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What Are The Motivating Characteristics Of Work? Discuss With Reference To Well-Known Theories Of Work Motivation.

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Motivation is a very important aspect of our everyday life, as our motives are major determinant of our behaviour in work, at home, everywhere. The subject of motivation covers many question from different areas e.g. areas associated with business: �What stimulates people at work?’ �What drives people to do the things they do in their job?’, to questions about our regular life: �Why am I going to People and Organization lectures?’, �Why did I choose to write my essays on this topic?’. There are many answers for all of those questions but in all of them we will be able to find motivation as the main force of our course of action.

If motivation is so important, to what does it then refer? Motivation derives from the latin verb �movere’, meaning �to move’. Movement implies action and, in order to act, energy and effort are required from the individual, therefore the level of motivation is depended on the amount of effort and energy people put into their work. In order for a person to generate energy and effort, they need to be stimulated by the work they, environment they work in. Most of people are highly motivated when they are well matched to their job. It is the fit between people and their jobs which determines an individual’s level of motivation.

The fit of job to an individual is not the only motivating characteristic of work. Accordingly to Huczynski and Buchanan there are other important characteristics in form of work motivation theories, which can be divided into three distinct but related perspectives, from which we can explore motivation: content theories, process theories and job enrichment theories .

First perspective from which we can examine motivation characteristics of work are the content theories, which ask: �What are the main motives for our behaviour?’. This means they look for specific things that motivate e.g. wealth, status and power. The content theories view motivation in terms of goals that people follow and desire.

On of many theorists who have described the needs individuals have, was Abraham Harold Maslow. His comprehensive attempt to classify needs, motivating characteristics of work consisted of two parts. The first concerned classification of needs in classes, the second how these classes are related to each other.

He divided needs into five types placed in a hierarchy, starting with physiological needs (such as food, warmth, good working conditions), through safety needs (organised and orderly environments), affiliation needs (sense of belonging) to esteem needs (achievement, competence in the eyes of ourselves and others). At the highest level, the need for self-actualisation is found which reflects each individual’s desire to utilise his full potential.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs rests on four basic assumptions. First stats that lower level needs must be satisfied before higher level needs become strong enough to stimulate behaviour. Second that a satisfied need is not a motivator, as it declines in importance and the next level of the hierarchy increases importance. Third argues that when individual reaches the highest level need, satisfaction of this need increase in importance. The last assumption suggests that, there are many more ways of achieving and satisfying higher level needs than to satisfy lower level needs.

For many people in business world Maslow’s theory of motivating characteristics of work can have a huge recognition in motivating individuals, as it gives us a clear message: Find out which level each individual is at and choose suitable rewards. Unfortunately, we can encounter some problems and limitations when applying the theory to practice. Research supports that Maslow’s view that, until the basic needs are satisfied, people won’t be concerned with higher level needs. However, there is a little evidence which supports the view that people must meet their needs in the sequence defined by Maslow’s hierarchy.

For instance, not everyone satisfies social needs before moving on to satisfy self-actualization needs. Some people pay little attention to social needs as long as they are free to do what they do best. Furthermore, some levels do not appear to exist for certain individuals, while some rewards appear to fit into more than one class. Money, for example for some people can be seen only as means used to purchase �essentials’ such as food (satisfying physiological needs) but it can also be seen as a status symbol or an indicator of personal worth (satisfying esteem needs). Additionally Maslow’s theory is more of a social philosophy reflecting white American middle-class values and the needs can vary according to age and stages in an individual’s life cycle.

Nevertheless criticism, which can be attached to Maslow’s theory, his idea remains highly influential, as it recognised that the behaviour depends on a range of motives, in areas of modern management practices such as rewards policy, management style and job enrichment.

David McClelland is another representative of content theorists. In his theory he argues that many motivating characteristics of work are not as universal as Maslow proposed, they are social acquired and vary from culture to culture. McClelland recognises three types of socially acquired motives: the need for achievement, which reflects the desire to meet task goals by taking high responsibility and risks, the need for affiliation, reflecting the desire to develop good interpersonal relationships, teamwork skills and the need for power, reflecting the desire to influence and control other people by persuading, or leading them.

He also argues that people usually do not change their needs once acquired, and if they do so, the changed is very difficult to overcome. Therefore to make a correct judgement about the individuals needs, it is important to diagnose motives at the selection, recruitment stage, when managers can try to match persons with particular needs to positions where these can be best satisfied. For example an individual with high need for power may be a weak team player but can be a perfect manager in charge of a shop floor or a functional department, on the other hand a person with high affiliation motive have a need to relate to others and will try to gain acceptance of their superiors or colleagues, therefore showing characteristics of a team player but not a leader.

McClelland’s theory is not as good as it seems at matching people with particular needs to positions where these needs can be satisfied. Compared with other theories, McClelland’s work looks more



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