Motivating Employees Through Motivation Theories


Many people often talk about the idea of motivation. It’s a fairly common topic of conversation. But rather than talking about motivation in a positive way, it is sometimes talked about or referred to in a negative way. For example, in many groups, someone eventually notices a lack of motivation in others to work or to achieve. So then, what exactly is the problem? Do many people not have enough motivation? Or is it that leaders do not know how to motivate people? We think it’s the latter. Read on to learn about motivating employees through motivation theories.

Managers need effective employees that will work hard and perform well. But good performance, requires employees that are engaged and motivated. The difficulty for managers, is that, not all of the managers know how to engage or motivate employees. Many managers believe that the process of motivation, simply involves ordering an employee to do something. However, simply providing direction to someone, is not true motivation. The questions to ask are. Do they want to do it? Are they inclined to do it? Without asking and solving these questions, the manager will be forced to constantly come up with new ways to re-motivate the employees on an ongoing basis. Wouldn’t it be much better if the manager could figure out a way to get the employee to self-motivate. To accomplish this, manager’s could look at all of the opportunities available within the organization, and match these opportunities to the personal interests of the employees. By providing the employees with work and tasks that are suitable, and that they excel at, the employee will have a chance to shine. Further, the increased performance should impact the organization in a good way. In addition to matching interests and opportunities, there is another way to increase motivation. That way, is to learn some psychological concepts in regards to motivational theories. I will briefly summarize a few theories next.

The Hawthorne Effect is a theory where it was discovered that workers liked experimenters paying attention to them. Workers, which had interest shown in them, had improved productivity. In short, the workers were more motivated.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory of motivation where there are multiple level of needs, ranging from survival needs, to safety and security needs, to social needs, to ego needs, and to self-actualization. Showing the worker how the workplace can satisfy these needs, can be a great motivator. Only through an understanding of needs can the necessary arguments and plans be created by the manager that would lead to a motivated employee.

McClelland’s Social Motives describes three needs relevant to work behaviour; a need for achievement, a need for affiliation, and a need for influence. Achievement oriented people may be found in technical professions, affiliation oriented people may be found in administrative professions, and influence oriented people may be found in leadership professions. Understanding which type of need is strong in an individual allows the manager to job match properly.

B.F. Skinner’s Positive Reinforcement shows that people tend to repeat an act that they have previously been rewarded for. Managers can selectively reward tasks they feel they want the employee to show more motivation on.

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