Motivation is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal oriented behaviors. It is what causes people to act, whether it is to be punctual at work or work out in the gym to keep fit. It involves emotional, biological, cognitive and social forces that activate the behavior. In every usage, the term motivation describes the reason a person does something. The major components of motivation are persistence, activation and intensity. Persistence is the continued effort towards a defined goal although impediments may exist, such as taking additional philosophy courses with the aim of earning a degree even though it requires significant dedication of energy, resources and time. Activation involves the resolution to initiate an action, such as joining a theosophy class (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 2011, p.4). Intensity is realized in the attention and energy that goes in pursuing an objective. Understanding what motivates employees in all works of life are the primary to all people who seek to become successful managers. Herzberg was among the best known theorist of motivation. Known for his ideas on the employment enrichment, rotation, enlargement improvement and job analysis methods, he helped the average managers understand what motivates employees. His theories explained factors that motivates individuals through identifying and satisfying their personal desires, needs and their aims to pursue these desires. According to Herzberg, for sufficient workplace motivation, it is essential for the managers to recognize the active need for the individual employees. His theory showed common base compared to the Maslow’s theory (Malik, & Naeem, 2013, p.8). Maslow’s motivational theory indicated that the lower-order desires like physiological requirements and safety have to be satisfied in order to pursue high level motivators along the lines of self fulfilment. Maslow based his arguments on a hierarchical diagram “Maslow Needs Triangle." According to that need pyramid, after desire is fulfilled it stops being a motivator and the next need on the rank starts to motivate. Meanwhile, Herzberg’s ideas related strongly to modern ethical management and social responsibility. Herzberg taught the ethical management principles that many managers in today’s businesses that lack humanity, still struggle to understand. Consequently the Herzberg’s theory of motivation is just as relevant now as when he suggested them but the implications of fairness, responsibility, compassion and justice in business are now global. Although Herzberg is noted for his hygiene and motivational aspect theory, he was fundamentally concerned with employee’s state at work. Reinforcing his ideas and scholarly teachings he was attempting to bring more humanity and to care into the workplace. His sought primarily to explain how to manage employees properly, for the good of all at work. Herzberg research proved that people will strive to achieve sanitation needs because they are unhappy without them but once they are fulfilled the satisfaction is temporary and it wears off immediately. Then as now, poorly managed companies assume that people are not encouraged by addressing hygiene needs. People are motivated by enabling them to satisfy the factors that Herzberg identified as motivators such as advancement, performance and development, which represents a far profound level of meaning and accomplishment. Examples of Herzberg’s maintenance factors in the workplace are relationship with management, security, working conditions, company vehicles, salary, personal life and relationship with subordinates. His research identified the true motivators as recognition, achievement, responsibility, work itself and advancement. This theory is based upon the deceptively simple idea that motivation can be dichotomized into hygiene and motivation factors and it is referred to as the two need system. These two separate needs are the desire to avoid unlikeness, discomfort and the motivational scale the desire for personal advancement. Deficiency of the elements that encourage employees positively will cause staff to focus on extra hygiene factors that are not related to work. Some managers in African companies emphasize bureaucratic practices with total reliance on rules that employees obey without any form of criticisms. The bureaucratic practices create an impersonal organizational climate that is not favorable to the realization of organizational objectives. These practices force the employees to work like robots and follow rules and regulations without questioning the authority. This impersonal environment isolates workers from the objectives of their jobs. Subsequently, employee’s behavior as a result of this is often directed towards meeting their personal desires instead of pursuing the business objectives. Managers that engage in these rigid practices are mainly interested in exercising total power over their workers than channeling their energies towards organizational objectives and goals through their workers. The manager in these companies has patronizing attitudes towards their workers, criticizing them openly, maintaining a physical and psychological distance from them while using legal and coercive style of control. Employees who work under such conditions are not motivated to do their work. They feel powerless, they become hostile, reluctant and are not able to initiate action for themselves. Despite such conducts on the side of management in both private and public business, managers complain of the low productivity to their workers (Marion, & Gonzales, 2013). They term their workforce as uncommitted, lazy, indifferent to the product of their labor and are frequently absent from work. The African worker is mostly portrayed more comfortable with just having a job of whichever kind than facing the risk of hunger from joblessness. In as much as the workers might be interested in getting employment for the purposes of survival, it is imperative for managers to note that employees are well encouraged to work when they are not perceived as driven only by the financial benefits that they gain from the work. Nonetheless, this requires an understanding of the desires and strategic plans to unlock the full potential of employees in pursuing organizational objectives (Ruiz-Palomino, Sáez-Martínez, & Martínez-Cañas, 2013, p.37). It is the duty of the managers to motivate their workers by making the working environment exciting and challenging. It is a fact that an uninterested employee is not productive. More often, the employees in most African public institutions are accused of being unproductive and unmotivated at the work place. They cannot be lazy, just that their jobs are not designed constantly to challenge their abilities. Cognizant of this, managers should direct the human resources departments to redesign work and responsibilities so that the new challenges are presented to workers on a regular basis. This is job enrichment that is augmenting routine task with special assignments (Lunenburg, 2011, p.12). It is also necessary for managers to assure their employees for commensurate pay, but necessary to emphasize to employees that pay is based on performance and that extra benefits are awarded for the extra effort. Tying individual performance with the commensurate benefits may be one of the ways to encourage commitment and advancing company objectives. Just like some private organizations, the public companies should formulate and adopt policies that encourage performance related emoluments approach in giving financial rewards to their employees. Employees may be assigned specific tasks and be assessed on their performance results. This method encourages staff to strive for the good of the company knowing that they will get the compensation of their efforts. To motivate and satisfy employees, managers should blend the various factors efficiently to meet the needs of their employees. It will even be wise if they strike a balance between the motivating factors and hygiene factors.
Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. B. (2011). The motivation to work (Vol. 1). Transaction Publishers.
Lunenburg, F. C. (2011). Expectancy Theory of Motivation: Motivating by Altering Expectations. International Journal of Management, Business And Administrations Volume, 15.
Malik, M. E., & Naeem, B. (2013). Towards Understanding Controversy on Herzberg Theory of Motivation. World Applied Sciences Journal, 24(8).
Marion, R., & Gonzales, L. D. (2013). Leadership in education: Organizational theory for the practitioner. Waveland Press.
Ruiz-Palomino, P., Sáez-Martínez, F. J., & Martínez-Cañas, R. (2013). Understanding pay satisfaction: effects of supervisor ethical leadership on job motivating potential influence. Journal of business ethics, 118(1), 31-43.