To begin we should look at what motivation actually is, Taylor (2010) defines it as “A set of processes that arouse, direct & maintain human behaviour toward attaining a goal.” In the context of an organisation the human behaviour referred to is concerning the behaviour of the employees and the goal that they are trying to attain is an objective or task set by management. The processes vary significantly, they can range from a salary to a sense of safety and will be explored in more detail throughout. Clearly from the definition we can see how important it is for a manager to understand motivational theory as they could then apply it to the workforce in order to achieve the goals they have set.
When understanding these theories it is important that managers are first made aware that there are two main contrasting approaches to motivation; namely the process theories and the content theories. Process theories focus on how people are motivated and how their behaviour is a result of rational thought processes. The main theories within the process approach are Adam’s equity theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory and Locke’s goal-setting theory.
Adam’s theory regarding motivation is that workers can become unmotivated when they perceive other workers to receive a higher reward to effort ratio compared to themselves, for example when there are two employees that work equally as hard and one gets a promotion, the other employee will see this as unfair and become unmotivated because of it. The way a manager could benefit from understanding this theory is best described by Chapman (2010), stating that “while improving one person's terms and conditions can resolve that individual's demands (for a while), if the change is perceived by other people to upset the Equity of their own situations then the solution can easily generate far more problems than it attempted to fix.” Therefore they should try to be as fair as possible when rewarding employees in order to keep the team as a whole motivated.
Vroom had a different outlook on motivation and created the expectancy theory, it is said by Anon (2010) that this theory assumes behaviour is a result of conscious choices among alternatives. The purpose of the choices is to maximise pleasure and to minimize pain. The theory has three factors that will affect motivation, these are; valence, which refers to how much the employee wants the rewards. Expectancy, meaning how much they believe putting in effort will yield results and finally instrumentality, meaning the degree to which they believe completing the task will lead to a reward. Vroom suggested that these factors could be multiplied in the following equation, Motivation = Valence x Expectancy(Instrumentality) in order to calculate motivational force. Managers that understand this theory should try to make sure that employees believe that more effort will improve performance and that better performance will result in better rewards. Managers should also take note that using the equation if any of the factors are zero then motivation will...