982.

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Beamish, Paul. Morrison, Allison. Inkpen, Andrew. Rosenweig, Philip. (2003) International Management (5th ed.) Iowa: R.R. Donnelly

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