Select Two Theories of Motivation and Suggest How They Are Used in the Work Place

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Compare and contrast two theories of motivation, suggest how a team leader may use these theories to motivate a team.

In the 21st century, job satisfaction is continuously decreasing and is nationally and globally discussed therefore, research into new ways of motivating staff is constantly carried out. Motivation can be defined as the cause of fulfilment, satisfaction and the desire for self development, these feelings are vital in teams and often team leader and managers come up with new and imaginative ways to keep their subordinates motivated to work (Rosen and Wilson, 1999). Following a famous study by Hawthorne, many occupational psychologists have developed theories figuring out the causes of motivation and have spent years trying to figure out what factors decrease and increase motivation levels in the work place. This essay will look at the comparisons and contrasts between two phenomena’s. The first being Alderfer’s ERG theory which categorizes needs into 3 sub groups existence, relatedness and growth, I will be comparing this to Maslow’s controversial Hierarchy of needs theory, which implies there are five fundamental needs, varying from self actualization to physiological requirements. By comparing the two, I will be able to draw a conclusion as to which theory is easily applicable and suggest ways in which leaders can use them to motivate their staff and co-workers.

Maslow’s theory of hierarchy has proven to be extremely popular amongst managers and it is one of the most self-explanatory theories of motivation. He states that peoples needs can be ranked in order of ‘relative prepotency’ (Maslow, 1970, P.17) this means that there are five distinct levels of individual needs, the higher order needs such as; Self actualization and esteem needs and the lower order needs such as social, safety and physiological needs. Maslow believed that without the essential requirements such as food, water and sex it becomes increasingly difficult to be motivated. Therefore if the needs are endangered, higher order and more complex needs such as love and creativity will not be fulfilled. When these needs are active, people will look at their jobs in terms of how well they satisfy these needs. Despite this, Maslow also argued that if one level of satisfaction is obtained, an individual would no longer consider it to be a motivator and this is the reason, Maslow made ultimate esteem and self-actualization almost impossible to attain. Therefore, self-actualization can be considered a ‘lifetime motivator’ (Maslow, 1970) consequently people will use their abilities and continue to be creative in order to accomplish this need.

Maslow’s theory has been heavily criticised over the years, as there is little research and evidence to support his theory and Maslow himself questioned the validity of his theory. However, Maslow’s theory has encouraged psychologist to build on his idea for example Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory. His theory incorporates aspects of Maslow’s but is far more flexible than Maslow’s, he categorizes human needs into three-sub categories- Relatedness, Existence and Growth needs. Due to the lack of validity in Maslows Research, Alderfer was determined to ‘produce a version of Maslows theory which fitted more with empirical research’ Fincham and Rhodes (2005, p. 198)

The ERG theory is a more compliant version than the hierarchy of needs as the two theories coincide. The relatedness needs in the ERG are relative to the interpersonal aspect of the safety needs and needs such as relationships is significant to esteem needs, similarly the existence needs compromise of the safety needs and the physiological needs as they are related to materialistic factors such as money (Schneider and Alderfer, 1973).

Nonetheless, the two psychologists interpreted their categories differently. A significant discrepancy between the two theories is the interpretation of the satisfied needs. Aldefers theory of significance...
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