Evaluate any two early theories of motivation and their applicability in today’s management.
In all businesses whether private or state owned, motivation plays a key role in driving employees towards achieving their goals and organizational goals. Motivation plays a central role in the moulding of employees behaviour in the organisation. There are many theories of motivation, and they mostly give a relation or influence the outcomes of employee job satisfaction, these theories include; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and McGregor’s theory X and Y. this essay will evaluate these two theories and their applicability in today’s management.
Definition of terms
Motivation refers to the degree of readiness of an organism to pursue some designated goal, and implies the determination of the nature and locus of the forces inducing the degree of readiness (Golembiewski, 1973)
The degree to which a thing is applicable or relevant
George R Terry defines management as a distinct process consisting of planning, organizing actuating and controlling performed to determine and accomplish the objectives by the use of people and resources.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Abraham Maslow is among the most prominent psychologists of the twentieth century. His theory is based on a simple premise: Human beings have needs that are hierarchically ranked. Maslow(1954) suggested that There are some needs that are basic to all human beings, and in their absence nothing else matters. As we satisfy these basic needs, we start looking to satisfy higher order needs. In other words, once a lower level need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a motivator. The needs are classified into physiological needs, social needs, safety needs, esteem needs and self actualisation. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be applied to modern day management in the following ways.
Satisfying physiological needs
Generally, a person beginning their career will be very concerned with physiological needs such as adequate wages and stable income.Companies can help in keeping their employees physiological needs by providing incentives to keep them healthy both in health and mentally. Disburse competitive financial compensation to satisfy employees’ physiological needs. Physiological needs include things such as food, water, shelter and clothing, all of which can be satisfied with a reliable income (Appleby, 2013). Employers offering higher compensation for the same job titles can attract more qualified job applicants, as they expect this first layer of needs to be satisfied more fully. Identifying and satisfying physiological is what is very important in motivating employees within an organisation.
Satisfying security needs
Job safety and security is another important motivating need for employees. Job security and stability help to keep employees motivated by knowing they will have a continued pay and that the work they do is appreciated. When an employee feels confident they are doing their job correctly and is being recognized for their hard work, the attainment of job security can work to motivate their performance and make them more engaged (Armstrong,2001). Financial security is an important type of safety need. So organisations to motivate their employees need to make them financially secured by involving them in profit sharing of the organisation. Encourage a sense of safety and security in your team by letting them know you appreciate their efforts. If they make mistakes, consider it a learning experience and help or encourage them to correct errors and try again. By doing this, you avoid a worker feeling insecure and wondering if they may get fired, which will decrease their motivation and productivity.
Satisfying social needs
Socialisation is one of the factors that keep employees feel the spirit of working as a team. When employees work as a team they tend to increase their performance. Research conducted on IBM shows that it holds a family day picnic each spring near its Armonk, New York headquarters (Hall, Nougaim 2016).Getting the team together to celebrate the organisation’s milestones is another way of satisfying the social needs of the employees. Nowadays most organisation have sports for their employees to increase their socialisation. Ongoing managerial communication about operational matters is also an important component of meeting employee’s social needs. Employees who are kept in the dark about operational matters and the future plans of the organization often feel like they are an organizational outsider. Create a welcoming company culture based on mutual respect to satisfy employees’ needs for belonging. Belonging needs include needs for friendship, social integration, family and romantic relationships. Giving employees the freedom to socialize can be a double-edged sword; while some employees may become loyal due to their workplace relationships, others may become dissatisfied if they do not fit in to social circles. Allow employees to naturally form relationships at work but provide guidance by implementing workplace discrimination policies and leading by example when it comes to avoiding workplace politics.
Satisfying esteem needs
Esteem needs are tied to an employee’s image of himself and his desire for the respect and recognition of others. Recognising employee’s accomplishments is an important way to make them satisfy their esteem needs. This could take the form of awards and plaques. cross-training, job enrichment, and special assignments are popular methods for making work more rewarding. Further, allowing employees to participate in decision making on operational matters is a powerful method for meeting an employee’s esteem needs. Finally, symbols of accomplishment such as a meaningful job title, job perks, a nice office, business cards and work space are also important to an employee’s esteem (Anyim, et al 2012).
Satisfying Self actualisation needs
The manager has to institute comprehensive employee development programs and provide ample opportunity for career growth in your company to satisfy employees’ self-actualization needs. Self actualization is the highest order of needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. Self actualization has to do with discovering one’s identity, which includes developing a career that fully leverages one’s strengths and experience while providing a sense of accomplishment and inner fulfilment. Non-profit organizations can satisfy employees’ self-actualization needs more readily than for-profit companies, as they provide employees with opportunities to use their skills to help people in need. For-profit businesses can satisfy this need as well, however, by placing top performers in positions of leadership, responsibility and accountability. A key aspect of self-actualization is ensuring that employees are only put in positions for which they are capable. Sure, employees should feel challenged, but you don’t want them to be in over their heads. Ultimately, this erodes engagement, as employees begin to doubt themselves (Gallup,2016).
However , Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory may not be applicable in today’s management due to the change in preferences and general human behaviour over the years. Some more recent research has offered some support for Maslow’s original hierarchy, but many suggest that the theory might be in need updated to reflect better the needs of modern life.
McGregor theory X and Y (1960)
Douglas McGregor introduced these two theories i.e., Theory X and Theory, based on two distinct views of human beings. He proposed, at opposite extremes two pairs of assumptions about human beings which he thought were implied by the actions of the managers. Theory X deals with one extreme, based on one set of assumptions and Theory Y, deals with another extreme based on another set of assumptions. These theories are not based on any research, but according to McGregor, these are intuitive deductions.
This theory is based on the traditional approach to human behaviour. The assumptions generally, held by the managers in this theory are that, the average human beings inherently dislike work and will try to avoid it, whenever possible. As the employees are lazy, they must be controlled, coerced, threatened with punishment to achieve goals, to which they are indifferent. Average employees will try to avoid responsibility and seek formal directions whenever possible, because they have relatively little ambition. Most workers place security above all other factors associated with work. These assumptions about human nature are negative in their approach. Managers who advocate these views feel that extreme control is most appropriate for dealing with irresponsible and immature employees. This is an autocratic style of leadership based on the traditional theory of what workers are like and what management must do to motivate them. Workers have to be persuaded and pushed into performance.
This approach assumes that management by direction and control is a questionable method for motivating such people whose physiological and social needs have been satisfied and whose social esteem and self actualization needs are becoming more important. For such people, Theory Y seems to be applicable, which is the contrast of Theory X. This theory makes the following assumptions about people; The average human being does not inherently dislike work. He can view work as natural or enjoyable as rest or play. Employees will exercise self direction and self control in the attainment of the objectives to which they are committed. Given proper working conditions, average person can learn to accept and even to seek responsibility. Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement. All the people are capable of making innovative ; creative decisions and the decision making is not the sole province of the people in management positions.
This theory has assumed a new approach in management. It emphasizes on co-operation between management and employees. The individual and organisational goals do not conflict in this approach. This theory places greater emphasis on satisfaction of high level needs of the employees. McGregor himself holds that the assumptions of theory Y are more valid than Theory X. Thus, delegation of authority, job enlargement, management by objectives and participative management techniques are great motivators for the employee.
Applicability of Theory X and Theory Y:
Kermally (2005 explain that McGregor believed ‘how managers manage people in practice depends on what assumptions they make about workers’. It means that which kind of leadership managers choose, according to how managers perceive workers’ attitudes toward their job. Managers believe their workers related to Theory X and Y normally use strict supervision approaches to reduce workers’ control on their job, in contrary, managers allow workers to be innovative and willing to authorise more responsibility to Theory Y workers (Waddell et al. 2007).
Theory X and the Theory Y represent two extremes. No person can belong to these two extreme situations. Each person possesses the traits of Theory X and theory Y, though the degrees may be different under different situations. Though, no generalizations can be made, still it appears that theory X is more applicable to unskilled and uneducated lower class workers who work for the satisfaction of their physiological needs only. Theory Y appears to be applicable to the educated, skilled and professional employees who understand their responsibilities and do not need any direction and control. However, there can be exception;
A lower level employee may be more responsible and mature than a well qualified high level employee. Still these theories are very important tools in understanding the behaviour of human being and in designing the motivational schemes. The management should use a combination of both the theories to motivate different employees. Furthermore , mcgregor’s theory X and Y applicability and implication in today’s management is manifested in the use of the following strategies to motivate employees.
A democratic leadership style arises on the basis of Theory Y which allows the employees to have a greater say. Encouragement and rewards are used rather than control and coercion. Employees are given an opportunity to develop themselves and put their capabilities to good use. When an organization does not respond to this, employees will start looking for possibilities to deploy their skills outside their work. Initially, they will focus on hobbies, committee and voluntary work, but eventually this could result in a hunt for another job. Democracy enables employees to express themselves and it makes them feel as part of the organisation since they are included in the decision making process subsequently motivating them to work harder towards achieving organisation goals.
A good manager will realize that leadership affects employee behaviour. In addition to their preference for a certain leadership style and the work that has to be done, a manager will either opt for Theory X or Theory Y. Theory X will sooner be implemented in industrial organizations where activities revolve around a high degree of productivity. In instances where the thinking process is important and the employee is expected to act on their own responsibility, managers prefer to opt for Theory Y. Motivation is created because of the individual employee’s involvement and participation.
Decentralization and Delegation
If firms decentralize control and reduce the number of levels of management, managers will have more subordinates and consequently will be forced to delegate some responsibility and decision making to them. Advocates of theory Y delegate tasks to their subordinates and they usually structure their organisations in a decentralised manner. Decentralisation and delegation are effective motivation strategies as the subordinates feel as part of the organisation and also they would be able to express their abilities freely. Delegation works on achieving functional empowerment, constructing alternative and administrative leadership, making employees feel self-confidence and motivation for excellence in performance. Rather than motivating subordinates through financial rewards, allowing them to make decisions serves as a better motivational force. Thus, decentralisation promotes efficiency of workers resulting in higher results. It promotes self-motivation and self-control.
McGregor’s theory X and Y can be applied in the form of job enlargement, a manager who believes that his subordinates are theory Y type will enforce job enlargement. Broadening the scope of an employee’s job adds variety and opportunities to satisfy ego needs. Job enlargement is a horizontal restructuring method that aims at increase in the workforce flexibility and at the same time reducing monotony that may creep up over a period of time. It is also known as horizontal loading in that the responsibilities increase at the same level and not vertically. If the skills required to do the job are skills that match the jobholder’s abilities, job enrichment may improve morale and performance through the fact that after the completion of the added tasks the subordinates will have pride in themselves hence cometh job satisfaction
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