Motivational Theory and Management

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How might in depth knowledge of motivational theory help someone to become a better manager?

Since motivation influences productivity, managers need to understand what motivates employees to reach peak performance. It is not an easy task to increase employee motivation because employees respond in different ways to their jobs and their organization's practices. Motivation is “driving force within individuals” (Mullins,2002), thus the manager (motivator) should influence factors that motivate employees to gain higher levels of productivity. Factors that affect work motivation include individual differences, job characteristics, and organizational practices. Individual differences are the personal needs, values and attitudes, interests and abilities that people bring to their jobs. Job characteristics are the aspects of the position that determine its limitations and challenges. Organizational practices are the rules, human resources policies, managerial practices, and rewards systems of an organization. Managers must consider how these factors interact to affect employee’s job performance. Many methods of employee motivation have been developed. Motivation theories are important to managers in attempting to be effective leaders. Two primary approaches to motivation are content and process. The content approach to motivation focuses on the assumption that individuals are motivated by the desire to fulfill inner needs. Content theories focus on the needs that motivate people. A. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs identifies five levels of needs, which are best seen as a hierarchy with the most basic need emerging first and the most sophisticated need last. People move up the hierarchy one level at a time. Gratified needs lose their strength and the next level of needs is activated. As basic or lower-level needs are satisfied, higher-level needs become operative. A satisfied need is not a motivator. The most powerful employee need is the one that has not been satisfied. Abraham Maslow first presented the five-tier hierarchy in 1942 to a psychoanalytic society and published it in 1954 in “Motivation and Personality”. Below there’s an explanation of how this level theory works: Level one consists of physiological needs which are the most basic human needs. They include food, water, and comfort. The organization helps to satisfy employees' physiological needs by a paycheck; Level two is about safety needs which are the desires for security and stability, to feel safe from harm. The organization helps to satisfy employees' safety needs by benefits. Level three - social needs, desires for affiliation. They include friendship and belonging. The organization helps to satisfy employees' social needs through sports teams, parties, and celebrations. The manager can help fulfill social needs by showing direct care and concern for employees. Level four - esteem needs, desires for self-respect and respect or recognition from others. The organization helps to satisfy employees' esteem needs by matching the skills and abilities of the employee to the job. Manager can help fulfill esteem needs by showing workers that their work is appreciated. Level five - self-actualization needs, desires for self-fulfillment and the realization of the individual's full potential. Manager can help fulfill self-actualization needs by assigning tasks that challenge employees' minds while drawing on their aptitude and training. Clayton Paul Alderfer identified three categories of needs, and his theory is known as ERG model. The most important contribution of the ERG model is the addition of the frustration-regression hypothesis, which says that when individuals are frustrated in meeting higher level needs, the next lower level needs reemerge. Theory breaks into three aspects that follows: Existence needs, desires for material and physical well being which are satisfied with food, water, air, shelter, working conditions, pay, and fringe...
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