Employee Motivation and Maslow’s Theory

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Abraham Maslow proposes unique theories which allow managers to understand and guide the behavior of employees and meet their internal needs. Good leadership and motivation require the acceptance of risk, the adjustment to new situations, and the recognition of opportunity. Both motivation and personality development is concerned with the determination of fundamental corporate values and are reflected in the kinds of marketing strategies chosen and decisions made. Marketing executives can only be effective through other people, for decisions are valueless until someone does something about them. Despite some criticism, the theory of motivation is very popular in modern management as it allows HR managers to access and analyze organizational problems and motivate employees of different ranks.


Motivation is one of the main factors which influence the personality of employees, productivity, and morale. Abraham Maslow develops personality theory based on the needs and desires of an ordinary man. To define and explain personality and its motivation, researchers develop theories of leadership and motivation which help to analyze and evaluate employees and labor relations. Through good leadership, organization should help human corporate resources reach high levels of accomplishment. The Maslow’s theory (called “hierarchy of needs”) involve such important aspects as self-actualization, needs assessment and personality development.

Discussion Section

Maslow’s theory of motivation claims that human motives develop in sequence according to five levels of needs. Maslow is a founder of so-called humanistic psychology. His main writings are “Theory of Human Motivations”, “Motivation and Personality”, “Religions, Values and Peak-experiences”. Maslow underlines that human needs are: “psychological (hunger, thirst), safety (protection), social (be accepted, belong to a certain group), esteem (self-confidence, achievements, respect, status, recognition), and self-actualization (realizing one’s potential for continued self-development)” (Maslow 1971, p. 3). That after satisfying their subsistence needs workers try to satisfy their needs for belonging, association, friendship, and love, while obvious, is nevertheless important. And that this occurs even though workers are not often organized as task teams but as individuals with fixed and limited jobs requiring little or no interaction with their fellows, offers some indication of the strength of these needs as motivators of behavior. As such, they become thereby of great importance to workers and at the same time of great threat to management. In law enforcement agencies management cannot “control” them in terms of their conventional motivational tools (Armstrong, 2003).

According to Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, to exert high levels of efforts to reach organizational goals, an individual has to satisfy his/her own psychological needs and desires. Thus, all five levels of needs have to be satisfied. However, in the present case the belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs are completely suppressed by the coercive management. To get involved with the work for the common good, individual has to feel a part of the community, thus, satisfying belongingness need, but at the Software Engineering Operations division employees are avoiding any communication, especially with Matt, as it does not provide for any sense of their contribution (Feist and Feist 2005). Higher needs of esteem and self-actualization, which imply need for recognition, attention, respect as well as motivation to realize individual’s maximum potential, would increase employees’ motivation to excel on their job, but they cannot be satisfied unless belongingness to the company’s team is not achieved. Provided that these needs are satisfied, the morale of staff members and motivation would also considerably increase (Armstrong, 2003).

The behavioral management concept is primarily triggered around 1943, The needs range from physiological as one of the first needs to be fulfilled on up the ladder to Maslow’s peak of selfactualization (Maslow 1971). As originally proposed, each lower need had to be filled before stepping up to a higher need. Today, however, most behavioralists believe that the needs fulfillment can be going on in several steps at the same time. It should also be noted that the Maslow model can be considered as a selfish model in that the peak of his model ends with selfactualization, or “I have achieved my ultimate goal and peak”; “I am number one.” The emphasis is on achieving one’s gratification and happiness, even at the expense of others (Maslow 1971, p. 10). Almost every student who has taken a basic psychology course or a basic behavioral management course since World War II has been exposed to this model and theory. It is a model and theory that, if stopped at this point, promotes selfishness in the individual and leaves no one truly satisfied. As can be seen on the left hand scale of the figure, a person is only about 85 percent satisfied at most within himself or herself when the self-actualization state has been reached (Coy and Kovacs-Long 2005).

Using a person’s strengths translates energy into performance. Maslow underlines that the leader taps each team member’s talents and directs the energy to the task to be done. The leadership task combines individual contributions into a composite that becomes a whole team effort. On an effective team, the leadership function progresses according to the logic of the task and the work to be done. Maslow states that motivation and the leadership function is not so much one of leading but rather of deciding which team member has the relevant information and, thereby, the authority for decision making. Deciding who has the information may be obvious, or the team may need to discuss the subject. Leadership then shifts to the team member who has the most relevant information or the particular skill and competence. Person leads the team through that issue or phase of the project. In other words, the formal leader is not necessarily in charge all the time or on every task. Performance problem solving focuses objectively on substantive issues, identifies them, defines them, deals with them and solves them; problem solving is not a process of smoothing over or avoiding conflict but rather involves looking for constructive solutions. It is a time for positive forward-looking solutions, not backward-looking fault finding (Wilson and Madsen 2008).

Since this arrangement goes against the grain of many individuals, it sets the stage for conflicts and wastes the potentialities of both the individual and the organization. The controls are presumably necessary to keep people in line and to prevent chaotic inefficiency, but critics asserts that this presumption is just plain wrong and that when people are positively motivated, they can be a lot more cooperative and efficient without controls than they ever could be with them. Not only is the worker capable of keeping himself in line without having a foreman peering over his shoulder, but he can even produce more because he won’t have to drain off so much energy and ingenuity in finding ways to thwart the foreman. The individual’s own internal discipline costs less and accomplishes much more than the imposed discipline of the organization (Tesone, 2005).

Maslow’s theory helps managers to identify internal and external needs and geode employees. This model implies that a leader is involved in all decision-making processes and becomes a part of the team. The average team cannot afford consultant fees, nor is it prepared to deal with deep seated personality conflicts. The attempt drains energy, diverts concentration, and is often self-defeating. Too much introspection can devastate a team (Feist and Feist 2005). Each team member contributes something unique to the chemistry of the team, and team chemistry alters any time there is a change in team composition. When even one team member is replaced, the chemistry of the team will change completely (Segriovanni and Glickman, 2006).

The common characteristics of all definitions are that they see leadership as a management function based on unique characteristics of a personality. This collaborative approach to conflict resolution moves a team toward a search for the best response to internal problems. Many interpersonal problems can be avoided in the team process by acknowledging that self-discipline and a healthy personality–one capable of withstanding ambiguity and criticism–are required for effective team action. The ground rules should be established up front (Feist and Feist 2005). Teamwork means that members support the strengths and neutralize the weaknesses of other team members. Team members use communication and listening skills to ensure that all points surface, realizing that diversity is strength of the team process. result, team members find support in their efforts to articulate their ideas positively and constructively. They do so by criticizing in private and praising in public. Team members cover for each other when an assignment is missed. They always look for more effective ways to work toward the goal and accomplish the task. In this way, they become a cohesive unit. Interpersonal skills are also improved when there is trust. While teams have high expectations for task accomplishment, they give room for individual differences and personality idiosyncrasies. The weakness of this model is that it does not allow leaders to create long-term commitment and motivate employees (Schien, 1996).

Some researchers criticize Maslow’s theory of needs for its simplicity and mechanistic approach to human behavior. Maslow’s theory helps to improve creativity through careful analysis of internal needs and personal inspirations of people. The complex web of interpersonal relationships must be renegotiated, or else gaps in the team structure will occur and important issues will be overlooked. Rather than attempt to influence interpersonal relationships directly, a team can be more productive by focusing on the task to be done (Feist and Feist 2005). The leader’s task is to develop the new member’s strengths and neutralize his or her weaknesses by focusing on task performance. The team then will reestablish its balance by working in harmony toward the goal. This is not to infer that no time should be spent on people problems or interpersonal skills. The weakness of this model is that it prevents employees from self-management and independent thinking. Employees are used to follow leader’s decisions and become passive and inactive in problem-solving situations (Marvel et al 2007).

Maslow’s research proposes the best model of behavior for managers dealing with diverse workforce. This model involves such issues as influence, inspirational motivation and individualized considerations. Leadership should have both personal and organizational dimensions, the former concerned with the leader’s influence over individuals and groups and the latter with the leadership of organizations. The two are interrelated, for leadership influences the activities and effectiveness of organizations through setting goals and providing direction and motivation. Also, a leader must know the psychological needs of his people as well as the organizational requirements and technical aspects of marketing. He needs “the ability to understand and appraise situations involving areas in which he is not an expert and he must have the ability to get things done through people who usually know more than he does in their field (Feist and Feist 2005). The importance of disruptive and powerful force of change in both the lives of people and companies cannot be overstated. As a rule, companies which do not embrace, adapt to, and create change gradually become stagnant and do not survive in the severe competition environment. Proper use of change management can mobilize company’s interests in strategically successful ways. Numerous obstacles should be overcome. Without the formal focus on teamwork, formal knowledge of leadership, clear focus on the customers the company will flounder in the competitive environment. It is apparent that in the case of Foresight systems, the practice of change management has to be used without delay. Although the company is growing fast, it can become extinct in a few years because of improper management. It is a great mistake to thrust the burden of leadership on people who lack the necessary managerial competences. If it is difficult to find competent mangers, special managerial courses should be organized. High staff turnover, poor morale, lack of initiative, bureaucracy, bad coordination between various departments of the company indicate that the whole corporate culture of Foresight systems should be changed to revitalize the company (Fulton and Maddock 1998).

Practical application of Maslow theories help organizations to overcome conflict situations and problems caused by personal and cultural differences. These practices allow managers to deliver the particular desired outcome and introduce changes. The nature and focus of the proposed HR practices process ensures that the means of creating and delivering satisfaction to employees. Unique environment is used to introduce strategic perspectives of what is required to obtain leadership. practices allow managers to deliver the particular desired outcome and introduce about competitive parity. The success of a leader will be measured by the performance of the organization under his authority. It has been said that an organization is merely the lengthened shadow of its leader and that the top executive personifies the business. Leaders must also inspire others. Organizations should ensure that they have a policy of developing the leadership potential in all and particularly of newly appointed ‘leaders’! Individuals should also ensure that they focus on developing their leadership skills by training, reading, analyzing and following the example of good leaders and by assessing, monitoring and improving their own (Creech, 1995).

All of the aspects of lack of motivation, lack of coordination and cooperation as well as avoidance of communication between employees at work as well as after work indicate poor corporate culture, where staff members do not feel a valuable part of the company. The organizational climate, the perception of how it feels to work in a certain work environment, actually links individual performance to the performance of an organization. Key dimensions of self-actualization that consistently affects both individual and organizational performance are flexibility, responsibility, standards, rewards, clarity, and team commitment (Feist and Feist 2005). The dimension of flexibility, which is the degree to which there are no unnecessary rules, procedures, policies or practices, and new ideas are easily accepted, is suppressed by Matt’s directives on what to be done and in which manner. Responsibility dimension, which is degree to which employees are given authority to accomplish tasks without having to constantly check for approval, is overlooked as staff members feel as if they are under constant surveillance on what they do and feel no trust from their manager. Standards, the degree to which challenging but attainable goals are set for the organization and its employees, have been little defined for the employee. The only standards that have identified to follow are the technical standards of products, which add little to challenging employees’ creativeness and innovativeness (Creech, 1995). Self-Actualization suggests vision. It grows out of the ability to innovate and overcome the limitations of traditional patterns and methods. Diversity is an important issue of HRM. In general sense, diversity means the removal of prejudice from the organization and the individuals it employs, to ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, ethnic origin, re­ligion and lifestyle, receive equal treatment in the organization. Organizations which have a multi-country operation or business should give some thought to how intercultural differences impede or enhance business success.

Additionally, it is vital to implement a viable communication strategy that would ensure that information is promulgated efficiently and comprehensively to all employees. It is obvious from the case that today Foresight system does not create opportunities for employee promotion and there is very little concern about the development of employees’ skills. Employees should be given enough time to express their views. Moreover, it is important to reassure them and support their decision making. Such useful management practices as arranging informal meetings and feedback should also be used. One of the main challenges for management is to establish common standards. First of all, the company’s strategies should be communicated within a framework of standards that are meaningful to all of the employees in the company. It seems to be an extremely difficult task to come up with change management tools that would be suitable for everyone (Creech, 1995).

It is essential to foster business practices that incorporate ethical themes for a long time in the first place. The corporal value of empowerment is the most important value to be implemented. The company management team should view company’s staff as the greatest asset to the company. One of the most important competitive factors is the ability to discern and develop talent. It is necessary to allow employees to develop. Foresight systems should be turned into a company based on development and high performance by destroying barriers and encouraging participation. A special focus should be made on elucidating roles and responsibilities of the employees, and staff seminars should be held every year to achieve this aim. Although it takes much time and money, employee empowerment practices will turn out to be well worth it in the end. One more value to be incorporated is innovation and learning. As there is a special focus on development in the IT industry, the company that proves to be unsuccessful in keeping up with the pace of development will have difficulties staying afloat. Consequently, there is the necessity to have a very active and permanent educational program. Careful analysis of self-actualization can used to find out barriers to productivity and satisfaction in the workplace thus enabling the top management to guide and direct their employees. Climate surveys feedback provides a participative approach in the company and enable all employees to actively engage in managing the work environment. It should be admitted that some alternative approaches may as well be taken. However, it is highly unlikely that they would succeed in invigorating the company (Tesone, 2005). A good leader provides the right climate and the opportunities for these needs to be met on an individual basis and this is perhaps the most difficult of a leader’s challenges.


Maslow’s theory helps managers to understand needs of employees from different cultures and social classes. This becomes of even greater importance when entering into strategic alliances with organizations in other countries; in acquisition situations; when departments in different countries (such as research and development) have to work closely together; when individuals of one country are sent to work in another; and when there is a need to have subsidiaries of various countries commit to a common vision, and common methods and processes.


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