A simple game of bingo, if analysed closely, can be shown to be a tedious task consisting of a repetitive action that occurs after being prompted by a repetitive stimulus. The skill level needed to make that action is low, and the variability in the rules of the game rarely changes. This game is not unlike many of the jobs that can be classified as having low motivational performance. So why do people not only enjoy playing games like bingo, but actually pay money to have the pleasure?
The answer directly points to the motivating factors of monetary rewards, which is the stimulus for the individual"s performance. In this essay I will discuss the theory behind "Motivation" and "Performance" in relation to New Zealand Post and the theoretical ideals that their management should adopt with employees. There are many theories regarding motivation with the most prevalent being the theories of Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg. It is important to understand these theories and their implications to accurately comment on reinforcement theories of motivation.
According to Maslow"s hierarchy of needs, there are five classes: (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) social, (4) esteem, and (5) self-actualisation. (Karen. P. Harlos Lecture Notes) each lower level need must be satisfied before an individual experiences higher level needs. Also, as Hall, Batley, Elkin, Geare, Johnston, Jones, Selsky and Sibbald (1999) found that Maslow hypothesized that as physiological, safety, social, and esteem needs were satisfied, they ceased to motivate, while the self-actualisation needs actually motivate an individual more as they are satisfied (Hall et al. 999).
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Herzberg used this theory as a base to build his motivation-hygiene theory, which ties Maslow"s needs to on the job achievement. The hygiene elements relate to low needs (physiological, safety, and social)(Harlos 2000). For an individual, hygiene conditions include company policy and administration, supervision, relationships with peers and supervisors, work conditions, salary, status, and security. These, according to Herzberg account for 69% of the factors that cause employee dissatisfaction or lack of motivation.
The motivation conditions, which include achievement, the job itself, recognition, responsibilities, and personal growth, accounted for 81% of the factors that contributed to job satisfaction. The hygiene conditions are extrinsic factors (behaviour that is performed for material or social rewards as defined by Harlos 2000) while the motivation conditions are intrinsic factors (behaviour that is performed for its own sake not for material or social rewards as defined by Harlos 2000), and the only way to sustain motivation toward organizational goals is through the achievement of intrinsic outcomes.
Each of these theories has proven to contain ideas consistent with human nature, but each also has its limitations within organizational settings. Because lower order needs are generally satisfied in the workplace today, managers have to deal with how to provide esteem and self-actualisation to their employees, and that can be a vague concept to a manager who demands results immediately.
Also, studies demonstrate that different workers are motivated by different factors be them intrinsic or extrinsic. In relation to New Zealand Post the above theories can be applied to achieve an excellent level of motivation within the organization, however there are potential disadvantages also, where the employees may get over-motivated or become too empowered and thus create divisions within the organization.
In terms of Maslow"s theory, the five levels of needs could be ensured by mangers of NZ Post and overall by the corporate planners of NZ Post by the following; in terms of physiological needs, money is the driving factor here as it provides the a means of achieve food, shelter, warmth and sleep, thus that management role is very limited, as it is controlled to a degree by relevant laws of the country. However those above the management who set wages must be careful not to set wages too low, otherwise workers will become grossly dissatisfied and look elsewhere to achieve their basic needs (Hall et al. 999).
At the safety level NZ Post can provide their employees with agreeable contracts and work benefits such as health care. A work environment that is considered safe as well as adequate ongoing training is another aspect, also assurances of long-term employment (Hall et al. 1999). Social level issues can be resolved by NZ Post by organising teams maybe by regions and encouraging group satisfaction, or perhaps even making sure contact is established by way of team sports days, or annual picnic"s etc, any activity that ensures worker contact (Hall et al. 999).
The next level is perhaps the most crucial in terms of how much NZ Post management is concerned, management may be able to fill esteem needs of the employee by showing recognition of a job well done, which may lead to a internal structure whereby levels of achievement are reached, and as the employee reaches these levels they may gain more responsibility within the organisation (Hall et al. 1999).
Self actualisation needs in terms of what management can do for employees to reach this stage, entirely depend on the individual, and the previous stage, as itself esteem is realised then self actualisation becomes of more importance, and so the employee is self-motivated and the role of the NZ Management is merely one of maintenance (Hall et al. 1999). The above are all very good in theory, but in practice the implications of some of these theories for an individual and for the organisation can be crucial.
NZ Post Management couldn"t be blamed if they felt the offering of money to an employee over and above what the individual needs to satisfy there needs would result in that individual working harder, however what is more likely to happen is the individual isn"t motivated anymore by that factor, and is instead motivated by esteem needs, as cited in Hall et al. 2000) "A satisfied need is not a motivator" The application of the Herzberg two-factor model is in practice much more involved that I first thought, there seems to be a large amount of criticism about Herzberg, which I will attempt to briefly outline, and thus if NZ Post was to adapt this theory it may not provide the right answer to any problems they may be facing.
Firstly there has been research done into the methodology of Herzberg's research, it seems that by asking the questions in the way that they did it was only natural that individuals would attribute the good things about the job to themselves and the bad things to the organisation (as suggested by Vroom 1964 cited in Thomson 1989). So the good things simply became meting challenges, getting promoted and assuming responsibility, whereas bad things were in affect always the fault of the organisation.
Thus it was reasonable for individuals to attribute their lack of performance as being a result of poor organisational structure or communication, or poor wages or bad working conditions, therefore Herzberg"s findings were more a result of the way the questions were asked and not altogether an indication of what motivated individuals at work. The second criticism that arises is whether or not it is possible to clearly "distinguish between motivator and hygiene variables in the way that two factor theory does. " (Thomson 1989 pg 164).
At times factors like the gender of the worker and the structure of the organisation tends to influence whether or not a job characteristics acts as a motivator or a hygiene, thus the distinction is not as clear cut as Herzberg"s theory would suggest. Finally the two-factor theory just doesn"t take into consideration the differences between individuals, its just known that individuals do not always react in a similar fashion, for the same work characteristics which will motivate one individual may not necessary motivate another.
I suggest for NZ Post to be able to maintain the calibre of people they strive for, and to provide tools to develop and grow, the best way to create the desired environment and create the best management would be to adopt Maslow"s theories, as it allows for more of an individual touch to individual situations. McGregor developed an additional theory on human behaviour, motivation, and especially performance in the late 1950"s. His theories X and Y and were based on assumptions made regarding the "system" and individuals.
In short, in Theory X (the most common management practice) management organizes all elements of production, motivates and controls employee behaviour to fit the needs of the organization, and without this intervention, employees would be indifferent to changing organizational needs. McGregor further assumes that managers believe that the average employee is by nature are lazy, dislike work, want security and dislike responsibility (as cited by Harlos 2000). McGregor"s alternative to Theory X was Theory Y.
This theory made the assumptions that management has the responsibility for organizing the elements of production, people are not by nature passive, but become so as a result of experiences, management should enable employees to develop their motivational characteristics, and that it is essential for management to arrange organizational conditions in a manner where employees can achieve their own goals by directing their personal effort towards organizational objectives.
The contrast between X and Y solely relates to who controls human behaviour. Theory X touts external control, and Theory Y promotes a self-fulfilling prophecy and that Theory Y management will breed Theory Y employees and vice-versa. In the application of McGregor"s theories an obvious pitfall is that obviously given the choice management will opt for Theory Y, however the application can result in a very different outcome.
Theory Y places an unrealistic amount of burden on the management, and thus they have to sometimes resort to Theory X as no matter how much nurturing or inspiration managers give to employees, there will always be some who just have no desire to work, and show little or no initiative. So NZ Post may run many seminars to attempt to increase performance, or empower those who management feel need a performance boost, yet inevitably those who have no desire to perform better will just not respond to any of these performance motivators and hence management will have to resort to Theory X management to get these employees to work as they should be.
Another problem may be with those employees who have been part of the organisation for a number of years, and a new fresh inspirational manager comes along who has been to all the courses and seminars and has used all the theories, and yet these employees are so used to old school Theory X management, they will just simply not be able to conform to this new Theory Y management style, as suggested in Hall et al. (1999)
In conclusion I have outlines both Maslow"s and Herzberg"s theories in relation to motivation and McGregor"s theories in relation to performance. I also have suggested ways in which NZ Post could apply these theories to enable them to better fulfil their corporate profile statement. I suggested that perhaps Herzberg"s theory would not be best suited to NZ Post due to the many flaws in the application of his theory and that Maslow"s theory in practice would enable a better fufilment of the corperate profile statement.
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