It deals with arousing and sustaining behavior. It’s all about encouraging striving for the better.
To truly understand human motivation, there three types of motivation theories. Some try to explain behavior, others to predict behavior and others try to influence it.
When it comes to motivation we all, as humans, have internal needs and external incentives. Some researchers have found a way to explain these needs and have formulated some theories to help us better understand how motivation really works and how it can be applied.
Maslow’s needs hierarchy
The physiological needs refer to the most basic needs we have such as food, air, shelter, sleep, etc. safety needs refer to protection, law, order, limits. Social needs are the needs we have for affection, a sense of belongingness. Esteem needs talk deal with the status, our achievements, reputation, and self-actualization talk about our personal growth and fulfillment.
Theory X and Theory Y
This was a theory developed by Douglas McGregor and what he did was apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and classify them into lower order needs (physiological and safety) and higher order needs (social, esteem and self-actualization)
Lower order needs
Ø Individuals dislike working and try to avoid it if they can
Ø People lack ambition and dislike responsibility
Ø Workers are self-centered and not concern about the organization’s needs
Ø People are resistant to change
Ø People need security at work
Higher order needs
Ø Work is viewed as natural as resting or playing
Ø They are capable of developing, assuming responsibility and contributing to the organization’s goals
Ø Job satisfaction is required to engage employees and achieve commitment
Ø People are creative, they seek responsibility
The theory X and Y has its applications in the work place because it categorizes employees and gives specific ways of dealing with them according to their needs. For instance theory X focuses on mass manufacturing and production workers, and what they need is to have money as their motivator. On the other hand Theory Y focuses on professional and high skilled workers and what they need or what the organization should do to motivate them is to align the organization’s goals to individual needs.
It was created by Clayton Alderferer as an evolution to Maslow’s theory of needs. He stated that workers pursue multiple needs simultaneously. He also proposed something called the regression hypothesis which basically means that when frustration is experienced at meeting needs, individuals return to the next lower level and intensify their desire to satisfy those needs.
Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory
It’s basically motivation at work. What influences work satisfaction and dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg the satisfaction is met by the motivation factor, psychological growth, whereas the dissatisfaction is caused by the hygiene factor, avoidance of pain.
When talking about motivation in the organization we find three categories of exchange between individuals and organizations:
1. Committed: High positive intensity. Religious groups
2. Calculated: low positive or low negative intensity
3. Alienated: high negative intensity. Prison
About work motivation Stacy Adams wrote that individuals receive more/less than they think they deserve. She thinks it’s all about the inputs and outputs. Inputs being what I put into my job like time, effort, ability, loyalty, tolerance, flexibility, integrity, commitment, etc. and outputs is what I expect to get from my job like pay, bonuses, benefits, recognition, security, reputation, responsibility, etc.
And there’s one last theory that we’re going to discuss, being Vroom’s expectancy theory. He said that motivation is the result of three things: effort, performance and rewards.
THE HAWTHORNE STUDIES
The Hawthorne studies are a set of experiments that were conducted by Harvard business School professor Elton Mayo at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Chicago between 1927 and 1932. Such experiments came out of the preliminary experiments at the plant from 1924 to 1927 on the effect of light on productivity. Results from the early experiment were not satisfactory but the researchers began to wonder what other variables could affect productivity.
Mayo wanted to find out what effect did fatigue and monotony had on the work performance and how to control them through rest breaks, work hours, humidity and temperature. In the process he came across a principle of human motivation that would help to revolutionize the theory and the way management is practiced.
So what Mayo did was to take 6 women from the assembly line and putting them in a different part of the factory under a supervisor, then he change the working hours during the week, the number of hours in the work day and the rest breaks, the time at which everyone had lunch, and every now and again he would return the women to their original harder working conditions, in order to see if such changes did in fact made a difference.
And in fact all the changes that Mayo did actually made a difference in the output of such women. At the end they were returned to their original working conditions and the output was the higher ever recorded.
What could explain such outcome? Mayo discovered that the six women became a team and they committed themselves spontaneously and wholehearted to the experiment. The consequence was that they felt themselves participating freely and were happy to know that they had no coercion in their work. They felt that they were working under less pressure thus showing almost no signs of fatigue after medical checks and the work absence fell by 80%.
If was also noted that each girl had her own way of putting the parts of the relay together, and sometimes they would change this technique in order to avoid monotony. The more intelligent the girl the more variations she made. The groups had freedom of movement, they weren’t pushed around or bossed and as a result they created a greater sense of responsibility and the discipline came from within the group itself instead of being imposed by someone else.
These studies are incredibly relevant to the motivation theories later developed, because it showed that motivation is a key element to improving efficiency and productivity. It showed that achievement is greater on highly motivated employees. It also showed that the most basic needs a person has must be met in order to make the work more efficient, because when people are well fed, well rested and working in a comfortable and pleasant environment their productivity will raise. For example Ferrari’s manufacturing plant in Italy has natural trees planted inside the factory to provide fresh air and a cool environment instead of using machines to do so, this makes the working at the plant a lot more comfortable and healthier, given that air conditioners have different effects on different people sometimes very negative.
I think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs good explains Griffin’s motivation or desire to stay at Flight 001. The theory states levels at which certain needs must be fulfilled in order to increase motivation and Flight 001 did exactly that with Griffin.
Griffin at the beginning of her job at Flight 001 thought she was passing through, her job was just a mean to an end, she had no intentions of remaining at the company, but when she realized that the company offered her such a comfortable working environment where she was able to express herself and have a saying on what goes on and what’s being done at the stores, she could feel free to come up with new and creative ideas for the store and she knew that she will be heard, so the company offers a challenging environment, where employees are given responsibilities and you have the chance to move up and achieve status and personal growth and fulfillment at the company.
Flight 001 makes an effort to show that their employees are appreciated and that they’re a crucial element to the company and to its success, the working environment is relaxed, stress free, employees have autonomy on how they want to perform a certain task that is given to them and since the growth opportunities working in retail are limited, the company tries to involve their staff on projects that excite them, that challenge their abilities and that play to their strengths.
Adapted from Nelson, D.L. & Quick, J.C. 2010. Organizational Behavior: Science, The Real World and You. South-Western College Publication, 7th. Ed.
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