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People consider it to be a personal trait – that ia some have

it some don’t. In practice inexperienced managers often label
people who lack motivation as lazy. But it isn’t true. What we
know is that motivation is the result of the interaction of the
individual and the situation. Individuals differ in their
motivational drive.

For example : a student may find reading a 2o pages note

book very tiring, but the same student may be able to read 150
pages of Harry Potter just in one day. For the student the
change in motivation is driven by the situation.

Thus we can say, that the level of motivation varies both

between individuals and within individuals at different times.


Motivation is defined as the processes that account for an

individual’s intensity, direction, & persistence of effort towards
attaining a goal.
General motivation is considered with efforts towards any
goal, but we narrow our focus on organizational goals.

Key elements are:

Intensity which is considered with how hard a person tries.

This is the element most of us focus on when we talk about
motivation. However, high-intensity is unlikely to lead to
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favorable job performance outcomes unless the effort is

channeled in a direction that benefits the organization.
Therefore, we have to consider the quality of efforts as well as
its intensity. Effort that is directed towards, and consistent with
the organizations goal’s is the kind of effort that we should be
seeking. Finally, motivation has a persistence dimension. This
is a measure of how long a person can maintain their effort.
Motivated individuals stay with a task long enough to achieve
their goal.


“People are inherently lazy”. This isn’t true. All people are
not inherently lazy; and ‘laziness’ is more a function of the
situation than an inherent individual character. If this statement
is meant to imply that all people are inherently lazy, the
evidence strongly indicates the contrary, many people today
suffer from the opposite affliction-they are overly busy,
overworked, and suffer from over exertion. Whether externally
motivated or internally driven, a good portion of the labour
force is anything but lazy.
Managers frequently draw the conclusion that people are
lazy from watching some of their employees, who may be lazy
at work.
But these same employees are often quite industrious in
one or more activities off the job. People’s need structures
differ. Unfortunately, for employers, works often ranks low in
its ability to satisfy individual needs. So the same employee
who shirks responsibility on the job may work obsessively on
the conditioning and antique car, maintaining an award-
winning garden, perfecting bowling skills.
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The 1950s were a fruitful period in the development of

motivation concepts. Three specific theories were formulated
during this period, which although heavily attacked and now
questionable in terms of validity, are probably still the best-
known explanations for employee motivation. These are the
hierarchy of needs theory, Theories X and Y, and the two-
factor theory.
These theories represent a foundation from which
contemporary theories have grown, and practicing managers
still regularly use these theories and their terminology in
explaining employee motivation.

Hierarchy of Needs Theory

It’s probably safe to say that the most well-known theory of

motivation is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He
hypothesized that within every human being there exists a
hierarchy of five needs. These needs are:

1. Physiological: - Includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, and

other bodily needs
2. Safety: - Includes security and protection from physical
and emotional harm
3. Social: - Includes affection, belongingness, acceptance
and friendship
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4. Esteem: - Includes internal esteem factors such as self-

respect, autonomy and achievement; and external esteem
factors such as status, recognition, and attention
5. Self-actualization: - The drive to become what one is
capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one’s
potential, and self-fulfillment


As each of these needs becomes substantially satisfied, the

next need becomes dominant. In terms of the figure, the
individual moves up the steps of the hierarchy. From the
standpoint of motivation, the theory would say that although no
need is fully gratified, a substantially satisfied need no longer
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So if you want to motivate someone, according to Maslow,

you need to understand what level of the hierarchy that person
is currently on and focus on satisfying the needs at or above
that level.

Maslow separated the five needs into higher and lower

orders. Physiological and safety needs were described as
lower-order and social, esteem, and self-actualization as
higher-order needs. The differentiation between the two
orders was made on the premise that higher-order needs are
satisfied internally (within the person), whereas lower-order
needs are predominantly satisfied externally (by things such as
pay, union contracts, and tenure).

Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition,

particularly among practicing managers. This can be attributed
to the theory’s intuitive logic and ease of understanding.
Unfortunately, however, research does not generally validate
the theory. Maslow provided no empirical substantiation, and
several studies that sought to validate the theory found no
support for it.
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Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor proposed two distinct views of

human beings: one basically negative, labeled Theory X, and
the other basically positive, labeled Theory Y. After viewing
the way the managers dealt with employees, McGregor
concluded that a manager’s view of the nature of human beings
is based on a certain grouping of assumptions and that he/she
tends to mold his/her behavior toward employees according to
these assumptions.

Under Theory X, the four assumptions held by managers are:

1. Employees inherently dislike work and, whenever

possible, will attempt to avoid it.
2. Since employees dislike work, they must be coerced,
controlled or threatened with punishment to achieve goals.
3. Employees will avoid responsibilities and seek formal
direction whenever possible.
4. Most workers place security above all other factors
associated with work and will display little ambition.
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In contrast to these negative views about the nature of human

beings, McGregor listed the four positive assumptions that he
called Theory Y:

1. Employees can view work as being as natural as rest or

2. People will exercise self-direction and self-control if they
are committed to the objectives.
3. The average person can learn to accept, even seek,
4. The ability to make innovative decisions is widely
dispersed throughout the population and is not necessarily
the sole province of those in management positions.

What are the motivational implications if you accept

McGregor’s analysis? The answer is best expressed in the
framework presented by Maslow. Theory X assumes the lower-
order needs dominate individuals. Theory Y assumes that
higher-order needs assume dominate individuals. McGregor
himself held to the belief that Theory Y assumptions were
more valid than Theory X. Therefore, he proposed ideas such
as participative decision-making, responsible and challenging
jobs, and good group relations as approaches that would
maximize an employee’s job motivation.
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Two-Factor Theory

The two-factor theory (sometimes also called as motivation-

hygiene theory) was proposed by psychologist Frederick
Hertzberg. In the belief that an individual’s relation to work is
basic and that one’s attitude toward work can very well
determine success or failure, Hertzberg investigated the
question, “What do people from their jobs?” He asked people
to describe, in detail, situations in which they felt extremely
good or bad about their jobs. These responses were then
tabulated and categorized.

According to Hertzberg, the factors leading to job

satisfaction are separate and distinct from those that lead to job
dissatisfaction. Therefore, managers who seek to eliminate
factors that can create job dissatisfaction may bring about
peace but not necessarily motivation. They will be placating
their workforce rather than motivating them. As a result,
conditions surrounding the job such as quality of supervision,
pay, company policies, physical working conditions, relations
with others, and job security were characterized by Hertzberg
as hygiene factors.
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ERG theory

Clayton Alderfer has reworked Maslow’s need hierarchy to

align it more closely with the empirical research. His revised
need hierarchy is labeled ERG theory. Alderfer argues that
there are three groups of core needs-Existence, Relatedness,
and growth—hence, the label ERG theory. The existence group
is concerned with providing our basic material existence
requirements. They include the items that Maslow considered
to be physiological and safety needs. The second group of
needs are those of relatedness—the desire we have for
maintaining important interpersonal relationships. These social
and status desires require interaction with others if they are to
be satisfied, and they align with Maslow’s social need and the
external component of Maslow’s esteem classification. Finally,
Alderfer isolates growth needs—an intrinsic component from
Maslow’s esteem category and the characteristics included
under self-actualization.

In contrast to hierarchy of needs theory, the ERG theory

demonstrates that (1) more than one need may be operative at
same time, and (2) if the gratification of a higher-level need is
stifled, the desire to satisfy a lower-level need increases.

ERG theory also contains a frustration-regression

dimension. ERG theory counters by noting that when a higher-
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order need level is frustrated, the individual’s desire to increase

a lower-level need takes place.

McClelland’s Theory of needs

McClelland’s theory of needs was developed by David
McClelland and his associates. The theory focuses on three
needs: achievements, power, and affiliation. They are defined
as follows:

Need for achievement:

The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of
standards, to strive to succeed.

Need for power:

The need to make others behave in a way that they would
not have behaved otherwise.

Need for affiliation:

The desire for friendly and close interpersonal

Some people drive to succeed. They are striving for

personal achievements rather than rewards of success as per
work done. They have a desire to do something better or more
efficiently than it has been done before. This drive is the
achievement need. From research into the achievement need,
McClelland found that high achievers differentiate themselves
from others by their desire to do things better.
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Goal-Setting theory
Gene Broadwater coach of the Hamilton high school cross-
country team gave his squad these last words before they
approached the line for the league championship race: “each
one of you is physically ready. Now, get out there and do your
best. No one can ever ask more of you than that.”

The research on goal setting theory addresses these issues,

and the findings, as you will see, are impressive in terms of the
effect that goal specificity, challenge, and feedback have no

In late 1960s, Edwin Locke proposed that intentions to

work toward a goal are a major source of work motivation.
That is, goal tells an employee what needs to be done and how
much effort need to be expended. The evidence strongly
supports the value of goals. More to the point, we can say that
specific goals increase performance; that difficult goals, when
accepted, result in higher performance than do easy goals; and
that feedback leads to higher performance than does no

Goal-setting theory presupposes that an individual is

committed to the goal; that is, is determined not to lower or
abandon the goal. This is most likely to occur when goals are
made public, when the individual has an internal locus of
control, and when the goals are self-set rather than assigned.
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Equity Theory

It means individuals compare their job inputs and outcome

with those of others and then respond to eliminate any

This theory is based on the example of Ms Jane Pearson

who graduated from the state university with a degree in
accounting and working with 'G5' a public accounting firm with
a monthly salary of $4,550.

However Jane’s motivational level has dropped

dramatically due to the hiring of the fresh college graduate out
of the state university who lacks the one year experience which
Jane has gained and was paid $4,800 which was more than
Jane’s salary.

In this case Jane’s situation illustrates the role that equity

plays in motivation. Employees make comparisons of their job
inputs and outcomes relative to those of others.

In other words if we perceive our ratio to be equal to that of

the relevant others with whom we compare ourselves, a state of
equity is said to be exist. When we see the ratio as unequal we
experience equity tension and when over rewarded, the tension
creates guilt.
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The referent that an employee selects adds to the

complexity of equity theory. There are 4 referent comparisons
that an employee can use:

1. Self-inside.
2. Self-outside.
3. Other-inside.
4. Other-outside.

Which referent an employee chooses will be influenced by

the information the employee holds about referents as well as by
the attractiveness of the referent.

Employees with short tenure in their current organization

tend to have little information about others and on the long
tenure rely more heavily on coworkers for comparison.

Equity theory is also related with the pay of the employees.

Thus on these grounds, the theory establishes the following 4
propositions related to inequitable pay:

1. Given payment on time, over rewarded employees will

produce more than will equitably paid employees.
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2. Given payment by quantity of production, over rewarded

employees will produce fewer, but higher-quality, units than
equitably paid employees.

3. Given payment on time, under rewarded employees will

produce poorer quality of output.

4. Given payment by quality of production, under rewarded

employees will produce a large no of low-quality units in
comparison with equitably paid employees.

These propositions have generally been supported with few

minor qualifications.

Conclusion of equity theory:-

The equity theory demonstrates that, for most employees,

motivation is influenced significantly by relative rewards as well
by absolute rewards. But some key issues related to this theory
are still unclear.

Expectancy Theory:-

Currently, one of the most widely accepted explanations of

motivation is victor vroom's Expectancy Theory. Although it has
its critics, most evidence is supportive of the theory.

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"The strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends

on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by
a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the
individual". In more practical terms, expectancy theory says that
an employee will be motivated to accept a high level of pressure
when he or she believes that effort will lead to a good
performance appraisal; which will lead to good org rewards such
as bonus, a salary increase, or a promotion; and that the rewards
will satisfy the employee's personal goals. The theory, therefore
focuses on three relationship:-

1. Effort performance relationship.

2. Performance-reward relationship.
3. Rewards-personal goals relationship.

Thus expectancy theory helps to explain why lot of workers

aren't motivated on their job and do only the minimum
necessary to get by.

In summary, the key to expectancy theory is the

understanding of an individual's goals and the linkage b/w effort
and performance, between performance and rewards and,
finally, between the rewards and individual goal satisfaction. As
a contingency model, expectancy theory recognizes that there is
no universal principle for explaining everyone's motivation. In
addition, just because we understand what needs a person seeks
to satisfy does not ensure that the individual perceives high
performance as necessarily leading to the satisfaction to these
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Because of complications like methodological, criterion,

and measurement problems, this theory is viewed with caution.

Myth or Science?

Everyone wants a challenging job?

This statement is false. In spite of all the attention focused
by the media, academics and social scientists on human potential
and the needs of individuals, there is no evidence to support the
vast majority of workers want challenging jobs. Some
individuals prefer highly complex and challenging jobs; other
prospers in simple, routinized work.

The individual-difference variable that seems to gain the

greatest support for explaining who prefers a challenging job
and who doesn’t is the strength of an individual’s higher-order
needs. Individuals with high growth needs are more responsive
to challenging work. But what percentage of rank-and-file
workers actually desire higher-order need satisfaction and will
respond positively to challenging jobs? No current data are
available, but a study from the 1970s estimated the figure at
about 15%. Even after adjusting for changing work attitudes and
the growth in white-collar jobs, it seems unlikely that the
number today exceeds 40%

The strongest voice advocating challenging jobs has not

been workers-it’s been professors, social-science researchers,
and journalists. Professor’s researchers and journalists
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undoubtedly made their career choices, to some degree, because

they wanted jobs that gave them their autonomy, identity, and
challenge. That, of course, is their choice. But for them to
project their needs onto the workforce in general is

Not every employee is looking for a challenging job. Many

workers meet their higher-order needs off the job. There are 168
hours in every individual’s week. Work rarely consumes more
than 30% of this time. That leaves considerable opportunity,
even for individuals with strong growth needs, to find higher-
order need satisfaction outside the workplace.

Professional Employees are more difficult to motivate..

Professional employees are different than your average
employees. And they’re more difficult to motivate. Why?
Because professionals don’t respond to the same stimuli that
non-professionals do.

Professional like engineers, accountants, lawyers, nurses,

and software designers are different from nonprofessionals.
They have strong and a long term commitment to their field of
expertise. Their loyalty is more towards their profession than to
their employer. And typical rewards, like money and
promotions, are rarely effective in encouraging professionals to
exert high levels of effort.

Usually they tend to be well paid already and they enjoy

what they do. For instance, professionals are not typically
anxious to give up their work to take on managerial
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responsibilities. They’ve have invested a great deal of time and

effort in developing their professional skills. They’ve have
typically gone to professional schools for years and undergone
specialized training to build their proficiencies. They also invest
regularly - in terms of reading, taking courses, attending
conferences, and the like - to keep their skills current. Moving
into management often means cutting off their ties to their
profession, losing touch with the latest advances in their field
and having to let the skills that they’ve spent years developing
become obsolete.
This loyalty to the profession and less interest in typical
organizational rewards makes motivating professionals more
challenging and complex.

So how do you motivate professionals?

Provide them with ongoing challenges projects. Give them

autonomy to follow their interests and allow them to structure
their work in ways they find productive. Provide them with
lateral moves that allow them to broaden their experiences.
Reward them with educational opportunities – training,
workshops, and attending conferences – that allow them to keep
current in their field. In addition reward them with recognition.
And consider creating alternative career paths that allow them to
earn more money and status, without assuming managerial
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Summary & implications for managers: -

The theories which we have discussed so far address
different outcomes variables. The theories also differ in
predictive strengths.

1) Need Theory : -
Four theories focused on needs. These were Maslow’s
hierarchy, two factor, ERG, and McClelland’s needs
theories. The strongest is the McClelland’s needs theory,
which is regarding the relationship between achievement
and productivity.

2) Goal-setting theory : -
The evidence leads to conclude that goal-setting
theory provides one of the more powerful explanations of
this dependent variable.

3) Reinforcement theory : -
This theory has an impressive record for predicting
factors like quality and quantity of work, persistence of
effort, absenteeism, tardiness, and accident rates. It does
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not offer much insight into employee satisfaction or the

decision to quit.

4) Job design theory : -

This theory addresses productivity, satisfaction,
absenteeism, and turnover variables. But it may be limited
to employees who place a high importance on finding
meaningfulness in their jobs and who seek control over the
key elements in their work.

5) Equity theory : -
This theory also deals with productivity, satisfaction,
absence, and turnover variables. However, it is the
strongest when predicting absence and turnover behaviors
and weak when predicting differences in employee

6) Expectancy theory : -
This theory focused on performance variables. It has
proved to offer a relatively powerful explanation of
employee productivity, absenteeism and turnover. But
expectancy theory assumes that employees have few
constraints on their decision discretion. It makes many of
the same assumptions that the rational model makes about
individual decision-making.
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1) Recognize Individual Differences: -

Employees have different needs. Managers should not
treat them all alike. Moreover, spend the time necessary
to understand what’s important to each employee. Also,
design jobs to align with individual needs and, therefore,
maximize the motivation potential in jobs.

2) Use goals and feedback: -

Employees should have hard, specific goals, as well as
feedback on how well they are faring on pursuit of those

3) Allow employees to participate in decisions: -

Employees can contribute to a number of decisions
that affect them: setting work, choosing their own benefits
packages, solving productivity and quality problems, and
the like. This can increase employee productivity,
commitment to work goals, motivation, and job
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4) Link rewards to punishment: -

Regardless of how closely rewards are actually
correlated to performance criteria, if individuals perceive
this relationship to be low, the results will be low
performance, a decrease in job satisfaction, and an
increase in turnover and absenteeism.

5) Check the system for Equity: -

Rewards should also be perceived by employees as
equating with the inputs they bring to the job. At a simplest
level, this should mean that experience, skills, abilities,
effort, and other obvious inputs should explain differences
in performance and, hence, pay, job assignments, and other
obvious rewards.
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