Good motivation of employees can help them improve their personal and professional performance. It helps the employees to link better. Through development of successful working relationships, the success of an institution can improve rapidly. For that reason, it is important for those in authority to inspire and motivate their juniors whenever possible. By being better leaders and trainers, the overall work atmosphere would become positive thereby ensuring the successes of the organization.
Though the results of high motivation is well known, it has been proved that majority of employers do not apply this concept. As a result, most employees do not realize their full potential in the organization because they are underutilized. If institutions want to realize success, then it has to work on motivation, improve on talent and finally utilize its energy. However, most institution put more emphasis on technical knowhow or skills acquired through education with little emphasis on motivation (Locke, 1968, p.34).
Life challenges sometimes throw hard hurdles in ones way. This interferes with their self-esteem and it becomes difficult to stay motivated or give out your maximum potential. It is no secret that employees who are motivated when facing challenges end up performing well in the organizations. Even those who feel they are valued, and are recognized for the work they do, get more motivated, productive and responsible (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959), p.16).
There are various theories on motivational skills of employees. An example is the Reinforcement theory forwarded by BF Skinner. It states that Individual behavior is a function of its results (Vroom, 1964, p.61). It is founded on law of effect. In simple words, it means that one’s behavior with positive results tends to be repeated but ones behavior with negative results will not be repeated. However, this theory tends to ignore internal state of a person, for instance, the inner feelings that drives an individual. Reinforcement theory focuses on consequences to an individual after taking a certain action. Skinner believes that the external environment of an institution must be designed effectively and positively in order to motivate workers. The theory is a strong tool for evaluating controlling mechanism for ones behavior. However, the theory does not focus on reasons for an individual attitude (Gordon, 2001, p. 77).
Another theory is the Major Content Theory. The theory focuses on internal factors within an individual, which influence his behavior. These kind of theories regard motivation as the product internal forces that drives an individual to act or move in a certain manner.
The next theory is the Alderfer’s Erg Theory. The ERG theory resembles the Maslow’s theory. Alderfer suggested that wants could be categorized into three groups. These needs are growth, relatedness, and existence (Steers, Porter, & Bigley, 1996, p. 56). Existence needs resembles Maslow’s physiological and safety need group. Relatedness needs include interpersonal relationships and resembles some of Maslow’s aspect of Belongingness needs. Growth needs are those linked to attainment of one’s maximum potential and are associated with Maslow’s esteem and self-actualization needs (McClelland, 1962, p.97).
The ERG theory differs from Maslow’s theory in that it does not suppose lower-level needs must be fully satisfied before the higher level needs become motivational. The theory also suggests if a person is continually unable to meet upper-level needs that they require, lower level-needs become their motivational factors. The ERG implications for managers are similar to those of Maslow. Employers should focus on meeting workers growth, relatedness, and existence needs. However, they should not apply the provision that says job-safety concerns should be considered more than fulfilling job requirement (Robbins & Coulter, 2004, p.87).
Another theory is the Goal Setting Theory. According to this theory, goals are the most important factors in determining employee’s behavior and motivating them. Locke and Latham developed it. It stresses on the need to set up challenging goals that will eventually motivate employees to work harder. Specific goals include targets that improve employee’s attitude and behavior. Researchers believe that specific performance goals are better than when employees are told, “Do your best.” Though challenging goals are difficult, it is possible to achieve them. Researchers have proved that, specific and challenging goals are more motivational than easy goals or vague goals. Several factors may regulate the links between specific and challenging goals and high level of motivation. The first thing is commitment to the goals. This simply means an individual should be more dedicated to achieving the set goals. Some researchers argue that having employees participate in goal setting; will increase their commitment and dedication towards achieving those goals. Another important factor related to goal setting theory is self-efficacy. It is the individual belief that he or she is capable of managing a given task. This means that, if an individual has a high level of self-efficacy, they will respond positively to challenging and specific goals (Alderfer, 1972, p.32).
Abraham Maslow established the hierarchy of needs. This theory suggests individual needs exist in a hierarchy form. They include; security needs, physiological needs, self-actualization needs, belongingness needs and lastly esteem needs. According to Maslow, one group of needs motivate the next group of needs. Maslow believed that of all needs are met, than individuals will be motivated to work better and efficiently. However, unlike other theories, this theory is not acceptable by many despite its ease of application (Maslow,1954, p.47).
In conclusion, All the above theory tend to explain several measures that can be used to motivate employees. On my opinion, it is very difficult to base on one theory as a source of motivating employees. Employers ought to analyze all the available theories and come up with one theory, which suits the organization.