Generally motivation is a psychological process that refers to issues that drive an individual into action. Motivation can also be defined as the process of triggering, sustaining and guiding behavior to a specific purpose. All human behavior is usually as a result of either an external (the environment) or internal (physiological) causal agent (commonly referred to as stimulus) (Stajkovic and Luthans 34). In a business environment, the terminology “motivation” is very complex because different employees are motivated differently and by wide range factors. While some employees are easily motivated by monetary means others are motivated by recognition of their efforts and good work and others are motivated by feeling that they are part of a successful team. Essentially motivating employees is inspiring or encouraging employees to work harder and smarter with an aim to improve productivity, efficiency and profitability of the organization. Motivating employees has to do with making them feel happy and contented at work (Bruce and Pepitone 12).
The level of employees’ motivation is a key ingredient in the success of any organization as it has a great impact on team productivity, individual performance and organizational culture. Motivating employees has a vital role in making them work efficiently, easily and happily which in turn makes it easy for an organization to recruit a good team of employees while maintaining a low level of employees’ turnover. Therefore, motivation is a very important managerial tool and therefore for sustainable production, an enterprise must pay close attention to employees’ needs. It has been proven that the implementation of sound motivational programs increase performance by a whopping 20% to 40% (Perry, Mesch and Paarlberg 65). The purpose of the article is to ascertain how motivation can be used to maximize performance at the work place. The paper will therefore look at the different motivation models, their merits and demerits and recommend the motivation methods managers can use especially in the civil service (government agencies).
2.0 Concepts of Motivation
It is vital to mention that the concepts of motivation in the business or organizational set up are borrowed from the psychological approach of motivation thus it is crucial to briefly consider the psychological approach of motivation albeit in brief. The term motive refers to a psychological urge or stimulus that plays a role in inciting or pushing an individual into action. Motives are very potent tools of studying human behavior. For every action there is an underlying motive. In the organizational setup there is always an underlying motive as to why the employees underperform. Often employees underperform because they are unhappy with the terms and conditions of their job (which could be the remuneration or/ and other benefits). The assumption that employees are only demoralized, and therefore underperform, because of the monetary terms of the employment is largely misleading. Employees can be demoralized by the feelings that they are not appreciated for their efforts; that their contribution is not valued; that they are not considered in making the very decisions that they must implement and that they are ill-treated. A manager must therefore take into account these factors that lead to employees’ dissatisfaction in order to be able to effectively motivate employees. In other words at the very center of the process of motivating employees is identifying the needs of the employees and addressing them in the best way to the employees’ satisfaction (Bruce and Pepitone 44).
Another key concept in motivating employees is the interaction between the organization’s and the individual employees’ goals. Good management practice calls for the participation in setting the companies goals. In this process the management recognizes that employees’ individual goals contribute to the overall goal of the organization. This gives the employees the feeling that they are valued and so are their opinions and contribution. This is a key component of employees’ motivation because they become motivated to work towards meeting the organization’s goals because in so doing they feel that they are meeting their own goals. In addition working towards a particular goal, which they participated in setting, is in itself a motivation to employees in contrast to working haphazardly. Therefore setting of goals gives employees a sense of direction as they work and as they meet a goal they feel motivated to work harder in order to accomplish more even as they are appreciated for their contribution to meeting of the goals. Participation of employees in setting the organization’s goals also gives the employees a sense of ownership and belonging. As they participate in setting the goals the employees feel obliged to implement the goals since the goals emanated from them (Bruce and Pepitone 66).
The concept of incentive is also important in the process of employees’ motivation. Incentives are the predetermined benefits or gains that accrue to an employee for undertaking a task or performing better. In a world and a time where we all ask “what is in it for me”, incentives form a fundamental factor in motivating employees. Incentives can be material or otherwise with the former being mainly monetary gain. Non material incentives are viewed in terms of either the subsequent satisfaction expected or the attractiveness of the various goals. The level of attractiveness of a goal directly affects the effort put in achieving the given goal; the more appealing the goal is the, the more one invests in guaranteeing its fulfillment. In terms of subsequent satisfaction expected, employees are more motivated to invest their energies and efforts in ventures that will give them more satisfaction. The satisfaction could be derived from a mere appreciation from the manager, recognition or promotion for the effort (Bruce and Pepitone 78).
3.0 Types of Motivation
3.1 Intrinsic Motivation
This can be defined as motivation due to a cumulative of inherent factors. In this type of motivation, employees are driven by factors either within them or within the task to perform. It can be defined as. These factors are mainly associated with either employee’s interest or the pleasantness of the task at hand. There’s no need for external stimuli for the expected performance on the employees’ part to be achieved. In this case, the employee usually has fun performing the given task. This is because the results of the task at hand are his or her preferred reward. Research has proven that intrinsic motivation is closely linked to contentment in life. Most employees who are motivated in this particular way are at peace with their achievement so far in life. Hence, the performance of the task is independent of the external reward (if any is being offered).
Intrinsic motivation usually based on two factors: self-efficacy and personal value. Self-efficacy refers to the beliefs held by an individual about his/her competence. These beliefs are cultivated by educational levels, status in life, experiences, technical expertise among many other factors. These factors give the employee confidence in his/her ability to perform the task at hand thus he/she is motivated to perform better because the task is not difficult for them to handle. The employee is also motivated because he/she feels that his/her expertise, skills or knowledge are useful to the organization and thus valued by the management. It must be noted that self-efficacy develops over time and is matured by consistency in working in a particular way. Personal values refer to the enviable qualities in an individual that act as his or her steering principles. These personal values give purpose to an individual’s life. Employees that embrace accountability, integrity and hard work tend to perform better because they are motivated by these virtues and not material incentives. Suffice to say that the role of the manager in increasing the intrinsic motivation is minimal because it is more dependent on the individual’s personal values and self-efficacy. However the manager can improve intrinsic motivation by consistently training employees, appreciating and recognizing their efforts, encouraging good organizational culture (based on specified core values) and making the work place fun (Stajkovic and Luthans 23).
Intrinsic motivation has several advantages. Firstly it has been found to produce extraordinary results in tackling challenges related to the thus generally guarantee efficiency at the work place. Secondly it reduces the need for supervision as the employees are self-motivated hence they work without complaining or need for coercion. The employees push themselves to produce results because the results bring them personal satisfaction. Thirdly maximum production is achieved at minimum costs. This is so because, the costs that would have been spent in providing incentives for the employees, are non-existent. Finally due to the connection between the employee and the task, in most cases, it has been found that this detracts the employee from the process involved in performing the task. This is specifically advantageous if the process involved is long and grueling in nature.
On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is disadvantageous if the task at hand relies heavily on minor details in the process. This is especially so because intrinsic motivation may be based on the employees experience or knowledge thus the employee may just work mechanically paying no attention to details. Also since intrinsic motivation relies greatly on the outcome of the task, negative results will impact negatively on the employee. In case the desired results are not obtained, the employee’s motivation greatly depreciates which will definitely affect the performance in future tasks.
3.2 Extrinsic Motivation
In this type of motivation, the main stimulus to perform is external. This implies that, action is motivated by a promissory of some kind or an incentive which is external to the task at hand. Hence, in this case, the task is only a means to a pre-stated reward (Stajkovic and Luthans 25). This means that an employee cannot be rewarded if the task is not done to the stipulated standards. The determinant of performance in extrinsic motivation is therefore external and has very little to do with the task itself and interpersonal skills. The reward in question can either be in monetary terms and asset-based, or in kind (involves change in status such as a promotion or change in terms of employment to more favorable ones). Clearly, extrinsic motivation is initiated by the employer and its success is mainly dependent in how attractive and attainable the reward is. This type of motivation also promotes competitiveness amongst the employees since it is based on the winner-takes-all principle.
The following types of incentive schemes can be used to reward the employees whenever they meet the stipulated targets:
Quota scheme: This scheme awards the employee extra pay for any form of performance that exceeds the previous one or that of rival organizations. This scheme has the greatest impact on performance.
Piece rate scheme: this is the second best reward scheme; in this case pay is stratified according the amount work done. In practice, quota and piece rate schemes are used together for maximum performance. Instead of employees merely exceeding their past performance, they are motivated to do more because their efforts are adequately compensated.
Tournament schemes: in this case, two employees doing the same job are assessed and the better one is subsequently rewarded. It is the third most effective reward scheme.
Flat rate scheme: in this case, the employee is paid the same amount of salary regardless of their performance. It is the least encouraging reward scheme. It in fact breeds s laziness at the work place (Bruce and Pepitone 98).
The basis of rewards for a job well done provides the employee with a way to meet his psychological needs. This is because this type of motivation mostly appeals to employees with a low psychological wellbeing (in terms of dissatisfaction). However, effectiveness of his type of motivation is highly dependent on the employer’s conditions and reward scheme. It has been shown that monetary reward only increases performance by 23% while social recognition improves performance by 17%. However, both monetary rewards and social recognition used together increase productivity by 43%. Therefore, before an employer resorts to this kind of motivation, they should conduct research to ascertain what reward scheme work best for his/her employees. It is possible to apply this type motivation both at the individual and team level unlike intrinsic motivation that is individual oriented.
In this type of motivation, because of the external reward, the employee feels recognized for effort input. This instills some sense of ownership and belonging since it implies that the profits trickle down to the employee. As a result of this, the employee is more motivated to work because they also have a stake in the organization. Due to the fact that this kind of motivation is externally controlled, more attention is directed on the task at hand. This is so because the access of reward is subject to success of the task hence minimal distraction on the employee’s end. Competition, which is a key aspect of extrinsic motivation, can be said to encourage aggressiveness and determination at the work place. This pushes employees to go beyond their limits to perform. Because of the reward, the probability of failure in the task is greatly minimized; the reward acts as an incentive to succeed. In addition to this, due to the fact that control is by the employer, a business owner can charter a suitable path for their enterprise to attain maximum productivity in a cost effective way.
On the other hand, since motivation is external, this results to a reduction in intrinsic motivation. The employees tend to be less passionate about their work because they are mainly in it for the some form of gain so that lack of the external reward results in reduced productivity at the work place. Competition which is strongly encouraged by this form of motivation can get out of hand and subsequently create animosity. This is the case due to the domination of certain employees leading to resentment from their colleagues and hence a strained work atmosphere. In addition to that, failure by the employer to honor their agreements results in conflicts at the work place. It is very easy for employers to intimidate their employees after they have earned the reward fair and square. This in turn de-motivates the employees. Some employers also have been known to set high standards that cannot be met by their employees just to exploit their staff. The employer expects a lot from the employees with little incentive on their part. Consistent failure by the employee to meet the set targets results in the employee’s frustration and apathy. With time, this frustration adversely affects the employees’ performance. Finally, the reward scheme might not be sustainable economically depending on the stage of growth of the business. At the initial and expansion stages, it is not practical for the employer to reward the employee for doing what is expected of him.
4.0 Recommendations on motivating employees in Government agencies can do to
It is important to note that managers in government agencies have limited powers in terms of offering incentives to employees to motivate them. This is because managers in these agencies are not direct employers but merely representatives of the actual employer thus they have limited authority to spend money on motivation. Thus they should apply some conventional nonmonetary methods to motivate the employees.
One of the oldest known motivation methods is recognition and applauding the employee for their good performance. Managers should appreciate the employees efforts thus motivate them to do better next time. Recognition makes employees feel valued and that their efforts are valued which in turn gives them a sense of belonging. The managers should take personal note of the employees’ efforts which calls for interest on what the employees are doing. It is important to praise employees for any achievements.
Another important way of motivating employees is by improving their skills through training, coaching and mentorship. Identifying the potential of the employees as well as the training needs and formulating training policies and programs is an effective method of motivating employees. The training could also be tired to promotion policies which would motivate employees to take advantage of the training programs available. Training also enhances the efficiency and productivity of the employees as well as improves their self-efficacy.
Managers in the government agencies can also motivate employees by creating career paths that provides opportunities for growth in the agencies. Managers should also develop good succession policies that provides for promotion from within such that before looking for talent outside the agency they should look within. In tandem with this the manager can use appropriate job titles and leadership roles to motivate employees. While job titles may be used to recognize employees’ achievement and growth in the agency leadership roles may be used to recognize employees’ ability to lead hence identifies people to be promoted in the future. Leadership roles could be as minor as leading meetings but could have a significant impact on the self-esteem of the employees. Rotating the leadership roles could be used to foster team work.
Managers in the government agencies can also motivate the employees by using events and activities that make the working environment more fun. This form motivation is based on the need to break the office monotony which has been known to cause demoralization of employees as well as causation of stress. These events and activities include social gatherings, casual dress day, contests that earn the employees time off, seminars outside the office, cookie/pizza days, contests and retreats. These events not only break the monotony but facilitate bonding hence are useful for team building. In addition to these managers should develop stress management systems. During the mentioned events and in other forums employees should be encouraged to express their grievances without fear of victimization.
In conclusion motivating employees is vital in increasing an organizational productivity, profitability and efficiency. Motivating employees can prove tricky because different employees are motivated by different factors. The process of motivating employees borrows heavily from the concepts of psychological motivation. The vital motivation concepts used in motivating employees include understanding and addressing employees’ needs; involving employees in goal setting and use of incentives. Managers can use intrinsic or/and extrinsic motivation to motivate the employees to perform better. In government agencies, where managers’ authority to spend on motivation is limited, managers can motivate employees by recognition, making the work place fun, training, leadership roles, titles and promotions.
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Stajkovic, A.D and F Luthans. " Behavioral management and task performance in organizations: conceptual background, meta-analysis, and test of alternative models." Personnel Psychology (2003).
Worman, Dave. 20 ways to motivate your employees without raising their pay. 2010. 13 October 2011