Competitive Exams: Motivating Employees for Job Performance

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In any type of organization, a manager must know what motivates his workers in order to make each individual employee perform to the best of his ability. It is not an easy task to motivate employees because they respond in different ways to their jobs and to organizational practices. Motivation is a human psychological characteristic that affects a person’ös degree of commitment. It is the set of forces that move a person towards a goal. It deals with how behavior is energized, how it is directed and how it is sustained. The manager’ös challenge, then, is to channel this energy and direct this behavior toward the organization’ös ends.

Factors that affect work motivation include individual differences and organizational practices. Individuals differ in their personal needs, values and attitudes, interests and abilities. Organizational practices that affect motivation include the rules, policies, managerial practices and reward systems. In order to motivate employees, managers must consider how these factors influence and affect their job performance.

Definitions and Meaning of Motivation

According to Stephen P. Robbins, motivation is the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’ös ability to satisfy some individual need.

Fred Luthans views motivation as a process that starts with a physiological or psychological deficiency or need that activates behavior or a drive that is aimed at a goal or incentive.

The three key elements in the above definitions are needs, drives and goals. Needs set up drives aimed at goals; this is the basic process of motivation. Need is the origin of any motivated behavior. Need is a felt deprivation of physiological or psychological well-being. Needs exist in each individual in varying degrees. When an individual recognizes a need, he is driven by a desire to fulfill the need. Drives are directed at fulfillment of needs. Drives are action-oriented and provide an energizing thrust toward reaching a goal. Incentives or goals are the instruments used to induce people to follow a desired course of action. Once the goal is attained, the physiological or psychological balance is restored and the drive is cut off:

Approaches to Motivation

TypeCharacteristicsTheoriesManagerial Examples
ContentConcerned with factors that arouse, start or initiate motivated behavior
  • Needs hierarchy theory
  • Two-factor theory
  • ERG theory
Motivation by satisfying individual needs for money, status, and achievement.
ProcessConcerned not only with factors that arouse behavior, but also with the process, direction, or choice of behavioral patterns
  • Expectancy theory
  • Equity theory
Motivation by clarifying the individual’ös perception of work inputs, performance requirements and rewards.

Maslow’ös Needs Hierarchy Theory

One of the most popular explanations for human motivation was developed by the psychologist, Abraham Maslow and popularized during the early 1960s. Maslow’ös hierarchy of needs theory argues that human needs form a five-level hierarchy. Maslow classified these needs into five groups: Physiological needs, need for security, social needs (love and belongingness) , self-esteem needs and self-actualization needs.

Herzberg’ös Two-Factor Theory

Motivators in the Herzberg’ös two-factor theory correspond to the higher-level needs of esteem and self-actualization in Maslow’ös needs hierarchy, while the hygiene factors correspond to Maslow’ös physiological, safety and social needs. Maslow’ös and Herzberg’ös theories of motivation.

Comparison of Maslow’ös and Herzberg’ös Theories of Motivation

Maslow’ös Hierarchy of Needs

  • Self-actualization needs
  • Esteem needs
  • Social needs
  • Safety and security needs
  • Physiological needs

Herzberg’ös Two-Factory Theory


  • Responsibilities
  • Challenging Work
  • Recognition
  • Achievement

Maintenance Factors:

  • Job security
  • Good pay
  • Working conditions
  • Type of Supervision
  • Interpersonal relations

Several researchers have challenged Herzberg’ös findings. According to some researchers, it is easy to understand why people would associate feelings of satisfaction with factors such as challenge, growth, and recognition. It is very natural for people to attribute good results to their own efforts and blame external factors for their failures. Thus, these researchers contended that satisfaction and dissatisfaction in individuals are not the outcome of different factors but it is individuals who assign different sources to their successes or failures. Edwin Locke, who reviewed research pertaining to Herzberg’ös theory spelt out the various problems associated with Herzberg’ös findings. It was, therefore, concluded that Herzberg’ös arguments did not withstand logical or empirical scrutiny. They are

  1. the theory minimizes differences across people
  2. there is confusion in the original classification and statements
  3. the arguments put forth by Herzberg are characterized by logical inconsistencies.