The seven motivators

One limitation of the Acquired-Needs Theory (or the Three Needs Theory) is that it recognizes only three types of needs. In fact, research has proven that there are totally seven types of needs by which the vast majority of employees are motivated. Since different people are motivated differently depending on their needs, each type of needs is corresponding to one motivator. The purpose of this post is to introduce the seven motivators, how to recognize them and suggested treatment that managers should have for each motivator.

Seven motivators

The following table shows details about the seven motivators:

Motivator Description Might be heard saying Suggested actions
Achievement These employees want the satisfaction of accomplishing projects successfully. They want to exercise their talents to attain success. They are self-motivated if the job is challenging enough. “I’d like to take on more responsibility” – Assign challenging tasks that stretch their skills
– The “right” assignment is essential
Power These employees want satisfaction from influencing and controlling others. They like to lead and persuade, and are motivated by positions of power and leadership. “Bob, you take this task. Jim. you complete that task. Send me an email at the end of each day with your progress” – Provide the change to make decisions and direct projects
– Assign a mentor
Affiliation These employees gain satisfaction by interacting with others. They tend to be highly social and they enjoy people and find the social aspects of the workplace rewarding “Let’s get the team together to talk about next steps” – Provide opportunities to interact with others such as teamwork projects, group meetings, brainstorm sessions
Autonomy These employees seek freedom and independence. They like to work and take responsibility for their own tasks and projects “Ill take this task and report progress in two weeks” – Allow to set own schedules and work independently
Esteem These employees seek recognition and praise. They dislike generalities, so the praise should be for specific accomplishments and it does not necessarily to be public. This motivator is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “Would you take a look at this and tell me how it looks?” – Recognize and praise often, both in private and public
– Show that you respect their efforts
Safety and Security These employees seek job security, a steady income, insurance benefits and a hazard-free work environment. This is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “How does that impact my job?” – Provide clear and predictable salary, benefits and vacation policies
Equity These employees want to be treated fairly. They tend to compare work hours, job duties, salary and privileges with those around them. They will become discouraged if they perceive inequities. This is also mentioned in the Equity Theory “Peter always seems to get the good assignments and I get the ones with all the problems” – Address equity issues immediately
– Answer the questions that are asked honestly
– Demonstrate fair and consistent treatment

Please also note that one employee can have multiple motivators at the same time. As a result, multiple actions can be combined together to motivate an employee appropriately.

References:
Bess, D., 2012. Seven Motivators, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished
Pathways, 2007. The Essential Seven Motivators, [online]. Available at: http://www.pathwayscoaching.net/articles/2007/11/19/the-essential-seven-motivators.html [Accessed 17 December 2012]

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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.

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 ].