Motivation Theories and Practices in Organizations

Executive Summary

This paper aims to analyze the motivational theories and investigate the rationality behind the frequently asserted statement that a manager cannot motivate the employees, rather he or she can merely construct an atmosphere where the employees can decide to motivate themselves. To conduct the assessment and reach a conclusion about the statement, the paper would scrutinize the arguments from the renowned motivational theorists like Herzberg, Barnard, Weber, Taylor, and Maslow, discuss the motivational ideas, such as right equality, incentives, bonuses, organizational reputation, work-life, continuous target achievement, job securities, worker-supervisor relationships, and Hawthorne effect, and examine the current practices.


Motivation and management theories were put forward to strengthen, enhance, and organize the performances of the workers; however, the theories evolved to play a great role in modern organizations (Wren & Bedeian 2009). According to Robinson (2005), as different individuals require different motivational stimuli, and the factors that can motivate an individual can change eventually, some problems arise when managers try to treat them under the same administrative scheme.

Moreover, it is difficult to comprehend the explanation behind a worker’s motivation because, in modern democratic organizations, the creation of a satisfactory job environment to allow the workers to motivate themselves can provide a more permanent stimulus than direct and inflexible incentives from a manager.

Arguments from Motivational Theorists

Taylor’s Perspective

Taylor’s writings support the idea that the manager can persuade the employees to perform their tasks by controlling them strictly and the employees cannot be motivated by themselves because they naturally dislike work and are too keen to avoid tasks under all circumstances (Wren & Bedeian 2009). He suggests that the only way of motivating people is to give them monetary reward depending upon the number of tasks they have completed so that they work more to increase remunerations; moreover, he advises managers to split a task into smaller parts and to appoint those smaller tasks to the workers so that their efficiencies amplify due to repetitiveness (Evangelopolous 2011).

Weber’s Administrative Ideas

According to Robinson (2005), Weber contributed significantly to the development of bureaucratic corporations through his ideas of proper administrative arrangement. For example, he believes that managerial activities must always be regulated, and there should be a perceptible division of labor, where officers should have the ability to monitor others.

He wanted to remove the officers from corporate shareholding to reduce the risk of dishonesty; on the other hand, to reduce impartiality, he offered a reasonable classification of hierarchy, strong regulations, assurance of equal opportunities, merit-based appointment, permanent salaried officers, proper occupational configuration, and methodical tasks management (Robinson 2005).

Barnard on Motivational Factors

Chester Barnard believes that employees must always conform to the corporate rules and they should be remunerated for their obedience to the manager; moreover, he notes that it is possible to motivate employees with not just monetary reward, but also with special care, attractive workplace atmosphere, positive feedback, effective communication, and regular training, ensuring overall job satisfaction (Wren & Bedeian 2009).

It is important to note that Chester Barnard also identifies certain things that can help the employees to motivate themselves, and these include factors such as the pleasant relationship with colleagues, friendly organizational culture, better corporate networking, more transparency, chances of job enlargement, community work, and so on (Wren & Bedeian 2009).

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg is one of the most renowned theorists and his works formed the foundation on which the contemporary companies started practicing democracy and delegation of authority, increasing their staff retention rates significantly; in fact, he pointed out that things like accomplishment, acknowledgment, dependability, progression, job enlargement, and teamwork could lead to contentment within a workforce (Burton 2012).

According to Burton (2012), Herzberg believes that things like appalling corporate strategies, strict management, bad association with colleagues, shocking workplace environment, unappealing income, and rank systems can cause considerable disappointment within a workforce; so, he suggests that these factors should be eradicated by amendment of disruptive strategies, efficient and helpful monitoring, improved team connections, better remuneration, and job security.

Maslow’s Hierarchy

The results of Maslow’s works helped many organizations to configure the career development goals under a particular job; for example, he identified the explanation behind an individual’s need to perform a job and broadly categorized this explanation into five stages. These stages include the individual’s survival and social needs, job security requirements, sense of self-worth, and self-accomplishment needs:

The five stages.
Figure 1: The five stages.

As a result, according to this theory, the key motivation for a worker is to move up into the next level, which means that every individual motivates himself while working under certain environment created by the leaders, and the managers cannot motivate the employees with incentives that do not help them move into the next stage (Wren & Bedeian 2009).

Ideas for Motivation

Right Equality

It has been suggested that biased behavior in the workplace is capable of silently spoiling the employees’ motivations and damaging the productivity levels of a company drastically; moreover, such discrimination represents a grave administrative failure in the workplace and indicates some level of managerial corruption and dishonesty (Wren & Bedeian 2009).

Motivation with Incentive and Bonuses

Even though non-cash stimulants play a great role in employee retention, incentives and bonuses are the fundamental things that persuade an individual to carry out his job because, without a monetary stimulus, a worker would be reluctant to undertake a complicated task using his full potential (Lynott 2015). It is important to note that wages are essential to fulfill a worker’s survival needs, while the option of pension plans fulfill his job security needs, and bonuses during occasions like Christmas, New Year, and Easter Sunday satisfy his social needs.

The Reputation of the Organisation

Men (2011) suggests that good reputation of an organization is a great motivation for the workers because no matter what the incentives are when people believe that they are working in a renowned organization, they feel that they will get enough job securities, good pension plans, and good health benefits. Also, when people know that they work for a prominent company, they automatically gain a sense of self-worth and social recognition, and this helps them become more committed to work by fulfilling their ‘hierarchy of needs’ as well (Men 2011).

On the other hand, in this kind of company, the staff turnover rates normally tend to be quite low, as the workers are unwilling to quit their jobs; moreover, these employees remain enthusiastic about contributing wholeheartedly in their jobs (Men 2011).


According to McCrindle Research (2007), today’s managers need to help the employees to have a satisfying working life because they will be able to give their best outcomes only when they are fulfilled mentally. In this case, a good workplace environment is very essential because a hygienic atmosphere, good bonding between colleagues and positive feedback from team leaders are more motivating than the unhealthy atmosphere, conflicting relationships, and negative comments. McCrindle Research (2007) has further added that it is also important for managers to allow the workers to maintain a balance between the professional and the private life by ensuring that their working hours are reasonable and their workloads are not too high.

Continuous Target

The simple goal is easier to achieve in a short time and it gives a sense of achievement of target, allowing the workers to feel positive about their capabilities; as a result, Miñambres (2011) argues that managers should break down complicated corporate targets into smaller and easily achievable goals so that employees enthusiastically complete the whole task by teamwork. Miñambres (2011) also points out that it is hard, monotonous, and tiring to work on a single complicated target for a long time and this can damage the morale of the workforce as well.

Achievement Motivation Theory

According to Rabideau (2005), McClelland and Atkinson are the developers of this concept and they have suggested that depending on the background of the workers, many of them would be motivated to work by successfully achieving certain targets. After the first target achievement, such workers would want to accomplish the next target more proficiently; in fact, for the successful accomplishment is more motivating than monetary incentives because this gives them self-satisfaction; however, they also require appropriate feedback so that they can assess their performance standards and work accordingly in the future (Rabideau 2005).

Relationship with Supervisor

According to Conway (2011), supervisor plays an important role in motivation because he is the medium in communication between the worker and the leader and he ensures that the feedback and complaints of the workers reach the leaders accurately; however, many researchers suggest that workers quit an organization for its people, and this requires the supervisors to always behave properly.

Job Security

Lynott (2015) suggests that although most giant corporations are not able to provide job security during tough economic times, the workers should always feel secure about their jobs so that they contribute to their tasks sincerely. It is essential to argue that the unfair dismissal of one worker can provide significant negative motivation to the rest of the workers, and make them more cautious in their tasks, which can, in turn, reduce the productivity outcomes. Other workers start believing that they should not use their full potential in their jobs because they can be fired at any time; however, managers can prevent this by preparing certain schemes and agreements that ensure job security (Lynott 2015).

Hawthorne Effect

According to Mind Tools (2016), this effect consists of the idea that workers are likely to amend and develop their performances and activities when they understand that they are being monitored; however, Elton Mayo, (the research of this experiment) identified that in such circumstances, the productivity levels keep on rising irrespective of the changes in the working conditions. It is essential to state that the use of such an inflexible motivational technique would only provide a temporary boost in performance levels, and this effect is rarely used in contemporary multinational corporations (Mind Tools 2016).

Current Practices

In modern successful companies, autocratic management styles are rarely used; for example, Martin (2014) has reported that Google is a great business for workers and it has more than fifty thousand workers worldwide; however, the company pampers them greatly with remarkable incentives and bonuses, and is still able to extract extraordinary technological advancements from them. Notably, Google’s workers can enjoy democratic administration and delegation of authority, while receiving compensation of about five thousand dollars as legal costs, free and appetizing snacks for the whole day, great maternity benefits and health benefits, as well as excellent job security schemes and pension plans (Martin 2014).

Mivian (2014) has noted the Apple applies Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Herzberg’s hygiene factors to motivate its workers and it treats the workers under McGregor’s Theory Y criterion; additionally, it has been observed that the workers of Apple are extremely motivated and they provided positive opinions regarding their work experience while demonstrating high self-esteem levels.

On the other hand, Miller (2014) suggests that Toyota provides an awesome workplace environment to the workers and ensures that they are satisfied with their jobs by using mechanisms like job rotation, job enlargement, teamwork, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Hunt (2016) suggests that in McDonald’s, workers get excellent monetary rewards, while the managers and supervisors ensure that the workers’ requirements are fulfilled, and they have received admiration from seniors; moreover, the company allows the workers to make decisions and learn new things from various training programs to develop their careers through promotions.


The theories of Maslow and Herzberg show how employees can decide to motivate themselves under appropriate working atmosphere created by managers; in fact, a manager cannot motivate the employees unless they are self-encouraged to perform well. As a result, modern multinationals are more focused on creating excellent worker-friendly atmospheres by adopting flexible managerial styles.

Reference list

Burton, K. 2012. A Study of Motivation: How to Get Your Employees Moving. Web.

Conway, J. 2011. Effects of Supervisor-Employee Relationship on Job Performance. Web.

Evangelopolous, N. 2011. ‘Citing Taylor: Tracing Taylorism’s Technical and Sociotechnical Duality through Latent Semantic Analysis’. Journal of Business and Management, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 57-74. Web.

Hunt, O. 2016. Performance and Motivation in McDonald’s. Web.

Lynott, WJ. 2015. Your Business: Employee Motivation. Web.

Martin, M. 2014. The Google Way of Motivating Employees. Web.

McCrindle Research. 2007. Work-life Balance: The Number 1 Retention Factor. Web.

Men, LR. 2011. Leadership Style and Organizational Reputation. Web.

Miller, LM. 2014. The Lean System of Motivation. Web.

Miñambres, JG. 2011. Make it Challenging: Motivation through Goal Setting. Web.

Mind Tools. 2016. Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne Experiments. Web.

Mivian 2014. The Key Factors of Indicators in the Motivation of Employees in an Organization: Case Of Apple Inc. Web.

Rabideau, ST. 2005. Effects of Achievement Motivation on Behavior. Web.

Robinson, D. 2005. ‘Thinkers for the 21st Century?‘. Training Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 30-38. Web.

Wren, DA & Bedeian, AG. 2009. The Evolution of Management Thought, John Wiley & Sons Inc, United States of America. Web.

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