Bmgt391 Research Paper

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John Doe
BMGT 391/6380/Semester 1302
The Supervisor’s Role in Employee Motivation
February 3, 2012

Introduction
The quest to sufficiently motivate employees is often a constant effort made by management and supervisors. Despite the large amount of attention it receives, the motivation process is largely misunderstood. Many people believe they can give motivation to someone else, but true motivation comes from within; it is an internal drive to behave a certain way (Leonard, 2013). The spark that ignites this internal drive is different for everyone, which is why obtaining a motivated workforce is not an easy task. Supervisors typically do not have the authority to manipulate every variable that influences an employee’s level of motivation, but that does not mean they are powerless. There are many ways supervisors can remain within their scope of authority and still effectively stimulate the motivation of employees. Due to the multitude of motivational theories, questions start to arise when supervisors need to choose which steps to take to begin the process. In order to make the correct decision, a basic understanding of the most popular and respected theories is imperative. Motivational Theories

Interest in human motivation is by no means a recent phenomenon. The Greek philosophers attempted to understand the topic long ago and largely attributed motivation to people’s desire to minimize pain and maximize pleasure, a theory known as hedonism. This explanation was accepted for quite some time, and it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that motivation moved from a philosophical issue to more of a psychological one. Researchers and scientists began looking for empirical evidence to explain motivation, rather than relying on speculation (Steers, Mowday, & Shapiro, 2004). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

One of the most well-known and accepted modern theories of motivation was developed by Abraham Maslow, a psychologist and college professor, in 1943. He thought that humans were motivated by a desire to satisfy a fairly consistent list of needs. These needs were arranged in order of importance, and Maslow believed that people would not seek to satisfy higher level needs until they first satisfied their lower level needs. In chronological order, Maslow’s needs are biological, safety, social, self-respect, and self-fulfillment. For example, biological needs, such as food and water, would need to be fulfilled before someone would move on to satisfy their need for safety. Since Maslow first developed the hierarchy, others have added additional needs such as cognitive, aesthetic, transcendence, and consistency (Leonard, 2013). ERG Theory

Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Clayton Alderfer’s ERG Theory separated human needs into different levels, but he only broke them down into three categories: existence, relatedness, and growth. The primary difference between Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and ERG theory is that Alderfer believed people could seek to fulfill multiple needs at once, and the order that they are fulfilled is not necessarily the same for everyone (Leonard, 2013). McClelland’s Three-Need Theory

Unlike the previous two general theories, David Mclelland developed a needs theory that was specific to the workplace. He believed there were three needs that people sought to satisfy in a job—achievement, affiliation, and power—and that one of these needs took priority over the others (Leonard, 2013). Motivation-Hygiene Theory

In a 1968 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the world was introduced to Frederick Herzberg’s theory of workplace motivation, which is often referred to as motivation-hygiene theory. Herzberg’s theory was revolutionary for its time because it showed managers and supervisors that it was not possible to motivate an employee by threatening punishment for undesired behavior or promising rewards for desired behavior, both of which were common at the time...
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