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Motivation Essay, Research Paper

Personal Motivation?The Individual?s View

Understanding what motivates people is at the core of relating to people at all levels. According to Webster?s dictionary, (Webster, 1976) to motivate is to provide with, or affect as, an inner drive, impulse, or incentive that causes one to act. A motivation can be a cause, purpose, or idea according the Thesaurus. (Webster 1997). Motivation causes behavior, incites action.

Personal motivational drives may include pride, desire for greatness, competitive spirit, serving others, doing the right thing, overcoming all odds. (Katzenbach, 1995, p.91)

When studying motivation, the classic motivational theories of McGregor, Herzberg, and Maslow must not be forgotten, as illustrated in Figures 1,2, and 3.

McGregor characterized people into two groups, labeled X and Y.

Herzberg identified a two-factor theory regarding the motivation of employees. The motivation factors, when present, tend to create satisfaction or motivation in the minds of employees. The hygiene factors, when absent or perceived as inadequate, can create dissatisfied employees; yet, when present, do not add to satisfaction or serve to motivate.

Maslow suggested people are motivated by a set of internal needs. They range from the lowest-order needs of Physiological to the highest-order need of Self-actualization. Individuals are motivated at their level of need, and once a lower-order need is satisfied, the next higher-order need becomes the individual?s motivational drive.

Author Kenneth Van Sickle believes that the motivational theories represented by McGregor (Theory X, Theory Y) and Herzberg (Hygiene Seeker, Motivation Seeker) reflects two distinct personality types. These two personalities can be defined relative to Maslow?s Hierarchy, and he labels these personalities Low-order Need Person and High-order Need Person.

The Low-order Need Person, or LONP, operates at the lower three levels of Maslow?s Hierarchy, the motivators being: Physiological, Safety and Security, and Social. McGregor?s Theory X Characterization describes a similar person, as does Herzberg?s Hygiene Seeker. In contrast, the High-order Need Person, or HONP, operates at the higher end of Maslow?s Hierarchy, has characteristics of McGregor?s Theory Y, and Herzberg?s Motivation Seeker. These personalities differ in the needs they value, and therefore, the needs that motivate them to action. (VanSickle, 1995, pg. 35-41)

Figure 1.

McGregor?s Theory X

and Theory Y


Theory X Assumptions

?People dislike work and will avoid it if possible

?People must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment

?People will avoid responsibility, have little ambition and want security above all else

Theory Y Assumptions

?People will exercise self-direction and self-control to achieve objectives to which they are committed

?Commitment to objectives is a function of recognition associated with their achievements

?People will seek responsibility

?People will exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity to solve organizational problems

Figure 2.

Herzberg?s Motivation Hygiene Theory

Motivation Factors

?Sense of achievement

?Form of Recognition

?Qualitative value of the work

?Level of responsibility

?Opportunity for advancement

?Personal growth development

Hygiene Factors

?Job Security


?Working conditions


?Perception of company policy

?Quality of technical supervision

?Quality of interpersonal relations

?Fringe benefits

Figure 3.

Maslow?s Need Hierarchy

1. Physiological Needs

?General needs–food, drink, shelter, pain avoidance

?Workplace needs?salary and working conditions

2. Safety and Security

?General needs–freedom from threat, protection from danger and accidents, security of surroundings

?Workplace needs?safe conditions, job security, fringe benefits concerning health, protection, and retirement

3. Social

?General needs–friendships and satisfying relationships with others

?Workplace needs?acceptance by peers and employee-focused management

4. Ego, Status, and Esteem

?General needs?self-respect, respect from peers, self-confidence, prestige

5. Self-actualization

?General needs?maximize one?s abilities, skills, and potential

Personal Motivation?The Leader?s View

Whatever your relationship, the ability to define motivators can help people channel their actions in positive ways, meet their needs and enable personal growth. Successful motivational skill has the ability to influence, stimulate, and nurture others through encouragement, nourishment, or inducement. Your actions and words can help others reach higher levels of achievement with the opportunity and freedom to grow. However, skillful ability to motivate isn?t all it takes for fruitful relationships at whatever level. Successful motivators are also skilled listeners, communicators, and focused thinkers, all characteristics of an effective leader. A successful motivator must be an effective leader, whether you?re leading children, individuals, small groups, or crowds. You must develop basic leadership skills to be successful.

Motivation in the Workplace

In the workplace, a successful leader should develop effective motivational skills. Leaders must realize that they are authority figures and role models with influence to set the tone and pace for the group. Mutual respect is necessary to cultivate. People should feel confident that the leader is trustworthy and can deliver what they promise. A leader must make the time and encourage talk, define short term and long-term goals and determine how to reach them. When a basic leadership relationship has been established, positive motivation will be successful. (Rodgers, 1987, p. 109-111, 119-128)

Managers usually believe that Theory X people are hard to motivate, avoid responsibility, and have little ambition. Theory Y people are usually seen as self-starters, motivated, open to responsibility. Leaders often see people who are motivated toward the higher order needs as much more valuable to the organization, and therefore characterize the lower order need people as unmotivated and requiring exceptional inducement to perform similar tasks But the LONP operates at the lower end of the need hierarchy and doesn?t view behavior that would fill the higher order needs of recognition, achievement, responsibility, or creative problem solving as relevant (Van Sickle, 1995, p.43, 44)

A good leader can understand each individual?s personal motivations and goals, what they expect, and communicate effectively the specific goals that are expected from them. A skilled motivator is persuasive without robbing others? individuality or self-worth. Not all people will respond to the same motivators. A skilled motivator will recognize where an individual fits in and will tailor motivational strategy accordingly.

Workplace motivators can include fear, competitive spirit, desire for achievement and greatness, doing the right thing, personal gain, making a real difference (Katzenbach, 1995, p. 88, 89)

Tangible motivators in the workplace include raises, fringe benefits, commissions and other cash incentives, and bonuses. (Rodgers, 1987, pg. 138-147)

Job satisfaction is probably the greatest intangible motivator. Recognition for accomplishment is an excellent motivator, and can be shown in various ways besides monetary rewards, including added responsibility, authority, or power, new title, or nicer working space. Exceptional performances should be publicized whenever possible, with a public thank-you, recognition awards, and the ability to attend exclusive events designed only for high achievers. Encouraging continuing education is an important motivator, as well as a necessary tool for growth and higher achievement. Successful companies treat the cost for education as a vital investment, not an expense to be used sparingly. Community service recognition also has a positive motivational influence on job performance. Demonstrate enthusiasm for the achievements of others while still maintaining business-like relationships. (Rodgers, 1987, pg. 160-169)

How Motivation Affects Change

Motivational strategies help keep us focused on meeting our needs, fulfilling our wants, dealing with the normal demands of life. But unanticipated situations arise almost every day. We have to change plans. Van Sickle sites that the death of a spouse and divorce are the two life changes posing the greatest consequence. Workplace change ranks more stressing than a son or daughter leaving home and just below having a mortgage or loan foreclosed by a bank.

Today, change is common and expected. But demand for change is a threat to the psychological status quo. Any threat to the status quo directly places need fulfillment at risk. When demands for change occur, individuals look for relevancy to the needs they value. Resistance to change occurs when the change is deemed irrelevant or when needs are actually threatened. Resistance to change serves as a personal defense mechanism to eliminate or reduce the stress brought about by the change. By placing barriers in the path of the proposed change, one attempts to deny the opportunity for the stress-inducing event to occur. The same, simple dynamic occurs no matter what personality or needs are involved. (Van Sickle, 1995, p 22, 43, 50, 53, 57)

Self-esteem also plays an important role in a person?s openness to change. If self-esteem is damaged, resistance to change is increased. Participation in the decision process enhances self-esteem and reduces resistance to change.

How Leaders Can Affect Change

Successful leaders are aware of and consider the motivational needs of the people they lead when demanding change. Leaders may have to reveal their personal motivations, capture their personal vision for the benefits of the proposed change in order to create motivation for the change. They listen to the thoughts of others and try complementary approaches to differing motivations to inspire discussion and agreement in goals and objectives. Define the vision, (the photograph), write it down, (the caption under the photo). The vision may be unclear at first, but should start out with attributes of the desired goals. It should be talked through until the vision captures the imagination and conviction of the people. This leads to understanding and personal conviction. The more people involved in this period of discussion, the more there will be to communicate the meaning to others. Thus successful change begins.

A leader skilled at breaking down the barriers for change is highly motivated and has the ability to motivate, if not inspire, others. They create excitement and momentum, provide opportunities for others to follow their example, are courageous, and take personal responsibility. They practice stretching themselves and hold themselves accountable. (Katzenbach, 1995, pg.13, 83, 84, 93-94)

It?s not that people aren?t motivated; people are motivated for different reasons. Understanding motivation is necessary to successfully manage change. An organization that cannot continuously change is an organization with a short lifespan. The leader who effectively manages change can help create an innovative organization capable of adapting to the chaotic and ever-changing world. This is an invaluable asset to any organization. (Van Sickle, 1995, p.58)


Webster?s New World Dictionary, Modern Desk Edition, (1976) 314

Webster?s New World Pocket Thesaurus, (1997) 127.

Katzenbach, Jon R. (1995). Real Change Leaders, New York, NY, Random House.

Rodgers, Buck (1987). Getting the Best Out of Yourself and Others, New York, NY, Harper and Row.

Van Sickle, Kenneth P. (1995). Why Johnny Won?t Cooperate [On-Line] Available Internet: http://www.airuniversity.com

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