Theories of Motivation

There are several different motivational theories that are a part of the leadership literature.

Maslow’s theory

Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs that has five different need levels. The key to motivation, according to Maslow’s theory, is need satisfaction. It is primarily the work of helping men fulfill their inner needs that are necessary for creative survival. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs satisfaction emphasized that lower needs were important, until they were satisfied, and then the next level of need becomes important. His hierarchy of needs includes physiological needs, safety needs, belonging and love needs, esteem needs, and the need for self-actualization. In motivating followers, a leader must recognize where they are on the hierarchy of needs.

He made three assumptions:
1. All behavior is based on the attempt to satisfy human needs.
2. Needs are arranged in a hierarchy of five levels and move from bottom to top.
3. A satisfied need is not a motivator.

In 1969, Clayton Alderfer of Yale University reworded Maslow’s theory to align it with empirical research. His theory is called ERG (Existence, Relatedness, and Growth). It is conceived today as more valid than Maslow’s theory. Existence needs are the basic material that existence requires, as given in Maslow’s physiological and safety needs. Relatedness needs reflect the drive to maintain important interpersonal relationships, as given in Maslow’s love and the external part of esteem needs. Growth needs are the desire for personal development, as given in the intrinsic component of esteem and self-actualization.

The assumptions of ERG are quite different from Maslow. First, more than one need may be operative at the same time. There is not a rigid stair-step progression as in Maslow. All three needs may be operating at the same time. Second, if gratification of higher level need is stifled, the desire to satisfy a lower level need increases (frustration and regression).

Herzberg’s hygiene theory

F. Herzberg established a set of extrinsic and intrinsic factors that motivate people. This is the hygiene theory. He was seeking to find: “What do people want from there jobs?” He asked workers to describe situations where they felt very good or very bad about their jobs. The extrinsic factors, or motivators, will motivate until they are met. If they are not met they become negative motivators. The intrinsic factors are the more important, because this leads one toward becoming a self-motivator or self-starter.

Extrinsic factors (external)

These do not motivate performance, but they do help to prevent poor performance. If these are not met, then workers are dissatisfied and perform poorly. If they are met, then you are even.

Economic. Terms used include pay, salary increase, profit sharing, social security, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, retirement, paid leave, insurance, tuition, and discounts.
Security. Terms used include fairness, consistency, reassurance, friendliness, seniority rights, and grievance procedure.
Orientation. Terms used include job instruction, work rules, group meetings, newspapers, bulletins, handbooks, letters, and bulletin boards.
Status. Terms used include job classification, title, furnishings, location, privileges, relationships, and even company status.
Social. Terms used include work groups, coffee groups, lunch groups, social groups, office parties, ride pools, outings, sports, professional groups, and interest groups.
Physical. Terms used include work layout, job demands, work rules, equipment, location, grounds, parking facilities, aesthetics, lunch facilities, rest rooms, temperature, ventilation, lighting, and noise.

Intrinsic factors (internal)

Achievement, or completing an important task successfully. Terms used include involvement, goal setting, planning, problem-solving, and performance appraisal.
Recognition, or being singled out for praise. Terms used include merit increases, discretionary awards, and profit sharing.
Responsibility for one’s own or others’ work. Terms used include delegation, access to information, freedom to act, and atmosphere of approval.
Advancement/Growth, or changing status through promotion.
Terms used include company growth, promotion, transfers/rotations, education, and memberships.

The primary things that motivate today are praise, promotion, goal setting, delegation, increased knowledge, recognition, feedback, sense of accomplishment, merit increase, freedom to fail, challenge, and company growth.

The primary things that do not motivate today, but may de-motivate are lighting, employee handbooks, coffee groups, job titles, fringe benefits, company newspapers, unemployment compensation, office furnishings, work layout, bulletin boards, bowling teams, work status, Christmas turkeys, social security, paid leave, seniority rights, office parties, and wages and salaries.

If a person is dissatisfied (extrinsic motivators) with the job, then he may perform at 60–70% of his performance capacity. However, if a person is challenged with intrinsic motivators, he may not only perform at 90% of his performance capacity, but he may actually increase his capacity as he grows to do the job given to produce motivators (challenging work, increased responsibility, growth and development, etc.).

McClelland’s achievement model

David McClelland believes that people have three basic motives or needs: achievement, power, and affiliation. Everyone has all three needs which act as “valves” for personal energy to flow through. The valves vary in size and use from one person to another. The strongest motive, or need, has a large valve that is used a lot. A weak motive has a small valve that is seldom used. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) will show the presence and strength of motives in an individual.

Achievement motive

The goal is success in situations requiring excellence. This person will want to get concrete feedback on how well he is doing. The feedback is to be task related feedback. He is best at organizing new problems and solving problems. He will want short meetings, quick decisions, and little socializing. The characteristics are concern for excellence, likes personal responsibilities for solving problems, is restless and striving, is a risk taker, and is a better organizer than maintainer.

Affiliated motive

The goal is to be with others; he enjoys friendships. This person is best at nurturing and caring (visitors, counselors, hosts, ushers). He wants long meetings, lots of coffee and food, and a time to socialize. He is very concerned with being liked and accepted. He needs warm and friendly relationships; he does not want to be separated from people, and is not a loner.

Power motive

The goal is to have an impact on others. This person is best at moving and shaking. He likes to make policy, raise money, and negotiate with city hall, or deacons. He can be positive and socialized––I win–you win. He can be negative and personalized––I win–you lose. He is concerned with reputation and positions. He likes to gives advice. He wants his ideas to predominate. He has strong feelings about status and prestige. He is also verbally fluent, even argumentative.

Vroom’s expectancy theory

Victor Vroom believes that motivation is choosing among alternatives. We want to achieve in order to satisfy unfulfilled needs; but to reach these needs, we must choose from several courses of actions that we “expect” will meet the need. We choose the action that has the highest probability of achieving the need. For example, if there is an unfulfilled need for more responsibility, a person could decide to work harder, produce more, agree with the boss, recommend a change, polish some apples, complain to the boss, file a grievance, or take more initiative. He would select the course of action with the highest probability of achieving his desire to meet a need.

This theory is considered by many to be the best explanation of motivation. The strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome. The theory has three variables: attractiveness, the performance and reward linkage, and the effort and performance linkage.

There are four steps in the theory:

1. What perceived outcomes does the job offer?
Positive outcomes are pay, security, companionship, trust, and opportunity to use talents. Negative outcomes are fatigue, boredom, frustration, anxiety, and threat of dismissal.

2. How attractive are the outcomes?
The outcomes may be viewed as positive, negative, or neutral.

3. What behavior must be produced to achieve the outcome?
It is important to know specifically how one is to be evaluated.

4. How does the employee view his chances of doing what is asked?
Here the concern is with the probability of success.

McDonough’s theory

Reggie McDonough was an important person in the Church Administration department of the Southern Baptist Convention for a number of years. He has a delightful little book called Keys to Effective Motivation, where he gives four “keys” to effective motivation. He basically feels that the leader’s job is to build a climate in which the followers can build and sustain motivation. He believes strongly that motivation must come from within the individual.

Key 1. Stability, consistency, order, or predictability
Key 2. Teamwork, belonging, giving and receiving of love, and acceptance
Key 3. Affirmation, respect, esteem, and competence
Key 4. Challenge, achievement, success, and fulfillment

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *