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The Challenge of motivating employees

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Employment
Wordcount: 3578 words Published: 26th Sep 2016

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Challenge of motivating employees

Organization has been deemed to be the strength of any viable business. The more organized and efficient the different components in the business are, the better it functions. The breaking down of tasks associated with each component in a particular organizational system has now led to the concept of job design or performance charters.

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Motivation is simply a process which encourages and guides behavior. Robbins and Judge define motivation as, “the process that accounts for an individual’s intensity, direction, and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal”. Motivation therefore, is a goal directed behavior with factors which energize, direct and sustain employee behavior. Laurie J. Mullins (2007) states that, “the relationship between the organization and its employees is influenced by what motivates them to work, the rewards involved and the fulfillment they derive from it”. Employees today are motivated by various things of which some are considered as a needed entity or as a desired. Worldwide, organizations have focused on theories that motivate employees to be the best they can be and most of these theories of motivation have proved to be true to date.

Since motivational theories were formulated in the 1950s, they have been divided into two categories;

  • Content theories
  • Process theories

Content theories are said to be, “what motivates people” further explained as what arouses, energizes, or simply starts behavior, i.e. individual physiological and psychological needs and this focus is on internal needs. Motivation results from an individual’s attempts to satisfy these needs.

1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs states that;

  • Adult motives are complex
  • Needs form a hierarchy – lower needs to be satisfied before higher order needs
  • People always seek growth because they want to move up the hierarchy of needs

Research evidence in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of need theories has been said to be;

  • Flexible hierarchy of needs
  • Satisfaction of one need level may not decrease its importance and increase importance of the next need level

It has also been found that needs vary according to;

  • The size of the organization
  • A person’s career stage
  • Geographical location
  • Across cultures

By employing Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, several managerial implications exist;

  • Physiological needs – food and wages
  • Safety needs – a working environment that is safe as well as job security
  • Social needs – opportunity to interact, teamwork
  • Esteem needs – recognition, challenging tasks, status symbols and participation
  • Self-actualization – encourages creativity and innovation

2. Herzberg’s two factor theory encompasses dual factor motivation-hygiene as it portrays two different factors.

  • Hygiene factors: related to the context of the job
  • Motivational factors: related to the content of the job

Research in the 1950 Herzberg’s two factor theory asked people to describe situations in which they found their job exceptionally good or bad.

Research conclusion;

  • Job satisfaction – intrinsic factors. Builds high level of motivation and stimulates superior performance.
  • Dissatisfaction – extrinsic factors. Environmental as well as external factors to the job build a zero level of motivation if maintained.

Herzberg’s two factor theory research evidence also states that the theory fails to;

  • Account for individual differences
  • Link motivation and needs to both satisfaction and performance
  • Consider cultural and professional differences

3. Alderfer’s ERG theory was developed by Clayton Alderfer and his theory collapses Maslow’s five categories into three categories: existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs. ERG theory states that more than one need category may be activated at the same time.

  • Existence needs – the desire for physiological and material well-being
  • Relatedness needs – desire to satisfy interpersonal relationships
  • Growth needs – desire for continued personal growth and development

The ERG theory research evidence is encouraging because it offers a more flexible approach to understanding human needs.

The comparison of content theories is very interesting to analyze as it gives a more precise breakdown of theories put together. Figure 1 below is a depiction of all three theories put together.

Herzberg Maslow Alderfer

Higher order Intrinsic

Needs Motivation

Lower order Extrinsic

Needs Motivation

Process theories are focused on the cognitive process that influences behavior, i.e. Why an individual behaves in a particular manner and specifically deals with ‘how’ to motivate. This process illustrates how people choose behaviors to satisfy their needs.

Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory states that a person’s motivation is a multiplicative function of expectancy, instrumentality and valence.

– Expectancy is the probability assigned by an individual that work effort will be followed by a given level of task accomplishment.

-Instrumentality is the probability assigned by an individual that a given level of achieved task performance will lead to various work outcomes.

-Valence is defined as the value attached by an individual to various work outcomes.

Vroom’s expectancy theory has various implications as regards motivation.

-Motivation is sharply reduced when expectancy, instrumentality or valence approach zero.

-Motivation is high when expectancy and instrumentality are high and valence is strongly positive.

The expectancy theory has been seen to have managerial implications where as managers should be seen to act to maximize expectancies, instrumentalities and valence that support various organizational objectives. Research evidence on the expectancy theory has received substantial empirical support though the multiplier effect is subject to some question. It may also be useful to distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. The expectancy theory does not specify which rewards will motivate particular groups of employees thereby allowing for cross-cultural differences.

Lastly, the Porter Lawler model tries to establish a relationship between the efforts, performance and satisfaction of an individual. The most important variables in this model include effort, performance, rewards and satisfaction.

In today’s digital age, a large number of employees are well educated to some acceptable standard and for that most demand a reasonable salary as well as worthwhile working conditions. As motivation has conformed to some socially acceptable standards of behavior, it has been assumed to be an individual perspective. Every individual is unique because we have different desires, potential, values, goals and attitudes. The most important aspect that most employees are concerned with is their needs and wants.

Today’s managers have a challenge or the opportunity to influence the motivation of their employees through the design of their performance charters. Well outlined performance charters help accomplish two important goals: getting the necessary work done in a timely and competent manner, motivating and challenging employees. Both the organization as well as the employee is a beneficiary of a successfully done performance charter. Performance charter is the specification of the contents, methods and the counter relationship of jobs to fulfill organizational requirements. Mostly, employees are motivated when they are lead to accomplishments of which they can proud whilst recognizing what they have done. Warren Blank (2001) states that, “a motivational environment enables people to feel like winners”.

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Today’s performing managers have the responsibility of designing employee performance charters. If a manager ignores this responsibility, employees will definitely design their own. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that performance charters designed by employees are more likely to be adjusted to their experiences and preferences than to the goals of the organization. It has been said once before that you cannot motivate anyone but you can provide the environment in which they can grow to their full potential.

Management by objectives (MBO), “is a style or system of management that attempts to relate organizational goals to individual performance and development through the involvement of all levels of management”, encompasses time period with feedback as well as goal progression. According to Laurrie J. Mullins, the phrase ‘Management by Objectives’ (MBO) was first introduced by Peter Drucker in 1954 as a strategy for managing people whilst focusing on teamwork based on their ability to complete individual as well as team goals.

MBOs have been seen to be effective as it helps in the alignment of an employee’s efforts around an organization’s collective objectives. The MBO process begins with an organization defining its objectives. This is where the process of strategic planning, goal setting, visioning which generates from its process a set of objectives that the organization should always strive to achieve.

The main principal underlining Management by Objectives is mainly to create empowered employees who will have clarity of the roles and responsibility expected from them, and once the objectives set are understood, it helps in the achievement of personal as well as organizational goals. Some advantages of MBO include specifically ‘clarity’ of goals. With clarity of goals, came the birth of SMART goals concept which Intel

  • Specific – various key factors should be present in the set objectives for them to be effective. This is where the word ‘specific’ is outlined because this simply describes specifically the desired results.
  • Measurable – This simply states that the objectives should be clear as to whether the objectives were met.
  • Achievable – when objectives are set, it should be seen that they are achievable.
  • Realistic – Realistic objectives in its own right is explained as goals or objectives that can be achieved coupled with the tools at an employee’s disposal to achieve the said objectives.
  • Time based – time based simply means a set objective has a time frame attached to it which acts as a guideline.

SMART objectives ensure the delivery of greater results because they clearly and specifically address performance goals rather than broad emotions or behaviors. This concept also requires that objectives are created in collaboration with supervisors so as to be aware of their subordinate’s goals and supportive of their completion as well as ongoing tracking and feedback in the process to reach desired objectives.

As noted in Robbins and judge, “MBO popularity should not be construed to mean that it always works”. This is normally as a result of lack of commitment by management as well as the inability in allocation of rewards based on accomplished objectives.

Management by Objectives therefore, can be as a process of determining exactly what an employee is to do on the job, the tasks, duties, responsibilities, decision-making and the level of authority.

The challenge being faced by managers now is that of employing the new strategies with all its opportunities in ways which not only meet an organizations needs but also the expectations as well as aspirations of the employees.

Denny’s Restaurant review – Leadership Qualities

“If you can become the leader you ought to be on the inside, you will be able to become the person you want on the outside. People will want to follow you, and when that happens you will be able to tackle anything in this world.” John Maxwell

We at Denny’s are constantly striving to identify quality minority and women businesses to support the needs of our company. Because we see diversity as an asset, we will attract and develop talent from the full range of the world’s rich cultural base.’ Denny’s Vision & mission.’

Despite having a clearly stated vision and mission, its management failed to publicly communicate the causes of the discrimination incidences they were amassed with as well as the actions Denny’s management was taking to counter check the reoccurrence of those incidents.

A leader is said to be an individual with suitable knowledge and desirable skills to lead groups to achieve their goals willingly. It is noted in Lasting Leadership that, “the spirit of the people” is a big part of what management experts mean when they talk about corporate culture. The beliefs

and values that guide employee behavior can improve performance by motivating workers toward a common goal and instilling in them a sense of purpose.

There are several indicators, which can help us to outline the strength of our leadership. The most important leadership quality that one needs to exhibit in today’s world is ‘honesty’. A leader should always be honest to his task, his products or services, his people and most importantly to his customers. This quality of leadership should not only exist but also should be seen to exist in by all stakeholders in the organization.

John C. Maxwell in an extract of his book by George Wells states that, “while leaders need to connect publicly with large groups of people, the same thing needs to happen on a one-to-one basis between individuals. Maxwell tells how his staff used to groan when he would say “People

don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” because he quoted the saying so often, but it is true. “You develop credibility with people when you connect with them and show that you genuinely want to help them”.

“Everybody wants to be somebody” If you treat every person you meet as if he or she were the most important person in the world, you’ll communicate that he or she is somebody – to you”. Of course, the respect needs to be genuine at all times otherwise people will rapidly sense that they are being manipulated otherwise.

Denny’s Restaurant management should have been able to realize that customer complaints are company failures and these require immediate attention. Ultimately, spending money in hopes of making money is an organization’s goal but every dollar paid out to offset various customers who were dissatisfied is a signal that an organization must change in some decisive way.

The Vidsoft Triangle

Every little thing we do has positive, negative or neutral impact on team’s motivation. Vidsoft case is one among the few companies that come across case of team based management problems that are faced by employees.

Analysis of Vidsoft

Vidsoft technologies was an internet company designing enterprise software and in June 1999, its quarterly revenues grew from $50M to over $250M year ending 2000 while employee base rose from 500 to 2,000.

Babatunde graduated from Darden graduate of business administration in may 1998. He moved to California to get a job with Vidsoft technologies as senior technical support engineer. Alex Hsu was employed as technical support engineer and reported directly to babatunde. Even though Hsu was not good at team work, he was hired to bring varied culture as well as experience to vidsoft due to his previous record

Babatunde made a public decision of promoting one of his engineers to be manager. Hsu reported some displeasure about his new supervisor Jennah Li as she was deemed to be an inexperienced manager and babatunde was unsure of what decision to make as he was the overall among the two despite having fears about taking sides. Keith Nash as CEO of vidsoft developed a culture that encourages its employees to speak their minds as excellence of employees was followed with promotions. Vidsoft as an organization encouraged teamwork and thus were awarded bonuses for collectively working together.

Keith Nash believed in the culture of promoting from within as a motivational tool for employees until after vidsoft went public because this brought a mass influx of talent as well as wages became high. Vidsoft ended up falling back on its employees in terms of hiring due to costs so as to train them to keep up with the pace. Babatunde initially employed a micro-management style of management where he kept a close eye on all his employees in hopes that his team succeeds but this had to change as employee numbers rose. He then changed his style of management by using set objectives for each team to achieve desired goals.

As babatunde’s responsibilities grew, he saw it necessary to change his reporting structure to reduce the number of people reporting to him so to manage more effectively. This led to him promoting one of his engineers ‘Jennah Li’ to manage one of the product lines. Jennah Li in regards to Hsu was hired for her skills in managing customer relations despite English not being her strength; she was awarded for being the best team player. In vidsoft’s operational history, White was one of the first employers to run the technical support department and set stringent goals to be met by his fellow employees. He took an active role in ensuring that any team under his command did well to meet his standards. James White made a decision to hire babatunde because of his MBA training and trusted him to an extent of giving him all powers to make various decisions affecting the organization with his guidance.


Babatunde at this point should be able to realize that workplace conflicts and unresolved differences can be the cause of negative performance of teams or generally employees. Furthermore, existing physical and psychological differences can escalate if conflict remains unaddressed by vidsoft managers as well as team members.

From the onset, babatunde was aware that Hsu was not a team player and this should have been a starting point of making things clear to him that for him to succeed, he had to work in collaboration with other team members. It was observed that being a team player for Hsu as observed is a road he hasn’t travelled and requires some skill and effort from babatunde. Hsu should be made to realize that teamwork is about assuming positive intent and seeing things from all sides in detail.

Everyone has unique gifts and abilities. Recognizing these and appreciating them can be very useful especially in the case of two people with different skills because they can complement each other very powerfully when they work together. It’s about acknowledging and accepting differences, and exploring alternative solutions that meet everyone’s needs and concerns as it is important to everyone, and all sides ‘Hsu and Ali’ need to be committed to the solution. Both parties should agree that the goal is to fix the problem – not to assign blame, hurt, humiliate, or threaten the one another. Babatunde’s job now is to focus on the issue, present and future, and on solutions available. They should be made aware that the situation must change and identify consequences if it does not.

Keith Nash as CEO of Vidsoft should make things clear from the onset of employment that individuals are different at times as regards to each other’s needs. Sometimes workplace issues are evaded or ignored completely but generally, this is not a useful long term solution as the workplace is never small enough to avoid someone completely. Some guidelines should be put in place to for conflict resolution. Every employee upon being taken under vidsoft should be made aware that;

  • Conflict and grievances are present within the workplace
  • Improved communication within the workplace will avoid conflicts
  • Establish performance expectations and consequences if expectations are not met.

Lastly Vidsoft should have a written resolution and agreement regarding behavior within the workplace which should be adhered by both the employer as well as the employee. Babatunde should provide the leadership that enables his teams to productively work together and as much as possible, work with employees individually and encourage them to address the conflict directly with each other.


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