What is your motivation orientation?

The main purpose of this post is to introduce a quiz that can helps you to identify your motivation orientation. But before taking this quiz, it would be helpful to understand the theory behind it, which is the Acquired-Needs  Theory (or sometimes is also called the Three Needs Theory).

The Acquired-Needs Theory says that all individuals possess a combination of 3 types of needs:
  • Need for Power: the need to influence and lead others, and control one’s environment.
  • Need for Achievement: the need to be successful; to accomplish goals, excel, and strive continually to do things better.
  • Need for Affiliation: the need for friendly and close interpersonal relationships; to be liked and accepted by others.

Acquired Needs Theory

Among these 3 types of needs, the dominant ones will drive the individual’s behavior. As a result, managers should understand the dominant needs of their employees to be able to motivate them. While people who have a high need for achievement may respond to goals, those with a high need for power may attempt to gain influence over those they work with, and individuals high in their need for affiliation may be motivated to gain the approval of their peers and supervisors. Among the need-based theories of motivation, this theory is the one that has received the greatest amount of support.

This quiz can help you to identify your dominant need, or in other words, your motivation orientation according to the Acquired-Needs Theory. Please click here to do the quiz.

Reference:
Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Building trust between team members

Building trust between team members is very essential for the development of a high performance team. I myself saw a lot of cases where teams performed poorly or even became dysfunctional due to the absence of trust between team members, despite the high capability of each individual in the team. The purpose of this post is to suggest several techniques that team members or managers can use to build up trust within the team.

In order to build trust, it is also helpful to be able to recognize the behaviors that may show an absence of trust between team members:
  • Team members usually try to show that they are better than the others. They rarely, or never, share about their weaknesses.
  • Team members avoid to admit the mistakes that they make.
  • Team members hesitate to offer help outside their own areas of responsibility or provide constructive feedback to the others.
  • Team members doubt other’s skills and commitment.
  • Team members avoid meetings or spending time to work on an issue together, thinking that is a waste of time.
  • Team members jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them.
  • Team members are reluctant, or refuse, to share performance goals with others.

No trust

There are many articles writing about how to build trust within the team but in my opinion, the tips suggested in those articles are too general to be easily applied. Therefore, using my own experience, I suggest several detailed ways that can be used to build trust between team members:
  • Encourage team lunch or one-on-one lunch for team members to communicate and know more about the others. Such events will help team members to share about themselves and learn from the others in many topics: background, family, education, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses. From there they can realize their similarities and the capabilities of the others, which can increase the likeliness of trust, as discussed in Hurley’s model for trust. From my experience, one-on-one lunch is more effective than team lunch for this purpose. People tend to share more about themselves when they are one on one with another, but not in a big group.
  • Setup funny quizzes that reveal team members’ individual information (such as hobbies, skills, education, past experience, strengths and weaknesses…) and have rewards for the winner. This encourages team members to know more about each other and people tend to trust others who they know more about.
  • Organize team building activities that encourage trust and collaboration between team members such as:
    • Paintball: Make sure that the trusters and trustees are in the same team
    • Rock climbing: One team member relay for another and vice versa. Make sure that team members know how to relay and follow all safety instructions.
  • Schedule days when team members work together in pair to know more about others’ strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, working in pair also help team members to experience the feeling of “achieving something together”, which make it easier to build trust between them.

Rock climbing

So those are very detailed suggestions that team members and managers can practically apply to build trust within the team. However, those suggestions alone may not be very helpful if the organization culture does not value trust. Therefore, it is also very essential to create an organizational culture where everyone “walks the talk” and has high commitment to their promises. Where trust is achieved and valued, high performance teams are born.

A model for trust

One of the key things to build an effective organization is building trust among members of the organization. People can only cooperate and collaborate together effectively when they trust each other. However, it is not always easy for managers to understand or to predict whether trust between two certain people can be achieved or not. Fortunately, there is a model for trust, developed by Hurley (2006), which can help to predict whether an individual will decide to trust or distrust another in a given situation. The purpose of this post is to present that model for trust theoretically. More practical discussion about how to build trust will be discussed in later posts.

Trust

According to Hurley (2006), there are 10 factors that can help to predict whether trust between two parties can be achieved or not. The first 3 factors are related to the one who decide whether to trust or not (who is called the “truster”) and the other 7 factors concern about the situation and the relationship between the two parties. Here are Hurley’s factors:
  • Risk tolerance: The more risk tolerant a person is, the more likely he trusts others. In other words, it is easier for risk takers to trust others.
  • Level of adjustment: People who are more well-adjusted trust others more quickly than people who are poorly-adjusted.
  • Relative power: If the truster has more power than the trustee, he is more likely to trust because he can punish the trustee in case his trust is violated.
  • Security: If the consequence of the violation of trust is not very scary to the truster, it is easier for him to trust.
  • Number of similarities: The more similarities that people have together, the more likely they can trust the others.
  • Alignment of interests: People whose interests are aligned are more likely to achieve trust. On the contrary, people with conflict of interests are less likely to trust the others.
  • Benevolent concern: People who demonstrate benevolent concern, who can sacrifice their benefits or put themselves at risk for the others, are more likely to gain trust from the others.
  • Capability: People only trust those who are capable to fulfill the expectation of the trust. This factor is even more important than similarities, aligned interest or benevolent concern. You can not trust a person if he does not have the capability, no matter how many similarities, aligned interests and benevolent concern that he has.
  • Predictability and integrity: A trustee whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy. In other words, people who “walk the talk” are more likely to be trusted.
  • Level of communication: The more effective the communication between the two parties is, the more likely that trust can be achieved. In my opinion, effective communication should be the first factor to be considered when trying to build up trust.

The following picture summarize Hurley’s model for trust:

Model for trust

More practical suggestions for building trust among team members will be discuss in later post.

Reference:
Hurley, A.F., 2006. The Decision to Trust. Harvard Business Review, September 2006, pp.55-62

Characteristics of an employee that a startup should hire

“Employees are the most valuable assets of a company”. This statement is correct for most organizations and it is extremely correct for startups, in which no other assets such as branding and products exist yet. As a result, hiring the “right” people is very essential for the success of a startup, especially where one employee can represent 20% or even 50% of the company’s workforce.

startup hiring

After working for two startup companies and reading articles about startups’ recruitment, I come up with a list of characteristics of an employee that a startup should hire:
  • Top talented: Startup is all about innovation, creativity and differentiation and you really need the top talented team members to achieve those. You will need what is so-called the “A players” because “A players” will attract other “A players” whereas “B players” only hire “C players” due to the fact that “B players” are less confident in their talent and they prefer working with people who are not better than them.
  • Flexible and agile: Startup is all about trial and error to figure out the business model that works. As a result, your team members need to be flexible and agile enough to make the changes or at least to adapt to changes. In a startup company, people should be willing to pivot, even when that means they need to throw away all the existing progress.
  • “Can do” attitude: Startup is usually about new products, new technologies, new solutions; something that have never been done before. As a result, it is very important that the team members must have a “can do” attitude, the willingness to try new thing and do not afraid of failure. In my opinion, young employees are usually better than senior employees in terms of this “can do” attitude. From my experience, senior employees, who have more knowledge and experience, usually use their knowledge and experience to prove the impossibles the ideas, not the other way around.
  • “Get shit done” attitude: For a startup, it is more important to get the task done than to follow certain process to achieve it. As a result, team members should be willing to do whatever it is necessary to achieve the result. It is quite normal in a startup that: I don’t care how you gonna do it, I just need to get it done.
  • Risk-taker: Startup is all about opportunities, and of course, about risks. Working in a startup company is a risk itself. Team members should be willing to take risks to seize the opportunities.
  • Self-motivated: It is very important for a team member to be self-motivated in a startup company due to the fact that others (including the founder) will not have enough time, and also responsibility, to motivate him. Self-motivation can be achieved if team members have strong belief in the vision of the company. From my experience, employees without self-motivation can not wait until the startup succeeds.
  • Multi-roles player: Members of a startup should be able to play multiple roles at the same time due to the fact that startup usually has just a few people in the early date. In the first startup company that I worked for, I played the roles of a Developer, a Project Manager and a HR Manager, all at the same time.

Some of the characteristics in this list are good for every type of organization, not just the startup ones, such as top talented and self-motivated. Others may only be appropriate for startups such as risk-taker and multi-roles player. One more important thing is that it is essential for the employees to fit into the startup culture, which is driven by the strategic plan.

What define a startup?

1. Introduction
The term “startup” is becoming more and more popular, mostly in the IT industry. Most of the IT news are now writing about startups: people found it, analyze it, work for it and invest into it. You can find IT companies that call themselves “startup” everywhere, from such developed countries as the US to developing ones such as Vietnam. I myself have worked for two companies that call themselves startups, however, I still don’t have a clear definition of a startup. So what criteria define a startup? Is it the age of the company? Or the size? Or something else? I saw companies that have more than 100 employees and still call themselves startup. I saw companies that are more than 3 years old and still call themselves startup. So it seems to me that there is no “unified” definition for a startup.

Startup

The purpose of this post is to present a list of all possible criteria that may define a startup. My personal opinions will also be give in the conclusion.

2. Criteria that define a startup
A quick literature review shows that different people have different criteria for startup.    This list suggests all possible criteria that people may use to define a startup:
  • Age: Is less than 1 year old
  • Size:  Have less than 100 employees
  • Revenue: Generate a revenue less than X amount of money
  • Office: Do not have actual satellite office (office that have more than just a representative)
  • Focus: Focus on learning, discovery and crazy growth instead of profit
  • Growth: Is designed to grow fast
  • Output: Expected output is a new product, a new technology or a solution for existing challenges in the market
  • Members: Majority of the members (more than 50%) are entrepreneurs
  • Culture: Have a “startup culture”
  • Business model: Is designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model

3. Conclusion
According to my literature review, the criteria about “business model” is the most widely accepted one, followed by the “growth” criteria. I myself totally agree to this definition: A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. So as long as you are still figuring out how to make money, you are still a startup, despite of the age and size of your company. I also strongly disagree to the “culture” criteria: A company is a startup because it has “startup culture”. In my opinion, it should be the other way around: Because you are a startup company, you must have a startup organizational culture so that your culture is aligned with your strategic plan.

More discussion about Reinforcement Theory

Among all the theories of motivation, Reinforcement Theory is the one that I believe in the most, mainly because its idea is totally common sense to me: behaviors that lead to good consequences will be repeated and vice versa, behaviors that have negative outcomes will be discontinued. I kinds of grew up with this theory since it was applied by my parents regularly and I am pretty sure that the theory is also applied by most of the parents. As a result, it is very easy to understand the reason why this theory is very common sense to most of us.

Despite the common sense and simplicity of Reinforcement Theory, it is very interesting that the theory is not always be applied in organizations. It is not rare to see the following scenarios:
  • People go above and beyond the call of duty or exceed the expectations but their contributions are ignored or sometimes, their actions are even criticized.
  • People with bad behaviors receive no punishments.
  • Sometimes, people with bad behaviors may even be promoted so that they will be transferred to another location and become someone else’s problem.
  • People are rewarded for the wrong kind of behavior. For example, a company whose strategic plan focuses on quality only rewards its employees for meeting the deadline regardless of the amount of defects contained in the release.

Among these scenarios, I myself usually see the second one (people with bad behaviors receive no punishments) mainly because the managers are afraid of the reaction the person will give when confronted or because the company culture discourages punishments.

According to Reinforcement Theory, employee behavior can be modified using the following methods:
  • Positive Reinforcement: Possible behavior followed by positive consequences. It is important that the positive consequences should follow the positive behavior immediately so that the employee can see the link between them.
  • Negative Reinforcement: Positive behavior followed by removal of negative consequences. This method is used to increase the desired behavior.
  • Extinction: Negative behavior is followed by removal of positive consequences. This method decreases the frequency of negative behaviors and helps to avoid the situation when negative behaviors are demonstrated because they are being inadvertently rewarded.
  • Punishment: Negative behavior is followed by negative consequences. This method is used to decrease the frequency of undesirable behaviors.

In my opinion, the “Positive reinforcement” and “Punishment” methods are more effective because they show a clear relationship between the behaviors and the consequences as well as send a strong message to the employees. Some companies, such as the one that I am currently working for, discourage the usage of punishments. However, in my opinion, punishments should be as necessary as rewards to ensure appropriate behaviors in an organization. We just need to be more careful when defining and applying punishments.

There is a systematic application of Reinforcement Theory to modify employee behaviors in organization. This model is called the Organizational Behavior Modification which consists of five stages:

Organizational Behavior Modification

Let’s say that we want to eliminate the bad behavior of being late to meetings. Here is how we apply the five steps of the Organizational Behavior Modification model:
  • Step 1: Identify the behavior that need to modified, which is being late to meetings.
  • Step 2: Measure the baseline level: The percentage of meetings that a specific employee is late to.
  • Step 3: Analyze the reasons and outcomes: Why is this employee late for meeting? What are the consequences of this lateness?
  • Step 4: Intervene: Remove the positive outcomes (can not be accessed for the title employee of the month) or punish the employee (cut off bonus).
  • Step 5: Evaluate and maintain: The behavior of being late to meetings is measured periodically and maintained.

Reference
Bauer, T. and Erdogan, Berrin., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

More discussion about Equity Theory

1. Introduction
Equity Theory says that an employee will compare his job’s inputs and outcomes with those of relevant others and then attempts to correct any inequity. It should be noted that equity perceptions is considered as a result of a subjective process and hence, for the same situation, some people may think that it is fair while others may think that it is unfair.

2. Reactions to inequity
Potential reactions that an employee may have toward inequity have already been discussed in the “Theories of motivation” post. The following table gives more detailed examples for those reactions:

Reactions Example
Distort perceptions Changing one’s thinking to believe that the referent actually is more skilled than previously thought
Increase referent’s inputs Encouraging the referent to work harder
Reduce own input Deliberately putting forth less effort at work. Reducing the quality of one’s work
Increase own outcomes Negotiating a raise for oneself or using unethical ways of increasing rewards such as stealing from the company
Change referent Comparing oneself to someone who is worse off
Leave the situation Quitting one’s job
Seek legal action Suing the company or filing a complaint if the unfairness in question is under legal protection

Those are the reactions that an employee may have when he thinks that the situation is unfair for him, which means that his job’s outcomes (salary, etc..) are lower than the referent. What if his job’s outcomes are higher than others who have the same title and do the same tasks? What if he is overpaid or over-rewarded? Originally, Equity Theory proposed that over-rewarded individuals would experience guilt and would increase their effort to restore perceptions of equity. However, research has shown that in reality, individuals experience less distress as a result of being over-rewarded. This can be explained by the fact that individuals can easily find perceptual ways to deal with overpayment inequity, such as believing they have more skills and contribute more to the organization compared to the referent person.

3. Three types of personality trait regarding to inequity
Research has shown that different people have different levels of sensitivity to inequity. Regarding to this, individuals can be categorized into 3 types of personality trait:
  • Equity Sensitivity: This type of people expect to maintain equitable relationships, and they experience distress when they feel they are over-rewarded or under-rewarded.
  • Benevolent: This type of people give without waiting to receive much in return.
  • Entitled: This type of people expect to receive a lot without giving much in return.
4. Three types of justice in organizations
Originally, Equity Theory defines fairness is limited only to fairness of outcomes. It should be noted that there are totally 3 types of fairness in organizations and Equity Theory should be applied to all of them:
  • Distributive justice: refers to the degree to which the outcomes received from the organization are perceived to be fair.
  • Procedural justice: refers to the degree to which fair decision-making procedures are used to arrive at a decision.
  • Interactional justice: refers to the degree to which people are treated with respect, kindness, and dignity in interpersonal interactions.
Three types of justice
Besides distributive justice, procedural justice is also very important because people do not only care about the rewards but they also expect decision-making processes (such as layoffs, employee selection, performance appraisals, and pay decisions) to be fair, especially when they do not get the outcomes they feel they deserve. Here are several suggestions to achieve procedural justice:
  • Give employees advance notice before laying them off, firing them, or disciplining them.
  • Allow employees voice in decision making for such processes as performance appraisal system.
  • Provide explanations to employees about reward systems or policies and rules.
  • Maintain consistency in treatment.
5. Tips for being fair
Here are several tips for being fair in an organization:
  • Pay attention to different contribution levels of employees when distributing rewards: People who are more qualified, skilled, or those who did more than others expect to receive more rewards.
  • Sometimes may have to disregard people’s contributions to distribute certain rewards: Some rewards can be equally distributed (such as health insurance) or based on individual needs (such as unpaid leave for health reasons).
  • Pay attention to how decisions are made: This is to ensure procedural justice.
  • Pay attention to how to talk to people: This is to ensure interactional justice.
  • Pay attention to the perceptions of others about fairness: Remember that justice is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Create a sense of justice in the entire organization: People do not only care about their own justice but also pay attention to how others are treated.

6. Reference
Bauer, T. and Erdogan, Berrin., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Motivating people using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Acting as an expansion of the post about “Theories of motivation“, the purpose of this post is to discuss how an organization can motivate its employees using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s theory says that human beings’ needs can be hierarchically ranked in 5 levels and  once the lower needs are satisfied, people will start looking to satisfy higher needs. Basing on this theory, organization can motivate its employees by proving them with satisfactions for their current needs.

In order to suggest how to satisfy each level of needs, it is important to understand each of the level:
  • Physiological: the need for food, water, shelter and other biological needs. These are very basic needs and when they are lacking, the search for them may overpower all other urges.
  • Safety: the need to be free from the threat of danger, pain, or an uncertain future.
  • Social: the need to bond with other human beings, be loved, and form lasting attachments with others.
  • Esteem: the need to be respected by one’s peers, feel important, and be appreciated.
  • Self-Actualization: the need to become all one is capable of becoming.
By understanding each level of needs, an organization can motivate its employees by providing them with satisfactions for their current needs:
  • Physiological needs can be satisfied by:
    • Providing financial benefits (salary, bonus…) that can satisfy physiological needs of the employee
  • Safety needs can be satisfied by:
    • Providing generous financial benefits that can help the employee to save for the future
    • Providing health insurance
    • Providing company-sponsored retirement plans
    • Offering a measure of job security
  • Social needs can be satisfied by:
    • Having a friendly working environment
    • Providing a workplace conducive to collaboration and communication with others
    • Providing company trip, company picnic or other social get-togethers
    • Scheduling and sponsoring team activities
  • Esteem needs can be satisfied by:
    • Providing high financial benefits
    • Providing promotion opportunities
    • Designing a reward system that recognize employee’s accomplishments
    • Conferring job titles that communicate to the employee that one has achieved high status within the organization
  • Self-actualization needs can be satisfied by:
    • Offering development and growth opportunities
    • Assigning work that is interesting and challenging to the employee

Organizations may ensure a highly motivated workforce by making the effort to satisfy the different needs of each employee. It is interesting that good financial benefits can satisfy not only physiological but also safety and esteem needs. It should also be noted that the same “treatment” may have different reactions, depending on the employee’s current needs. For example, an employee whose current needs are esteem needs may feel satisfied when his supervisor praises an accomplishment. However, another employee who is trying to satisfy social needs may not like being praised by his manager in front of peers if the praise sets the individual apart from the rest of the group.

Reference:
Bauer, T. and Erdogan, Berrin., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Theories of motivation

Motivation is the psychological feature that causes us to act or behave in a particular way. In the context of organization, motivation can be defined as “the desire to achieve a goal or a certain performance level, leading to goal-directed behavior” (Bauer and Erdogan, 2009). As a result, motivation is very important for organization because it is one of the forces that lead to performance and productivity. The following equation show the relationship between job performance and motivation:
Performance and Motivation
The purpose of this post is to briefly introduce the theories of motivation. More practical and detailed discussion about motivation will be presented in later posts.

Generally speaking, the theories of motivation can be divided into 2 categories:
  • Need-based theories: These theories are conducted basing on studies and examination of individual needs. Most of need-based theories are introduced before process-based theories.
  • Process-based theories: These theories view motivation as a rational process rather than just an action aimed at satisfying a need. According to process-based theories, individuals analyze their environment, develop thoughts and feelings, and react in certain ways. As a result, process-based theories attempt to explain the thought processes of individuals who demonstrate motivated behavior.

1. Need-based theories of motivation

1.1. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
This theory is based on a simple premise: people have needs that are hierarchically ranked. The following diagram shows the hierarchy of needs and details about them:
Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs

There are 5 levels of needs, starting from Physiological level (the most fundamental needs) to Self-Actualization level (the most advanced needs). Maslow’s theory says that:
  • There are some needs that are basic to all human beings, and if they are absent, nothing else matters.
  • As we satisfy these basic needs, we start looking to satisfy higher order needs.
  • Once a lower level need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a motivator.
  • By understanding what people need, we can have clues on how to motivate them.

1.2. ERG theory
ERG theory is a modification of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in which basic human needs may be grouped under three categories: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. Existence is equivalent to Maslow’s physiological and safety needs, Relatedness corresponds to social needs, and Growth refers to Maslow’s esteem and self-actualization.

ERG Theory

Here are some important points about this theory:
  • Unlike Maslow’s theory, ERG theory does not rank needs in any particular order and it explicitly recognizes that more than one need may operate at a given time.
  • ERG theory suggests that individuals who are frustrated in their attempts to satisfy one need may regress to another.
  • ERG theory implies that we need to recognize the multiple needs that may be driving individuals at a given point to understand their behavior and properly motivate them.

1.3. Two-Factor theory
This theory states that some factors eliminate job dissatisfaction (Hygiene Factors) and other factors increase job satisfaction (Motivators). Hygiene Factors include company policies, supervision, working conditions, salary, safety, and security on the job. When employees are happy with the Hygiene Factors, it does not mean that they are motivated. However, when the employees are not happy with the hygiene factors, they are demotivated.

Two Factor Theory

In contrast, Motivators are factors that are intrinsic to the job, such as achievement, recognition, interesting work, increased responsibilities, advancement, and growth opportunities. According to this theory, Motivators are the conditions that truly encourage employees to try harder.

1.4. Acquired-Needs theory (Three Needs theory)

This theory says that individuals acquire needs as a result of their life experiences and these needs can be categorized into 3 types:
  • Need for Power: The need to influence and lead others, and control one’s environment.
  • Need for Achievement: The need to accomplish goals, excel, and strive continually to do things better.
  • Need Affiliation: The need for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.

Acquired Needs Theory
According to this theory, all individuals possess a combination of these needs, and the dominant needs are thought to drive employee behavior. Among the need-based approaches to motivation, this theory is the one that has received the greatest amount of support.

2. Process-based theories of motivation

2.1. Equity theory
This theory says that an employee will compare his job’s inputs and outcomes with those of relevant others and then attempts to correct any inequity.

Equity Theory

Inputs are the contributions that the employee feels that he is making to the organization such as hard work, loyalty and skills. Outcomes are the perceived rewards that the employee can receive from the situation such as salary, promotion or even treatment from his manager. The referent that the employee uses to compare with can be a category of people or a specific person, such as a co-worker who has the same job title and performs the same type of tasks.

If the employee thinks that there is inequity or unfairness then he may have one or more of the following potential reactions:
  • Altering his perceptions of inputs and outcomes by:
    • Downplay his own inputs
    • Valuing his outcomes more highly
    • Value the referent’s inputs more highly
    • Downplay the referent’s outcomes
  • Having the referent increase inputs
  • Reducing his own inputs
  • Attempting to increase his outcomes
  • Changing the referent, comparing with someone else
  • Leaving the situation by quitting

2.2. Expectancy theory

This theory says that individual motivation is determined by a rational calculation in which individuals evaluate their situation by asking 3 questions:
  • Will my effort lead to high performance?
  • Will performance lead to outcomes?
  • Do I find the outcomes desirable?

Expectancy Theory

According to this theory, motivational strength is determined by the perceived probabilities of a given outcome and the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. This equation show the relationship between those factors:
T = M x E x R
whereas:
– T = tendency to act
– M = strength of motive
– E = expectation that motive will be rewarded
– R = reward value

2.3. Reinforcement theory
According to reinforcement theory, behavior is a function of its outcomes. This theory based on a simple idea: people will repeat the behaviors if those behaviors lead to good consequences and vice versa, people will stop the behaviors if those behaviors lead to negative outcomes. Reinforcement theory describes four interventions to modify employee behavior:

Reinforcement Interventions

Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement are the two methods to increase the desired behavior whereas Extinction and Punishment are used to reduce the frequency of negative behaviors. By properly tying rewards to positive behaviors, eliminating rewards following negative behaviors, and punishing negative behaviors, organization can increase the frequency of desired behaviors.

References:

Bess, D., 2012. Motivation, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, Berrin., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Wikipedia, 2012. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs&gt; [Accessed 7 December 2012 ].

Effective meetings

Similar to communication, meetings can be considered as a primary process for organizational life. As a result, it is essential to keep meetings effective because they can have significant contribution to the productivity and the success of an organization. In general, meetings can be categorized into 5 types:
  • Informational: The main purpose of the meeting is to provide the information to the attendants.
  • Problem solving: The attendants work together to find solution for a specific problem.
  • Decision making: The attendants discuss together to make a decision on a specific issue.
  • Planning: The attendants work together to provide planning for an objective or a project.
  • Feedback: The main purpose of the meeting is to react or evaluate an issue or a situation.

Effective meetings

From my experience, most of the meetings are not very effective. Here are several popular complains that I usually heard about meetings:
  • People come to the meeting without knowing about the purpose of it.
  • Irrelevant people are invited to the meeting.
  • People do not know what are the expected outputs of the meeting.
  • Attendants are not prepared for the meeting.
  • Sometimes the meeting ends with no outcome.
  • Meeting takes longer than expected.
  • There are no follow-up actions after the meeting.
Effective meetings
In general, meetings are effective when they:
  • Are held only when needed
  • Have a specific purpose and expected results
  • Are held at an appropriate location and time
  • Have the right participants
  • Have a clear agenda
  • Start on time and end on time
  • Stick to the agenda
  • Encourage everyone’s participation
  • Have balanced and productive discussions
  • Have minutes and distribute them
  • Have follow-up plan if it is required

Effective meetings
In my company, we have adapted some of those ideas to create some kinds of “templates” for effective meetings. There are two templates: one for meeting invitation and one for the structure of the meeting.

The template for meeting invitation suggest that the invitation should have the following information:
  • Purpose: Why do we have this meeting?
  • Background: Some background information about the topic of the meeting. This can be optional.
  • Agenda: Agenda with time frame is strongly encouraged.
  • Expected outcomes: Whether it is a document, a plan, a solution or a decision.
  • Homework: What attendees should do to prepare for the meeting.
Here is the template for the structure of an effective meeting:
  • Purpose, expected outcomes and agenda: Even though these information are available in the meeting invitation, they should be confirmed again by the facilitator at the start of the meeting.
  • Follow-up from last time: If this is a follow-up meeting, the facilitator should update the attendants with the progress of follow-up actions since the last meeting before going to the main agenda.
  • The main agenda: Now it is time to follow the items in the agenda.
  • Conclusion: Sum up and compare the actual outcomes with the expected outcomes.
  • Follow-up plan: Decide on what the next actions are or when the next meeting will happen. This can be optional.
  • Taking notes: This step happen from the beginning to the end of the meeting. Each meeting must have a note-taker role appointed. Note-taker will send meeting minutes to all stakeholders right after the meeting.