Motivation theories
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Motivation theories

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  • 1. Vroom’s Expectancy theoryThe expectancy theory of motivation is suggested by Victor Vroom. Unlike Maslow andHerzberg, Vroom does not concentrate on needs, but rather focuses on outcomes.Whereas Maslow and Herzberg look at the relationship between internal needs and theresulting effort expended to fulfil them, Vroom separates effort (which arises frommotivation), performance, and outcomes.Vroom, hypothesizes that in order for a person to be motivated that effort, performanceand motivation must be linked. He proposes three variables to account for this, which hecalls Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality.Expectancy is the belief that increased effort will lead to increased performance i.e. if Iwork harder then this will be better. This is affected by such things as: 1. Having the right resources available (e.g. raw materials, time) 2. Having the right skills to do the job 3. Having the necessary support to get the job done (e.g. supervisor support, or correct information on the job)Instrumentality is the belief that if you perform well that a valued outcome will bereceived i.e. if I do a good job, there is something in it for me. This is affected by suchthings as: 1. Clear understanding of the relationship between performance and outcomes – e.g. the rules of the reward ‘game’ 2. Trust in the people who will take the decisions on who gets what outcome 3. Transparency of the process that decides who gets what outcomeValence is the importance that the individual places upon the expected outcome. Forexample, if I am mainly motivated by money, I might not value offers of additional timeoff.
  • 2. Having examined these links, the idea is that the individual then changes their level ofeffort according to the value they place on the outcomes they receive from the processand on their perception of the strength of the links between effort and outcome.So, if I perceive that any one of these is true: 1. My increased effort will not increase my performance 2. My increased performance will not increase my rewards 3. I don’t value the rewards on offer...then Vroom’s expectancy theory suggests that this individual will not be motivated.This means that even if an organisation achieves two out of three, that employees wouldstill not be motivated, all three are required for positive motivation.Here there is also a useful link to the Equity theory of motivation: namely that people willalso compare outcomes for themselves with others. Equity theory suggests that peoplewill alter the level of effort they put in to make it fair compared to others according totheir perceptions. So if we got the same raise this year, but I think you put in a lot lesseffort, this theory suggests that I would scale back the effort I put in.Crucially, Expectancy theory works on perceptions – so even if an employer thinks theyhave provided everything appropriate for motivation, and even if this works with mostpeople in that organisation it doesn’t mean that someone won’t perceive that it doesn’twork for them.At first glance this theory would seem most applicable to a traditional-attitude worksituation where how motivated the employee is depends on whether they want the rewardon offer for doing a good job and whether they believe more effort will lead to thatreward.However, it could equally apply to any situation where someone does something becausethey expect a certain outcome. For example, I recycle paper because I think its importantto conserve resources and take a stand on environmental issues (valence); I think that themore effort I put into recycling the more paper I will recycle (expectancy); and I thinkthat the more paper I recycle then less resources will be used (instrumentality)Thus, this theory of motivation is not about self-interest in rewards but about theassociations people make towards expected outcomes and the contribution they feel theycan make towards those outcomes.Other theories, do not allow for the same degree of individuality between people. Thismodel takes into account individual perceptions and thus personal histories, allowing arichness of response not obvious in Maslow or McClelland, who assume that people areessentially all the same.
  • 3. Expectancy theory could also be overlaid over another theory (e.g. Maslow). Maslowcould be used to describe which outcomes people are motivated by and Vroom todescribe whether they will act based upon their experience and expectations.ERG Theory of Motivation - Clayton P. AlderferIn 1969, Clayton Alderfers revision of Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, called theERG Theory appeared in Psychological Review in an article entitled "An Empirical Testof a New Theory of Human Need."After the original formulation of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, studies had shown thatthe middle levels of Maslows hierarchy overlap. Alderfer addressed this issue byreducing the number of levels to three. The letters ERG represent these three levels ofneeds:Existence refers to our concern with basic material existence motivators.Relatedness refers to the motivation we have for maintaining interpersonal relationships.Growth refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development.GrowthSelf-ActualizationExternal Esteem NeedsRelatednessInternal Esteem NeedsSocial NeedsExistenceSafety NeedsPhysiological NeedsLike Maslows model, the ERG motivation is hierarchical, and creates a pyramid ortriangle appearance. Existence needs motivate at a more fundamental level thanrelatedness needs, which, in turn supercedes growth needs.Adams Equity TheoryBalancing Employee Inputs and OutputsWhy Use the Tool?Adams’ Equity Theory calls for a fair balance to be struck between an employee’s inputs(hard work, skill level, tolerance, enthusiasm, etc.) and an employee’s outputs (salary,benefits, intangibles such as recognition, etc.). According to the theory, finding this fairbalance serves to ensure a strong and productive relationship is achieved with theemployee, with the overall result being contented, motivated employees.
  • 4. The Adams’ Equity Theory is named for John Stacey Adams, a workplace and behavioralpsychologist, who developed this job motivation theory in 1963.Much like many of the more prevalent theories of motivation (theories by MaslowsHierarchy of Needs, Herzbergs Theory, etc.), the Adams’ Equity Theory acknowledgesthat subtle and variable factors affect an employee’s assessment and perception of theirrelationship with their work and their employer.The theory is built-on the belief that employees become de-motivated, both in relation totheir job and their employer, if they feel as though their inputs are greater than theoutputs. Employees can be expected to respond to this is different ways, including de-motivation (generally to the extent the employee perceives the disparity between theinputs and the outputs exist), reduced effort, becoming disgruntled, or, in more extremecases, perhaps even disruptive.How to Apply the Adams Equity Theory:It is important to also consider the Adams’ Equity Theory factors when striving toimprove an employees job satisfaction, motivation level, etc., and what can be done topromote higher levels of each.To do this, consider the balance or imbalance that currently exists between youremployees inputs and outputs, as follows:Inputs typically include: • Effort • Loyalty • Hard Work • Commitment • Skill • Ability • Adaptability • Flexibility • Tolerance • Determination • Enthusiasm • Trust in superiors • Support of colleagues • Personal sacrifice, etc.Outputs typically include: • Financial rewards (salary, benefits, perks, etc.) • Intangibles that typically include:
  • 5. • Recognition • Reputation • Responsibility • Sense of Achievement • Praise • Stimulus • Sense of Advancement/Growth • Job SecurityWhile obviously many of these points cant be quantified and perfectly compared, thetheory argues that managers should seek to find a fair balance between the inputs that anemployee gives, and the outputs received.And according to the theory, employees should be content where they perceive these tobe in balance.Key Points:Much like the five levels of needs determined by Maslow and the two factors ofmotivation as classified by Herzberg (intrinsic and extrinsic), the Adams’ Equity Theoryof motivation states that positive outcomes and high levels of motivation can be expectedonly when employees perceive their treatment to be fair. An employee’s perception ofthis may include many factors (see outputs above). The idea behind Adams’ EquityTheory is to strike a healthy balance here, with outputs on one side of the scale; inputs onthe other - both weighing in a way that seems reasonably equal. Apart from this anemployee feel unhappy not only when they receive less than what they deserve but alsowhen they receive more than what they deserve as then they start wondering as towhether others are treated similarly i.e. they also get more than what they deserve.Equity occurs whenPerson’s outcomes = other’s outcomesPerson’s input = other’s inputsLockes Goal Setting TheoryGoal setting is a powerful way of motivating people. The value of goal setting is so wellrecognized that entire management systems, like Management by Objectives, have goalsetting basics incorporated within them.In fact, goal setting theory is generally accepted as among the most valid and usefulmotivation theories in industrial and organizational psychology, human resourcemanagement, and organizational behavior.Many of us have learned - from bosses, seminars, and business articles - to set SMARTgoals. It seems natural to assume that by setting a goal thats Specific, Measurable,Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, we will be well on our way to accomplishing it.
  • 6. Dr Edwin Lockes pioneering research on goal setting and motivation in the late 1960sstates that employees are motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback. Locke wenton to say that working toward a goal provided a major source of motivation to actuallyreach the goal - which, in turn, improved performance.Lockes research showed that there was a relationship between how difficult and specifica goal was and peoples performance of a task. He found that specific and difficult goalsled to better task performance than vague or easy goals.Telling someone to "Try hard" or "Do your best" is less effective than "Try to get morethan 80% correct" or "Concentrate on beating your best time." Likewise, having a goalthats too easy is not a motivating force. Hard goals are more motivating than easy goals,because its much more of an accomplishment to achieve something that you have towork for.Five Principles of Goal SettingTo motivate, goals must take into consideration the degree to which each of the followingexists:Clarity.Challenge.Commitment.Feedback.Task complexity.Lets look at each of these in detail.ClarityClear goals are measurable, unambiguous, and behavioral. When a goal is clear andspecific, with a definite time set for completion, there is less misunderstanding aboutwhat behaviors will be rewarded. You know whats expected, and you can use thespecific result as a source of motivation. When a goal is vague - or when its expressed asa general instruction, like "Take initiative" - it has limited motivational value.To improve your or your teams performance, set clear goals that use specific andmeasurable standards. "Reduce job turnover by 15%" or "Respond to employeesuggestions within 48 hours" are examples of clear goals.When you use the SMART acronym to help you set goals, you ensure the clarity of thegoal by making it Specific, Measurable and Time-bound.ChallengeOne of the most important characteristics of goals is the level of challenge. People areoften motivated by achievement, and theyll judge a goal based on the significance of theanticipated accomplishment. When you know that what you do will be well received,theres a natural motivation to do a good job.
  • 7. Rewards typically increase for more difficult goals. If you believe youll be wellcompensated or otherwise rewarded for achieving a challenging goal, that will boost yourenthusiasm and your drive to get it done.Setting SMART goals that are Relevant links closely to the rewards given for achievingchallenging goals. Relevant goals will further the aims of your organization, and these arethe kinds of goals that most employers will be happy to reward.When setting goals, make each goal a challenge. If an assignment is easy and not viewedas very important - and if you or your employee doesnt expect the accomplishment to besignificant - then the effort may not be impressive.Note:Its important to strike an appropriate balance between a challenging goal and a realisticgoal. Setting a goal that youll fail to achieve is possibly more de-motivating than settinga goal thats too easy. The need for success and achievement is strong, therefore peopleare best motivated by challenging, but realistic, goals. Ensuring that goals are Achievableor Attainable is one of the elements of SMART.CommitmentGoals must be understood and agreed upon if they are to be effective. Employees aremore likely to "buy into" a goal if they feel they were part of creating that goal. Thenotion of participative management rests on this idea of involving employees in settinggoals and making decisions.One version of SMART - for use when you are working with someone else to set theirgoals - has A and R stand for Agreed and Realistic instead of Attainable and Relevant.Agreed goals lead to commitment.This doesnt mean that every goal has to be negotiated with and approved by employees.It does mean that goals should be consistent and in line with previous expectations andorganizational concerns. As long as the employee believes the goal is consistent with thegoals of the company, and believes the person assigning the goal is credible, then thecommitment should be there.Interestingly, goal commitment and difficulty often work together. The harder the goal,the more commitment is required. If you have an easy goal, you dont need a lot ofmotivation to get it done. When youre working on a difficult assignment, you will likelyencounter challenges that require a deeper source of inspiration and incentive.As you use goal setting in your workplace, make an appropriate effort to include peoplein their own goal setting. Encourage employees to develop their own goals, and keepthem informed about whats happening elsewhere in the organization. This way, they canbe sure that their goals are consistent with the overall vision and purpose that thecompany seeks.
  • 8. FeedbackIn addition to selecting the right type of goal, an effective goal program must also includefeedback. Feedback provides opportunities to clarify expectations, adjust goal difficulty,and gain recognition. Its important to provide benchmark opportunities or targets, soindividuals can determine for themselves how theyre doing.These regular progress reports, which measure specific success along the way, areparticularly important where its going to take a long time to reach a goal. In these cases,break down the goals into smaller chunks, and link feedback to these intermediatemilestones.SMART goals are Measurable, and this ensures that clear feedback is possible.With all your goal setting efforts, make sure that you build in time for providing formalfeedback. Certainly, informal check-ins are important, and they provide a means ofgiving regular encouragement and recognition. However, taking the time to sit down anddiscuss goal performance is a necessary factor in long-term performance improvement.See our article on Delegation for more on this.Task ComplexityThe last factor in goal setting theory introduces two more requirements for success. Forgoals or assignments that are highly complex, take special care to ensure that the workdoesnt become too overwhelming.People who work in complicated and demanding roles probably have a high level ofmotivation already. However, they can often push themselves too hard if measures arentbuilt into the goal expectations to account for the complexity of the task. Its thereforeimportant to do the following:Give the person sufficient time to meet the goal or improve performance.Provide enough time for the person to practice or learn what is expected and required forsuccess.The whole point of goal setting is to facilitate success. Therefore, you want to make surethat the conditions surrounding the goals dont frustrate or inhibit people fromaccomplishing their objectives. This reinforces the "Attainable" part of SMART.David McClelland - Human Motivation TheoryOne of McClelland’s most well known theories is that human motivation, is dominatedby three needs. McClellands theory, sometimes referred to as the three need theory or asthe learned needs theory, categorises the needs as follows;
  • 9. the need for achievement ( N-Ach),the need for power ( N-Pow) andthe need for affiliation ( N-Affil).The importance of each of these needs will vary from one person to another. If you candetermine the importance of each of these needs to an individual, it will help you decidehow to influence that individual.McClelland asserted that a person’s needs are influenced by their cultural backgroundand life experiences. He also asserted that the majority of these needs can be classified asthe needs for affiliation, achievement or power. A person’s motivation and effectivenesscan be increased through an environment, which provides them with their ideal mix ofeach of the three needs (N-Ach, N-Pow and/or N-Affil).The need for affiliation (N-Affil);This is the need for friendly relationships and human interaction. There is a need “to feelliked” and “accepted” by others. A person with a high need for affiliation is likely to be ateam player and thrive in a customer services environment. They will perform best in aco-operative environment. McClelland said that a strong need for affiliation will interferewith a manager’s objectivity. The “need to be liked” will affect a manager’s decisions,prompting them to make decisions to increase their popularity rather than furthering theinterests of the organisation.The need for power (N-Pow);This is the need to lead others and make an impact.This need can exhibit itself in two ways. The first which is the need for personal powermay be viewed as undesirable as the person simply needs to feel that they have “powerover others”. They don’t have to be effective or further the objectives of their employer.The second type of “need for power” is the need for institutional power. People with theneed for institutional power; want to direct the efforts of their team, to further theobjectives of their organisation.The need for achievement (N-Ach);This is the need to achieve, excel and succeed. A person with this type of need, will setgoals that are challenging but realistic. The goals have to be challenging so that theperson can feel a sense of achievement. However the goals also have to be realistic as theperson believes that when a goal is unrealistic, its achievement is dependant on chancerather than personal skill or contribution. This type of person prefers to work alone or
  • 10. with other high achievers. They do not need praise or recognition, achievement of thetask is their reward.A person with a “need for achievement” (N-Ach) needs regular job-related feedback sothat they can review their progress and achievement. Feedback includes advancement inthe person’s position in the organisation. Salary scale will also be viewed as measure ofprogress. The amount of salary is not about increasing wealth for a person with a highneed for achievement. Instead this type of person is focusing on how their level of salarysymbolises their progress and achievement.McClelland believed that people with a strong need for achievement (N-Ach), make thebest leaders for a variety of reasons including setting goals, reviewing progress andcontinuously looking at how things can be done better. However they may “expect toomuch” from their team as they believe that others have the same “need for achievement”which is often not the case.Herzberg’s motivators and hygiene factorsHerzberg’s collection of information revealed that intrinsic factors are related to jobsatisfaction, whilst extrinsic factors created job dissatisfaction. In other words whenpeople felt satisfied and happy at work the conditions present were directly affecting theirinner feelings and self esteem. Yet dissatisfaction was created by the job environmentpeople worked in and the interactions within that environment. Click on the followinglink for a detailed list of each of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors. (Herberg)This theory can be related to McClellands three need theory. N-Arch people areinterested in intrinsic job factors such as achievement, advancement and growth. Whilstextrinsic factors are important to N-Affil individuals, extrinsic factors such as personallife and relationship with supervisor, peers and subordinates.Mc Clelland’s theoryMcClelland proposes that each of us have three fundamental needs that exist in differentbalances. These affect both how we are motivated and how we attempt to motivateothers.n-ach: Need for achievement:Seeks achievement, attainment of goals and advancement. Strong need for feedback,sense of accomplishment and progressn-affil: Need for affiliation:Need for friendships, interaction and to be liked.n-pow: Need for powerAuthority motivated needs to influence and make an impact. Strong need to lead and toincrease personal status and prestige.
  • 11. It seems that some people have a very strong need to achieve, whilst the majority ofpeople are not motivated in this way. McClelland was so interested by this that hefocussed his research on the need to achieve.In a famous experiment, people were asked to throw rings over a peg (like at a fair). Thedistance that one should throw from was not specified, and as a result most people threwtheir rings from random distances. However, people with a high need for achievementchose their location carefully so that they stood a realistic chance of getting the ring onthe peg, but that it was not too easy. They set an achievable goal that would stretch them.This seems to be the nub of the whole thing - achievement motivated people set goalswhere they feel that they can influence the outcome and ensure that those goals arebalanced between challenge and realism.An achievement motivated person sees the achievement of a goal as the reward; it ismore satisfying than praise or monetary reward. Money is seen as good only in that it isseen as a measure of their achievement. This idea of feedback is essential to theachievement motivated person: the feedback needs to be informative to enable them touse it to improve their achievement. In addition there is an element of competition - it isimportant for the individual to be able to compare their achievement against others.The key differentiator between this group and others is that achievement motivatedpeople frequently spend time thinking how things could be improved.Rather than being the preserve of a privileged few with these characteristic, Mclellandbelieved that these characteristics could be taught and developed training programmes.