Saturday, March 11, 2006

Old New Ways to Motivate Emploees

Over the last quarter century, I have studied and taught the theories on motivation of Taylor, Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor, Argyris, and McLland. Although each of those management and behavioral scientists has tackled the topic from a different point of view, defending his opinion with both theoretical research, observation, I find Herzberg’s theory the most practical and easy to implement in the workplace. Naturally, the work of all those scientists complements the whole approach to the very important topic of motivation, but herzberg’s points more clearly at the satisfiers and dissatisfiers in the workplace. His focus on the job content as a lasting motivator qualifies for more analysis and serious consideration.

Although Abraham Maslow had discussed the highly complicated task of reaching a concrete definition of the basic human needs, it naturally follows that there are no easy assumptions concerning what employees really want from their organizations. In fact, the various types of their human needs will be eventually converted into specific ‘wants.’ Consequently, an in-depth look at typical employees wants and how organizations may satisfy them, will reveal some relatedness to Maslow’s ‘Pyramid of Needs’ as follows:

A Meaningful Job:
A very difficult want to supply in today’s world of constant change and demands, particularly in large organizations with division of work culture. A meaningful job is the core to job satisfaction. It has got to do with the job content and how challenging it is. We are talking here about not only the employee’s skills and ability to do his/her job, but his talents to apply creative and innovative ways to do it. Individual’s need for both recognition and drive for self-actualization can be integrated in job enrichment to comply with individual wants. Therefore, the ability of the organization to maintain a good caliber of loyal employees who believe in the value of their jobs in the success of the organization is considered crucial in enhancing organizational competitiveness.

Fair Pay: could be considered the most important of all the basic needs as it should be secured in order for the individual to be able to satisfy any of his basic needs. In other words, a fair pay helps satisfying multiple physiological, security, and egoistic needs, even if it cannot alone motivate the whole person. The problem lies in how an organization ensures that their pay will be perceived by its employees as fair and competitive. From experience, I can safely say that pay is the most argued aspect of any organization.

Job Security: A want which is high on the list due to the constant internal and external environmental threats such as the fast pace technological change, fierce competition, unstable economies, mergers, and downsizing. They all result in escalating sense of insecurity on the part of employees. In fact, unless any pay level is paired with job security employees will still feel insecure of losing their jobs any time and with them the pay they were getting. Organizational ruthlessness in this area poses the toughest challenge to business leaders to formulate plans and strategies that ensure a good market share and growth in order to be able to at least maintain their organizations existing employment levels.

Congenial Associates:
The want emanates from the social need of gregariousness and social acceptance. Here, management can assist the process through careful planning of orientation programs and socialization through rest periods and recreational activities, as well as promoting the formation of work teams. Human related work procedures can also be designed in such a way to make all this possible. Teamwork and team spirit can only be nurtured if the work place becomes a place of functional, interrelated homogeneous teams working together.

Credit for Excelling:
This want stems from the individuals egoistic needs and can be supplied by management through verbal praise of excellent work, monetary rewards for suggestions, as well as public recognition through awards or interviews in employees’ magazines, newsletters and bulletin boards. Recharging employees’ batteries is key to loyalty, increased productivity, and superior quality. It is a sure ticket to escalating net profit.

Opportunity to Advance:
Not all employees want primarily to advance their careers. A strange discovery but true though. Some feel the social needs more strongly than the egoistic ones, but most employees certainly want to be assured that the opportunity is there. They are reluctant to take new responsibility and feel more comfortable with a stable job that requires a ‘good doer’. Such a feeling is influenced by a complicated cultural tradition mix of freedom and opportunity. As a general rule career advancement and development pose a great challenge to the organizations of today.

Attractive Work Conditions:
Working in a safe, comfortable work environment is a strong want. It is driven by multiple needs. People spend at work more than they spend at home with their families, relatives, and friends. A good quality of work life is therefore very important to their well being at the workplace. It also helps in reducing the medication bill, and reduces personal conflicts, and condition employees to tolerate more work pressures.

Competent Leadership:
The want for competent, fair leadership who are human needs oriented and are qualified to inspire and lead by example is becoming a strong demand in the modern workplace scene. Competent leaders satisfy both psychological and physiological needs of the employees. They ensure organizational competitiveness and growth which mean both status and job security for the employees. They also set directions, transparency, and inject new ideas and vision into the organization culture and the workplace dynamics.

A Socially Relevant Organization
This want ensues from a self-esteem need, and levies a highly challenging responsibility upon organizational leaders. Sensitivity to the social responsibility of today’s organizations is an important factor in gaining social acceptance for both the organization and its employees. It could be considered as a ‘social investment’ that yields a high return for the shareholders and stakeholders alike. Helping the community develop is in fact helping employees have a sense of ‘belonging’ to the organization as part of their community and not an alienated body with a dominating goal of making money. This kind of interaction between the organization and the community would eventually develop into a customer driven win/win organizational culture.

No comments: