Motivation is of significant interest to all managers as it plays a crucial role in improving employee’s productivity and performance and achieving higher levels of organizational accomplishment. It is a matter of major concern for managers to understand what causes employees to behave in more productive ways and what factors are involved in this process. Managers have always been intrigued by the fact that on the one hand there are a wide variety of factors that affect employee motivation, while on the other they notice that some of these factors inspire some employees and do not motivate others. Thus, a basic understanding of the importance of motivation process and its application to inspire and motivate employees is a paramount need for managers who wish to enhance performance and productivity.
At a very basic level, motivation describes why people behave the way they do. Its is the cause of all human behavior We live in families, we have jobs, we behave in a certain way about our work, we have friends, we watch movies for entertainment, we like some of the other neighbors while we hate some of the other neighbors, we cherish some of the social or cultural values while we may disdain some others, and so forth. That is, whatever we do or don’t do, or whatever we think about doing or not doing is all human behavior caused by certain factors. Motivation deals with human behavior and attempts to understand how this process works and what factors affect motivation and in what manner do these influence our behavior. Thus, in a broad context, all human behavior is the subject of study under motivation.
Importance of Motivation for Individuals
Motivation is central to an individual’s work life and creates goal-oriented energy.
Most of the working human beings spend a major part of their waking hours at work every day. Thus the time we speed at organizations occupies a central position in our lives. When we find our jobs interesting or find the work environment favorable, we become more involved in our jobs and feed an increasingly higher level of commitment to our work. This generates strong internal energy and thus results in better utilization of organizational resources leading to better productivity and performance.
Motivation supports career development. It pushes the individual for greater levels of accomplishment and for moving up the hierarchy of the organization.
Motivation plays a critical role in career development. Individuals have ambitions to rise higher in the organization. The higher levels of the compensation package and higher status of rank are the key factors that trigger the ambition for promotion. Such individuals are motivated to perform better and are committed to achieving better results.
Motivation is an integral part of productivity, as productivity depends on both ability and motivation. Productivity is a product of motivation and ability:
P = M x A
Productivity, P, increases with increasing levels of motivation, M. Productivity also depends on an individual’s ability, A, to do a job as required. Higher levels of ability result in higher productivity. Thus, in order to enhance productivity, we must either increase the level of motivation or improve ability or increase both motivation and ability. Imagine an employee having a certain level of productivity at any point in time, based on a certain level of motivation and a certain level of skill or ability to perform a job. Now, the above relation for productivity, p = M x A, shows that if that employee is inspired and his motivation level is increased, even if only a little, the result will be a higher level of productivity, despite this skill level remaining the same as before. Alternately, let us assume that the motivation of the employees is the same as in the beginning but now his ability is improved, say, through training or by use of better equipment. This will again result in a higher level of productivity. Finally, if the motivation level and the ability to do the job are both increased simultaneously, it will have a multiplicative effect, resulting in a manifold increase in productivity.
In order to improve productivity, one needs to improve ability; which requires learning, which in turn, requires motivation.
It is interesting to note that attempting to improve ability also requires motivation because only motivated individuals can show any interest in learning to improve their ability. Motivation is fundamental when it comes to employees trying to learn new skills, handle more complex equipment, or adapt to changing environments or procedures through a learning process. If employees are not motivated they will not make any serious attempt to learn. Only a good degree of inspiration and motivation triggers a good learning process which results in improved ability. Thus, productivity depends on motivation and ability, Where ability in turn also depends on motivation. Therefore, the most obvious conclusion is that productivity is all about motivation and nothing else.
Importance of Motivation for Organization
Motivation improves employee performance, thus, increasing organizational productivity.
It has been seen in the previous sub-section that motivation improves an individual’s performance. Thus, implementing a program of motivation all across the organization and providing a commensurate environment will improve overall performance and lead to enhanced organizational productivity. Therefore, an organizational output.
Authority and financial rewards alone are not enough for enhancing performance; therefore, motivation is required to genuinely increase productivity.
Authority and financial rewards are known to be good incentives for motivation. However, the impact of these factors in the short run. There is a sudden burst of motivation as a result of salary increase or promotion, but the rise in motivation very soon fades away. Thus, authority and financial rewards alone are not powerful motivators. When, promotion or salary increase is, however, linked to performance, it shows a longer-lasting and stronger motivation. That is, the rewards are now contingent upon the employee’s better and improved performance. The employees then expect that only increased performance will lead to any rewards.
Creating internal or intrinsic motives is one of the strongest approaches to enhancing productivity.
Intrinsic motivation is where the motive or drive is internally triggered in the mind. That is, the employee feels an inner urge to outperform on a job. This is one of the strongest means of intrinsic motivation that is longer lasting, spanning a time of several months or years. Intrinsic motivation is, however, much more complex and difficult to achieve. A wide range of factors are involved including, for example, the job design that matches an employee’s personality, an effective organization structure and policy, appropriate leadership and mentoring, effective interpersonal relations, setting challenging goals, etc. Once a well-designed approach is taken to implementing a total environment for stimulating employees, intrinsic motivation will be triggered.
The process of giving suitable rewards as a result of performance is the most powerful approach for motivating employees.
As shown earlier, linking rewards to performance is a powerful way of generating motivation through expectancy and instrumentality. Expectancy means the employee believes or expects that a certain specific level of effort on his or her part will result in improved performance. Instrumentality means the employee believes that only improved performance will lead to rewards. This is one of the most powerful approaches to motivation in an organizational context.
Book Name: Motivation Concepts and Theories
Author Name: Abdul Basit, PHD