Human Motivation and Change Management Concepts


This essay aims to explore critical concepts that influence organizational effectiveness. The paper is divided into parts, with part one exploring concepts related to human motivation and illustrating how they can be applied in organizations to improve employee performance. Here, theories of motivation developed by Herzberg and Maslow are discussed in detail and used in firm contexts. The second part critically compares hard and soft systems models of change, underpinning their importance in organizational decision-making.

Application of Motivation Theories and Employee Performance

Motivation is a strategic practice that motivates individuals to perform better by giving them incentives centered on their unmet requirements. Martono et al. (2018, p.536) define motivation as “an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need and to achieve a certain goal.” Given motivated people are the cornerstones of a profitable business in the twenty-first century and beyond, top management must learn to recognize and efficiently manage their personnel’s motivation. Poorly motivated workers may devote minimal effort to their tasks, avoid the office as often as possible, leave the business, and produce substandard performance. When highly motivated, workers assist the firm in adapting to a rapidly changing environment.

Theories of motivation such as those explored in this paper affirm that organizations must motivate workers if they are to achieve their desired goals. Furthermore, there is consensus that motivation is a personal process, that it is portrayed as purposeful, with multiple facets, and that motivational theories forecast behavior (Sharma et al., 2019). To this end, the distinction between job and organizational performance is clear. That is to say, an employee’s work is evaluated only by whether or not they are effectively executing a suitable strategy and delivering satisfactory results. Since Herzberg and Maslow were pioneers in this field, their theories remain relevant today.

Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Frederick Herzberg based his theory on Abraham Maslow’s motivation and needs concept. Herzberg adapted key aspects of Maslow’s model to the work environment. According to Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, a person’s relationship to their job is fundamental, and how they see their job may influence whether they succeed or fail. As a result of their expanding relevance in commerce, Herzberg conducted a study in the 1950s in which he surveyed 203 Pittsburgh-based accountants, engineers, and managers (Alfayad & Arif, 2017). This study widened the knowledge of motivational predictors and corporate job satisfaction. Herzberg determined that employees have two sets of wants in the corporate world. He called them “hygiene” (satisfiers) and “motivator” factors. The former consists of compensation, working conditions, and benefits (Table 1). Further, he claimed that these qualities alone do not result in work happiness, but their lack might lead to discontentment. Motivators include responsibility, recognition, accomplishment, and advancement opportunities. Ultimately, Herzberg postulated that the confluence of these elements promoted motivation and enhanced individual performance.

Table 1: Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory

The table shows Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. Motivators, inherent inside the job, encourage people to perform more when present. Staff effort will be reduced if hygiene concerns are not present. Although they encircle the occupation, hygiene considerations are not part of the job.

Hygiene Factors: Employees will rapidly get dissatisfied with little compensation. To reduce employee unhappiness, it is necessary to pay them fairly. Most full-time workers anticipate fringe benefits, consequently, they are considered hygiene (Alfayad & Arif, 2017). When people feel safe in their professions, they are less likely to be unhappy. Organizations should prioritize staff safety and well-being to ensure good hygiene.

Motivation Factors: Acknowledging employees’ excellent work increases job satisfaction. According to Herzberg, praise and recognition boost work performance. Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene philosophy emphasizes employee independence and accountability (Alfayad & Arif, 2017). Workers experience more success and drive when they have a self-directed, noteworthy job. Organizations should provide their workers gainful employment and show them how it benefits the company.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-Factor Theory

The ideas of Herzberg’s theory are now being implemented in various ways in the workplace, including integrating various policies that improve motivation and hygiene. According to Alfayad and Arif (2017), providing staff greater autonomy is one method. The stronger workers’ feeling of accomplishment in their job, the greater their sense of responsibility and autonomy. The more a company can inspire workers to accept responsibility for their job professionally, the more motivated the team will be. Another common method is increasing the quality of working conditions for workers. Creating a clean, secure, and visually pleasant environment is among the best methods to enhance work hygiene (Hur, 2018). Although safety is a basic need, companies may inadvertently overlook workplace design. To increase workplace hygiene, managers can ensure that the office is well-illuminated and aesthetically furnished.

This paradigm emphasizes internal drive rather than external forces. By implementing this approach, a firm may enhance its workplace conditions and atmosphere. Furthermore, empirical evidence of job satisfaction among nurses corroborates Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory by claiming that hygiene elements are less relevant than motivational factors in determining job satisfaction (Alshmemri et al., 2017). Most firms believe that providing the pay is sufficient to ensure employee contentment. However, when a company applies this idea, it becomes aware of employee issues and may create an employee-centric culture by reducing things that dissatisfy workers (Hur, 2018). Per this notion, employee work advancement, recognition, and connections are thought to be more motivating than monetary compensation. In a society where things are assessed in monetary terms, Herzberg’s theory introduces a shift by assessing employee happiness in terms of other equally significant aspects.

Conversely, Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory has a few limitations that organizations must consider when seeking to motivate employees. The significant challenge of this theory is that it is not always true that contented workers will improve performance since job fulfilment is simply among the many elements that contribute to improving work efficiency (Holmberg et al., 2018). Another issue with the theory is that individuals define job satisfaction differently. For instance, some individuals may prefer flexible work schedules, whereas others find them burdensome. Correspondingly, others prefer a higher salary than promotions and authority, while some place a higher value on these factors.

Furthermore, young individuals have varied perspectives than older individuals regarding compensation, work requirements, and advancement. This theory’s disregard for external influences, which in practice constitute a critical impact, is another drawback (Holmberg et al., 2018). For instance, if a corporation implements every one of the Herzberg theory’s components, workers may not be happy if a rival pays more for the comparable job description. To put it another way, neglecting external elements entirely might cause problems for a business, particularly in areas where external influences predominate over internal ones.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow portrayed the needs of individuals in the form of a pyramid with several stages of needs. At the least were the physiological needs, and the highest was self-actualization (Maslow, 2019). Maslow’s theory of human motivation was founded on the following suppositions:

  • Some needs impact the behavior of individuals; however, only unmet wants may affect behavior; fulfilled desires do not operate as motivators;
  • Needs are placed in a hierarchy of significance, or scale, from the most basic physiological desires to the most complicated self-actualization wants;
  • A person’s need at any pyramid stage develops only after their lower needs have been satisfactorily met (Maslow, 2019).

Without a doubt, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is the most popular motivation theory ever conceptualized. According to Maslow’s theory, each person has a hierarchy of five needs, as shown in the Figure 1 below:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 
Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This diagram depicts Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As each need is eventually met to a significant degree, the subsequent stage will become the dominating one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The main benefit of Maslow’s theory is that it is straightforward to comprehend and applicable to everyday life situations since all humans experience at least one of the stages in their lives. Additionally, the theory applies to practically all areas of life since, whether, at home or the job, people begin by addressing their fundamental requirements. In other words, it instructs employees on the essential things they must achieve in what sequence. Similarly, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is crucial in understanding organizational theory because both explore the concept of human motivation. Ultimately, the hierarchy of needs theory enables employers to focus on what factors they need to enhance in their employees to improve their productivity.

Conversely, solid scientific evidence does not support Maslow’s concept of human motivation. Researchers have generally provided incomplete evidence supporting Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory (Fallatah et al., 2018; Alfayad et al., 2017). Maslow’s technique has also been subject to significant criticism for its ethnocentric bias, which places a disproportionate focus on Americans in a setting where individualism is valued highly. Most of those higher-level requirements in the hierarchy are self-centered, which makes it difficult to universalize and adapt to other settings (Osemeke & Adegboyega, 2017). For example, there is a stronger emphasis on cooperation, altruism, and service as in Asian cultures. Additionally, it is unclear if requirements may vary based on socioeconomic status or gender.

Finally, it is challenging to personalize some of the concepts posited by Maslow in his theory of needs. From an organizational standpoint, managers are required to be aware of individual employee needs and fulfill them. Such needs cannot be fulfilled if the organization has no way of measuring them (Osemeke & Adegboyega, 2017). For instance, there is no way to measure self-actualization, so a manager cannot determine whether an employee has met this need.

Observable Practices Based on the Theories

Organizations have adopted two observable practices based on the theories: Employee promotion and the provision of clean and safe work environments. Employee promotion is founded on both Maslow’s and Herzberg’s theories of motivation. Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory posits that chances for promotions and real promotions have a stronger propensity to spur better productivity than typical compensation arrangements. This is corroborated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which places value on wants like self-esteem and self-actualization than lower-ranked wants like physiological requirements comprising remuneration. Pay increases with promotions to higher ranks, but acknowledgement, more duty, more complex work, and a feeling of pride in one’s accomplishments are more powerful motivators than monetary rewards. The two theories have influenced how Western organizations view employee motivations for decades.

In firms with a western orientation, rewards and incentive programs inspire employees to increase their productivity and corporate loyalty. A classic example is through promotion either based on seniority or merit. All workers are under pressure to perform since these incentives are only offered to the productive ones. The primary distinction in how organizations with Eastern cultures see motivation is that there is a lack of similar inducement schemes to that observed in western corporations. Providing motivation is not considered a responsibility of the top management. According to Chen and Hsieh (2017), this viewpoint undoubtedly stems from the Confucian-influenced cultural environments in Asian regions, where motivation is regarded as a fundamental moral obligation. In the West, this practice has not changed over time but differs according to organizations. For example, organizations will consider one or more of the following factors before promoting an employee:

  • Team player
  • Good work ethics
  • Goal-oriented
  • Respectful and influential
  • Responsible
  • Open to learning and feedback

Providing clean and safe work environments is inextricably linked with Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory. It includes hygienic aspects that encourage workers to stay in the same setting because of its good conditions, which aligns with Maslow’s safety and physiological needs. Occupational safety and health inquiry and legislation are comparatively recent developments. Before the 19th century, there were no regulations or research concerning occupational safety and health (Friend & Kohn, 2018). Following the industrial revolution, labour unions emerged in reaction to worker complaints, and employee health started to be considered a labor-linked problem. By the 1840s, countries such as the United Kingdom had enacted acts that aimed to protect the welfare of factory workers, including children (Friend & Kohn, 2018). Today, workplace health and safety risk factors are sectors- and industry-specific.

To illustrate, laborers may be highly susceptible to falls, whereas fishers may be more vulnerable to drowning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U. S. lists the aviation, fishing, timber, trucking, agricultural, metal work, mining, and transportation sectors as among the most hazardous for employees (Braverman, 2019). Correspondingly, health care workers, police, prison personnel, and educators face psychological risks, including workplace aggression. Thus, all organizations strive to provide their workers with safe and clean work environments irrespective of industry. These policies are often developed in accordance with the work environment’s nature and industry and national standards. At the same time, they must align with international standards such as those stipulated by International Labour Organization (ILO).


Performance management is a powerful tool for motivating employees to work more effectively and efficiently. This is not a sufficient precondition to control performance effectively. One of the most crucial issues with any performance appraisal process is how seriously and devoutly executives and staff embrace and apply it. In real-world situations, Maslow’s motivational theory is relevant in emerging and underdeveloped countries where financial incentives remain a major motivator in organizations. In contrast, Herzberg’s approach expands on Maslow’s motivational theory. Accordingly, it applies to wealthy and industrialized nations where capital is a less significant motivator.


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Braverman, B. (2019). The 10 most dangerous jobs in America. CNBC. Web.

‌Chen, C. A., & Hsieh, C. W. (2017). Confucian Values in Public Organizations: Distinctive Efects of Two Interpersonal Norms on Public Employees’ Work Morale. Chinese Public Administration Review, 8(2), 104-119. Web.

Fallatah, R. H. M., & Syed, J. (2018). A critical review of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Employee Motivation in Saudi Arabia, 19-59. Web.

Friend, M. A., & Kohn, J. P. (2018). Fundamentals of occupational safety and health. Rowman & Littlefield.

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Hur, Y. (2018). Testing Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation in the public sector: is it applicable to public managers? Public Organization Review, 18(3), 329-343. Web.

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Maslow, A. H. (2019). A theory of human motivation: A psychological research that helped change the field for good. New Delhi: General Press

Osemeke, M., & Adegboyega, S. (2017). Critical Review and Comparism between Maslow, Herzberg and McClelland’s Theory of Needs. Funai journal of accounting, business and finance, 1(1), 161-173. Web.

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Hard and Soft Systems Model of Change

Management of organizational change entails the preparation and execution of modifications according to the strategic achievement criteria of the company. These achievement characteristics may include its significance, policies, competencies, and capacity for revitalization (Bright et al., 2019). Whatever the change’s nature, individuals will inevitably be impacted differently. The leaders of an organization must thus get a lot of attention while managing change. Since there are several circumstances, there is no single way to accomplish the change process. Numerous techniques have been created to manage change under various circumstances. Kearns (2017) utilizes hard and soft phrases to classify the issues into two groups. Other scholars employ the system viewpoint and refer to systems with complex challenges as hard systems and those with simple difficulties as soft systems (Ebrahimi, 2020). This essay emphasizes soft problems since they are widespread and affect many employees.

Hard Systems Model of Change

The hard systems model of change (HSMC) is grounded on project management, operational research, and systems engineering approaches to assessment and change. The hard systems model of change facilitates the identification of change goals, the generation of action alternatives, and the evaluation of those alternatives in light of several defined parameters. Broadly, a methodical explanation and evaluation is necessary to ascertain its validity in model construction, as well as an assessment of different options to achieving the strategic goals. The next section focuses on the critical factors that must be considered when using a hard systems approach.

Hard Systems of Change Considerations

In general, three steps comprise the Hard Systems Models of Change: description, options, and implementation (Bright et al., 2019). These are discussed comprehensively in the subsequent sections.


Situation Summary

The present system in which the change will be implemented is outlined, as well as the rationale and need for an evaluation. The present circumstance may be expressed using words, pictures, and more.

Identification of Objectives and Constraints

Objectives are organizational elements generally within control, and limitations are features upon which individuals have minimal influence. The objectives must be stated and grouped in a taxonomy, with the highest-level goals at the summit and the lowest-level goals at the bottom, per the patterns identified during the diagnostic step (Bright et al., 2019). Lists of constraints include those that are unchallengeable and those that could be amended.

Identification of Performance Measures

The performance indicators are determined by phrasing them such that they offer a response to how effectively the objectives are attained.


Generation of Options: At this phase, the methods to accomplish the goals are identified, and a rundown of available choices is created.

Editing And Detailing Selected Options: The ideal of the choices specified in the preceding phase is selected and elaborately articulated.

Evaluating Options Against Measures: In this phase, the selected alternatives are examined against predefined guidelines. It is helpful to utilize evaluation matrices to assess several possibilities, which make it simpler to identify the best solutions.



The change may be implemented in three forms: Pilot (feasibility) studies, parallel runs, and a big bang. Feasibility studies are the safest deployment method since they expose potential flaws in the replacement system and allow them to be rectified before the old, functional system is discontinued (Bright et al., 2019). Parallel running refers to a scenario in which the new and old systems coexist. It is beneficial since it quickens the process of change, and it keeps it relatively safe since the old system may continue to function until it is certain that the revamped system is dependable and efficient. The big bang is the fastest approach, however, unless it is meticulously organized, it carries a significant potential for collapse (Bright et al., 2019). Using a combination of these three deployment techniques may be the most effective option rather than picking just one.


A new system’s effective execution in a company usually results in a decreased focus and a weakening control. However, even though the adoption might have been a triumph, this must be prevented since issues might arise afterwards and require immediate attention. Although Hard Systems Models of Change analysis is more effective when working with instances of extreme intricacy, it may be utilized as a preliminary step for analyzing more chaotic situations. In situations demanding change, the Hard Systems Models of Change assessment may provide at least a pre-feasibility- feasibility remedy recommendation. Regardless, updating those impacted by the change is crucial to be aware of impending modifications from the outset. It is a presumption that the core of the hard system paradigm is composed of several different subsystems and that it is possible to recognize and quantify the individual parts of those subunits in order to offer an interpretation of how they function. As a result, the entire system is merely the sum of its constituent parts.

The Soft Systems Model of Change

The soft systems (SSM) paradigm provides not only an organized but equally an action-oriented approach to tackling problematic situations to generate action to improve. It aims to produce both learning and opportunity in these kinds of situations. As noted by Checkland and Poulter (2020), the soft systems model of change emphasizes the substance and governance of change and the technique and practice through which change emerges. They demand that systems and design, as well as cultural and political dimensions of organization, be considered. It is critical to determine under what conditions soft system models are acceptable or undesirable. More significantly, giving specific information about the aspects that should be considered while deciding on this model is critical for knowing how to use soft systems models.

It has become necessary to construct a different change model since the HSMC is less effective in circumstances closer to the soft extreme of the hard-soft spectrum of change scenarios. The majority of the change models associated with soft situations and systems imply a need for redesigning systems at many levels of the organization (Bright et al., 2019). Many change models related to soft scenarios and systems include the need to rethink processes at several organizational levels. Organization Development (OD) is a generic term that encompasses a variety of approaches to analyzing the adjustments in soft systems (Marshak & Bushe, 2018). Organization Development views individuals as social creatures eager to make alliances and institutions as systems comprised of subsystems.

All the various organizational components are interwoven and interdependent. The OD method presupposes that no group or individual can function in seclusion. As a result, a change in one firm area will affect other activities. Conversely, an issue may be the outcome of activity in an entirely unrelated department. Lewin’s (1951) Organization Development Model, which is still relevant today, may be broken down into three distinct phases: unfreezing, moving, and refreezing (Marshak & Bushe, 2018). Unfreezing involves disrupting an individual’s deep patterns of thought and behavior to raise their understanding of the necessity for change (Marshak & Bushe, 2018). Moving is the practice of implementing the improvements necessary to relocate a company to the next level state. Refreezing entails consolidating or formalizing the changes for the firm not to revert to its condition prior to the process of change.

One model that may be used to understand the change in soft systems is predicated on action studies. The hard systems paradigm of change is quite different from this approach. An action-research-based change model is not an intermittent occurrence like HSMC that comes to an end after a change has been implemented. Rather, it is a repetitive or cyclic operation that is ongoing and stays as an element of day-to-day corporate activity (Bright et al., 2019). It stresses the need to include in the decision-making stage everybody who is now engaged in the transition or who could become engaged in the change in the future. Within the framework of the action-research-based change is five distinct phases, which are the fundamental considerations that organizations need to observe when using the soft systems model.

Soft Systems of Change Considerations

  • The Present and the Future: The existing circumstance is analyzed, and the change’s objectives are identified. The Present and the Future
  • Generating Support to the Vision and the Necessity for Change: The objectives are validated, and adherence to them is established. If the modification process fails to garner sufficient approval, it is always permissible to abandon the initiative at this point to avoid incurring significant losses.
  • Creating An Action Plan: It is designed to move an institution from its present condition to its ideal state in the future. A number of questions need to be addressed, such as who will be in charge of the strategy and execution, what tasks have to be completed, and where the work will be carried out.
  • Implement the Change: The firm has begun using the newly designed system. There are a few different factors that, when combined, make the task of adoption simpler to perform. These activities include intergroup conflict, corporate matching, and questionnaire response.
  • Evaluate and Consolidate the Change: The final step is to evaluate how effectively the established objectives have been met and to ensure that the change process is concluded and the proposed program is incorporated. Measuring the effectiveness of a process of change in a soft system is considerably more challenging than in a hard system. In this regard, numerous approaches can be used to accomplish it. Nevertheless, measures are often more conceptual, and evaluations are conducted, for example, via interviews.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SSM

Soft Systems Methodology assists in structuring complicated organizational and political environments. It allows individuals to tackle problems orderly and compels them to seek solutions that are not only sophisticated. Regarding limitations, the fourth step of the system lacks a specific method to compare results in the actual world and a simulation application. It additionally has to take system thinking’s efficiency into account. It will be more difficult to find a fix if players have minimal understanding of and expertise with the alleged issue (Ebrahimi, 2020). When using SSM, individuals must adjust to a new method, which some may consider challenging. Similarly, it might be challenging to create the best image without providing it with a specific framework and problem-solving approach. The individual may have difficulty loosely perceiving the world. The revision procedure is a further shortcoming of this system. For instance, when modifications are performed concurrently, contradicting outcomes may occur. This might lead to the incorporation of other techniques, which has been shown to provide a synergistic tool for addressing soft challenges (Bright et al., 2019).

The key distinguishing features between hard and soft systems methodologies of change implantation are shown in table 2 below.

Table 2: Comparison between Hard and Soft Systems Models

Hard Approaches Soft Approaches
The issue is seen as simple and unifying. The problem is regarded as challenging and diverse.
The model is an illustration of the actual world. The model is a means of fostering dialogue and understanding of the actual world.
The organization is overlooked. The organization requires negotiation.
The result is a commodity or proposition. The result is advancement achieved via learning.

The table summarizes the key differences between hard and soft systems of change. Hard systems include strict methodologies and processes that clearly answer well-defined information and refine issues. Soft systems consist of a flexible set of instruments to be employed at the expert’s choice, emphasizing the resolution of the organizational problems.


Managing change might be the most crucial and rewarding aspect of management. By implementing organizational changes, the manager may boost the organization’s effectiveness. The individual happiness and enthusiasm of coworkers may enhance the value of the task. This essay has explored the two main approaches to organizational change in detail. Based on the findings, it can be argued that the technique of the soft system is ideal for organizations with complicated business operations. Similarly, the methodology can identify unstructured issues from a holistic perspective. Thus, it aids in providing a precise strategy for the changes needed to develop the perfect issue solution. Overall, soft system methodology explains how people attempt to execute meaningful behaviors based on their understanding of the circumstance.


Bright, D. S., Cortes, A. H., & OpenStax. (2019). Principles of management. OpenStax.

Checkland, P., & Poulter, J. (2020). Soft systems methodology. In P. Checkland & J. Poulter (Eds.), Systems approaches to making change: A practical guide (pp. 201-253). Springer, London.

Ebrahimi, M. (Ed.). (2020). Applications of Soft Systems Methodology for Organizational Change. IGI Global.

Kearns, A. W. (2017). Changing spots: A systems approach to change management. Hartswood Press.

Marshak, R. J., & Bushe, G. R. (2018). Planned and generative change in organization development. OD practitioner, 50(4), 9-15.

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