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Jansar Akhtar


Motivation is an internal energy that drives a person to do something to achieve something. It is very important in workplaces as it play a key role in the effective performance of the employees. In industry, managers play a significant role in employee motivation. They use different motivation techniques to improve productivity, thereby promoting cooperation between employees and employers. In education, instructors also use motivation techniques in order to motivate the students to learn. It is essential to increase student motivation as it can make a student more competent. Also, motivation encourages self confidence and problem-solving skills.

Various studies have been conducted to understand the different motives that drive a person to success. Motives are categorized into three: homeostatic motives, non-homeostatic motives, and learned or social motives. Almost all the motives belong to one or more of these three groups. Motives such as thirst, hunger, respiration, and excretion are included in homeostatic motives. Non-homeostatic motives include required activities such as seeking shelter and curiosity about the environment. Curiosity, a desire for novelty, power, achievement, social affiliation, and approval are considered as learned motives or social motives.

Motivation is based on three aspects such as arousal of behavior (intensity), the direction of behavior, and persistence of behavior. Arousal of behavior involves what activates a person to do a certain work. For instance, good grades activate students to study. Intensity also means to how hard a person tries to do a work. How hard a person is going to do a certain task depends upon the factor that activates to do the work. Direction of behavior is concerned with a specific goal. For instance, aim of any person is to be away from pain and gain pleasure. Here we can say that goal to be away from pain is the direction for motivation. Persistence of behavior is concerned with how the behavior is sustained or how long a person tries to do a work motivated.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy theory

The basis of Maslow's motivation theory is that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower factors need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (biological and physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs." As long as we are motivated to satisfy these cravings, we are moving towards growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy, while preventing gratification makes us sick or act evilly.

As a result, for adequate workplace motivation, it is important that leadership understands the active needs active for individual employee motivation. In this manner, Maslow's model indicates that fundamental, lower-order needs like safety and physiological requirements have to be satisfied in order to pursue higher-level motivators along the lines of self-fulfillment. As depicted in the following hierarchical diagram, sometimes called 'Maslow's Needs Pyramid' or 'Maslow's Needs Triangle', after a need is satisfied it stops acting as a motivator and the next need one rank higher starts to motivate.

Biological and Physiological needs

Physiological needs are those required to sustain life, such as:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Sleep

According to this theory, if these fundamental needs are not satisfied then one will surely be motivated to satisfy them. Higher needs such as social needs and esteem are not recognized until one satisfies the needs basic to existence.

Safety needs

Once physiological needs are met, one's attention turns to safety and security in order to be free from the threat of physical and emotional harm. Such needs might be fulfilled by:

  • Living in a safe area
  • Medical insurance
  • Job security
  • Financial reserves

According to the Maslow hierarchy, if a person feels threatened, other needs on the pyramid will not receive attention until that need has been resolved.



Social needs

Once a person has met the lower level physiological and safety needs, higher level motivators awaken. The first level of higher level needs are social needs. Social needs are those related to interaction with others and may include:

  • Friendship
  • Belonging to a group
  • Giving and receiving love

Esteem needs

After a person feels that they "belong", the urge to attain a degree of importance emerges. Esteem needs can be categorized as external motivators and internal motivators.

Internally motivating esteem needs are those such as self-esteem, accomplishment, and self respect.  External esteem needs are those such as reputation and recognition.

Some examples of esteem needs are:

  • Recognition (external motivator) 
  • Attention (external motivator) 
  • Social Status (external motivator) 
  • Accomplishment (internal motivator) 
  • Self-respect (internal motivator)

Self actualization

Self-actualization is the summit of Maslow's motivation theory. It is about the quest of reaching one's full potential as a person. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.

Self-actualized people tend to have motivators such as:

·         Truth

·         Justice

·         Wisdom

·         Meaning

Self-actualized persons have frequent occurrences of peak experiences, which are energized moments of profound happiness and harmony. According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self-actualization.

Theory X

In this theory, which has been proven counter-effective in most modern practice, management assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they inherently dislike work. As a result of this, management believes that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. A hierarchical structure is needed with narrow span of control at each and every level. According to this theory, employees will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid responsibility whenever they can. According to Michael J. Papa (Ph.D., Temple University; M.A., Central Michigan University; B.A., St. John’s University), if the organizational goals are to be met, theory X managers rely heavily on threat and coercion to gain their employee's compliance. Beliefs of this theory lead to mistrust, highly restrictive supervision, and a punitive atmosphere. The Theory X manager tends to believe that everything must end in blaming someone. He or she thinks all prospective employees are only out for themselves. Usually these managers feel the sole purpose of the employee's interest in the job is money. They will blame the person first in most situations, without questioning whether it may be the system, policy, or lack of training that deserves the blame. A Theory X manager believes that his or her employees do not really want to work, that they would rather avoid responsibility and that it is the manager's job to structure the work and energize the employee. One major flaw of this management style is it is much more likely to cause Diseconomies of Scale in large businesses.


Theory Y

In this theory, management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. Work is as natural as play for employees. They possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations. Given the proper conditions, theory Y managers believe that employees will learn to seek out and accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed. A Theory Y manager believes that, given the right conditions, most people will want to do well at work. They believe that the satisfaction of doing a good job is a strong motivation. Many people interpret Theory Y as a positive set of beliefs about workers. A close reading of The Human Side of Enterprise reveals that McGregor simply argues for managers to be open to a more positive view of workers and the possibilities that this creates. He thinks that Theory Y managers are more likely than Theory X managers to develop the climate of trust with employees that are required for human resource development. It's here through human resource development that is a crucial aspect of any organization. This would include managers communicating openly with subordinates, minimizing the difference between superior-subordinate relationships, creating a comfortable environment in which subordinates can develop and use their abilities. This climate would include the sharing of decision making so that subordinates have say in decisions that influence them. This theory is a positive view to the employees, meaning that the employer is under a lot less pressure than someone who is influenced by a theory X management style.

Two-Factor Theory (Frederic Herzberg’s)

To better understand employee attitudes and motivation, Frederick Herzberg performed studies to determine which factors in an employee's work environment caused satisfaction or dissatisfaction. He published his findings in the 1959 book The Motivation to Work.

The studies included interviews in which employees where asked what pleased and displeased them about their work. Herzberg found that the factors causing job satisfaction (and presumably motivation) were different from those causing job dissatisfaction. He developed the motivation-hygiene theory to explain these results. He called the satisfiers motivators and the dissatisfiers hygiene factors, using the term "hygiene" in the sense that they are considered maintenance factors that are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction but that by themselves do not provide satisfaction.

The following table presents the hygiene factors and motivating factors.


Without Hygiene Factors, a person is dissatisfied and not motivated. But with it the person is not dissatisfied and has limited motivation. Without Motivating Factors, a person is neither satisfied nor motivated but with it he/she is both satisfied and motivated. Herzberg reasoned that because the factors causing satisfaction are different from those causing dissatisfaction, the two feelings cannot simply be treated as opposites of one another. The opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction, but rather, no satisfaction. Similarly, the opposite of dissatisfaction is no dissatisfaction. Herzberg said that there are two distinct human needs portrayed. First, there are physiological needs that can be fulfilled by money, for example, to purchase food and shelter. Second, there is the psychological need to achieve and grow, and this need is fulfilled by activities that cause one to grow.

From the above table of results, one observes that the factors that determine whether there is dissatisfaction or no dissatisfaction are not part of the work itself, but rather, are external factors. Herzberg often referred to these hygiene factors as "KITA" factors, where KITA is an acronym for Kick In The Ass, the process of providing incentives or a threat of punishment to cause someone to do something. Herzberg argues that these provide only short-run success because the motivator factors that determine whether there is satisfaction or no satisfaction are intrinsic to the job itself, and do not result from carrot and stick incentives.

Category: My articles | Added by: Jansar (2011-02-08)
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