Performance Management and Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

  • Length: 9 pages
  • Sources: 1+
  • Subject: Management
  • Paper: #65898093

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The Extent to Which Motivation Theory Underpins Performance Management Systems



Performance Management Systems attempt to answer questions about employee work objectives and their overall role within an organization. The performance manager system is designed to assist the manager in developing, assessing and monitoring a plan by which an employee’s contributions to the organizational strategy and strategic objective are identified, measured and reviewed. The questions that the Performance Management System will are: What is the role of the employee? What is the objective of the employee? How well is the employee meeting the objective? What could be done to help the employee meet the objective more effectively? In encouraging employees to reach their goals, motivation theory can be seen as underpinning performance management systems to a high extent.



Motivation theory is based on the concept developed by Abraham Maslow (1943) in “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow (1943) constructed a Hierarchy of Needs with five levels, each one preparing the ground for the next one up. The most fundamental needs must be met first before the human can be motivated upward, and the most fundamental needs that motivate human behavior are physiological—i.e., shelter, food, water. The second level of motivation consists of needs relating to safety—personal as well as financial security. The third level consists of love and/or a sense of belonging—the need for relationships and friendships. The fourth level consists of esteem—the need to be respected and to feel confident. The highest level of motivation consists of self-actualization—the need to achieve your goals and fulfill your highest potential as a skilled, capable, talented individual (Maslow, 1943). In a performance management system, assessing the level of need that an employee is at can help a manager determine the type of motivation that the employee requires. For example, if an employee is still at the second level—safety—then the motivation that the worker will likely need will be based on feelings of security: the worker may need incentives, such as health care or a pension plan to be adequately motivated to apply himself at work and move up the ladder of success.



The difficulty of testing Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs was demonstrated by Wahba and Bridwell (1976) in a review of the empirical evidence available at the time. The researchers examined ten factor-analytic along with three ranking studies that tested Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs and found that the evidence only provided partial support “for the concept of need hierarchy” (Wahba & Bridwell, 1976, p. 212). The researchers found that cross-sectional studies did not offer any specific evidence to support Maslow’s “deprivation/domination proposition except with regard to self-actualization,” the highest of the needs levels (Wahba & Bridwell, 1976, p. 212). The researchers also examined evidence regarding the gratification/activation proposition put forward by Maslow’s theory and found that there was no support for it either. Additionally, the researchers noted that the limited support for Maslow’s theory may be disputed because of the measurement methods employed in the various cross-sectional studies. Ultimately, Wahba and Bridwell (1976) concluded that Maslow’s theory of motivation is difficult to accurately test because of conceptual, methodological and measurement issues related to identifying the extent to which human motivation is a factor in performance.



An early study on performance management entitled “Efficiency in City Government” by Bruere, Allen, Cleveland and Baker (1912). Bruere et al. (1912) showed that in 1906 the city of New York was tasked with improving performance and the Bureau of City Betterment was created. Researchers within the Bureau were hired “to chart the organization of every city department to show by schedules what was being done, who was doing it, the organization provided, and the exact powers and duties of every unit in the departmental structure” (Bruere, Allen, Cleveland & Baker, 1912, p. 11). The concept of a needs hierarchy had not yet been established at that time—Maslow’s theory would not be presented to the public for another three decades; however, the research showed that the concept of performance management was one that needed to be understood. What was not clear then was the extent to which motivation theory played a part in determining performance. Indeed, it was not even clear in the 1970s. Today, however, there is more compelling evidence to help settle the matter of how motivation factors into performance.



The study by Schyns and Schilling (2013) focused on the negative impact that bad leadership can have on employee performance. The researchers found that leaders who demonstrated a disregard for their workers, did not utilize emotional intelligence, or subject their employees to harsh criticism without giving any kind of support generally led to a reduced output of performance by the workers. The workers began to show less interest in supporting the objectives of the firm, did not promote a positive or healthy workplace morale, and even in some cases deliberately plotted to undermine the organizational goals so as to get back at the poor leadership. Schyns and Schilling (2013) showed that by disregarding the needs of employees, from the most basic concepts articulated in Maslow’s theory to the highest concepts, the managers were denying the workers the motivation they required to perform at a high level or even at a basic level in some cases.



Benson and Dundis (2003) applied Maslow’s model to the nursing industry to show how motivation theory can help advance the aims of performance management systems. The researchers showed that “a new perspective related to how Maslow's Model, as used in business/organizational settings, can be directly related to current workforce concerns: the need for security and freedom from stress, social belongingness, self-esteem, self-actualization, altered work/social environments, and new opportunities for learning and self-definition” (Benson & Dundis, 2003, p. 315). The researchers showed that motivational theory provides management with the means of understanding workers, their needs, and what is required to support and/or incentivize them to perform at desired levels. Benson & Dundis (2003) concluded: “How does one motivate employees in the face of increased demands, particularly when they are being asked to meet these demands with fewer resources? The answer is, in large part, to make the employee feel secure, needed, and appreciated. This is not at all easy, but if leaders take into consideration the needs of the individual, the new technology that provides challenges and opportunities for meeting those needs, and provides the training to meet both sets of needs, enhanced employee motivation and commitment is possible” (p. 315). By investing in their employees and offering them the emotional, social and intellectual support workers need, managers can be assured of better ensuring employee performance according to this study.



Zameer, Ali, Nisar and Amir (2014) show that these findings are universal and that motivational theory can be used to support performance enhancement strategies in Pakistan just as they are in the West. Zameer et al. (2014) obtained data from workers in five Pakistan cities using the structured questionnaire method. They found that motivation is very important to workers and that they perform at higher levels when they are effectively motivated. The concept that if the needs of workers, whether they are defined according to Maslow’s model or to other motivation models, such as Alderfer’s model, then the workers will respond favorably by dedicating themselves to fulfilling the needs of the organization that employs them. In this sense, motivation theory operates in a quid-pro-quo type of transaction. The researchers measured performance by using a general performance management system linking together four factors: “1. Organization objective; 2. Day by…

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