Motivational Techniques Used by Managers in Crisis

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A crisis refers to a low probability of great impact, often viewed by stakeholders in an organization as a danger to the viability of a company. There can be various forms of crises, such as technological disaster, economic crises, natural disaster (meteor showers and earthquakes) and firm-level crises. Thus, a crisis does not only refer to the event that occurs but also the situation or position in which a company finds itself thereafter. The aftermath could be as endangering to an organization and its components as the cause. If a crisis is not addressed appropriately, it will jeopardize the ability of a company to carry out its activities appropriately. An organization develops its capacity to capitalize on the pre-crisis performance while in its normal status of tasks. The organization is in a position to utilize these abilities to their maximum level in handling the aftermath of a crisis. However, this can only happen if a thoughtful and proactive reaction strategy is in place during the crucial period. In today’s tumultuous, often disorganized, organisation environment, commercial achievement is based on the maximum utilization of the employees’ talents. Yet despite the innumerable or multiple practices and theories which are available, managers often perceive motivation as a mystery issue. This is because people are motivated by various things and in diverse manner. Moreover, during crisis period, the flattening of hierarchies and delaying can lower staff morale and create insecurity. An appropriate motivation practice and philosophy ought to develop quality, productivity and service. In addition, motivation assists individuals in accomplishing their goals, gaining a positive perspective, creating to power to alter, building self-esteem and ability and managing their own growth and development (Vitale Para. 2-6). This essay will examine the motivational techniques used by managers in times of crisis.

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Concepts of motivational techniques

There are periods in all companies when the extrinsic surrounding machinates against their achievements. Wider political and economic factors might have counteracted the business pattern or rivals might have beaten the company in the market with a new commodity. In addition, the inner surroundings might have caused difficulties. The hierarchical structure in an organisation might be cumbrous and slow in making decision or the board might be caught up in confusion about the future direction of the organisation. Attempting to keep individuals’ spirits up at the time of crisis is extremely hard, though it is a problem which most managers well experience as they run their businesses (Shrivastava p. 67).

Currently, the economy is creating tough or trying times to employers and employees alike. From job layoffs, mortgage meltdown and credit crisis to the competitive supply market roller coaster, people are faced with stresses of varying levels. Therefore, the capability to manage these stresses in the workplace creates the difference between failure and success. Managers should be good in managing their own stresses in order to motivate others during such times of a crisis. Motivation is the driving force for the eagerness of the employees to perform their duties without pressure. Motivating can be defined as the act of providing workers with a motive to carry out their duties. Motivation has been implemented by successful managers to provoke ordinary individuals to accomplish extraordinary results in all areas of enterprises (Shrivastava p. 69).

Good workers who remain faithful and committed to hard work are important for the success of an organization through tough times. During such times, companies restructure departments, freeze hiring plans, limit growth chances and worst of all, and reduce headcount. There is nothing in such a company at such a time that can make the employees who remain to feel comfortable or happy being there every day. On the contrary, individuals get disorganized, miserable and become distrustful of the company’s management. Therefore, in order to boost the morale of the employees who have remained, managers need to implement appropriate techniques that will motivate the employees.

Motivational Theory

There are various motivational theories which can be implemented by managers to motivate other during the time of crisis. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of the motivational theories that focuses on human requirements and proposes that there are several degrees on the requirements that have to be fulfilled in strict satisfaction. When one requirement is fulfilled, the force to fulfil it is bewildering, and the subsequently degree become the motivating drive. The theory states that individuals live and exist via financial recompense; to create new friendships, to have job safety, to feel significant in the community and have a sense of recognition and achievement, and above all to have job contentment. All workers who have job contentment are better performers in their jobs (Lerbinger p. 32).

The five levels of the theory are as follows; at level I, people require comfort, water and food. These are the basic or psychological needs which drive continuation and should be fulfilled prior to the subsequent goal or level kicks in. Level II concentrates on security and safety. It recommends that once the psychological needs of the individuals are satisfied, they seek for extra regularity and stability. This helps people to lay down their roots and resolve into a more comfy life. Level III satisfies social requirements, and then starts to drive the activities of an individual. At this level, individuals search for relationship and a belonging sense. Social circles come up and individuals select to join a company of people who they share similar beliefs and values, and who they are comfortable with and happy to be identified with. Level IV starts to encourage people once they have positioned themselves within a social group. At this level, the desire for identification and self-respect evolves. Individuals at this level on the hierarchy begin to define themselves differently from others in their close social circles. In addition, they desire to be acknowledged for their unique contributions to the social surrounding. The final level is level V, which brings in the concept of self-actualization. This point is defined as self-actualizing since it is a process of ongoing life where the manifestation of the full potential of an individual is the driving power. This is the point where people seek to be whatever they can be and achieve what they observe to be their life purpose (Halepota pp. 14-18).

From an organisational perspective, the ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory’, level I is equivalent to the mangers offering a comfortable place, salary and lunchroom to the employees. Level II consist of the benefits of employment or job like a pension, health insurance and a bonus. In case these factors are not provided, individuals will not be faithful to the company and will search for another position or place where they will access or feel adequate security to implement some professional ideas or services. In addition, level III proposes a community of individuals who share similar beliefs and values, and are carrying out their duties and responsibilities in order to achieve ultimate goals. Thus, doctors, nutritionists, accountants and other specialists bring together individuals who have similar desires to fulfil level III needs. Moreover, level IV drives individual achievement and definition while level V enables the manifestation of life purpose and personal truth. Hence, it is clear that if the psychological needs are satisfied, challenging and hard times could actually encourage and motivate someone to be more productive.

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Case study

There are several companies and individuals who have gone through tough times regarding the running of their business. For instance, Jeff Immelt, a General Electric CEO, advised his 175 managers on the need to motivate employees in the face of a crisis. With the money market in havoc and the economy declining, the common practice is to go back into the trap, though that is the rhetorical device of leadership. Jeff recognized that there was the need for change within the company, although that did not indicate that the company’s growth was to be put on back burner (Prokesch para. 3). In addition, Jeff identified that after 9/11, the commercial aviation was a crisis and as a result GE plowed ahead. Challenges were encountered in the aircraft leasing and jet engines; however, the company persisted to invest in modern commodities and client association. Eventually, the company’s market share developed which could assist the company when the downturn goes (Prokesch para 5). According to Jeff, the other important reason for investing was to keep workers encouraged and motivated. Sometimes when one feel desperate, working o such investments offers individuals a hope that they could secure a safe and permanent, comfortable future for themselves and the organization (Prokesch para 6-7).

Analyzing business needs and requirements

Business needs and requirement analysis consists of activities which measure the conditions to achieve changed or new commodity, taking into account the possible conflicting needs of the different stakeholders like users or beneficiaries. This is significant to the achievement of an advancement project. Needs should be testable, actionable, measurable and associated with recognized business chances or needs and described to a degree of detail adequate for system design. Basically, requirements or needs analysis consist of three forms of activity; eliciting requirement, analyzing requirements or needs and recording requirements. Eliciting requirements refers to the activity of communicating with users and clients in order to measure what their needs are. Analyzing requirements refers to the task of measuring whether the indicated needs are contradictory, incomplete, unclear or ambiguous and then taking the necessary measures of resolving these issues. Finally, recording requirements includes where needs are documented in different ways like process specifications, natural-language documents, user stories or use cases (Adair p. 44-47).

Requirements or needs analysis of a business could be a laborious and long procedure during which several tantalizing psychological skills are included. New systems alter the surrounding and association between individuals, thus, it is essential to recognize all the stakeholders, understand all their requirements and make sure they comprehend the consequences of the modern systems. While analyzing the needs and requirements of a business, one can use different forms of methods in order to gather appropriate information. These methods include holding interviews with the employees, conducting focus group discussions with eth employees and constructing needs lists. More modern and innovative methods include use of cases and prototyping. Where necessary, managers or analyst can use a combination of the above techniques to obtain the correct requirement s or needs of the stakeholders in order that a system, which achieve the needs of the business is established or generated (Adair p. 54).

Solutions during crisis times

Managers have a significant responsibility to participate in during uncertain times. The manner in which the managers handle their workers today will continue to reverberate in future. In periods of crisis, communication is significant. Thus, in leading and managing the employees in crisis times, managers should do the following. First of all, they should aim at anxiety and fears. During crises situations, employees are under a period of emotional turmoil, starting with the fear of their inability to pay bills, followed by their job safety and issues of compensation. Therefore, managers must prepare to deal with every concern affecting the employees since when job layoffs are announced, they exacerbate anxiety and fear (Venette p. 142-147).

Secondly, managers should accept that productivity and performance will decrease. This is because individuals react differently during crisis circumstances. The manager should anticipate observing individuals having hard time in concentrating, exhibiting hunger, exhibiting heightened absenteeism and being forgetful. Hence, in such a time, individuals are supposed to talk more and as a result, the company will be healthy. Similarly, the manager should maintain communication open. During uncertainty and periods of crisis, the managers should meet will all employees at all levels in order for them to express their concern, promote available materials and services (Hertzberg p. 37).

Managers, supervisors and human resource ought to be equipped with the authority, information and resources so as to help employees. Training must include the way to recognize and assisting the employees on how they can deal with stress and other issues which are associated with financial distress. Based of the Maslow’s hierarchy of requirements or needs, a motivating or encouraging surrounding is the outcome of developing the needs, satisfying different requirements and anticipations of the employees rather than the capacity of the materials. In addition, self-directed and initiative learning should be promoted among the workers where they can share their concerns among themselves. Similarly, during training in times of crisis, self-actualization ought to be the primary objective and the information ought to center on self-advancement or self-development (Blanchard and Marc p. 76).

Moreover, one needs to recognize the most susceptible and asked questions in order to understand how employees are doing both at and at work. Managers should be confident, calm and reassuring management or leadership style during times of crisis. They should not undervalue the significance of their personal leadership style. Thus, showing a confident and calm leadership style could help in sustaining productivity and stability. They can achieve this by trying to compartmentalize their personal concerns and fears. Correspondingly, managers should not make assumptions regarding the way individuals feel and the manner in which they have been affected by the crisis. In addition, people differ in the way they exhibit their emotions or feelings Therefore, managers should permit employees to manifest their emotions and feelings correctly. A crisis can result into worst of best of individuals. Managers need to restrict negative behaviour such as theft, by ensuring the performance management procedure deals with performance matters which result from financial crisis. The success of an organization or any business is based on the individuals who work there. Just like a terrorist act, a financial crisis leads to psychological destruction by robbing people of the power to manage their lives. Thus, managers should ensure they render control back to individuals (Seeger, Sellnow and Ulmer pp 231-245).

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The nature of the workplace has continued to change due to the dynamics of the global economy, coupled with technological developments and more dissimilar labour force. Therefore, according to the Maslow’s humanistic perspective, organisational leadership can motivate their employees to study through the following ways which are solutions to different challenges and problems faced by different organisations. Firstly, companies which have workers who are encouraged to study include the entire team of employees in a procedure of cooperatively pioneered, jointly answerable, cooperatively organized alteration engineered toward shared principles or values. Thus, the responsibility of the leadership or managers is to offer a future vision which workers participate in and possess as a portion of their objectives. Collaboration aids in ensuring that managers and workers are achieving personal objectives via shared organizational objectives or goals. Workers gain intrinsically and personally when the company achieves its objectives (Blanchard and Marc p. 91).

Extrinsic rewards which are narrow such as job security, salary, manager-employee relationship and work environment; which managers have depended upon in the earlier period is inadequate for the current employees. The younger, knowledgeable employees need more than that. Organizations with several choices of honouring and acknowledging success, choices for associating pay with a person and team performance and requirements, and financing learning encourage continuous learning. In addition, work experiment and redesign with self-managed groups might provoke the motivation to study by making the job challenging. Empowerment and worker participation are important to alter the structures which hinder learning. More cooperative structures encourage the ability of the organization to learn (Blanchard and Don p. 85)..

During times of crises, managers should take greater care while developing learning opportunities which will draw workers and maximize upon their requirements for social participation, self-actualization and self-esteem. Managers can accomplish this by communicating the significance of training, allocating enough period for learning, offering training on time, involving workers in designing the training guide, centred on important competencies, providing financial assistance to learn, developing an environment that is conducive for training and identifying positive improvements. Moreover, during learning period, managers should assist the employees to link their studying with the fulfilment of their requirements (Blanchard and Don p. 87).


During times of crises, managers have to implement appropriate techniques that will motivate the employees. In the process of motivating the employees, the managers should understand what the employees are going through, their fears and concerns. Thus, managers in such times need to be skilled and knowledgeable concerning each employee. In addition, the managers ought to recognize and acknowledge and contributions or improvements whether of an individual or team. They should inquire for information and feedback because when employees feel and believe that they are valued and their opinions are acknowledged, their morale will rise and the productivity increase. Managers can use several motivational theories such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which states that individuals live and exist via financial recompense; to create new friendships, to have job safety, to feel significant in the community and have a sense of recognition and achievement, and above all to have job contentment. All workers who have job contentment are better performers in their jobs. Therefore, when managers use the appropriate techniques to motivate their employees, it will be easy for organizations to grow and thrive despite the difficulty times.


Adair, John. Leadership and Motivation. The Fifty-fifty Rule and the Eight Key Principles of Motivating Others, 2007.

Blanchard, Kenneth, and Don, Shula. Motivating People to Be Winners. Little Book of Coaching, HarperCollins, 2001.

Blanchard, Kenneth, and Marc, Muchnick. The Leadership Pill: The Missing Ingredient in Motivating People Today. Pocket Books, 2004.

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Halepota, Harlington. Motivational theories and their application in construction. Cost Engineering, 47.3 (2005): 14-18.

Hertzberg, Frederick. One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review. 2007.

Lerbinger, Orlyghen. The crisis manager: Facing risk and responsibility. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997.

Prokesch, Steve. Crisis Advice from GE’s Immelt: Stay Committed to Growth. 2008.

Seeger, Wilson, Sellnow, Tlyned and Ulmer, Richard. Communication, organization and crisis. Communication journal, 21 (1998): 231–275.

Shrivastava, Pyrus. Bhopal: Anatomy of a Crisis. Ballinger Publishing Company. 1987.

Venette, James. Risk communication in a High Reliability Organization: APHIS PPQ’s inclusion of risk in decision making. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Proquest Information and Learning, 2003.

Vitale, Paul. Motivating Ourselves and Others During Uncertain Times. 2009. Web.

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