There are many theories of motivation because a theory that works for all individuals in all situations is non-existent. Using parts of each theory to provide a variety of motivators is probably the most efficient as each employee will be motivated by different theory components. As a former human resource manager, work design theory is the most intriguing. For some individuals that enjoy helping people, combining administrative tasks and projects with daily opportunities to solve either an internal or external customer’s problems can be rewarding. The routine tasks are interrupted with a new problem/challenge that breaks up the boredom. However, that will not work for many positions.
Using the expectancy theory can work well also. Outlining achievable goals and providing rewards for their completion will motivate to a point. If the goals are set too high, or if the reward is so large that achieving the lowest level provides adequate compensation, then the employee might not be motivated. Communicating expectations is always a good place to begin. Whether the employee will be motivated to perform beyond the minimum to retain the position will be dependent upon why they are in the position and their personal goals.
Using self-regulation to motivate employees can be good and bad. First, some supervisors will be reluctant to provide constructive or negative feedback. If that happens, this approach is immediately doomed. However, most people want to do well, so they will adjust their behavior appropriately based upon the available feedback. The problem will be if, as in equity theory suggests, they perceive some inequity in their treatment as compared to their colleagues. Morale problems can be driven by perceived inequities and can be difficult to overcome. Using a combination of expectancy, work design, and self-regulation theories might provide the best results.
Motivation is the stimulus that initiates action. According to Coon and Mitterer (2006), the model of motivation includes an initial need which sets the drive in motion. This drive triggers an action or response which leads to one doing what it takes to reach the goal sought after. Although this model gives a basic explanation of the process of motivation, the specifics of what motivates individuals is very different and may change depending on particular situations.
Coon and Mitterer gave the example of someone who has just completed a large meal making room for dessert despite previously proclaiming how full they were. Had that same person been asked to run a marathon following the large meal, they may not have been so eagerly motivated. An individual’s incentives will likely separate their motives into one of motivation’s three major categories.
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