Motivation is the key to success in every organization regardless of the nature of work in which it is involved. This is because employees today are no longer the 'hired hands' of organizations but are instead viewed as human capital that is essential for long-term success of the firm. Every organization therefore believes in extracting the best out of this capital and for this purpose motivation techniques are being keenly studied and evaluated to assess their effectiveness and appropriateness.
In this ever-expanding global economy, motivation plays a dominant role in achieving results and meeting organizational targets because here it is not just one factor behind success but in fact it is the only factor that really counts. This is because in this intensely competitive business environment, employers need to arm themselves with extraordinary motivation techniques to extract the best out of the employees without hurting their sense of self-worth.
Motivation is though not a new concept, but it has been the most misunderstood one, as most organizations would associate it with rewards alone. In older organizational structure, authoritative leadership style was used as the sole motivating force and thus it ended up producing employees who couldn't be termed as future leaders. This bring us to a very important point in this discussion i.e. motivation technique should not only focus on getting the work done, a good technique would also help in producing employees with exceptional leadership qualities.
Motivation is also closely connected with productivity. When we discuss productivity and its decline in the United States organizations, the one question that comes to our minds is what can be done to improve productivity and what productivity actually refers to. We should understand that by productivity what is meant is the output of the organization and its profits while comparing them to its operational costs and other such factors. But productivity of the organization depends on the productivity of its employees.
No matter how large an organization is and how effective its policies are if it lacks a motivated workforce, it will not be able to compete with other large firms in the country. But the important question here is what can help us enhance employee productivity? The simple answer to this question is motivation. Once an organization is able to motivate the employees to achieve its goals within a given period of time, there is no doubt that the overall productivity level of the firm would also increase significantly.
Since the competition is becoming fierce, the companies are dependent on their employees for achieving a certain level of competitiveness now more than ever before. This is because when the workforce is competitive, it would focus on bringing this competitive spirit in the market.
But what it this competitiveness and how can it be instilled in the employees? The answer is motivation, the more motivated a workforce is, the higher will be its level of competitiveness. There are many theories which are termed as motivational theories and which focus on techniques, which could best develop a motivated workforce. Motivation is instilled in people by many means, the most important being rewards and prospects of promotion. (Robert McGarvey, 1996) It has been seen that if employees know ht they will get in return for a job well done, they will adjust their motivation level accordingly, for example if the employees are being offered the rewards which please them, they would be more motivated than someone who is being offered smaller or meaningless rewards.
Most companies would want to hire the employees who are self-motivated but self-motivation is a rare phenomenon. It is usually up to the human resource personnel to motivate the employees and the mangers can achieve this goal by focusing on what worked for each employee. If there are some who are more concerned about their promotion, then increased salary may not really work for them. Similarly those who are looking for increase in certain allowances will not be tempted with a different reward. It is important in most cases that the managers focus on rewards which employees truly desire.
Motivation is the state of mind in which a person is positively geared to achieve his goals and would not let obstacles hinder his progress. It must be understood that motivation is required by managers or human resource personnel to extract the best out of their employees. The organization needs a workforce that is intensely focused on the outcome and this is what helps the firm improve its productivity.
Robert Epstein (2001) writes, "Motivation is an internal state of arousal that often precedes behavior. Ideally, we not only experience a high state of arousal but also have an opportunity to behave in a way that fulfills our need. When we' re hungry, for example, we feel great if we can eat. When we're edgy, we feel frustrated if we're prevented from moving around. How can you induce an internal state of arousal? In other words, how can you make yourself or others want to behave? How can you get people to strive to achieve? These are important questions because if behavior and motivation are not in sync-if we drag ourselves through the day or if we lack the opportunity to act on some performance impulse-productivity, mood, health and retention may suffer."
Therefore as mentioned above, in order to motivate the people it is important to keep in mind their needs and desires. This is because employees are not interested in achieving goals, which do not offer them something they desire in return. Another very important thing which must not be forgotten when motivation is the goal; i.e. employees should be assigned tasks which they are most suitable for or which they enjoy performing. When employees are asked to do something that is not in sync with their talents, they are not likely to do well. This happens because the employees need to put their heart and soul into the work they are assigned and only then can they be categorized as highly motivated. But why would an employee do something, which fails to spark his interest and even if he does it, he would not be able to produce something of quality and excellence.
Empowerment is one method through which motivation can be achieved in the workforce. When the employees are made to feel like worthy and integral part of the organization, they are likely to perform better. But to induce a felling of empowerment in the employees it is important to change the organizational design and some of its policies too.
Robert C. Ford (1995) writes, "What does it take to get all employees to act as owners? It requires a deliberate and phased transformation in how organizations are designed and managed. In order to build the foundation for real empowerment, management must be willing to ask the tough questions of themselves about the desired outcomes and changed behaviors."
According to some motivational theories, employees should not be treated as workers of the firm, but they should be given the responsibility of managing themselves and thus they are converted into leaders and mangers from time to time. When a person knows that he is supposed to achieve his targets and that he is responsible for assessing his progress, it is likely that he would feel empowered and thus increase his productivity level. When a person is not being constantly monitored and pushed but is allowed to be his own manager and leader at times, the bond of trust and confidence is built between the employees and employers.
Robert G. Isaac (2001) writes, "We need employees capable of managing their work by planning, organizing, and controlling activities as required. In summary, we need people who are able to create the vision, embrace and communicate it with others, and also enact it through personal management at every level of the organization. In order to translate macro ideas into micro realities, we need a workforce where every member is a self-appointed leader-manager-follower, capable of recreating the vision within the context of the job." believe that the best and oldest motivation technique that still works is positive reinforcement. This is because if we carefully study the results that each motivation technique would produce in the long run, we end up with positive reinforcement as the one approach with maximum long-term benefits. Let us therefore find out why some other motivation techniques fail to produce the desired results and why positive reinforcement can have a profound impact on an employee's motivation level.
Originally many organizations were of the view that reward system was the best technique of motivation. It was felt that if employees were offered some rewards in exchange for work done, they would be more motivated to perform at their peak. (Balkenius. 1995) Initially this technique produced some encouraging results, a high level of motivation was witnessed; but with the passage of time, this particular technique lost its original effectiveness and impact. What had gone wrong? This was…