Workplace Motivation in the Workplace Research Paper

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The answer is all of them. They all hold true at some time for certain individuals.

As an industrial psychologist the key task at hand is deciding which theory to apply in order to improve motivation at one's own workplace, or if working as a consultant, at the client's workplace. There is no clear answer or magic formula that will tell the industrial psychologist which theory to apply and at which time. In order to answer the question of which theory to apply, the industrial psychologist must be able to assess the climate and culture of the organization for which they are working. This can be done by several means. They can always take a survey, but this will only tell what the employees want the psychologist to know about them. There are many factors that can influence the outcome of survey results in the workplace. Employees may fear that their answers will elicit retaliation from management or might not trust the confidentiality of their answers.

Therefore, one must use other means to determine which theories would be most helpful in a particular situation. These can include observation, examinations of employee records and interviews. The psychologist has many means at their disposal to make a proper assessment of the workplace environment. The most effective industrial psychologist knows the workers personally and can feel that pulse of the organization. They must come out of their office and become an integral part of the workplace in order to understand the power dynamics, individual personalities and other features of the workplace that affect motivation and teams in the workplace. This was one of the key points that become apparent when reading the various theories on workplace motivational theories.

This observation is supported by Todorova, Argote & Reagans (n.d.). They found that workplace relationships are governed by a hierarchy and organized groups or teams. Attention to the development of teams has become more important to workplace performance than it was in the past. The emphasis on teams has led to the need to study interdependent knowledge structures. These are referred to as transactive memory systems (TMS). These researchers found that the attitudes of individual team member and their attitudes towards their own personal willingness to contribute was a key factor in building successful or unsuccessful teams. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. Research demonstrates that team members work better when members are willing to invest not only in individual performance, but also in understanding who know what in the team. Knowing who to go to for what is an important part of TMS. Todorova and associates found that even if a team member is highly motivated, if they are not willing to go to the proper person for communication, they weaken team performance. Dunlap (2010) supports the necessity of communication in the ability to build an excellent team. He also feels that a little friendly competition within teams can also help to stimulate strong teams. This can be used to foster communication and working together among team members.

Stewart, Courtright, & Barrick (n.d.), found that peer review and peer reward are important components of work motivation. Members who receive recognition for their efforts are more motivated to perform in the future than those who receive no recognition or negative recognition. Everyone wants to feel that they are doing a good job. This promotes positive feelings that are contagious and spread throughout the organization. I have experienced the affects of both positive and negative attitudes on a work team. One person can have a significant influence on the performance and attitudes of other team members.


Peterson (2007) discussed McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y as polar opposites. Theory X workers need constant attention and do not want to work. Theory Y workers are self-starters who have an inner drive to performance. Obviously, every manager's dream is to have a team of Theory Y workers. Theory X workers are undesirable. In reality, most managers end up with a team that includes both types of workers. Managers must be able to recognize these types of workers and understand how to adjust their managerial style to meet their needs. According to Peterson, a theory X worker responds better to an authoritarian style of management, while a theory Y worker might respond negatively to this type of environment.

The role of the industrial psychologist is to help managers understand their workers and their worker's needs in order to create an environment that inspires individual work performance, the formation of cohesive teams and a work environment where employees wish to stay for a long time into the future. Understanding the various theories of workplace motivation is an important step in this process.

The purpose of this research was to understand the role of reviews on employee motivation. Several references were found that indicated that reviews, both by management and peer reviews played an important role in stimulating workplace motivation. Current literature on workplace motivation supports the thesis that that more frequent employee reviews will help to increase employee motivation in all types of employees. Building formal means of managerial and peer review into the workplace environment is a relatively easy task. However, one must be cautioned that the literature also indicates that negative reviews can have the opposite effect and drain motivation from a previously motivated employee. One cannot highlight the importance of making certain to distinguish constructive criticism from put-downs.

The industrial psychologist can play an important role in making certain that employees are rewarded for their efforts. They can support management in making certain that regularly scheduled reviews are on time and that they have positive results. The industrial psychologist can also act as a cheerleader of sorts, reminding managers to make certain to verbally reward workers for a good job as much as possible. It is easier to notice the negative, but this research demonstrates the importance of frequent positive reinforcement on motivation. The industrial psychologist plays a key role in promoting a positive and productive workplace.


Dotan, H. (2009). Workplace Friendships: Origins and Consequences for Managerial Effectiveness. Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management.

Dunlap, N. (2010). Take Your Team to the Top. Journal of Property Management. January/February 2010: 28-30.

Gibson, C. & Earley, P. (2007). Collective Cognition in Action: Accumulation, Interaction, Examination, and Accommodation in the Development and Operation of Group Efficacy Beliefs in the Workplace. Academy of Management Review. 32 (2): 438-458.

Martin, A. (2009). Motivation and Engagement in the Workplace: Examining a Multidimensional Framework and Instrument From a Measurement and Evaluation Perspective. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development. January 2009. Vol. 21: 223-243.

Othman, A. Abdullah, H. & Ahmad, J. (2009). The Influence of Work Motivation on Emotional Intelligence and Team Effectiveness Relationship. VISION -- The Journal of Business Perspective. 13 (4): 2-14.

Peterson, T. (2007). Motivation: How to Increase Project Team Performance. Project Management Journal. December 2007: 60-69.

Society for Human Resource Management. (SHRM) (2010) Motivation in Today's Workplace: The Link to Performance 4. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from

Stewart, G., Courtright, S. & Barrick, M. (n.d.). Peer-Based and Individual Performance: A Field Examination. Academy of Management Proceedings.

Todorova, G., Argote, L, & Reagans, R.…[continue]

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