Motivation For Employees In An Organization

Management researchers have long believed that organizational goals are attainable with the commitment of members of the organizations. Where members are uncommitted, it makes such goals unattainable.

High performance is achieved by well-motivated people who are prepared to exercise discretionary effort i.e. do more than the minimum required by putting in extra effort.

Motivation is a human psychological characteristics that contributes to a person’s degree of commitment. It includes factors that cause, channel and sustain human behavior in a particular committed direction that is getting them to move in the direction you want them to go in order to achieve a result.

Robbins and Sanghi (2009), defined motivation as the processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort toward achieving a goal.
Motivation is also defined as a force that energizes behavior and which is goal oriented (Armstrong, 2003). Bartol, Martin, Bernadine and Russell (1998) define motivation as the force that energises behavior, gives direction to behavior and underlies the tendency to persist, that is, to achieve goals individuals must be sufficiently stimulated and energetic, must have a clear focus on what is to be achieved and must be willing to commit their energy for a long period of time to realise their aim. Arnold, Robertson and Cooper (1991) identifies three components of motivation;
Direction- what a person is trying to do
Effort- how hard a person is trying
Persistence- how long a person keeps trying.
Motivating is the management process of influencing people’s behavior based on the knowledge of what makes them tick. Motivation and motivating deal with the range of conscious human behavior somewhere between two extremes (1) reflex actions such as a sneeze or flutter of eyelids and (2) learned habits such as brushing of teeth or handwriting style.

Basic Assumptions about Motivation and Motivating

1. Motivation is commonly assumed to be a god thing. We hardly hear people being praised for being unmotivated. In various life settings (churches, schools, workplace, etc.) we are taught that you cannot feel good about yourself if you are not motivated.

2. Motivation is one of the several factors that goes into a person’s performance. Other important factors are ability, resources and conditions under which one performs.

3. Motivation is in short supply and in need of periodic replenishment. Motivation theories and motivational practices deal with processes that never really end, based on the assumption that motivation can escape over time.

4. Motivation is a tool with which managers can arrange job relationships in organizations. If managers know what drives the people working for them, they can tailor job assignments and rewards to what makes these people tick.

Types of motivation

1. Intrinsic

2. Extrinsic

Intrinsic motivation is a highly self-determined motivation. It arise from self-generated factors that influence people’s behavior. For example, it can stem from the work itself when individuals feel the work is important, interesting, challenging and provides a reasonable degree of autonomy, advancement opportunities and scope to use and develop skills and abilities. There are no external incentives. It is more likely to have lasting effects because it is inherent in the individual.

Extrinsic motivation is a highly controlled motivation. It occurs when things are done to or for people to motivate them. These include rewards, such as incentives, increased pay or promotion; and punishment such as disciplinary action, withholding pay or criticism. These factors can have immediate and powerful effect but will not necessarily last long.

The motivational process

Motivation is goal-directed behavior. People are motivated when they expect that a course of action is likely to lead to the attainment of a goal and a valued reward that satisfies their needs and wants. Swanda (1979), infers three basic psychological steps to motivational process

1. Arousal of deprivation – 1st stage

2. Directed response- middle stage

3. Satisfaction – final stage

1. Arousal of deprivation is the first stage where personal needs or deficiencies are registered. The individual is aroused by a physiological or psychological imbalance for example, imbalance caused by hunger or deprival of recognition for quality of work.

2. Directed response: here the individual becomes energized through a pattern of response to reduce the registered deficiencies. Drives or energized responses are action oriented. Individual associates certain actions with goal satisfaction and directs his behaviour in that manner in order to alleviate deprived needs.

3. Satisfaction: here effective response leads to satisfaction or alleviation of registered needs. Satisfaction can be considered the goal of motivation because it eliminates the personal need imbalance and restores physiological and psychological equilibrium.


We have different perspectives or views to the study of the motivation theories. The are

1. Traditional approach

2. Human relations approach

3. Human resource approach

4. Contemporary approaches


1. Traditional approach: This approach assumes that mangers know the job more and workers are lazy and motivated by money. It is best represented by the work of Frederick W. Taylor. He suggested the use of an incentive pay system. Workers are viewed as economic people that is people who will work harder for economic pay, for example paying sales persons on commission basis. In this traditional approach, economic gain is the primary motivation.

2. Human relations approach: this approach derives its roots from the Hawthorne studies of Elton Mayo and Associates at the Western Electric Plant. Emphasis is on the role of the social man in the workplace. Man has more needs that are important than money. Boredom and repetitiveness of many tasks in the workplace can bring about reduced motivation. Workers can be motivated by acknowledging their social needs and making them feel useful and important. Modern day legacies of this model include the use of suggestion boxes, organization newsletters and employee contribution to the performance evaluation process.

3. Human resource approach: this approach is associated with the work of Douglas McGregor and is concerned with the concept of the whole person. It combines the economic man and social man. Employees are complex and motivated by many factors, people want to and have the ability to contribute positively to the organization.

4. Contemporary approaches: constitute modern approaches to motivation theory. It is dominated by three theories; content, process or cognitive and reinforcement theories. Consist of the need, reinforcement, equity, expectancy and goal setting theories. Common to all these five theories is the crucial role of a person’s awareness of what is important to him or her and the circumstances in which he or she works.

Content theory emphasizes analysis of underlying human needs-gives insight to needs and how it can be satisfied.

Process or Cognitive theory concern thought process that influence behavior. How employees seek rewards in work circumstances

Reinforcement focus on employee learning of desired work behavior.


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