· Approaches to developing a motivation strategy
Chapter 13: Motivation
On completing this chapter you should be able to define these key concepts. You should also understand:
· The meaning of motivation
· Types of motivation
· The different motivation theories
· Motivation and job satisfaction
· Approaches to developing a motivation strategy
Motivation is the force that energizes, directs and sustains behaviour. High performance is achieved by well-motivated people who are prepared to exercise discretionary effort, ie independently do more than is expected of them. Even in fairly basic roles, Hunter et al (1990) found through their research that the difference in value-added discretionary performance between ‘superior’ and ‘standard’ performers was 19 per cent. For highly complex jobs it was 48 per cent. The aims of this chapter are to explore the meaning of motivation, define the two main types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic, describe and critically evaluate the main theories of motivation, discuss two related aspects of motivation – its relationship to job satisfaction and money, and outline approaches to motivation strategy.
The meaning of motivation
The term ‘motivation’ derives from the Latin word for movement (movere). A motive is a reason for doing something. Motivation is the strength and direction of behaviour and the factors that influence people to behave in certain ways. 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 – one that satisfies their needs and wants. The term ‘motivation’ can refer variously to the goals that individuals have, the ways in which individuals chose their goals and the ways in which others try to change their behaviour. Locke and Latham (2004: 388) observed that: ‘The concept of motivation refers to internal factors that impel action and to external factors that can act as inducements to action.’
As described by Arnold et al (1991) the three components of motivation are:
- Direction – what a person is trying to do.
- Effort – how hard a person is trying.
- Persistence – how long a person keeps on trying.
Well-motivated people engage in positive discretionary behaviour – they decide to make an effort. Such people may be self-motivated, and as long as this means they are going in the right direction to attain what they are there to achieve, then this is the best form of motivation. But additional motivation provided by the work itself, the quality of leadership, and various forms of recognition and reward, builds on self-motivation and helps people to make the best use of their abilities and to perform well.
Types of motivation
Intrinsic motivation takes place when individuals feel that their work is important, interesting and challenging and that it provides them with a reasonable degree of autonomy (freedom to act), opportunities to achieve and advance, and scope to use and develop their skills and abilities. It can be described as motivation by the work itself. It is not created by external incentives. Deci and Ryan (1985) suggested that intrinsic motivation is based on the need to be competent and self-determining (that is, to have a choice). Michael Sandel (2012: 122) remarked that: ‘When people are engaged in an activity they consider intrinsically worthwhile, offering money may weaken their motivation by “crowding out” their intrinsic interest or commitment’.
Intrinsic motivation can be enhanced by job design. Katz (1964) suggested that jobs should in themselves provide sufficient variety, complexity, challenge and skill to engage the abilities of the worker. Hackman and Oldham (1974) in their job characteristics model identified the five core characteristics of jobs that result in intrinsic motivation, namely: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback. Pink (2009) stated that there are three steps that managers can take to improve motivation:
- Autonomy – encourage people to set their own schedule and focus on getting work done not how it is done.
- Mastery – help people to identify the steps they can take to improve and ask them to identify how they will know they are making progress.
- Purpose – when giving instructions explain the why as well as the how.
Intrinsic motivation is associated with the concept of engagement, as explained in Chapter 15.
Extrinsic motivation occurs when things are done to or for people in order to motivate them. These include rewards such as incentives, increased pay, praise or promotion; and punishments such as disciplinary action, withholding pay, or criticism.
Extrinsic motivators can have an immediate and powerful effect, but it will not necessarily last long. The intrinsic motivators, which are concerned with the ‘quality of working life’ (a phrase and movement that emerged from this concept), are likely to have a deeper and longer-term effect because they are inherent in individuals and the work – and are not imposed from outside in such forms as incentive pay.
As mentioned by Steers et al (2004: 379) the earliest approaches to understanding human motivation date from the time of the Greek philosophers and focus on the concept of hedonism as a principle driving force in behaviour. Individuals were seen as directing their efforts to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. This principle was later refined and further developed in the works of philosophers such as John Locke and Jeremy Bentham in the 17th and 18th centuries. Motivation theory has moved on from then. It started in the earlier part of the 20th century with the contributions of the exponents of scientific management (instrumentality theory). In the middle years of that century the behavioural scientists entered the field and began to develop the ‘content’ or ‘needs’ theory of motivation. The main process theories such as expectancy theory emerged in the in the 1960s and 70s, although the first formulation of the process theory of reinforcement took place in 1911. The three main areas of motivation theory – instrumentality, content and process – are examined below.
Instrumentality theory states in effect that rewards and punishments are the best instruments with which to shape behaviour. It assumes that people will be motivated to work if rewards and penalties are tied directly to their performance; thus the awards are contingent upon effective performance. Instrumentality theory has its roots in the scientific management methods of Taylor (1911: 121) who wrote: ‘It is impossible, through any long period of time, to get workmen to work much harder than the average men around them unless they are assured a large and a permanent increase in their pay.’
This theory provides a rationale for financial incentives such as performance-related pay, albeit a dubious one. Motivation using this approach has been and still is widely adopted. It may be successful in some circumstances, eg piece work, but – for reasons explained in Chapter 27– merit or performance pay is flawed.
Instrumentality theory relies exclusively on a system of external controls and does not recognize a number of other human needs. It also fails to appreciate the fact that the formal control system can be seriously affected by the informal relationship existing between workers.
The aim of the content or needs theories produced by Maslow, Alderfer, McClelland, Herzberg, and Deci and Ryan was to identify the factors associated with motivation. The theory focuses on the content of motivation in the shape of needs. Its basis is the belief that an unsatisfied need creates tension and a state of disequilibrium. To restore the balance a goal is identified that will satisfy the need, and a behaviour pathway is selected that will lead to the achievement of the goal and the satisfaction of the need. Behaviour is therefore motivated by unsatisfied needs. A content theory model is shown in Figure 13.1. Content theory, as the term implies, indicates the components of motivation but it does not explain how motivation affects performance – a necessary requirement if the concept is to provide guidance on HR policy and practice. This was the role of expectancy theory, as will be discussed later.
Figure 13.1: The process of motivation according to content theory
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
The most famous classification of needs is the one formulated by Maslow (1954). He suggested that there are five major need categories that apply to people in general, starting from the fundamental physiological needs and leading through a hierarchy of safety, social and esteem needs to the need for self-fulfilment, the highest need of all. When a lower need is satisfied the next highest becomes dominant and the individual’s attention is turned to satisfying this higher need. The need for self-fulfilment, however, can never be satisfied. ‘Man is a wanting animal’; only an unsatisfied need can motivate behaviour and the dominant need is the prime motivator of behaviour. Psychological development takes place as people move up the hierarchy of needs, but this is not necessarily a straightforward progression. The lower needs still exist, even if temporarily dormant as motivators, and individuals constantly return to previously satisfied needs.
Maslow’s needs hierarchy has an intuitive appeal and has been very popular. But it has not been verified by empirical research such as that conducted by Wahba and Bridwell (1979), and it has been criticized for its apparent rigidity – different people may have different priorities and the underpinning assumption that everyone has the same needs is invalid. It is difficult to accept that needs progress steadily up the hierarchy and Maslow himself expressed doubts about the validity of a strictly ordered hierarchy. But he did emphasize that the higher-order needs are more significant.
ERG theory (Alderfer)
Alderfer (1972) produced a more convincing and simpler theory, which postulated three primary categories of needs:
- Existence needs such as hunger and thirst – pay, fringe benefits and working conditions are other types of existence needs.
- Relatedness needs, which acknowledge that people are not self-contained units but must engage in transactions with their human environment – acceptance, understanding, confirmation and influence are elements of the relatedness process.
- Growth needs, which involve people in finding the opportunities to be what they are most fully and to become what they can. This is the most significant need.
McClelland’s achievement motivation
An alternative way of classifying needs was developed by McClelland (1961), who based it mainly on studies of managers. He identified three needs of which the need for achievement was the most important:
- The need for achievement, defined as the need for competitive success measured against a personal standard of excellence.
- The need for affiliation, defined as the need for warm, friendly, compassionate relationships with others.
- The need for power , defined as the need to control or influence others.
Herzberg’s two-factor model
The two-factor model of motivation developed by Herzberg (1957, 1966) was based on an investigation into the sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction of accountants and engineers who were asked what made them feel exceptionally good or exceptionally bad about their jobs. According to Herzberg, this research established that there were two factors that affected feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Motivating factors or ‘satisfiers’ relate to the job content and consist of the need for achievement, the interest of the work, responsibility and opportunities for advancement. These needs are the intrinsic motivators. He summed this up in the phrase ‘motivation by the work itself’.
Hygiene factors relate to the job context, including such things as pay and working conditions. ‘Hygiene’ is used in the medical use of the term, meaning preventative and environmental. In themselves hygiene factors neither satisfy nor motivate and they serve primarily to prevent job dissatisfaction, while having little effect on positive job attitudes. Pay is not a satisfier but if it is inadequate or inequitable it can cause dissatisfaction. However, its provision does not provide lasting satisfaction.
Herzberg’s two-factor theory in effect identifies needs but it has been attacked by, for example, Opsahl and Dunnette (1966). The research method has been criticized because no attempt was made to measure the relationship between satisfaction and performance. It has been claimed that the two-factor nature of the theory is an inevitable result of the questioning method used by the interviewers. It has also been suggested that wide and unwarranted inferences have been drawn from small and specialized samples and that there is no evidence to suggest that the satisfiers do improve productivity. The underpinning assumption that everyone has the same needs is invalid. Denise Rousseau (2006: 263) in her presidential address to the US Academy of Management summed up these views as follows: ‘Herzberg’s long discredited two-factor theory is typically included in the motivation section of management textbooks, despite the fact that it was discredited as an artefact of method bias over thirty years ago.’
In spite of these objections, the Herzberg two-factor theory continues to thrive; partly because it is easy to understand and seems to be based on real-life rather than academic abstractions, and partly because it convincingly emphasizes the positive value of the intrinsic motivating factors and highlights the need to consider both financial and non-financial factors when developing reward systems. It is also in accord with a fundamental belief in the dignity of labour and the Protestant ethic – that work is good in itself. Herzberg’s strength as a proselytizer rather than a researcher meant that he had considerable influence on the job enrichment movement, which sought to design jobs in a way that would maximize the opportunities to obtain intrinsic satisfaction from work and thus improve the quality of working life. Herzberg famously remarked that if you want people to do a good job then give them a good job to do (quoted by Dowling, 1971).
As formulated by Deci and Ryan (2000) this theory states that individuals are motivated by the need to achieve three fundamental goals: striving for competence, autonomy and relatedness.
Comment on content theories
Shields (2007: 74) observed that content theories share some common shortcomings. His criticisms were that they incorrectly assume:
· the existence of a universally applicable set of human needs;
· that according to Maslow (1954), needs conform to a simple ordered hierarchy of need importance, when in reality, needs seem to operate in a more flexible, less ordered and predictable way;
· that the link between needs and behaviours is direct and automatic, rather than mediated by human consciousness, values and choice.
In addition, he pointed out that content theories ‘underestimate the motivational potency of extrinsic rewards, including financial rewards’.
In process theory, the emphasis is on the psychological or mental processes and forces that affect motivation, as well as on basic needs. It is also known as cognitive theory because it refers to people’s perceptions of their working environment and the ways in which they interpret and understand it. The main process theories are concerned with reinforcement, expectancy, goals, equity, and cognitive evaluation.
This is the oldest and least complex of the process theories. It is based on ‘the law of effect’ as formulated by Thorndike (1911), which states that over time people learn about the relationships between their actions and the consequences of them and this understanding guides their future behaviour. In other words, if they believe that something has worked previously then they will do it again. It was later developed by Hull (1943, 1951).
Skinner (1953) and others later built on these principles with the notion of ‘operant conditioning’, which was influenced by the work of Pavlov and his salivating dogs. As Shields (2007: 76) put it: ‘Positive reinforcement of desired behaviour elicits more of the same; punishment of undesired behaviour (negative reinforcement) elicits less of the same.’ Reinforcement models continue to thrive today as explanatory vehicles for understanding work motivation and job performance, and as a justification of performance pay.
But reinforcement theory can be criticized for taking an unduly mechanistic view of human nature. It implies that people can be motivated by treating them as machines – by pulling levers. In assuming that the present choices of individuals are based on an understanding of the outcomes of their past choices, reinforcement theory ignores the existing context in which choices are made. In addition, motivational theories based on the principle of reinforcement pay insufficient attention to the influence of expectations – no indication is given of how to distinguish in advance which outcomes would strengthen responses and which would weaken them. Above all, they are limited because they imply, in Allport’s (1954) vivid phrase, a hedonism of the past.
Expectancy theory states that motivation will be high when people know what they have to do in order to get a reward, expect that they will be able to get the reward and expect that the reward will be worthwhile.
The concept of expectancy was originally contained in the valency-instrumentality-expectancy (VIE) theory that was formulated by Vroom (1964). Valency stands for value; instrumentality is the belief that if we do one thing it will lead to another; and expectancy is the probability that action or effort will lead to an outcome.
The strength of expectations may be based on past experiences (reinforcement), but individuals are frequently presented with new situations – a change in job, payment system, or working conditions imposed by management – where past experience is an inadequate guide to the implications of the change. In these circumstances, motivation may be reduced.
Motivation is only likely when a clearly perceived and usable relationship exists between performance and outcome, and the outcome is seen as a means of satisfying needs. This explains why extrinsic financial motivation – for example, an incentive or bonus scheme – works only if the link (line of sight) between effort and reward is clear and the value of the reward is worth the effort. It also explains why intrinsic motivation arising from the work itself can be more powerful than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation outcomes are more under the control of individuals, who can place greater reliance on their past experiences to indicate the extent to which positive and advantageous results are likely to be obtained by their behaviour.
This theory was developed by Porter and Lawler (1968) into a model shown in Figure 13.2, which follows Vroom’s ideas by suggesting that there are two factors determining the effort that people put into their jobs: first, the value of the rewards to individuals in so far as they satisfy their needs for security, social esteem, autonomy and self-actualization; second, the probability that rewards depend on effort, as perceived by individuals – in other words, their expectations about the relationships between effort and reward. Thus, the greater the value of a set of awards and the higher the probability that receiving each of these rewards depends upon effort, the greater the effort that will be put forth in a given situation.
Figure 13.2: Motivation model (Porter and Lawler, 1968)
But, as Porter and Lawler emphasized, mere effort is not enough. It has to be effective effort if it is to produce the desired performance. The two variables additional to effort that affect task achievement are: 1) ability – individual characteristics such as intelligence, knowledge, skills; 2) role perceptions – what the individual wants to do or thinks they are required to do. These are good from the viewpoint of the organization if they correspond with what it thinks the individual ought to be doing. They are poor if the views of the individual and the organization do not coincide.
Alongside goal theory (see below), expectancy theory has become the most influential motivation theory, particularly as it affects performance and reward management. But reservations have been expressed about it. House et al (1974) remarked that: ‘Evidence for the validity of the theory is very mixed.’ They also established that there were a number of variables affecting expectations that make it difficult to predict how they function. These are:
· Leadership behaviour – the function of the leader in clarifying expectations, guiding, supporting and rewarding subordinates.
· Individual characteristics – the subjects’ perception of their ability to perform the required task.
· Nature of the task – whether accomplishing the task provides the necessary reinforcements and rewards.
· The practices of the organization – its reward and control systems and how it functions.
Research conducted by Behling and Starke (1973) established that individuals:
· make crucial personal decisions without clearly understanding the consequences;
· do not in practice consistently evaluate their order of preference for alternative actions;
· have to assign two values when making a decision – its desirability and its achievability – but they tend to be influenced mainly by desirability – they let their tastes influence their beliefs;
· may be able to evaluate the extrinsic rewards they expect but may find it difficult to evaluate the possibility of achieving intrinsic rewards;
· may find it difficult to distinguish the benefits of one possible outcome from another.
They concluded that: ‘Expectancy theory can account for some of the variations in work effort but far less than normally attributed to it’ (ibid 386).
Shields (2007: 80) commented that a problem with expectancy theory is that it assumes that ‘behaviour is rational and premeditated when we know that much workplace behaviour is impulsive and emotional’.
However, in spite of these objections, the simple message of expectancy theory – that people will be motivated if they expect that their behaviour will produce a worthwhile reward – is compelling. And it provides a useful tool to assess the effectiveness of motivating devices such as performance-related pay.
Goal theory as developed by Latham and Locke (1979) following their research states that motivation and performance are higher when individuals are set specific goals, when goals are demanding but accepted, and when there is feedback on performance. Goals must be clearly defined. Participation in goal setting is important as a means of getting agreement to the setting of demanding goals. Feedback is vital in maintaining motivation, particularly towards the achievement of even higher goals.
However, the universality of goal theory has been questioned. For example, Pintrich (2000) noted that people have different goals in different circumstances and that it is hard to justify the assumption that goals are always accessible and conscious. And Harackiewicz et al (2002) warned that goals are only effective when they are consistent with and match the general context in which they are pursued. But support for goal theory was provided by Bandura and Cervone (1983) who emphasized the importance of self-efficacy (a belief in one’s ability to accomplish goals).
Equity theory, as defined by Adams (1965), is concerned with the perceptions people have about how they are being treated as compared with others. He proposed that employees assess the fairness or otherwise of their rewards (outcomes) in relation to their effort or qualifications (inputs) and that they do this by comparing their own input/output ratio against that of other individuals. If the input/output ratio is perceived to be unfavourable, they will feel that there is reward inequity.
Equity theory explains only one aspect of the processes of motivation and job satisfaction, although it may be significant in terms of morale and, possibly, of performance.
Social learning theory
Social learning theory as developed by Bandura (1977) combines aspects of both reinforcement and expectancy theory. It recognizes the significance of the basic behavioural concept of reinforcement as a determinant of future behaviour but also emphasizes the importance of internal psychological factors, especially expectancies about the value of goals and the individual’s ability to reach them. The term ‘reciprocal determinism’ is used to denote the concept that while the situation will affect individual behaviour individuals will simultaneously influence the situation.
Cognitive evaluation theory
Cognitive evaluation theory contends that the use of extrinsic rewards may destroy the intrinsic motivation that flows from inherent job interest. It was formulated by Deci and Ryan (1985). Referring to their research, they stated that: ‘Rewards, like feedback, when used to convey to people a sense of appreciation for work well done, will tend to be experienced informationally and will maintain or enhance intrinsic motivation. But when they are used to motivate people, they will be experienced controllingly and will undermine intrinsic motivation.’
Deci et al (1999) followed up this research by carrying out a meta-analysis of 128 experiments on rewards and intrinsic motivation to establish the extent to which intrinsic motivation was undermined by rewards. The results of the study indicated that for high-interest tasks, rewards had significant negative effects on what the researchers called ‘free-choice measures’, which included the time spent on the task after the reward was removed.
But as noted by Gerhart and Rynes (2003: 52): ‘The vast majority of research on this theory has been performed in school rather than work settings, often with elementary school-aged children.’ But that did not stop other commentators assuming that the results were equally significant for working adults. It is interesting to note that research in industry conducted by Deci and Ryan (1985), while it found that financial incentives did decrease intrinsic motivation in high-control organizational cultures, also established that in organizations with the opposite high-involvement culture, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation were both increased by monetary incentives. Context is all important. Moreover, a meta-analysis of 145 studies conducted by Cameron et al (2001) led to the conclusion that rewards do not inevitably have negative effects on intrinsic motivation.
Purposeful work behaviour
A more recent integrated motivation theory formulated by Barrick and Mount (2013) focused on the impact on motivation of individual factors, such as personality and ability, and situational factors, such as job characteristics. The motivation to engage in purposeful work behaviour depends on both these factors.
Comment on process theories
Process theories are not based on suspect assumptions about the universality of needs, as are content theories. Process theories emphasize the importance of individual decision-making on work behaviour. As pointed out by Shields (2007: 85) They ‘acknowledge the importance of social and job context as co-determinants of motivational strength while those other than reinforcement theory also highlight the importance of self-efficacy, task or goal clarity and motivational learning’.
Summary of motivation theories
A summary of motivation theories is set out in Table 13.1.
Table 13.1: Summary of motivation theories
Summary of theory
If we do one thing it leads to another. People will be motivated to work if rewards and punishments are directly related to their performance.
Basis of crude attempts to motivate people by incentives. Often used as the implied rationale for performance-related pay although this is seldom an effective motivator.
Content or needs
Hierarchy of needs
A hierarchy of needs exists: physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-fulfilment. Needs at a higher level only emerge when a lower need is satisfied.
Focuses attention on the various needs that motivate people and the notion that a satisfied need is no longer a motivator. The concept of a hierarchy has no practical significance.
A non-hierarchical theory identifying three basic needs: existence, relatedness and growth.
A simpler and more convincing categorization of needs.
Identified three needs for managers: achievement, affiliation and power. Of these, achievement is the most important.
Emphasized the importance to managers of achievement as a motivating factor.
Herzberg (1957, 1966)
Two groups of factors affect job satisfaction: 1) those intrinsic to the work itself; 2) those extrinsic to the job such as pay and working conditions. The factors that affect positive feelings (the motivating factors) are quite different from those that affect negative feelings (the hygiene factors).
The research methodology has been strongly criticized (it does not support the existence of two factors) and the underpinning assumption that everyone has the same needs is invalid. But it has influenced approaches to job design (job enrichment) and it supports the proposition that reward systems should provide for both financial and non-financial rewards.
Deci and Ryan (2000)
Individuals are motivated to achieve three fundamental goals: striving for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Provides an alternative and simpler classification of needs.
As experience is gained in satisfying needs, people perceive that certain actions help to achieve goals while others are unsuccessful. The successful actions are repeated when a similar need arises.
Provide feedback that positively reinforces effective behaviour.
Porter and Lawler (1968)
Effort (motivation) depends on the likelihood that rewards will follow effort and that the reward is worthwhile.
The key theory informing approaches to rewards, ie that they must be a link between effort and reward (line of sight), the reward should be achievable and it should be worthwhile.
Lathom and Locke (1979)
Motivation will improve if people have demanding but agreed goals and receive feedback
Influences performance management and learning and development practices.
People are better motivated if treated equitably, ie treated fairly in comparison with another group of people (a reference group) or a relevant other person.
Need to have equitable reward and employment practices.
Recognizes the significance of reinforcement as a determinant of future behaviour but also emphasizes the importance of expectancies about the value of goals and the individual’s ability to reach them.
The emphasis is on expectancies, individual goals and values and the influence of both person and situational factors as well as reinforcement.
Deci and Ryan (1985)
The use of extrinsic rewards may destroy the intrinsic motivation that flows from inherent job interest.
Emphasizes the importance of non-financial rewards. The conclusions reached from Deci and Ryan’s research have been questioned.
Conclusions on motivation theory
All the theories referred to above make some contribution to an understanding of the processes that affect motivation. But instrumentality theory provides only a simplistic explanation of how motivation works. Needs and content theories are more sophisticated but have their limitations. As Gerhart and Rynes (2003: 53) commented:
Although the ideas developed by Maslow, Herzberg and Deci have had considerable appeal to many people, the prevailing view in the academic literature is that the specific predictions of these theories is not supported by empirical evidence. On the other hand it would be a mistake to underestimate the influence that these theories have had on research and practice. Pfeffer, Kohn and others continue to base their argument regarding the ineffectiveness of money as a motivator on such theories.
But, bearing in mind the reservations set out earlier, needs theory still offers an indication of the factors that motivate people and content theory provides useful explanations of how motivation takes place. And while instrumentality and reinforcement theories may be simplistic they still explain some aspects of how rewards affect motivation and performance and they continue to exert influence on the beliefs of some people about the power of incentives to motivate people. Herzberg’s research may be flawed but he still contributed to the recognition of the importance of job design.
Motivation theory can explain what makes people tick at work but it is also necessary to consider two other aspects of the impact of motivation – its relationship with job satisfaction and the effect of money on motivation. Strategies for motivation based on the lessons learnt from motivation theory are considered at the end of this chapter.
Motivation and job satisfaction
Job satisfaction can be defined as the attitudes and feelings people have about their work. Positive and favourable attitudes towards the job indicate job satisfaction. Negative and unfavourable attitudes towards the job indicate job dissatisfaction. It can be distinguished from morale, which is a group rather than individual variable, related to the degree to which group members feel attracted to their group and want to remain a member of it.
The factors that affect job satisfaction
Levels of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction are influenced by:
· The intrinsic motivating factors. These relate to job content, especially the five dimensions of jobs identified by Hackman and Oldham (1974): skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback (the job characteristics model).
· The quality of supervision. The Hawthorne studies (Roethlisberger and Dixon, 1939) resulted in the claim that supervision is the most important determinant of worker attitudes. Elton Mayo (1933) believed that a man’s desire to be continuously associated in work with his fellows is a strong, if not the strongest human characteristic.
· Success or failure. Success obviously creates satisfaction, especially if it enables individuals to prove to themselves that they are using their abilities to the full. And it is equally obvious that the reverse is true of failure.
Job satisfaction and performance
It is a commonly held and not unreasonable belief that an increase in job satisfaction results in improved performance. The whole human relations movement led by Mayo (1933) and supported by the Roethlisberger and Dixon (1939) research was based on the belief that productivity could be increased by making workers more satisfied, primarily through pleasant and supportive supervision and by meeting their social needs. But research by Katz et al (1950) and Katz et al (1951) found that the levels of satisfaction with pay, job status or fellow workers in high productivity units were no different to those in low productivity units.
Meta-analysis by Brayfield and Crocket (1955) of a number of studies concluded that there was little evidence of any simple or appreciable relationship between satisfaction and performance. A later review of research by Vroom (1964) found that the median correlation between job satisfaction and job performance for all these studies was only 0.14, which is not high enough to suggest any marked relationship between them. Spector (1997) came to the same conclusion. Indeed, it can be argued that it is not increases in satisfaction that produce improved performance but improved performance that increases satisfaction. This was confirmed by data on the link between job satisfaction and performance for 177 store managers, analysed by Christen et al (2006). It was established that store managers’ performance increased their job satisfaction but that job satisfaction had no impact on job performance.
Motivation and money
Money, in the form of pay or some other sort of remuneration, is regarded by many people as the most obvious extrinsic reward. Money seems to provide the carrot that most people want.
Doubts were cast on the effectiveness of money by Herzberg (1968), which although unsupported by his research have some degree of face validity. He claimed that while the lack of money can cause dissatisfaction, its provision does not result in lasting satisfaction. There is something in this, especially for people on fixed salaries or rates of pay who do not benefit directly from an incentive scheme. They may feel good when they get an increase; apart from the extra money, it is a highly tangible form of recognition and an effective means of helping people to feel that they are valued. But this feeling of euphoria can rapidly die away. Other causes of dissatisfaction from Herzberg’s list of hygiene factors, such as working conditions or the quality of management, can loom larger in some people’s minds when they fail to get the satisfaction they need from the work itself. However, it must be re-emphasized that different people have different needs and wants. Some will be much more motivated by money than others. What cannot be assumed is that money motivates everyone in the same way and to the same extent. Thus it is naive to think that the introduction of a performance-related pay scheme will miraculously transform everyone overnight into well-motivated, high-performing individuals.
Nevertheless, money is a powerful force because it is linked directly or indirectly to the satisfaction of many needs. Money may in itself have no intrinsic meaning, but it acquires significant motivating power because it comes to symbolize so many intangible goals. It acts as a symbol in different ways for different people, and for the same person at different times.
But do financial incentives motivate people? The answer is yes, for those people who are strongly motivated by money and whose expectations are that they will receive a worthwhile financial reward. But less confident employees may not respond to incentives that they do not expect to achieve. It can also be argued that extrinsic rewards may erode intrinsic interest – people who work just for money could find their tasks less pleasurable and may not, therefore, do them so well. What we do know is that a multiplicity of factors is involved in performance improvements and many of those factors are interdependent.
Money can therefore provide positive motivation in the right circumstances not only because people need and want money but also because it serves as a highly tangible means of recognition. But badly designed and managed pay systems can demotivate. Another researcher in this area was Jaques (1961), who emphasized the need for such systems to be perceived as being fair and equitable. In other words, the reward should be clearly related to effort or level of responsibility and people should not receive less money than they deserve compared with their fellow workers. Jaques called this the ‘felt-fair’ principle.
Motivation strategies aim to create a working environment and to develop policies and practices that will provide for higher levels of performance from employees. The factors affecting them and the HR contribution are summarized in Table 13.2.
Table 13.2: Factors affecting motivation strategies and the HR contribution
Factors affecting motivation strategies
The HR contribution
The complexity of the process of motivation means that simplistic approaches based on instrumentality or needs theory are unlikely to be successful.
Avoid the trap of developing or supporting strategies that offer prescriptions for motivation based on a simplistic view of the process or fail to recognize individual differences.
People are more likely to be motivated if they work in an environment in which they are valued for what they are and what they do. This means paying attention to the basic need for recognition.
Encourage the development of performance management processes that provide opportunities to agree expectations and to recognize accomplishments.
Extrinsic motivators such as incentive pay can have an immediate and
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