Management and Employee Motivation

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According to Montana &Chanov (2008), Motivation is the act of influencing someone to take an action to achieve a certain goal. Here are various theories that explain employee motivation and subsequent behavior

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Maslow’s model of hierarchy of needs theory

Maslow’s model of hierarchy is a motivation theory that explains human motivation and behavior. According to Abraham Maslow our motivation comes from unsatisfied needs. He came up with a model with needs arranged on a pyramid with the bottom having the most primitive and the top with the mature needs. These needs have to be satisfied from the lowest level (basic needs) to the highest (self actualization). The first level needs are the physiological needs that the human body requires to survive like food, water, sex and breathing. The second levels are the safety levels that include clothes, shelter, financial security and good health. The third level is love and belonging needs where one wants to form relationships, friendship and belong.

The fourth level comprises of esteem needs which is the need to feel respected, have confidence, achievement and self-esteem. The last order of needs is self-actualization where after meeting the four levels of needs an individual has reached his full potential and is more concerned with personal growth and to become the best one can be. When one level of needs is satisfied the next level comes in to replace lower level. In the case of my subordinates, the fact that they’re all employed their basic and safety needs have been met and their ego/ esteem needs are yet to be met. The need to belong and have relationships is their main need presently.

This explains why Tom stays in a job he doesn’t like, so that his family can depend on him to provide. Dick feels the need to belong, and this makes him an excellent team player but he is not as productive working alone. If his self esteem needs are met, he will perform exemplary. In the case of the three subordinate employees; their motivation can be explained by the Maslow’s model.

Tom’s attitude towards work is that it’s a means to survival so does bare minimum just to get by. His motivation is level three needs. He has a job so he has been able to meet the bare necessities of level one and two. With his wife and children being the center of his life his motivation is love and acceptance by his family. Dick is a shy employee who complies by the company regulations but is not able to work well alone. His motivation is physiological, safety, and belonging level of needs. He has not satisfied the esteem needs so he cannot communicate well or be creative in the work place (Crane & Williams, 2000).

Harry is an assertive employee whose motivation to work is money. His need for money may be to satisfy the safety needs in the case of financial security, health insurance and stability in life. Therefore until he satisfies this level of need his respect for others, place of work and discipline cannot be realized.

Herzberg’s motivation- hygiene theory

This theory has two important parts that explain motivation of workers at the work place. It explains that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at the work place are caused by different factors which are independent of each other. Absence of the factor that causes satisfaction does not necessarily mean dissatisfaction of the worker. The two factor theory focuses on the nature of the job which brings satisfaction and the environment of the work place that brings about dissatisfaction. Some of the satisfying factors are achievement, recognition, work, responsibility and growth. Managers need to focus on how to increase job satisfaction independently and how to reduce dissatisfaction, since the presence of the satisfaction factors does not mean presence of the dissatisfaction ones.

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Tom, Dick and Harry have different core needs that motivate their behavior at the work place. Tom is always absent, does not take his work seriously and does bare minimum just to get by. On the other hand he is friendly and seems to get along with coworkers. He is dissatisfied by the nature of his work, which explains the bad attitude towards it. His core needs are motivated by the hygiene factors for example, the salary to meet his basic needs and take care of his family. To increase his motivation as his employer I would seek to create opportunities of responsibilities and chances for growth in the company that suit his talents, that way he would have more interest in his work and have higher satisfaction.

Dick the shy, not so creative subordinate seems to get satisfaction from his job and is very good at following company rules and procedures but the work environment is not favorable for him to be assertive. His core needs are addressed by the motivation factors that make him like his job and work well but dissatisfaction is brought in by the environment in his work place. As his employ indentify avenues that he is able o excel at which will boost his esteem and he will be able to work well with others. Harry is very assertive and always motivated by money, his core need is hygiene factor that when absent bring him dissatisfaction.

McClelland’s motivational Theory

This theory states that human beings are motivated by three things, need for power, achievement and affiliation. These needs are learned and reinforced by society (Beck, 1999).We poses all the three but one will be more pronounced. Having need for power and achievement are good motivators in management, while need or affiliation can be detrimental to management.

This can be caused by the lack of objectivity in management as one tries to subjective with the subordinates. The need for power is shown by some ones urge to lead and impact people or situations. Having power over other people is also a characteristic of the need for power, however institutional power is that which a person strives to lead his team/company.

The need for achievement is marked by the need to excel/ succeed and achieve. It’s often characterized by the setting of high but realistic goals. People with such needs, work better alone or with other high achievers. The need for affiliation is the need to feel liked, respected and appreciated. People with such characteristics are very good team players and thrive in customer service oriented environments.

Tom is affiliation motivated, shown by his high regard for family and culture and he gets along with his core workers. This need is the best to motivate him with because he craves acceptance and friendships. To make him more productive put him in team effort and he will fit and find something to like about his work. Dick can be motivated with the affiliation need like his coworker Tom. Harry is motivated by the achievement need, financial achievement. He seems to be able to set high goals to get money and if he is able to follow through and achieve that next time a higher goal and that is why he is willing to move from one job to another till he gets what he desires.

Porter and Lawler’s expectancy model

This theory 1st developed by Victor vroom explains how motivation of behavior selection is determined by the desirability of the outcome. How much effort should I put into this, is the employees’ way of thinking. In this theory efforts and performance are correlated. An employee expects a good reward for his performance. For this employee to be totally motivated he must desire the reward.

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They are highly motivated to excel when they believe that when they put enough effort they are rewarded. As a manager I can use this and enhance it through training and setting high realistic objectives. This convinces the employees that they are equipped with the knowledge and if they put enough effort it can be done.

To get all this right, I would be keen to find out every employee’s performance reward perception. It shows that rewards are directly linked to performance; in that an individual motivation to finish a certain tasks is affected by the rewarded they expect to receive for completing the task (Koontz, 2010). The rewards can either be intrinsic or extrinsic.

Extrinsic rewards need to be administered in a way they reward results, enhance positive expectation and satisfy operative needs (Kreitner, 2007).For this to work well, the employees must know that the management delivers the rewards it promises and in a timely manner. Rewards should be immediate, after completion of the given task so that the significance of the reward is not lost in an extended duration.

These factors react mentally in an employee to motivate him to behave in a certain way. Emotional intelligence is necessary in a manager to gauge what his employees really desire in a reward. Employees are motivated by the sense of making progress in meaningful work. In my department I can enhance this by promoting actions that support work like setting goals, availing resources and providing for actions that support that individual like encouragement, opportunities for affiliation.

It’s hard to separate the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, and different organizations have different ways of employee compensation. The compensation plans can either be incentive plans or non incentive. The incentive plans comprise of sales commissions, piece rates, while non incentive are made up of annual salaries, hourly wages. These non incentives don’t motivate the workers to work harder as the incentive is not dependent on the effort one puts. As management it’s important to have employee compensation plans that are incentive and non incentive. In my department Tom would be motivated by compensation plan that is incentive based for example a sales commission. This would make work harder to increase his income.

This is an effort-performance-reward-satisfaction- system and as a manager I would need to evaluate my reward systems. Tom, Harry would be highly motivated by extrinsic rewards as they seem to value monetary satisfaction than the good feeling of achievement. I would try to motivate Dick with both intrinsic and extrinsic reward to foster his self esteem and make him less shy. Tom goes to work just to earn a salary; his motivation to go to work is that at the end of the month is have something to take home as nothing at work inspires him. That explains why he is always absent at work, and when he is at work he does the basic minimum to keep the job but not because he likes his job. Harry works so he can earn a lot of money; if firm B offers him a better job he will not give a second thought to it, and will move on.

This theory explains how the employees respond to different tasks depending on the reward they expect to get. On the flip side of this theory it can’t work well for employees that don’t desire rewards. This may be due to his belief that his efforts are not good enough and that the management is never likely to honor his efforts with a reward. In this case indentify what needs he needs to satisfy and motivate him from that level. Tom falls in the category of this employee mentioned above. With enough training and job enrichment he will work hard to improve his performance in order to get a reward (extrinsic or intrinsic).

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Empowerment as a tool of motivation

Empowerment is not giving power to people but enabling the power within them to be used to benefit them and the society they live. Once empowered employees are able to make direct decisions concerning their work. When employees feel that their job descriptions give them the autonomy on how to solve issues and perform tasks they feel empowered. Empowerment is through sharing of information, replacing old hierarchy with self managed teams which shoulder on more responsibility.

The sharing of information creates trust between employer and the employees. This in turn creates a sense of belonging and the employees want to be associated with the company. They own their jobs and are able to give optimum productivity. Dick would not do well without supervision, he works well when told what to do. But with more responsibility on solo projects would motivate him to work harder, since generally he likes his job.

Tom would probably do well if given a little autonomy and some supervision. He doesn’t like his job so the chances of him going an extra mile to do his job well are few. But with the change in his job he would be motivated to give more. Harry would work well under the employee empowerment as he is very driven and focused. He knows that hard work pays and is not shy to take that on. For a driven person the satisfier factors which are the nature of his job, opportunity to gains status and self realization would make Harry an asset to the company.

Goal setting Participation

This means establishing objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic and time targeted with the participation of the employees. Goals provide a sense of direction and purpose for the employees (Goldstein, 1994.p. 69).This would work well if there enough time for all the employees’ feedback and the management is well equipped to lead the process. Participation in setting of goals increases commitment, self efficacy which increases chances of achieving the set out goals. When employees are part of the goal setting process they tend to set higher goals for themselves, and when those goals are achieved they lead to higher organizations’ performance. Participation in goal setting by the employees makes them more motivated which leads to accepting the goals set for them and produces ownership that reflects the internal desire and commitment of an individual ( Rouillard, 2003).

Hersey & Blanchard’s situational leadership model

Leadership style depends on the maturity level of the group or individual (Mackay et al, 2007). The leadership styles ranges from telling, selling, participation and delegation. None of the leadership style can be used on alone; a good leader must be flexible to meet the needs of his organization. Maturity levels of the group or individual also vary. The 1st level is those without the skills and unwilling to do the task. The 2ndlevels are those that have that don’t have the skills but willing to work.

The 3rd level is those with experience but have no confidence to do a given task. The final level is those who are experienced and comfortable taking a certain task. They all have the necessary skills to reach departmental goals. That at least rises up their maturity level.In Telling the leaders tell the employees what, how and when to do things, while in Selling the leaders provide information with increased communication. They sell the idea to the team to get them on board. In participation there more relationship rather than direction only, while in delegating most of the responsibility is passed on to the team of employees (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969).

The best style they would respond to would be participation and delegation. Tom and Dick are able, experienced but may be lacking confidence to excel compared to Harry who is comfortable doing his tasks and can take on responsibility. Participation would work well with Tom and Dick, since they would be involved in decisions and with the open communication they are able to inform the management how they can be motivated to be better employees. Harry is more likely to respond well to participation and delegation. This is because he has experience and is very good at what he does.

Transformational leadership versus Transactional leadership

Transformational leadership is the type of leadership where the leaderships challenge the employee and organization set up and seeks to transform them. These leaders motivate people to do more than they originally intended or even thought possible. Such a leader ship enhances morale, motivation and performance. The leader comes up with vision and through mentorship the employees feel part of the mission and have a collective Identity.

This type of leadership the leader provides individualizes consideration to the employees and also mentors them to improve themselves and become leaders. In this type of leadership creativity is encourage. Employees or followers are able to tap into their leader’s inspiration, learn from him and be inspired to be better. The leader communicates the goal and the team in turn finds the way forward together. Transformation leadership assumes that people will follow a person that inspires them, and is a role model.

Transactional leadership is based on the interaction between the leader and the employer. It’s based on the assumption that people are motivated by reward or punishment. It involves the management having a clear cut structure that defines the roles of the subordinates and the expected reward/ punishment.

The chain of command is strictly followed. Transformational leadership is more effective as it increases commitment, loyalty and satisfied followers. All these increase employee effectiveness. Transactional leadership emphasizes on the exchange (Bass, 2006).

Tom would respond well to both the transactional leadership and transformational leadership. He already doesn’t feel like he gets anything out of his job so probably the promise of a reward would make him more productive. With the transformational leadership he would feel included in something worthwhile and perhaps have better attitude towards his work.

The transactional leadership would work well with Harry, as his main motivation is what the company can do for him. He is more concerned with exchange for his work for money/compensation. Transformational leadership would be good for Dick that is not able to work on his own. With mentoring and individualized consideration he will be able to increase his levels of confidence, communicating better with clients and fellow workers. In the transactional leadership he would not be motivated to work as hard as he is not so keen on reward part of it. But since he is very good at following instructions this would work too at some level, where he knows what is expected and does it.

This would only work if he learnt to be more assertive. As their manager I think they would be better off with transformational leadership as it strives to make on better through intellectual stimulation where creativity is encouraged and solution finding. It creates a change in employees’ perception as they feel equipped to take up tasks they didn’t ever think they would. There is no limit to what they can achieve as the transformational leader motivates them to be better in all that they do.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership achieves more by giving priority to the employees needs. Managers that value and respect their employees enjoy improved performances of their organization. This management philosophy implies a comprehensive view of the quality of people, work and community (Greenleaf, 1977). When employees are treated extremely well by the leadership they in turn treat the customers very well and the company prospers.

The employees develop a corporate culture and this fosters team work. Tom, Dick and Harry would respond differently to the servant leadership style. Tom who does not like his job would probably just continue doing the bare minimum. It’s also possible due to the participatory nature of this leadership style Tom would be able to give his input and improve his performance. Dick, who does not work well alone, would be able to learn to express himself as the environment and management gives priority to the employees needs. When this needs are met Dick can be one of the most confident and productive workers in that company.

Harry would not do so well under such leadership because he is always confrontational with management with regards to compensation for all he is doing for the company. With this management style he would see an opportunity and a weakness to try and exploit the company. Servant leadership would not work well in my department as it tends to focus more on the employers needs not the company’s, I would rather have the employees motivated in other ways by meeting various needs so that they are more productive.


This is the ability to influence other people; getting them to do things they might not have done (Cole, 1995). In an organization there are different types of power; namely legitimate, reward, coercive, expert, charisma and referent power (French & Raven, 2001).Legitimate power is power given to a certain person occupying a certain position in an organization.

This type of power comes with a title and if the person leaves that position he does not leave with the power. Using legitimate power as a manager in my department I am able to control Harry’s attitude by explaining to him the company’s policies in regard to compensation for his hard work. Harry would respond to reward power. This is the power a leader has to make employees desire rewards which influences their behavior. This would make Harry work harder to get the reward that he really desires. The reward should be suitable for the amount or scope of performance expected.

Coercive I based on a managers ability to punish (Montana &Chanov, 2008).This type of power does not improve performance but discourages unwanted behavior. Excising this power with tom he will stop slacking around and the constant absenteeism for the fear of reprimand. This combined with reward power might improve his performance at work. Dick would respond to referent power.

This is power by association. By making Dick an assistant to his supervisor he can improve and be more confident while filling the role of his supervisor when absent. It will improve his self esteem and overall performance, as he will have to step up to the new responsibility. It is important to motivate employees since it leads to higher job satisfaction and discourages tardiness and absenteeism.

The best management style is one that the manager creatively gives vision and leadership to the company. He/ she should also be able to inspire and increase productivity. The type of management style chosen depends on the availability of resources intended results, people skills and knowledge. The management skills can either be autocratic, democratic or paternalistic.

In Autocratic type of management the leadership makes all the decisions, supervises the work and directs all how and when tasks should be done. Communication is one way and this works well in situations where the employees are too many / tight deadline. In this style of management, leadership gives a clear outline of goals so that all employees are clear on the expectations.

Paternalistic style pays attention to the social needs of the employee. The employees are consulted on decisions even though the main decision maker will be the management. This style of management values the happiness of the workers. It taps in to Maslow’s needs hierarchy. The participatory style of management falls under this category as tasks are given from start to finish with the management playing a supervisory role.

In the democratic way of management the leadership puts trust in the employees and encourages them to make decisions. The majority view wins. Tom would respond positively to a leadership style that allows channels of communication to remain open and involves him in decisions regarding his work. For him to feel that, he has something positive to contribute (meeting his need to affiliate and acceptance).

Dick would respond positively to leadership styles that encourages working independently and as well as part of a team. He also needs a management style that will nature his self esteem so that he able to relate better with his co workers and customers thus increasing productivity. Intrinsic rewards would go a long way in making him more confident, knowing that he is able to perform very well on his own. Harry would respond positively to leadership that recognizes his effort and rewards that.


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