Motivating the Workforce (Byte Size)
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Motivating the Workforce (Byte Size)

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Delivering a good performance at work has been shown to be a function of ability, experience, reward and, above all, motivation. We are purposive beings and we continually select goals which are important to us and seek to achieve them. It is this goal-directed activity we call motivation. Given the importance of employees as an organisational resource, it is obviously crucial that managers should understand the nature of motivation so that they can better manage those forces, both internal and external to individuals, that lead some to apply only minimal effort to their work tasks while others expend much greater effort and consequently are much more productive.

However, motivation is a very complex subject, influenced by many variables. There is no one answer to what motivates people to work well but rather a number of sometimes competing theories, each subject to varying degrees of criticism. Collectively, however, these theories provide a valuable basis for study and discussion and a fund of ideas. Mullins (1993) argues that it is up to managers to judge their relevance and how they might be drawn upon and applied in their particular work situations.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • define motivation and explain the importance to managers of understanding it.
  • explain how motivation theories are classified into content theories and process theories.
  • describe the nature of human needs.
  • explain Taylorism and its motivational implications.
  • understand the motivational implications of the Hawthorne experiments.
  • appreciate Maslow's hierarchy of needs and its motivational implications.
  • set out Alderfer's ERG theory and its motivational implications.
  • explain Herzberg's two-factor theory and its motivational implications.
  • describe expectancy theory and its motivational implications.
  • understand equity theory and its motivational implications.