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"How to get the horse to drink"

(An overview of motivation)

By Corey Hays

Limestone College

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." True, but you can encourage him to drink. You can provide him an environment that allows him to feel comfortable while drinking at. You can show him the rewards of drinking and make him feel that he is in control. Yes, you can't make him drink, but you can sure make it seem like the best course of action.

But why motivate? No matter the size of the company, employees at all levels have the ability to make or break it. Satisfying the needs of employee's can greatly increase their productivity. Studies have shown that heightened motivation leads to an increase in effort, persistence, and response. (Corsini and Auerbach 579)

Motivating workers has become a major undertaking by managers in recent years. The idea that people are just another input into the process has gone by the wayside and has been replaced with the realization that human beings are unique and can bring much more to a business than simple task accomplishment. The key to unlocking this potential is through good management practices that establish an environment in which both the employee and the company can prosper.

To understand how to motivate, you need to have an understanding of the study of motivation. First we must know what motivation is. Simply put, motivation is an urge or a need that leads to a goal-oriented behavior (Thomas-Cottingham 62). Furthermore, according to the American Psychological Association (Kazden 314), the study of motivation involves the creation of principles to explain why people initiate, choose, or persist in specific actions in specific circumstances.

According to most experts in the field of Psychology, there are two concepts that describe why people behave the way they do. First, people act in order to increase pleasure and decrease pain. Many managers use this concept to structure their motivational activities by establishing rewards for good performances, and punishments for failures. The other major concept is that people have a need for homeostasis, in other words, a state of internal equilibrium. To illustrate this concept, consider a person with hunger. When hungry, a person is in a state of imbalance. Upon filling that need he or she returns to a state of equilibrium.

Motivators can be broken down into three major categories. Biological motivators are instinctive actions necessary for survival. Psychological motivators are actions that bring about a sense of well-being. The third type of motivator, social motivators, is learned, and helps a person to achieve or feel successful. (Thomas-Cottingham 62-65) Management is most concerned with psychological and social motivators as they can be manipulated.

While there are many theories about motivation, there are five major theories that should be considered: Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's two-factor theory, Vroom's expectancy theory, Adams' equity theory, and Skinner's reinforcement theory.

One of the first scientists to study motivation, Abraham Maslow, theorized that employees actually have five levels of needs that are arranged in a hierarchy of importance. The first level is physiological need. This includes the all the basic physical needs of the individual such as food, shelter, etc. Once these needs are met, the next level is safety needs. This includes job security and a non-threatening work environment as it relates to employees. After safety concerns are taken care of, the employee will concentrate on social needs. The contact and friendship with fellow workers is necessary for a person's sense of belongingness. The next level of need is the Ego. In this level, the individual seeks recognition for hard work and effort, and rewards for accomplishments. The final level in Maslow's theory is called self-actualization. This is where a person realizes their dreams and potential, and reaches the heights of their talents. (Belilos) Self-actualization is the ultimate goal of human beings, but cannot be obtained until all other lower needs are taken care of. As a new need arises at a lower level, the higher need is abandoned until the lower need can be met.

Frederick Herzberg's two-factor theory categorizes motivation as either motivators (intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, that produce job satisfaction), or hygienes (extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, that produce job dissatisfaction). Herzberg postulates that increasing job satisfaction while simultaneously removing items that cause dissatisfaction leads to increased output.

Vroom's expectancy theory contends that employee effort leads to performance which leads to rewards. The more positive the reward, the more likely the employee will be highly motivated. Therefore, high motivation=high performance= high rewards=high motivation.

According to Adams' equity theory, employees strive for equity between themselves and their coworkers. This is achieved when their outcome to input ratio is roughly equal to that of others. If an employee feels that he or she is not recognized in the same way for the same effort, his or her motivation is reduced.

Finally, Skinner's reinforcement theory states that the consequences of a person's current behavior shape their future behavior. Behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated, and those that lead to negative outcomes will not. (Lindner)

All of these theories have their good points, but none are all inclusive. Perhaps this is because all people are not alike. There is no one common motivator that has the same affect on all employees. In order to determine the best way to maximize the potential of an individual, you must first come to an understanding on what makes that person tick. To do this, you need to examine and rate a person on several key points: self-efficacy, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, mastery and learning (as opposed to ego and performance) goals, causal beliefs, and achievement needs.

Self-efficacy is described to be an individual's belief that he or she is or is not capable of performing a task. The more an individual believes in himself, the more motivated he will be to accomplishing the particular goal. Consequently, the less a person believes in himself, the more discouraged he is, and, therefore, less motivated. This is important to a manager in helping to choose the right



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