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Motivation in the workforce

Motivation In The Workforce

Motivation in the Workforce

Managing employees is cited as being the biggest problem to small business owners. This is because employers very often don't know how to handle employees. Effectively managing employees is a skill acquired through training and practice. Many books have been written on the subject, and courses are regularly offered through educational institutions.

Motivation theories were developed or built upon the "human relations" findings. The new focus for motivation theory was on the search for satisfaction of human needs. This new approach swept through management thinking in the 1950's.

Maslow (1954) offered his "needs hierarchy" according to which human beings have their needs arranged in a hierarchy such that they are motivated to seek satisfaction of the lower levels of need first. Once that level of need is satisfied it is no longer a motivator, and the person is motivated by the next level up the hierarchy. Basic needs such as shelter, food and warmth are in the bottom level of Maslow's hierarchy, which then progresses through physical well being, social acceptance, self esteem, to "Self-actualization" (realizing one's own potential).

Another writer from this period, Herzberg (1959; also 1968 and 1987) theorized that human beings needed their "hygiene factors" dealt with adequately, before they would work at all. However, he argued that they were only motivated to work productively by "motivator factors", primarily by enriched jobs.

McGregor (1960) warned us against Theory X (the view that people are reluctant to work) and offered us Theory Y, with its emphasis on people's need for achievement and satisfaction from a job done well.

McClelland (1967), following the work of Murray in the 1930's, emphasized the

Importance of needs for achievement, power and affiliation

Fortunately for us, there have always been researchers putting theories to the test. When they found that behavior at work could not be explained by reference to the pure desire to earn as much money as possible, the first reaction was not to abandon belief in the primacy of money, but to look for intervening variables. A new theory was put forward proposing that the reason why some workers slowed down their effort towards the end of their day must result from some factor which was preventing these workers from keeping up their effort. The most likely factor was fatigue; workers were not strong enough or not sufficiently well nourished to keep their effort up all day.

This led to research studies by Elton Mayo and his team from Harvard University. Their initial work in the 1920's found that workers (in a Philadelphia textile mill) who were given extra breaks and subsidized meals at work did improve their productivity; and when these extra rewards were taken away their effort fell back (see Mayo 1949). The research team then set up a major series of studies at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company which continued for ten years. Their aim was to study the effects of a range of fatigue-inducing factors such as levels of lighting, temperature, frequency of breaks, etc. in combination with an incentive payment by results system.

If this research had produced the results expected at the outset, we would have had a prescription for high productivity based on lighting levels, temperature, frequency of meal breaks, health levels, etc. In some of their experiments the working environment was changed drastically to assess how this influenced productivity, but the results were a surprise at the time. There was a steady improvement in productivity throughout all the changes, even for instance when the lighting intensity was raised in imperceptible stages over a long period to a very bright intensity and then gradually reduced to that of a moonlit night. In their attempts to ensure that no other variables intervened in their experiments, the researchers had unwittingly changed one of the most important variables of all. They had increased the level of interest shown by the company in its employees, by regularly asking questions about their health, moral, personal lives, etc. These questions, intended to asses!

s any effects which these personal issues might have on the experiment, had completely changed the quality of their relationships at work and this had a consequent effect on morale and productivity.

This unintentional effect of observing people at work became known as "The Hawthorne Effect", and the results of the research, when they were published late in the 1930's, had an almost revolutionary effect on prevailing theories of motivation to work. Instead of focusing on money as the motivator, attention turned to the importance of "human relations" as a means of motivating employees. One over-simplistic view of human motivation was replaced by another equally simplistic theory. Thousands of managers were sent on training courses to learn the skills of "relating" to their employees, understanding employee problems and showing concern.

Employers who followed Herzberg also rejected money as a motivator, and focused their efforts on providing more enriched jobs. McGregor led them to abandon the view of working people as lazy and reluctant to work without threats and incentives (Theory X). Instead he proposed Theory Y, which told them that people basically wanted to do a good job and they should provide opportunities for satisfaction from a job well done. McClelland focused attention on giving people the opportunity to satisfy their needs for achievement, power, and affiliation.

In the 1970's case studies were done on organizations which had followed these exhortations. Unlike the first rash of converts, whose massive efforts and successful results had contributed to the popularity of the "needs" approach in the 60's, these second generation studies showed an array of mixed results. There were job enrichment programs which had resulted in most of the staff leaving; human relations programs which had reduced conflict but at the expense of causing output to fall and companies which removed incentive payment systems and found they could not manage the resulting need for more directive supervision. At the same time there were other companies achieving the good results promised of the programs they introduced

These people were the first of there kind of the 1960's. Their theories were simple, their remedies straightforward. If you followed Maslow then you accepted his assurance that most Western working people had their basic needs satisfied, so were not to be motivated by money (which can buy basic necessities but cannot buy relationships, affection, self esteem etc.). Managers following this theory turned their attention to providing more satisfactory relationships, more interesting work, and more opportunities for self-fulfillment

Theories of goals and targets have become popular in recent decades, for instance Locke's argument that people are motivated by relatively difficult goals that they have agreed to seek (Latham and Locke, 1979). This puts the source of motivation not on some "need" of the employee, but on the achievement of a goal with which he/she has been involved (in setting). MBO (Management by Objectives) was an approach to management based on motivation to achieve goals first proposed by Drucker in 1964, but its overly bureaucratic application often produced poor results. Similar to goal theory are those theories of behavior modification which suggest identifying the behavior to be changed and what is required, applying influences such as guidance, prompting, feedback and reinforcement to bring about the desired changes.

If you are hiring or managing staff, you should spend some time reading and taking courses of this topic. By applying some basic principles of respect and encouragement in the development of each staff member as an important individual, you will reap the rewards of loyal, trustworthy, and dependable staff. The following sums up the course on human relations.

The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake."

The five most important words: "You did a good job."

The four most important words: "What is your opinion?"

The three most important words: "If you please."

The two most important words: "Thank you."

The one most important word: "We"

The least important word: "I"

A leader is one who is in control, takes charge of a situation, and is decisive. A good leader or manager is fair, firm, and consistent, as well as flexible. Being flexible doesn't mean that you have to change your personality. You can be firm and still being friendly; you can be decisive and still be polite. You can give someone more freedom without giving away the company. The better you are at knowing how to treat your employees, the more effective you will be as a manager. And the employer-employee relationship will be more satisfying to both parties.

Many theorists believe that people have different need levels in their work environment. They progress from one stage to the next, although some people stay at a certain stage for a period of time before advancing on.

The basic or survival level is the starting point. In order to accept a position, a person needs to be assured that the wages offered are sufficient to meet his/her basic needs for survival (food, shelter). A person's security needs relate to job, financial, and health security. These are most often addressed by an employer in a benefits package.

Examples include: training and development, tuition fees for night courses, seniority systems, wage incentive plans, profit-sharing plans, insurance, pensions, medical/dental plans.

Having satisfied the basic and security needs, a person then seeks to satisfy his/her social needs. Having an opportunity to learn new skills, to make suggestions on his/her area or department, to interact with other staff, to attend staff meetings and be called upon for input are examples or how social needs may be met.

The self-esteem needs are satisfied by promotions, praise and recognition, added responsibility, and challenging work. At this final stage the employee is working independently, competently, productively, and has a sense of pride in performing at this


A manager's job is to recognize what stage the employee is at, and to assist and encourage them to progress along the ladder to their highest level of capability. Pushing too hard may sometimes discourage and frustrate staff who may have a different learning pace. Effective use of a variety of motivation techniques will foster personal development for the employee, and in turn increase productivity and profits.

You can reduce unwanted employee turnover and the high cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new staff by shifting these costs from hiring new employees to keeping and developing experienced ones. For example, you can motivate an employee to increase productivity by providing opportunities for career development. At the same time you have improved the worker's skills and shown recognition of the worker's value and aspirations. There are other motivating techniques, such as delegating responsibilities and shared decision-making. Incentives such as pay increases and fringe benefits are also motivating factors.

Your success as a leader can be determined by your ability to build a winning team by motivating others. Trust is an essential aspect of any relationship, personal or professional. In order for a business to grow it must be aware and in tune with its most valued asset: employees. They are the keys to success. Employee satisfaction translates into customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction means repeated business. Repeated business equals more sales and profit.

One of Human resources biggest challenges in today's fast paced stressed, and changing environment is to restore trust in the workplace. Why is trust important? How to build trust? What does it mean to have trusted in the workplace? Trust is built by giving employees the power to control how they get things done. Trust starts with communication. I have to know what it is the company is trying to accomplish and where I fit in the scheme of things. Only when I understand the company's objective and mission, can I move towards its goal.

A good manager is aware of the reciprocal nature of the manager-subordinate relationship and recognizes that cooperation is essential. You must treat your employees with respect and develop relationships based upon trust, mutual commitment and honesty. Truth and justice: Managers with malevolently malignant methods discusses the importance of management in employee issues. Trust sets standards of high performance offers ideas on how to create trust in the workplace

Small Business Weekly, by Triangle Business Journal, provides many helpful tips:

· Be clear on visions and goals,

· Start fresh or a new,

· Be clear on mutual expectations,

· Establish means for meeting expectations, and

· Communicate.

Some managers say it’s incredible what people will do if they feel valuable in their organization. Your success as a manager or leader will be determined by your ability to receive great performance from people.

You must be able to build a winning team by motivating others, through coaching and leading by example, to give their very best toward the achievement of the goals of the organization. You can be successful if you make people feel good about themselves and others. If people feel good about themselves, they will be motivated to solve problems, and they will be excited about their work, so they will look for ways to get things done without being watched and hounded. They will respond to situations rather than react. When we react, we are controlled by the situation. When we respond, we are able to seek positive solutions without blaming others or feeling negative. When we respond, we come from a position of caring and respect.

Many companies can say that their people are their greatest asset. But do they really believe it or more importantly, do they act as if they believe it? Executives are beginning to look for ways to tap into the human potential, exploring new methods of managing, motivating and redefining the fundamental relationship between employee and the company; treating employees as appreciating assets that increase in value over time.

Corporations need to cultivate a group of longer-term, skilled, motivated employees. Those who will be our leaders in the 21st century must understand that people-embedded skills will be critical to their success - not financial resources and physical assets. There is a real correlation between being a great place to work and overall success. A great workplace is one "where you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do and enjoy the people you work for." People can provide the best in customer service only if they know what it feels like to be first in the eyes of their employer. The growth of a company is based on the growth of individuals and growth motivation can increase productivity greatly.

This part of the paper focuses on recognition and appreciation, rewards and reinforcement (encouragement). The 3 R's of management. Some people think their company is a quality company, but if your company is not making sure employees are happy, quality is only skin-deep Employees treat their customer in exactly the same manner as they are treated. I took a quote from Goethe and he once said, "If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be." Make people feel special and important, help them achieve what they want and conquer their fears, and you will be more likely to develop motivated, winning teams.

Winning teams are comprised of individuals who are willing and able to be on a team and contribute their special talents toward a common goal. They possess the following characteristics:

· No one is on a pedestal, every job is important

· Even the superstars do better if they focus on teamwork

· Everyone participates and every player counts

· Every team player focuses on the goal

· If one person fails, the team fails (never let a teammate fail)

· Teams make average people great and great people humble

On teams, people are empowered. Individuals put their ego below the ego of the team; the team becomes the hero and credit goes to the team (In some cases). Success as a team gets individuals recognized.

Here are 10 ideas that I found to be interesting ways to motivate others and develop winning teams and a few helpful strategies.

1. Selecting the Right People for the Job

Your ability to hire and/or select the right people on teams is important. You should hire as much for attitude as you do for aptitude. Take your time in hiring and have the courage to get rid of the difficult people in your organization who are disruptive and

Unwilling to be on the team. Equally important to understand is that you generally have to play with the hand you're dealt with and values-training courses should be a compulsory training program for the employees who were with the organization when you arrived. With proper leadership and training, most people will change over time.

2. Keep Jobs challenging and Interesting

Challenging work is the number one requirement for job satisfaction and close behind is interesting work. Lack of a challenge tends to turn those who are goal oriented off. Most people need to be seeking or going after things in order to keep motivated.

3. Communicate Your Expectations

Another major reason for demotivation is not knowing what's expected of you. People need clear goals and high standards in order to feel like they actually have a purpose. Acknowledge all verbal and non-verbal messages from employees, co-workers, partners and spouses. Listen to and hear what the other person is saying. Repeat what they have said to make certain you have understood their meaning correctly. Do not control the entire conversation. Ask for input and/or a response from the other person. Always be honest and fair. Don't "sugar-coat" your conversation to be well liked.

Strive to be approachable. Others will avoid communicating with you if they feel threatened. If a person demands excellence from themselves and from others the standard of job output will increase.

4. Involve the Employee

Pride of ownership is a most compelling motivator. Share the "big picture" as to why employees are asked to do what they are doing and how their work benefits others and always invite employees to offer their opinion and become an active participant.

5. Manage By Exception

Wherever possible, stay clear of the tasks assigned other than to continue to encourage and coach the employee. Require mutually agreed upon objectives only, such as reporting on a scheduled basis.

6. Provide Sufficient Training

The average company spends only 1 percent of its operating costs on training. It doesn't make sense to me. Investing in training of each individual will always increase productivity and motivation.

7. Mentor Your Employees

Individual attention by an experienced staff member is a major motivator of peak performance, builds self-esteem, improves self-image of the employee and builds self-confidence. Mentoring requires a strong commitment and caring.

8. Lead By Example

Become the kind of leader all employees admire and respect. A person who walks the walk and talks the talk.

9. Treat Employees Well

Be considerate, kind, caring and courteous. Treat employees as if they were your friend, partner or client and they will respond in kind.

10. Continuously practice the 3 R's of Management

Regularly show your appreciation and recognize staff members for a job well done. There is nothing more important than making your staff members feel important and when you consistently look for the best things in them, and when you do this you will find it in yourself.

The following are worthy of incorporation into reward systems strategies:

1: INVOLVEMENT: Employees should be involved in the development of any new remuneration system and consulted about problems they may foresee with it. They should be encouraged to develop a commitment to its success and a sense of ownership that will carry the system through its difficulties.

2: DEMOTIVATORS: Remove all the difficulties which frustrate employees from achieving high levels of performance. It is no use trying to motivate high performance if employees' efforts to perform well are frustrated by not having the right quality and

Amounts of equipment, tools, space, materials, spare parts, instructions, support systems, co-operation form others, or other resources which they need.

3: EQUITY: Any performance standards which are to be applied to goals, targets, or behavior changes for remuneration calculations, should be fair and comparable for all employees doing the same job in the same organization.

4: REINFORCEMENT: Procedures should be put in place with care to give employees reinforcement, encouragement, guidance, and feedback so that they are aware of their employers' interest in their performance and they can quickly learn how to earn the desired reward.

5: RELEVANCE OF REWARD: Time should be spent making sure employees are interested in earning the proposed rewards.

6: GOALS: Employees should be consulted about the goals, targets, or behavior changes which will earn the reward, and these should be made as specific and clear as possible.

Motivating you and others isn't easy. You've got to work on it daily because motivation doesn't last. Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker and trainer says "we motivate ourselves daily by using the following techniques:

· Dream big dreams

· Do what you love to do

· Focus on your unique talents and abilities

· Accept 100 percent responsibility

· Develop a clear sense of direction

· Never consider the possibility of failure

· Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement

· Develop a workaholic mentality

· Get around the right people

· Be teachable

· Be prepared to climb peak to peak

· Develop resilience and always bounce back

· Unlock your inborn creativity

· Be an unshakable optimist

· Dedicate yourself to serving

· Develop a reputation for speed and dependability

· Be impeccably honest

· Concentrate single-mindedly on one thing at a time

· Be decisive

· Be self-disciplined

· Back everything with persistence and determination "

You are able to motivate others only by example. When you understand how powerful motivation is for getting things done and achieving top performance and one's potential, you will see understand why this skill is so powerful and useful to have. All high achievers have positive attitudes and possess the skill of being able to motivate themselves and others.

In order to determine the motivational approach to use on employees you must know the signs indicating a lack of motivation.

1. Little interest in achieving established goals

Employee will not work to reach goals, because he does not see the goals of

The work unit as important. The employee may reject efforts of supervisor for personal or other reasons.

2. Unsatisfactory output and quality

Employee will do "sloppy" work and will not complete tasks adequately.

3. Absenteeism or tardiness

Employee will begin to come in late or not come in at all. Some say that this is the most crucial area for detecting employee dissatisfaction.

4. Time-killing/clock-watching activities

Employee may show signs of boredom with the work, but will make no attempt

to change employment.

5. Frequent request for help in solving minor problems

Employee may show lack of initiative in completing tasks which offer a


6. No desire to improve job knowledge

Employee expresses the attitude: "Why should I learn more--I will still be doing

the same old job." There may be opportunities for promotion, transfer, or the expansion of his present job. Improvement may lead to different opportunities.

Source: Essay UK -

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