Introduction: Motivational Theories
Motivational Theories can be defined as the internal drive or force that makes an individual work towards the desired goals. It is that thing in an individual that keeps him going and helps him achieve all that he aspires for. Motivation, per se, refers to the processes that drive a person and this are generally related to human psychology. At the same time, a manager’s job is to get the job done from his sub-ordinates. This will include directing the group’s efforts in a controlled manner to achieve the stated objectives of the organization (F. Luthans, 1992).
Motivation can be categorized as Intrinsic and Extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to the motivation that accrues to the individual to do work to get satisfaction and enjoyment by itself. Extrinsic motivation is when someone other than the individual himself, tries to influence him to carry out certain activity or to act in a certain manner. These are the two spectrums of motivation, one being internal and the other being external.
At a certain point of time in history, there was a very less emphasis on people management. But, with the passage of time, a lot of emphasis is put on how managers deal with their employees and how they get their work done (D. R. Conner, 1992)
An organization looks at diverting the behavior of its employees towards in a certain direction and this activity is undertaken by persuaders, who are basically the managers (Robert Hershey, 1993). The persuader uses communications, both verbal and behavioral tools to influence the behavior of the employees. This emphasizes that the manager needs to have a good conceptual knowledge of the various theories of motivation. This also shows an interesting aspect of management where managers are expected to involve in behavioral dynamics while dealing with employees.
Various research studies have shown that it is very crucial for anyone to have a fundamental knowledge of the concepts as it helps in better application in the practical world. Learning by doing or learning under a given situation exposes individual to a better and richer experience. Richard Lynch (2006) describes how a management development program based on situated learning theory resulted in change for individuals, organizational culture and performance. It showed how new understandings about learning in the workplace and in higher education points towards the need to take account of the context in which learners utilize their knowledge and skills.
Different types of Motivational Theories
The great researchers in the past have laid down various theories of motivation which act as the basic foundation for any individual to understand the dynamics of motivation. Innumerable studies have proved the presence of motivational factors in getting the job accomplished in an organization. And to get the job done, a manager has to understand and apply various motivational techniques, which may be any one or a combination of the following or any other philosophy:
- Abraham Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory
- Frederick Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory
- Clayton Alderfer’s ERG Theory
- David McCelland’s Achievement Motivation Theory
- Incentive Theory of Motivation
- Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory
- Edward Deci’s Self Determination Theory
- Equity Theory of Motivation
All the above Motivational Theories have been widely accepted and they have proved to improve the productivity of employees at the organization. One nice thing about the theories is that all the theories are very easy to understand. Although the above mentioned theories are simple to read and understand; but they are definitely not simple to implement. Implementation issues crop in and restrict the path to carry out this activity.
Manager’s Knowledge of the Motivational Theories
As we all are very well aware of the fact that in-order to build a building, the basic requirement is to have a good solid foundation. Similarly, to be able to practice a better business management, a manager has to have a solid conceptual knowledge of the domain area and the various facets of types of psychology. If we extend this to people management, a manager is required to have a sound knowledge of the theories of motivation.
Basically, if we look at the role of a manager in motivating his employees, it can be seen that the managers use the various theories of motivation in getting their work done (R. Hershey, 1985).
The manager’s work which revolves round getting the work done from the employees can be in any functional area of the organization. The basic job specification for any managerial position entails the conceptual and practical knowledge of the domain area he is assigned to. A manager not only needs to do the work himself but also delegates the job to his immediate sub-ordinates. This requires people management skills and most importantly, the application of various theories of motivation as per the requirements of the situation.
The basic reason why knowledge becomes a pre-requisite to better and efficient management is that a manager has is very often in the line of fire in the decision making process (Y. Engestrom, 1994). In that situation, a decision cannot be taken unless one is well versed with the theoretical approach. The previous exposure to such situations, if any, will act as enabler to the process.
The applicability of a particular motivation theory in an organization depends upon the culture, the structure, the situation and the needs and demographic profile of the employees. If a particular motivation theory has been successful in one organization, it may or may not be successful at other place and other situation. The managers do a check on the psychological standing of the employees to be able to see their requirements, understand their needs and look for the tools and techniques that might enable the employees to work in a desired manner and to deliver results.
Why it becomes a Need?
The process of motivating employees is a psychological process and it goes through various stages. The most crucial aspect of this process is to understand the needs and requirements of the employees and their psychological thought process. For this, a manager has to understand the nuances of the above step. By undertaking the activity, the manager will come to know of the needs and the thought process of his employees. This brings him to a step where he will have to use the best possible tools and techniques of motivation. This is the place where one needs to have a sound knowledge of the theories of motivation. The manager will have to analyse the situation and accordingly based on the pros and cons of each theory of motivation, he will have to devise a strategy for motivating his employees. A good insight into each theory will help in reaching to a best possible strategy.
Although theoretical knowledge is important, but we have many instances of people across the globe that have been highly successful in managing people without having any formal structured knowledge of the subject (E. Oakley and D. Krug, 1994). It is preferable to have a theoretical grasp of the subjects, but it is not mandatory to have them. We can remember a lot of great leaders in the past who have been able to manage people brilliantly, but they were not any management graduates with specialized knowledge in managing people. Also, if we look back a couple of centuries back, we can see that the kings and lords managed their people but they were not literate. It can be concluded that domain knowledge of motivation theories can definitely help in better understanding of the situation but it cannot be termed as a pre-requisite to better management. It is preferable not a mandate.
The use and practicality of theoretical knowledge has always been under the scanner of industry people around the globe. The industry people always highlight upon one thing; the theoretical knowledge is not considered as long as one is able to deliver. If a manager does not have any formal management education but still he is able to deliver at his ends, the top management will be happy and contended. But if a manager is not able to deliver, then his fundamental knowledge of the subject will be in the line of fire. This proves a point that the corporate world is more focused on the results and not the concepts. This makes the subject knowledge a preferable faculty but not a compulsory faculty.
A deeper analysis into the topic has helped to reach to a conclusion that the subject knowledge of the theories of motivation definitely acts as an enabler in the process of motivating the employees.
- Hershey, Robert (1993). A practitioner’s view of ‘motivation’. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 8 No. 3
- Luthans, F. (1992). Organizational Behavior. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY
- Hershey, R. (1985). Organizational Morale. Kings Point Press, New York
- Lynch, Richard et.al. (2006). Context development learning: its value and impact for workplace education. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
- Conner, D.R. (1992). Managing at the Speed of Change. Villard, New York, NY.
- Oakley, E. and Krug, D. (1994), Enlightened Leadership. Fireside, New York, NY.
- Engestrom, Y. (1994), Training for Change: New Approach to Instruction and Learning in Working Life. International Labour Office, Geneva.
- Rausch, Erwin and Stark, Ernest. 1998. Strengthening management education and development. Journal of Workplace Learning Volume 10 · Number 6/7. MCB University Press