c. Commitment of personnel

”Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.”

Stephen Covey

What is motivation?

Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.

Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3) expectations of the individual and of his or her peers. These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way. An example is a student that spends extra time studying for a test because he or she wants a better grade in the class.

From organizational point of view it is very important to:

  • Encourage employees to take ownership of their jobs and to strive for personal excellence.
  • Be knowledgeable, and share resources and referrals.
  • Make sure job responsibilities are clear and useful.
  • Discuss skills that are essential to be successful in the job.
  • Provide opportunities for increased responsibility and career advancement.
  • Give honest recognition for work achievements.
  • Model the need for continuous learning.

Moreover there can be interesting practical questions, like:

  • Where does motivation come from?
  • What does it mean to motivate others?
  • Can you really motivate someone else?

There is a motivational process, where people go from need to motive to behavior to consequence to satisfaction or dissatisfaction:

Need – Motive – Behavior – Consequence – Satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) – and the Feedback.

There are three basic theories of motivation:

  1. Maslow’s – Hierarchy of Needs
  2. Herzberg – Two Factors
  3. McClelland – Acquired Needs


1. Maslow’s – Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper ”A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence needs to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

Maslow studied what he called exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, writing that ”the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.” Maslow studied the healthiest 1% of the college student population.

Maslow’s theory was fully expressed in his 1954 book Motivation and Personality. While the hierarchy remains a very popular framework in sociology research, management training and secondary and higher psychology instruction, it has largely been supplanted by attachment theory in graduate and clinical psychology and psychiatry.



This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization).

The deficiency, or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the need to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food the more hungry they will become.

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs.   Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization.  Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of he hierarchy.

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.


2. Herzberg – Two Factors

Two-factor theory fundamentals: Attitudes and their connection with industrial mental health are related to Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation. His findings have had a considerable theoretical, as well as a practical, influence on attitudes toward administration. According to Herzberg, individuals are not content with the satisfaction of lower-order needs at work; for example, those needs associated with minimum salary levels or safe and pleasant working conditions. Rather, individuals look for the gratification of higher-level psychological needs having to do with achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the nature of the work itself. This appears to parallel Maslow’s theory of a need hierarchy. However, Herzberg added a new dimension to this theory by proposing a two-factor model of motivation, based on the notion that the presence of one set of job characteristics or incentives leads to worker satisfaction at work, while another and separate set of job characteristics leads to dissatisfaction at work. Thus, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not on a continuum with one increasing as the other diminishes, but are independent phenomena. This theory suggests that to improve job attitudes and productivity, administrators must recognize and attend to both sets of characteristics and not assume that an increase in satisfaction leads to decrease in unpleasurable dissatisfaction.

The two-factor theory developed from data collected by Herzberg from interviews with 203 engineers and accountants in the Pittsburgh area, chosen because of their professions’ growing importance in the business world. Regarding the collection process:

“ Briefly, we asked our respondents to describe periods in their lives when they were exceedingly happy and unhappy with their jobs. Each respondent gave as many ”sequences of events” as he could that met certain criteria—including a marked change in feeling, a beginning and an end, and contained some substantive description other than feelings and interpretations.

The proposed hypothesis appears verified. The factors on the right that led to satisfaction (achievement, intrinsic interest in the work, responsibility, and advancement) are mostly unipolar; that is, they contribute very little to job dissatisfaction. Conversely, the dis-satisfiers (company policy and administrative practices, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions, and salary) contribute very little to job satisfaction. (Herzberg, 1964.)

From analyzing these interviews, he found that job characteristics related to what an individual does — that is, to the nature of the work one performs — apparently have the capacity to gratify such needs as achievement, competency, status, personal worth, and self-realization, thus making him happy and satisfied. However, the absence of such gratifying job characteristics does not appear to lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Instead, dissatisfaction results from unfavorable assessments of such job-related factors as company policies, supervision, technical problems, salary, interpersonal relations on the job, and working conditions. Thus, if management wishes to increase satisfaction on the job, it should be concerned with the nature of the work itself — the opportunities it presents for gaining status, assuming responsibility, and for achieving self-realization. If, on the other hand, management wishes to reduce dissatisfaction, then it must focus on the job environment — policies, procedures, supervision, and working conditions. If management is equally concerned with both, then managers must give attention to both sets of job factors.

Two-factor theory distinguishes between:

Motivators (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth, and

Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions) that do not give positive satisfaction, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.

Essentially, hygiene factors are needed to ensure an employee is not dissatisfied. Motivation factors are needed to motivate an employee to higher performance. Herzberg also further classified our actions and how and why we do them, for example, if you perform a work related action because you have to then that is classed as ”movement”, but if you perform a work related action because you want to then that is classed as ”motivation”.

Unlike Maslow, who offered little data to support his ideas, Herzberg and others have presented considerable empirical evidence to confirm the motivation-hygiene theory, although their work has been criticized on methodological grounds.


3. McClelland – Acquired Needs

Need theory, created by psychologist David McClelland, is a motivational model that attempts to explain how the needs for achievement, power, and affiliation affect the actions of people from a managerial context. This model was developed in the 1960s soon after Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in the 1940s. McClelland stated that we all have these three types of motivation regardless of age, sex, race, or culture. The type of motivation that each individual is driven by is changed by life experiences and the opinions of their culture. This need theory is often taught in classes concerning management or organizational behavior.

Need for Achievement:

People who are achievement-motivated typically prefer to master a task or situation. They prefer working on tasks of moderate difficulty, prefer work in which the results are based on their effort rather than on anything else, and prefer to receive feedback on their work. Achievement based individuals tend to avoid both high risk and low risk situations. Low risk situations are seen as too easy to be valid and the high risk situations are seen as based more upon the luck of the situation rather than the achievements that individual made. This personality type is motivated by accomplishment in the workplace and an employment hierarchy with promotional positions.

Need for Affiliation:

People who have a need for affiliation prefer to spend time creating and maintaining social relationships, enjoy being a part of groups, and have a desire to feel loved and accepted. People in this group tend to adhere to the norms of the culture in that workplace and typically do not change the norms of the workplace for fear of rejection. This person favors collaboration over competition and does not like situations with high risk or high uncertainty. People who have a need for affiliation work well in areas based on social interactions like customer service or client interaction positions.

Need for Power:

This motivational need stems from a person’s desire to influence, teach, or encourage others. People in this category enjoy work and place a high value on discipline. The downside to this motivational type is that group goals can become zero-sum in nature, that is, for one person to win, another must lose. However, this can be positively applied to help accomplish group goals and to help others in the group feel competent about their work. A person motivated by this need enjoys status recognition, winning arguments, competition, and influencing others. With this motivational type comes a need for personal prestige, and a constant need for a better personal status.


Effect on Management:

McClelland said that people usually contain a combination of these three types of motivation and proposed that those in the top management positions should have a high need for power and a low need for affiliation. He stated that people with a high need for achievement will succeed best when given projects with attainable goals and although individuals with a need for achievement can make good managers, they are not suited to being in the top management positions. He also believes that people with a high need for affiliation may not be good top managers but will be team players and are best suited for a cooperative work environment.

Sources of Motivation:

Motivation can be divided into two types: intrinsic (internal) motivation and extrinsic (external) motivation.

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressures or a desire for reward. Intrinsic motivation has been studied since the early 1970s. The phenomenon of intrinsic motivation was first acknowledged within experimental studies of animal behavior. In these studies, it was evident that the organisms would engage in playful and curiosity driven behaviors in the absence of reward. Intrinsic motivation is a natural motivational tendency and is a critical element in cognitive, social, and physical development. Students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to engage in the task willingly as well as work to improve their skills, which will increase their capabilities. Students are likely to be intrinsically motivated if they:

  • attribute their educational results to factors under their own control, also known as autonomy
  • believe they have the skills to be effective agents in reaching their desired goals, also known as self-efficacy beliefs
  • are interested in mastering a topic, not just in achieving good grades

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, whether or not that activity is also intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards (for example money or grades) for showing the desired behavior, and the threat of punishment following misbehavior. Competition is in an extrinsic motivator because it encourages the performer to win and to beat others, not simply to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A cheering crowd and the desire to win a trophy are also extrinsic incentives.

Comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Social psychological research has indicated that extrinsic rewards can lead to overjustification and a subsequent reduction in intrinsic motivation. In one study demonstrating this effect, children who expected to be (and were) rewarded with a ribbon and a gold star for drawing pictures spent less time playing with the drawing materials in subsequent observations than children who were assigned to an unexpected reward condition. However, another study showed that third graders who were rewarded with a book showed more reading behavior in the future, implying that some rewards do not undermine intrinsic motivation. While the provision of extrinsic rewards might reduce the desirability of an activity, the use of extrinsic constraints, such as the threat of punishment, against performing an activity has actually been found to increase one’s intrinsic interest in that activity. In one study, when children were given mild threats against playing with an attractive toy, it was found that the threat actually served to increase the child’s interest in the toy, which was previously undesirable to the child in the absence of threat.

For those children who received no extrinsic reward, self-determination theory proposes that extrinsic motivation can be internalized by the individual if the task fits with their values and beliefs and therefore helps to fulfill their basic psychological needs.

As a conclusion, we can say that low commitment inhibits employee development. Causes of low commitment can be:

  • Lack of appreciation, reinforcement
  • Low satisfaction, motivation
  • Low employee ownership/involvement
  • Misunderstood/unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Lack of attention to employee’s needs
  • Differences in values, personality type, style (with manager, peers, customers, etc.)
  • Workload level (too much, too little)
  • Current responsibilities unconnected with career ambitions
  • Conflict
  • Personal problems

Commitment cannot be taught – however, it can be inspired or supported. Actions to Raise Commitment and Competence can be done as follows. Talk with the employee – Consider:

  • Opportunities to learn, practice, perform
  • Revised, realistic expectations
  • Delegation of challenging assignments
  • Special projects
  • Job change (additional scope, responsibilities)
  • Coaching and feedback on specific skills
  • Mentoring
  • Sharing of knowledge, experience (from you or others)
  • Observing/ Apprenticing with competent associates
  • Motivated self-study
  • Training on essential skills and competiences

Competence can be taught and learned. People can be motivated in different ways.

To effectively motivate others, leaders need to:

  • Identify these motives
  • Find ways to tap into them
  • In large groups: need them all!