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Motivation is a force that acts on or within a person that cause the person to behave in a specific, goal-directed manner. Actually we can call it a psychological mechanism that contains all of actions, instincts and wishes. It relates to our willing of taking some steps in order to reach our target. It means that some people are able to sacrifice more (like time etc.) and work harder if the results in the future will satisfy our individual needs. When it comes to work, motivation means salary. In most cases it is enough to keep employee working for an organization and to keep the quality of work at the same level. If employer wants to increase level of quality, he needs to satisfy needs other than basics ones (like health insurance and other benefits).

Model of motivation involves following steps: need (lack of something) -> eagerness (seek to meet the needs) -> action (behavior oriented toward goals) -> satisfaction (weakening of the original need)

Problems of motivation

  • The needs of individuals vary considerably over time and are subject to change
  • People have individual ways of transforming the needs to action.
  • People do not always act consistently to meet their needs
  • Reactions to meeting of individual needs may be different

Factors influencing the motivation

Human characteristics: interest, attitudes, hierarchy of needs, the desire for achievement and competence, striving for position and consideration, entrepreneurial behavior, creativity and innovation, fear of failure, stress resistance Features of work position: operating characteristics of the situation, work environment, management system, responsibilities, prospects of promotion, the nature and content of the work, working conditions, pay, company policies Features of organization: personnel policies, wage system, culture of the organization, additional incentives (holidays, insurance, participation in the cost of education, etc.), work environment (attitudes and actions of colleagues and superiors, the climate of the organization, a system of penalties and rewards)

Theories and models of motivation

The traditional model

  • For most people, work is inherently unpleasant,
  • Less important is what employee do, than how much he earns
  • Few workers are willing and able to perform work that requires creativity and self direction.

Managers should:

  • Closely monitor and supervise employees
  • Break down tasks into simple, repeatable and easy to be learned activities
  • Set up instructions and operating procedures, and justly, but - strongly enforce compliance

Managers should expect:

  • People tolerate the job if the pay is decent, and the manager is just.
  • If the task is simple enough, and the staff closely monitored, their performance will be consistent with the standards

Cooperation relations model

  • people want to feel useful and important
  • People want to belong and to recognize that they are individuals

above mentioned needs are more important than money for the motivation to work Managers should:

  • provide each employee with a sense of usefulness and relevance
  • inform their subordinates about their plans and to listen to their warnings
  • allow subordinates to a range of self-management and self-control in routine matters

Managers should expect:

  • sharing information with other employees and involving them in decision-making routine to satisfy their basic needs of belonging and a sense of importance
  • Satisfying these needs will improve morale and reduce resistance to formal authority - subordinates become "willing to work"

Human resources model

  • Work is inherently enjoyable. People want to contribute to the achievement of important objectives, to which they agreed together with the management.
  • Most people become more creative, and able to self-control and self-management than their current job requirements

Managers should:

  • Utilize resources of human creativity and ingenuity
  • Create an environment where everyone can contribute to its limits
  • Encourage full participation in important matters, still extending the self-management and self-control abilities.

Managers should expect:

  • Extending influence of self-control and self-management will lead to increased productivity
  • Job satisfaction can be enhanced as a "by-product" of increased capabilities of subordinates.

Maslow's hierarchy of need

The most well-known theory of need was formulated by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Theory included 5 kinds of needs listed from basic to the highest:

  • Physiology - breathing, water, food, sleep,
  • Safety - Security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property
  • Love/Belonging - friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  • Esteem - self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  • Self-actualization - morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

Maslow's hierarchy of need is often presented as a pyramid with the physiological need at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. The needs, that are the most important, are at the bottom, because without them we would not survive. After those are safety needs, thanks to them we are more likely to be stress-resistance. We are aware, that without secure that we have job, that we have place to live, that we have money and that we are healthy we would not be able to work properly. Next in the hierarchy appears love and belonging, not without reason, because after two previous ones being provided, we need to be emotionally involved. We, as a human being, need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, that is why friendship, intimacy and family is so important. Everyone have a need to feel respected (need to have self-esteem and self-respect). People have desire to be accepted and valued by others. And the last but not least, self-actualization which refers to what a person's potential is and the realization of it.

Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory (dual-factor theory)

Frederick Herzberg developed that job satisfaction is caused by certain factors, while separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction. He believed that success or failure is caused by employee's attitude to their job. He distinguished between:

  • motivators that give satisfaction of job such as challenging job, recognition, responsibility, progress or personal growth, and
  • hygiene factors that are not giving positive satisfaction, while their absence causes dissatisfaction. They are including aspects such as salary or company policy.

Theory X and theory Y

Douglas McGregor showed two different aspects of human nature, negative one called theory X an positive one called theory Y.

  • Theory X relates to employees that do not like their jobs and are lazy. They are doing everything to avoid their responsibilities. They have no need to be more ambitious.
  • Theory Y assumes that employees are hardworking and creative. They are willing to take responsibility and they are easily making decisions.

According to that employer should give employees possibility to be a part of a group that can make decisions and are responsible for their tasks.

Need theory

This theory was formulated by David McClelland, according to this theory main motivation factors in work are need for achievement, affiliation and power.

  • Need for achievement involves people that prefer to master task or situation. They are avoiding high and low risk situation. They are motivated by accomplishment in workplace and by the vision of promotion.
  • Need for power refers to people that have desire to teach others and to have influence on others. In this category people play main role and want others to act in a specific way.
  • Need for affiliation mentions that people want to feel close to each other. People want to spend time creating social relationships and feeling better as a part of groups.


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  • Gellerman, S. W. (1968). Management by motivation. New York: American Management Association.
  • Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. B. (2011). The motivation to work (Vol. 1). Transaction publishers.
  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review, 50(4), 370.
  • McClelland, D. C. (1987). Human motivation. CUP Archive.
  • McGregor, D. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York, 21(166.1960).
  • Vroom, V. H., & Deci, E. L. (1989). Management and motivation. Penguin.