Motivation: Nature, Importance, Types and Theories of Motivation

What is the meaning of motivation?

Motivation is a reason for actions, willingness, and goals. Motivation is derived from the word ‘motive’, or a need that requires satisfaction. These needs, wants or desires may be acquired through influence of culture, society, lifestyle, or may be generally innate.

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is an important factor that encourages individuals to give their best performance and help them reach enterprise goals. A strong positive motivation will enable increased production of employees but a negative motivation will reduce their performance. A key element in personnel management is motivation.

Definitions of motivation by jurist’s

  1. Berelson and Steiner: – “A motive is an inner state that energizes, activates, or moves and directs or channels behaviour goals.”
  2. Lillis: – “It is the stimulation of any emotion or desire operating upon one’s will and promoting or driving it to action.”
  3. The Encyclopedia of Management: – “Motivation refers to degree of readiness of an organism to pursue some designated goal and implies the determination of the nature and locus of the forces, including the degree of readiness.”
  4. Dubin: – “Motivation is the complex of forces starting and keeping a person at work in an organization.”
  5. Vance: – “Motivation implies any emotion or desire which so conditions one’s will that the individual is properly led into action.”

Nature of motivation

Motivation is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a person. A person lacks some needs, which makes him satisfied that he works more. The need to satisfy the ego motivates a person to do better in general.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the definitions given earlier: –

  • Motivation is an inner feeling that makes a person excited to do more work.
  • A person’s feelings or desires motivate him to perform a particular task.
  • A person has unsatisfying needs that impair his balance.
  • A person proceeds to fulfill his dissatisfied needs by conditioning his energies.
  • A person has passive energies that are activated by channeling in actions.

Types of motivation

When a manager wants to take more work from his subordinates, he has to be motivated to improve his performance. They will either be offered incentives for more work, or they may be in place of rewards, better reports, recognition, etc., or they may instill fear in them or use force to achieve the desired task.

The following are the types of motivation: –

1. Positive motivation: –

  • Positive motivation is based on reward. Workers are offered incentives to achieve desired goals. Incentives may be in the form of higher salaries, promotions, recognition of work, etc. Employees are offered incentives and seek to improve their performance voluntarily.
  • According to Peter Drucker, genuine and positive motivators are responsible for placement, high levels of performance, sufficient information for self-control, and worker involvement as a responsible citizen in the plant community. Positive motivation comes from the support of employees and they feel happy.

2. Negative motivation: –

  • Negative or fear is based on motivation or fear. Fear causes employees to act a certain way. In case, they do not act accordingly then they can be punished with demotion or take-off. Fear acts as a pushing mechanism. Employees do not cooperate voluntarily; instead they want to avoid punishment.
  • Although employees work to a level where punishment is avoided, this type of motivation leads to anger and frustration. This type of motivation usually becomes the cause of industrial unrest. Despite the drawbacks of negative motivation, this method is commonly used to achieve desired results. There can hardly be any management who has not used negative motivation at one time or another.

Theories of motivation

1. Maslow’s need hierarchy theory

It is probably safe to say that the most famous theory of motivation is Maslow’s requirement hierarchy theory. Maslow’s theory is based on human needs. Primarily based on their clinical experience, they categorized all human needs from lower to higher order.

In short, he believed that once the level of need given is satisfied, it does not work to motivate man. Then, the next higher level need to be activated to motivate the man. Maslow identified five levels in its need hierarchy

These are now discussed one by one below: –

1. Physiological needs: –

  • These needs are basic to human life and, therefore, include food, clothing, shelter, air, water and life requirements. These are related to the existence and maintenance of human life.
  • They have a tremendous impact on human behavior. These needs must be met at least partially before high levels of needs emerge. Once physical needs are met, they do not motivate the man.

2. Safety needs: –

  • After satisfying the physical requirements, the next needs to be felt are called the need for safety and security. These require expression in desires such as economic security and protection from material threats.
  • To meet these needs more money is required and hence, the person is motivated to do more work. Like physical needs, they become inactive after being satisfied.

3. Social needs: –

  • Man is a social animal. Therefore, he is interested in social interaction, companionship, belonging, etc.
  • It is because of this socialization and belonging that individuals like to work in groups and especially older people go to work.

4. Esteem needs: –

  • These refer to self-esteem and self-respect. They include requirements that indicate confidence, achievement, ability, knowledge, and independence.
  • Meeting the requirements of respect creates confidence, strength and the ability to be useful in the organization. However, inability to meet these needs creates feelings of inferiority, weakness and helplessness.

5. Self-Actualization needs: –

  • This level represents the culmination of all lower, intermediate and higher needs of humans. In other words, the last step under the needs hierarchy model is self-realization. It refers to fulfillment.
  • The term self-realization was coined by Kurt Goldstein and it means that what is probably good becomes real. In fact, self-realization is the motivation to change one’s perception of oneself in reality.

Criticism of this theory: –

  • The needs may or may not follow a certain hierarchical order. So to say, needs can be overlapping in the hierarchy. For example, even if the need for security is not satisfied, social need can emerge.
  • The requirement priority model may not be applicable to all locations at all times.
  • Research suggests that human behavior at any given time is guided by a multiplicity of behaviors. Therefore, Maslow’s proposal that one satisfied at a time also has questionable validity.
  • In the case of some people, the level of motivation may be permanently reduced. For example, a person suffering from chronic unemployment can remain satisfied for the rest of his life, if only he can get enough food.

Despite this, Maslow’s theory of hierarchy has received widespread recognition, especially among practicing managers.

2. Herzberg’s motivation hygiene theory: –

Psychologist Friedrich Herzberg carried on Maslow’s work and introduced a new motivation theory known as Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene (Two-Factor) theory. He conducted a widely reported motivational study on 200 accountants and engineers employed by firms in and around western Pennsylvania.

He asked these people to describe two important events in their jobs: –

  • When did you feel good about your job and
  • When did you feel exceptionally bad about your job? They used the critical event method of obtaining data.

When analyzed, responses were found to be quite interesting and quite consistent. Respondents when they felt good about their jobs were significantly different from the answers given when they felt bad. Reported good feelings are usually associated with job satisfaction, while bad feelings accompany job dissatisfaction.

Herzberg labeled the job-satisfying motivators, and he called the job unsatisfactory with hygiene or maintenance factors. Taken together, the motivators and hygiene factors are known as Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation.

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According to Herzberg, dissatisfaction is not the opposite of satisfaction. The underlying reason, they say, is that removing dissatisfied characteristics from a job does not necessarily make the job satisfactory. He believes in the existence of a double continuum.

According to Herzberg, today’s motivators are the hygiene of tomorrow because the latter influences the behavior of individuals when they receive them. Accordingly, one hygiene may be the motivator of another.

Herzberg’s model is labeled with the following criticism: –

  • When things go well, people usually start taking credit for it themselves. They blame failure on the external environment.
  • The theory basically explains job satisfaction, not motivation.
  • Even job satisfaction is not measured on an aggregate basis. It is unlikely that a person may dislike part of their job, yet they consider the work acceptable.
  • This theory ignores situational variables to motivate the individual.

Due to its ubiquitous nature, pay usually appears as a motivator as well as clean.

Despite criticism, Herzberg’s ‘two-factor motivation theory’ has been widely read and some managers seem ineligible with his recommendations. The main use of their recommendations is in the planning and control of the work of employees.

3. McGregor’s participation theory: (X and Y theory)

Douglas McGregor formulated two different views of humans based on worker’s participation. The first basically negative, the label of Theory X, and the second basically positive, the enabling of Theory Y.

Theory X is based on the following assumptions: –

  • People are indolent by nature. That is, they like to do as little work as possible.
  • People lack ambition, dislike responsibility, and prefer to be guided by others.
  • People are naturally self-centered and indifferent to organizational needs and goals.
  • People are usually naive and not very sharp and bright.

On the contrary, theory Y assumes that: –

  • They want to assume responsibility.
  • They want their organization to succeed.
  • People are able to direct their own behavior.
  • They require achievement.

4. Urwick’s theory Z:

Following the propositions of theories X and Y by McGregor, three theorists Urvik, Rangnekar, and Auchi accepted the third theory as the Z theory.

The two propositions in Urwicks’s theory are that: –

  • Everyone should know the organizational goals properly and the amount of contribution to these goals through their efforts.
  • Everyone should also know that the relationship of organizational goals is positively satisfying their needs.

In Urwik’s view, both people above are willing to behave positively to meet both organizational and personal goals.

However, Ouchi’s Theory Z has attracted a lot of attention from management practitioners as well as researchers. It should be noted that Z does not stand for anything, only the last alphabet in the English language.

Theory Z is based on the following points: –

  • Strong bond between organization and employees
  • Employee participation and participation
  • No formal organization structure
  • Human Resource Development

Ouchi’s Theory Z represents the adoption of Japanese management practices (group decision making, social cohesion, job security, overall concern for employees, etc.) by American companies. In India, Maruti-Suzuki, Hero-Honda etc. apply the post-up of Principle Z.

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