Eight weeks of learning, 30 minutes to tell all (part 3)

None of the theories of motivation that we discussed in the course fully explain why managers play along in the grueling game of chutes and ladders that is the modern-day hierarchy. To be certain, there are aspects of Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory that come into play, in that managers and employees aspiring to be managers see a possibility that if they put in the effort, they will reap the rewards, and in the sense that the rat race behaviors are continually championed and fostered from on high, the organizational rewards are of enough value to make the sacrifice worthwhile.

And there are aspects of Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory which play a part, in that the individual’s internal level of motivation, or intrinsic motivation, is driven largely by the ability to take on challenging assignments and get the appropriate and favorable recognition that comes with such work. Of course, the hygienic factor that includes salary and perquisites also has its place in the motivational formula.

Even Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs only partially explains how a person can stay motivated and tolerate the shenanigans of the ladder climbing ritual. At a certain point, people are either so hungry for the power that comes with the position that they become numb to the effects of the climb, or they are so numb from their experience in the climb that they lose perspective and continue on their quest in auto pilot. Self-actualization may be the professed reason for the continued ascent, but when so many other aspects of personal life are placed in jeopardy, it simply does not make sense.

One area where we saw clear alignment of the effects of motivation on the work itself was in the EMOB exercise “Redesigning Assembly Line Jobs: Hovey and Beard Company.” In this case, employees had been given the opportunity to shape their own work processes, acting essentially as self-directed work teams. They were highly motivated as a result, and felt that their performance was solid. This was further reinforced by bonuses that they were earning that far exceeded the company’s expectations (and budget) and prompted a re-engineering effort to the line which, consequently, demotivated the workforce.

In one of the videos we watched in class, Warren Greshes exhorts the viewer to “see yourself successful.” This visualization can be an effective motivational tool, and many athletes use it to improve their game. He talked about creating a vision, not only for yourself, but for those around you such as employees, clients and others – a great motivational tool.


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