More Motivating

Here is some more thoughts on motivation within the church.

Motivation and performance

Motivation is from within a person. There is little a supervisor can do to motivate a person directly except to provide a good environment for motivation. The essence of leadership is helping people to become motivated. The process of motivation is need, goal, act, and satisfaction.

Performance is a function of ability and motivation. Satisfaction increases when the worker is able to perform a job effectively, when his performance is equitably rewarded, and when the rewards match the needs.

There is no inherent relationship between performance and satisfaction. It is usually agreed that satisfaction will increase performance, but not necessarily.

There are four possible combinations:
1. High satisfaction and low performance
2. Low satisfaction and high performance
3. High satisfaction and high performance
4. Low satisfaction and low performance

William James of Harvard found that hourly employees could maintain their jobs (not be fired) by working at approximately 20–30% of their ability. Employees work at 80–90% of ability when highly motivated. If motivation is low, then performance will suffer as much as if ability was low.

The percentage of ability that is affected by motivation is about 60% of a person’s ability. Many church volunteers are really performing at only about 20–30% of their ability because of a lack of motivation, not lack of ability.

Motivation and probability of success

People are not highly motivated if a goal is seen as almost impossible or is seen as virtually certain to be achieved. The degree of motivation and effort rise until the probability of success reaches 50%, then begins to fall even though the probability of success continues to increase. The curve is a true bell shaped curve. Goals that are set should be challenging (not certain to be achieved), but also attainable (not impossible) to have the maximum of motivation.

Motivation, learning and reinforcement

Leaders can influence the behavior of followers through learning and reinforcement. Most behaviors are acquired through learning. Rewarded behaviors are repeated often enough to be learned. Unrewarded behaviors are discontinued. Learning is ultimately a change in behavior. Behavioral learning is based on stimulus-response (S-R). Operant conditioning is based on receiving rewards or avoiding punishments. Behavior can be controlled by consequences––rewarded or punished.

Reinforcement through behavior modification can be accomplished in two ways. First, increase the rate of desirable behaviors. This can be positive reinforcement using primary reinforcer (food, water, love, work, play) or secondary reinforcers (praise, pay increase, promotion, or status). This can be done by using negative reinforcement and removing the punishment. Second, decrease the rate of undesirable behaviors. This may be through extinction by not rewarding behaviors, causing them to disappear. This can be done by withholding a pay raise, ignoring the behavior, or even by giving no response. This may also be done by punishment through harassment, reprimand, rejection, or discharge.

Reinforcers or rewards can be scheduled and administered in several ways:

1. Through continuous reinforcement. Each time the correct response is given, it is followed by a reinforcer, such as with vending machines, water fountain, and teaching machines.

2. Through intermittent rewards. This is commonly used to administer organizational rewards. It might be with a fixed interval such as regular paychecks and fringe benefits. It might be through a variable interval where the timing is unpredictable or not scheduled, such as promotions, pay raises, or pop quizzes. It might be a fixed ratio as in piece work, rate incentives, or sales commission. It might be through a variable ratio where there is a differential piece rate ($12 for first 100, and then $15 after that) or a progressive grading system.

3. Through partial reinforcement where the amount of reinforcement and time interval vary significantly. This is used in gambling and in contests, but rarely in administration.

There is an established procedure for behavior modification using the operant conditioning learning theory. First, define the target behavior that will have the greatest impact on organizational goals. Then set performance goals or standards that are based on targeted behavior and expressed in quantifiable terms. Next, measure the performance progress. This provides feedback and relates performance to rewards. Now one is ready to reward good performance. An immediate reward is better. If rewards cannot be given, then use punishment but sparingly. The punishment should be commensurate with the severity of the undesirable behavior. Give immediate punishment. Administer the punishment by a person other than the rewarder (a hatchet man). Give suggestions for improvement along with the punishment.

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