The aim of this essay is to give an in depth explanation on the effect that motivation can have on an employees' commitment and performance at work. It will examine several different motivational theories and their criticisms. It will also look at how differing attitudes of an employee affect motivation. Finally it will examine how motivation is linked to commitment and performance at work.
What is Motivation? Motivation can be described as a driving force within us. It makes people try and achieve certain targets in order to satisfy a particular need or expectation. It makes an individual behave in a certain way and makes them make decisions to act in a certain way and to continue with these actions until they satisfy their needs and expectations.
According to Mitchell there are four particular characteristics that support the definition of motivation. First of all motivation is described as an individual phenomenon. This implies that every person has different characteristics and is unlike any other. This allows them to demonstrate their "uniqueness". Mitchell also suggests that motivation is intentional and is therefore under the control of an individual. From this statement we can conclude that actions that are influenced by motivation are in fact a choice of action. Mitchell also identified that motivation can be used to predict behaviour but it is not actually behaviour itself. Finally Mitchell described motivation as being multifaceted. He argued that the two most important factors of motivation are arousal and direction of choice or behaviour. In summary Mitchell defined motivation as "the degree to which an individual wants and chooses to engage in certain specified behaviours".
Maslow (1943) believed that it is inbuilt in human nature to always want. What we want also depends on what we already have. Marlow suggested that human needs have a hierarchy. His hierarchy of needs is shown as a series of steps in the form of a pyramid. There are 5 main levels in the hierarchy ranging from physiological needs at the lowest level to self actualisation at the highest level. Maslow's hierarchy also takes into consideration the physiological need of the body, the safety needs, the love needs and finally esteem needs. The physiological need of the body includes satisfying hunger and thirst, as well as the need for oxygen, sleep and sexual desire. The safety need is based on the idea of being free from any pain or threat of physical attack and for predictability and orderliness. The love need level of the hierarchy includes the sense of being part of a group, taking part in social activity, having friends and the sharing love. Finally there is esteem which is gaining self-respect involving confidence, independence and achievement. Maslow stated that "a satisfied need is no longer a motivator". Only needs that are unsatisfied motivate a person. If people can no longer be motivated then arguably their performance in the work place will suffer. If their needs cannot be met or have already been met an individual may feel that they have nothing to work for or towards and will therefore be unhappy in their job and want change. It is however arguable whether different cultures around the world are able to meet the needs in Maslow's hierarchy or will ever meet the needs and whether his hierarchy can apply to all individuals.
Alderfer (1972) further revised Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This revision is known as ERG theory. It relates to Existence, Relatedness and Growth. Alderfer spotted that some of Maslow's levels in his hierarchy of needs actually overlapped. He decided to address this by reducing the hierarchy from five levels down three levels. The first level, Existence, relates to our connection with basic material existence motivators. His second level, Relatedness, relates to the motivation we have for keeping interpersonal relationships. The final level, Growth, relates to an intrinsic desire for our own personal...
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