“Employee Motivation refers to the individual forces that account for the direction, level, and persistence of a person’s effort expanded at work” Schermerhorn, Jr., Hunt, Osborn, 2002, p. 147). Within this definition there are three key words that are easily misinterpreted by managers: direction, level, and persistence. Direction refers to an individual’s choice when presented with a number of possible alternatives. Level refers to the amount of effort a person puts forth. Persistence refers to the length of time a person sticks with a given action. Once managers fully understand the meaning of motivation they can begin to apply it in the workplace. But, first managers must determine which category of motivation is best. There are three categories that the theories of motivation fall in: reinforcement, content, and process. Reinforcement theories emphasize the linkage between individual behavior and some specific outcomes to show how managers can alter the direction, level, or persistence of individual actions. Content theories profile different needs that may motivate individual behavior. Basically, content theories focus on the physiological or psychological deficiencies that we feel a compulsion to reduce or eliminate. Process theories focus on the thought or cognitive processes that take place within the minds of people and that influence their behavior. After managers have determined the category of motivation theories he or she wishes to implement, he or she can then decided which theory within that category is best.
Of the three categories, the content theories category is the best choice because its primary focus is on individual needs. The theories within this category suggest that the manager’s job is to create a work environment that responds positively to individual needs. Four of the better known content theories are: Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory, Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and David McClelland’s acquired needs theory. Without going into a lot of detail, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory offers a pyramid of physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. Alderfer’s ERG theory is based on Maslow’s hierarchy theory except it collapses the five needs categories into three. The three categories of the ERG theory are existence, relatedness, and growth needs. Herzberg’s two-factor theory (also known as the motivator-hygiene theory) identifies job context as the source as the source of job dissatisfaction and job content as the source of job satisfaction. McClelland’s acquired needs theory proposes that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences.
Clear View Company
A middle-aged woman manages one of the Customer Service departments within Clear View Company. She tends to be a hands-on manager, meaning; she likes having direct contact with each of the four employees in the department. Each of the four employees has high regards for the manager because she takes into account each individual’s needs. By doing this, she is able to apply the appropriate theory of motivation in order to improve each employee’s job performance. The department is comprised of two men and three women, one of who is the manager; all of them work together to achieve the common goal of maintaining the Customer Service processes within Clear View.
It has become priority for the Customer Service department to be more efficient in the issuing Customer Service reports. Essentially, the Customer Serviceor’s Office has to improve on the timeliness of finalizing the Customer Service reports. Thus, the employees within the department job performance must be improved in order to increase the timeliness of issuing these reports. Therefore, the manager of the department is making every attempt possible to motivate the employees with the hope that their job performance will improve. The manager has determined that each employee responds differently to each motivation strategy.
The first of the four employees is a woman in her mid-fifties. She is considered to be a part of society’s middle class. She has been a Clear View Companyemployee for twenty years. She has been diagnosed with cancer and has a lot of outside stresses that may be affecting her job performance. She tends to complain about any type of changes that might affect the department whether good or bad. Her motivation right now is just to make to her retirement date. Her personal motivation is based on Alderfer’s ERG theory because her higher order of needs can no longer be satisfied thus her lower order of needs has been activated so that she can be satisfied.
The second employee is a single male in his early-twenties. He has been employed at Clear View Companyfor two and a half years. He is also motivated by Alderfer’s ERG theory because he relates to the three categories of the theory: existence, relatedness, and growth. He relates to these three categories because of his desire for material well-being, for satisfying interpersonal relationships, and for continued personal growth and development. Therefore, he is not resistant to change within the workplace because in the end he will benefit from the growth process.
The third employee is a woman in her early-thirties. She has been employed with Clear View Companyfor ten years. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory motivates her because her physiological, safety, and social needs have to be satisfied before her self-esteem and self-actualization needs are satisfied. Thus, she is somewhat resistant to the need for improvement. This is because the need for improvement is not a priority but she needs the job to satisfy her security (safety) needs therefore, she will make the necessary changes to improve her performance.
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