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Motivation Theories

Essay by   •  January 29, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  6,537 Words (27 Pages)  •  2,010 Views

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Chapter 1: Introduction to Employee Motivation

1.1. Introduction

An issue which usually generates a great deal of attention from most managers, administrators and those involved in Human Resources Management is the issue of how to successfully motivate employee. While it is true that aspects like staff recruitment, controlling, managing, leading, and many more are of great importance to the success of an organization, Employee Motivation is generally considered a core element in running a successful business.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

This paper attempts to discover the most important theories and approaches behind employee motivation, present different types of motivation, discuss their importance and provide recommendations and solutions to solving problems of de-motivated or unmotivated employees.

1.3. The Nature and Importance of Motivation

Managers and scholars alike have long been inspired in attempting to find out why some employees tend to work harder than others. The study of motivation helps managers understand this variance in performance. Furthermore, knowledge of what motivates people allows managers to take 'constructive steps' to improve their employees' work performance[1].

Before understanding the different types of motivation, we need to examine closely the nature of motivation. The term motivation derives from the Latin word movere, meaning, 'to move'. This means that no one can understand a person's motivation until that person 'behaves or literally moves'[2]. Kreitner describes motivation as 'the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction', while Moorhead and Griffin explain motivation as 'the set of forces that causes people to engage in one behavior rather than some alternative behavior'[3].

Employees are essentially the most important aspect of an organization. Managers strive to motivate their employees so that they are willing to perform at their highest levels. When employees work hard, come to work regularly and continue making positive contributions to the organization, the business will be able to cut costs and yield more profit, both of which are the ultimate goals of any organization. On the contrary, unmotivated employees will mean the organization will have people that are not willing to do well in the jobs or have to hire more people to do different jobs, which contribute to higher operating costs and a reduction in profit.

According to an article entitled 'Need-based Perspectives on Motivation' by Moorhead and Griffin, job performance depends on three main factors: Motivation, Ability and Environment. In order for an employee to reach a higher level of performance, he/she must 'want to do the job' (motivation), 'be able to do the job' (ability), and 'must have the materials, resources, and equipment to do the job' (environment).For this reason, the following relationship can be established:

Performance = Motivation + Ability + Environment

Deficiency in any one of these factors will result in a lower level of job performance. Managers always need to ensure that these three conditions are met[4].

Of all the three factors, it is generally accepted that motivation is the most difficult factor to manage. This is mainly due to the fact that human's attitude/behavior is full of complexities and thus difficult to manage. As for the other two factors, an employee has been recruited with the awareness that he/she has the skills and capacity needed to perform the tasks as well as the fact that resources are readily available. If the manager feels that the employee lacks training of some sort, he/she can be sent to training programs to learn those skills. If the person is not suitable for the level, he/she can be directed to work at lower jobs. On the other hand, if resources are not available, i.e. the environment factor, the manager can take action to ensure that they become available. For example, if an employee needs a photocopier, he/she can formulate request to the management team and ask for one. For this reason, it is quite clear that the most challenging job for every employer is how to motivate their employees to strive their best to work for the organization.

Now that we have understood the nature and importance of motivation, we can turn our attention to the theories and approaches behind motivating employees, the main topic of discussion of our next chapter.

1.4. Definition of Key Terms

Following are several key terms that we believe are very important in order to fully comprehend the theories and approaches behind employee motivation.

Motivation - derives from the Latin word movere, meaning, 'to move'.

1. The internal condition that activates behavior and gives it direction[5].

2. The psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction[6].

3. The set of forces that causes people to engage in one behavior rather than some alternative behavior[7].

Needs - something that is necessary for humans to live a healthy life. It can be objective and physical (food and water), or subjective and psychological (need for self-esteem)[8].

Satisfaction - The good feeling that you have when you have achieved something or when something that you wanted to happen does happen[9].

Dissatisfaction - The feeling that you are not pleased or satisfied[10].

Incentives - Any factor (financial or non-financial) that enables or motivates a particular course of action[11].

Job rotation - periodically move people from one specialized job to another for neutralizing job boredom.

Job enlargement - Combining two or more specialized tasks into a single job to make jobs more challenging.

Job enrichment - Redesign a job to increase its motivating potential by introducing planning and decision-making responsibility.

Extrinsic reward - external outcomes granted to someone by another person or by organizational system, such as money, promotions etc.

Intrinsic reward - derives internally from individuals that can be experienced through their work, such as the feelings of competency, sense of accomplishment etc.

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

2.1.

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