Last Updated 11 Oct 2020

Motivation Theories in Work Environment

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The nowadays work environment is in rapidly changes, competitive market and an organization’s productivity has to follow the same pace. The job of a manager in the workplace is to get things done through employees. To do this the manager should be able to motivate employees. As we all know, motivated employees are more productive, creative and are essential for any organization to survive and succeed. Knowing that, were created motivational theories, which helped us to understand and to put in practice in our days. Theories as Maslow’s hierarchy needs, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Vroom’s theory and Maccoby’s social type theory.

Back in the 50’s, Abraham Maslow was the first to put a motivational theory in a street language, or an easy way for anybody to understand how important is motivation on our lives. Maslow studied the behavior of an individual when require certain basics for life. This deprivation will drive this individual to conquer ways to stop it. Our biological needs are very strong, without them we certainly die and we cannot make them stop, however we have ways to satisfy them. Once one need is satisfied we aspire to the next one.

This is an ongoing activity in order to obtain perfection through self-development. However in a workplace environment this theory is not very precise as different individuals have different needs and different goals. A manager needs to identify his employee’s needs to apply it precisely. After analyzing over 200 workers, Frederick Herzberg realized that these individuals had mainly two basic needs for a motivational accomplishment. The needs to avoid unpleasantness, or if they are satisfied by environmental factors, (knowing as hygiene factors) and the needs for personal growth.

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The Hygiene factors minimize dissatisfaction; in a work environment we can classify them as a company policy, salary, interpersonal relations or job security. These environmental factors will bring satisfaction but it wont last for long on the employees as for example a change on the company policy or a change on the administration could cause dissatisfaction on the employees. The human needs, classified by Herzberg as the motivational, will include the recognition at work and responsibilities that this position brings to the worker.

It comes from the manager to know how to balance these two factors to have the desire outcome. Unsatisfactory hygiene factors can act as de-motivators, but if satisfactory, their motivational effect is limited. The psychology of motivation is quite complex and Herzberg has explained several myths about motivators such as: shorter working weeks, communication and human relations training. Victor Vroom took the expectancy theories path and work out a formula, which in my opinion is a good and easy way of understanding an employee motivation.

Vroom’s theory is an extension of the 'contingency approach'. The leadership style should fit to the particular situation and to the particular group. In some cases it appears best for the manager to decide and in others the group will come with a consensus. He suggests that motivation is a product of two factors: The strength for the outcome and the expectation for the result. As an example given on the book Business Essentials (Organizations and Behavior), “if the employee has a great desire for outcome (promotion) but does not have high expectations that behavior will secure it for him.

He will still not be highly motivated. ” Sometimes it gets difficult to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic. Because of that Maccoby’s theory explores the skills and the dominant values of each person. For a manager, knowing how to identify these characteristics is essential to get a greater understanding on how to motivate through Maccoby’s theory. Maccoby divided into five different types: Experts, helper, defender, innovator and self-developer. For this theory, understanding the values of each individual will determinate the needs and easier to motivate the employees.

There is no simple answer or right theory to motivate people. After going through all these theories I learned that money alone is not enough. To me, I believe in the contingency approach thus I would use Vroom’s theory, although human resources it’s an important point and motivation has to fit to each individual. In some situations Maccoby’s theory would be the most assertive. From all, leadership is critical and knowing how to identify the task, the environment and its needs will determinate the success of your management.

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Motivation Theories in Work Environment. (2016, Oct 03). Retrieved from

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