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Discussing the management of motivation and examining the theories involve and the advantages and disadvantages of these tools. Expository Essay

In this century, the HR department of any organization or institution is increasingly becoming the most important in these organisations. This department shoulders one aspect of the organization that can determine the success or the failure of the company or the organization.

Managers therefore are supposed to handle the human factor with a lot of care to make sure that they achieve the objectives that they have set for their organizations. With the current wave of economic downturns, recessions and hard times, business will now turn on establishing well-managed human resource in organizations (Ebadan and Winstanley, 1997).

In this same spirit, that motivation of the employees comes onboard. Motivation is a key factor in any organisation and can be directly linked to the success or failure of their operations. For this reason the importance of motivation in the workplace can be appreciated and the need for all managers to manage through motivation, by balancing incentives.

This essay therefore discusses some theories of motivation with the aim of establishing the most appropriate way of handling the whole issue. In this, the paper will focus on discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Performance Related Pay (PRP), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s Hygiene and empowerment of employees, and finally suggest if managers should employ all or one in their management of the human resource or the employees.

Kevin and Jeanette (1995) state the fundamental point that “motivation is a notion on which a manager can initiate and direct behavior” (Kevin and Jeanette, 1995). They continue by stating that “an employee’s will be fulfilled as long as they are motivated to do the task set and a managements goals are achieved when he is able to satisfy both the employees’ and the needs of the organisation” (Kevin and Jeanette, 1995).

Motivation therefore can be said to be the thing that causes people to act in a certain way in order to fulfil a certain need or attain a certain goal in their endeavours (Baldoni, 2004).

The concept of motivation is very dynamic, and this has provided a platform of the growth of many theories. We can state in other words that motivation is a changing idea, and is varying with time. Performance Related Pay is just one of many concepts born from theory, which has been modelled to aid in the motivation of a work force (Ritti as cited in Mullins, 1996:85).

Pay related performance

Performance Related Pay (PRP) has grown much in the last few decades in many organisations (Crowe, 1992). The theory of performance-related pay was modelled, as a way to motivate employees and encourage a preferred behaviour due to individuals varying in terms of their own levels of drive, initiative and motivation.

Furthermore, this model is based on the fact that monetary rewards to the employees for excellent job accomplished will further psych them up to perform better. The system encourages the setting up of individual goals in accordance to the company or organisation’s goals to make sure that all people work to fulfil the corporate philosophy and company’s main concerns.

This is all based on the fact that money is a strong motivator, and anyone would do whatever they can in work to get a desired amount. The company will achieve its objective as individual workers do their best to provide quality and voluminous work. This has a strong advantage on the overall outcome of business endeavours of the company.

Advantages of PRP

The key argument in favour of PRP is that “it acts as a motivator, by providing both recognition of achievements and incentives in the form of monetary reward” (Torrington and Hall 1995).

Further benefits acknowledged by Torrington and Hall. (1995), include the fact that “individuals can identify closely with their employers goals and that this can increase productivity and encourage quality, flexibility and teamwork” (Torrington and Hall 1995). This will, with doubt be an advantage in the recruitment of the workers or the staff members, and furthermore encourage their retention.

One major benefit of PRP is that any organisational targets will become the prime concern of the individual. If that is so, the organisation will present its strategy in a clear way to outline the activities that an individual has to undertake, in order to have the overall goals achieved. Below are examples of some benefits of PRP:

As was earlier-mentioned, the main benefit of performance related pay is that the employee makes the companies objectives his or her main concerns. On the outset of pointing out goals for the employees with a clear reward at the end or on achieving the goals, motivates the worker to work hard to attain them.

To obtain high motivation in the employees, the goals should not be very difficult to reach, and that the reward should be seen as worthy of the efforts invested. The overall advantage of this scheme is very outstanding or clear, that the company will have a motivated employee as it becomes more productive, efficient and effective in all its endeavours.

On the ability of retaining workers, the performance related pay would encourage consistency in the company’s performance. This is because of insignificant turnover of workers, which would make the company spend a lot on training and orienting the new comers. The other part of this advantage is that the company holds on to the excellent performers only, increasing the productivity of the company.

The other thing is that these employees will always work to gain higher performance and so guaranteeing continuous appraisal of their standards and hence the organisational standards. This will result to better performance each time they set new goals, being encouraged by the pay bonuses.

PRP does not allows the company to avoid promoting high achievers to higher levels of responsibilities for the monetary reward always counters the desire of going to higher levels of responsibilities (Wright, 1991). The company will therefore avoid the making the structure of the organization overly full and intricate by promoting the employees who are performing highly.

High performance in individuals does not always indicate the ability to shoulder responsibilities at higher levels in an organization. PRP will effectively discourage this habit. Finally, the other fact that is related to this is that the organization or the company’s management will have full control over its workers through using performance related pay system.

Work objectives are clear and specific, with a full understanding of what needs to be achieved. In this case, every person sets his or her objectives keenly keeping in mind that quality of their work will guarantee them direct reward. This will help in the growth of individuals in one basic direction. This is in skills and competencies that will help to achieve their individual goals of the company.

Performance related pay also gives an idea of where the future of the company is. We can say that as the workers contribute the tireless efforts now, they also look forward to continued rewards and so they will keep the company forging forward into the future. On this point, incentives will encourage innovativeness of the workers, as they would want to improve continuously on their performance to sustain their rewards.

Cons of PRP

Murphy, K, and Cleveland, J. (1995) have questioned the degree to which PRP acts as a motivator, or moreover the degree to which money itself motivates. Murphy and Cleveland (1995) go on to state that “many managers are aware that the job itself is the source of true motivation and not the pay” (Murphy and Cleveland (1995). In Contrast, Mabey and Salaman, (1995) state that, “managers admire the idea of linking a proportion of an employees pay to the achievement of a specific objectives” (Salaman and, Mabey 1995).

Kessler and Purcell, (1992) acknowledges that PRP has “attracted a lot of criticism from academic researchers” (Kessler and Purcell, 1992). They attacked many varying aspects related to PRP, and announced, “PRP has underlying flaws which cannot be overcome” (Kessler and Purcell, 1992). The further explain their reasoning for this statement by recognising that “psychologists question the use of money to motivate employees and Sociologists think it as a tool to administer management control” (Kessler and Purcell, 1992).

According to Mabey and Salaman(1995), the satisfaction and motivational benefit of a reward system is a characteristic of the perceived equity of the reward system (Mabey and Salaman1995). Without this perceived fairness, employee trust in the practice is likely to be low and there is a chance that the connection between performance and pay will not be acknowledged as being a positive one (Kessler, 1995).

The question of fairness is even more of an issue in more narrow organisations where opportunities for promotion may be limited Marsden and Richardson (1994). Marsden and Richardson (1994) goes on to state, “in addition to the question of fairness, problems linked with PRP involve a tendency toward a short-term focus on goals while neglecting long-term issues” (Marsden, Richardson 1994).

Heneman (1992) states however, “It would be right to acknowledge that PRP provided a significant opportunity to interact on a more frequent basis with the supervisor, with the intention of discussing the goals being undertaken” (Heneman, 1992).

Heneman, (1992), goes onto discuss a range of drawbacks with the PRP strategy. A major issue discussed, is the measurement of performance as a great difficulty with the PRP strategy. Below are a few examples.

PRP assume money is the best reward. This is a possible downside to this approach as discussed by Kessler (1995), is that “the employee may centre their attention solely on what he/she believes will allow them to achieve this target, therefore neglecting other areas of their work” (Kessler, 1995).

It is not successful in improving employee motivation, as we look at its ability of creating clarity of goals. As some look at it as an opportunity, some will feel that they are greatly pressurised to perform. This is highly de-motivating, as these people may not see it necessary to harbour excessive pressure just because of monetary rewards.

PRP negatively affects teamwork and cooperation can suffer. Discriminating between individual contributions may have a negative effect. In the same way as it also encourages individuals to focus only on goals, which they have to achieve, but not to work together as a team (Cannell and Wood, 1992). This is because every one of them is focusing on the reward given at obtaining the personal objective. The discordance that may arise will work negatively on the overall goal achievement of the company.

If one individual is rewarded and the other is not rewarded, on an occasion that the performance rating is not clear to the party that has not been rewarded, the individual will become de-motivated, and that will obviously strangle some departments in the company. In addition to this, the goals that are not achieved are equally de-motivating, as the company cannot reward the effort invested in trying to obtain these goals.

Risk taking in such a case will not be encouraged. If the effort would be rewarded, then the workers would be willing to take more risks into activities that they think will guarantee success. If people are de-motivated on such grounds, the result is definite that the organisation will underperform (Marsden and Richardson, 1994).

PRP encourages narrow focus on short-term objectives, neglecting the long-term goals. Every time they achieve the short-term goals, they will be forced to go into another lapse of projecting in the near future to establish the appropriate activities to undertake. In the current dynamic economic situation, being un-strategic is very dangerous for an organisation and son PRP will be the wrong scheme of motivation to dwell on.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This is a hierarchical arrangement of needs. The need one experiences is always dependant on those that are already fulfilled. The hierarchy is arranged to show that one level of need has to be met before one desires the next. These needs are:

  • Physiological needs, these include the bodies automatic efforts to function, i.e. lack of food, desire for water, and the need for clean air also deep sensory delight.
  • Safety needs, security and comfort, freedom from pain, or physical attack, this is the need for order,
  • Love needs or social needs, a sense of belonging, friendship and social activities, this is not just receiving the need it is giving the need to others,
  • Esteem needs, This includes the receiving of respect, confidence and strength, obtaining a prestige status and being given the respect from that position,
  • Self actualisation needs, when and if one has reached their full potential, what we can be given the chance (Maslow (1943) cited in Mullins, 1996:40).

Thomas (2000), acknowledges that, “Maslow proposed, once the lower levels of the hierarchy we reached they would no longer have an effect on motivation. Also suggested is that very few individuals would reach the top layer and that these needs were crossing cultural” (Thomas, 2000). Starting from the base of the pyramid, the needs turn out to be increasingly more isolated from the essential survival, or physiological needs (Smith, 1992).

As we have aforementioned, the fact is that a larger percentage of previous need should be met before the next one shows up. The fist four needs are known as deficiency needs. These needs arise because of lack of some things. If these needs are not met, it is difficult to move further than the fundamental psychological efforts needed for our being. The four are basically are intrinsic and some people refer to them as animalistic.

If the above needs are met, then the next needs can be met. These higher needs are called growth needs. If these needs are met to a higher percentage, people endeavour to exploit their full potentials in various things. This is moving to self actualization. The final place is going beyond oneself to help others reach the highest needs. This is what is referred to as transcendence.

Maslow’s theory implication to management

The theory gives some important suggestions in the management of a company or an organization. These are chances for managing the workers through various ways, depending on specific aspects. The management can motivate them through provision of psychological needs, such as providing wedges that are enough for the acquisition of the fundamental needs. For safety needs, the workers will need an environment that is safe to work in.

They will also nee to be assured that their job is secure, and that they are guaranteed of such things as retirement benefits. For the social needs, teamwork would play a major role. Social events too will enhance the provision of the social needs. Recognizing the milestones that the workers have come through will work well for meeting their esteem needs. This is making them know that their achievements have been appreciated.

Creating opportunities that offer challenging situation to provoke the workers to exploit their full potential will serve well in meeting the need for self-actualization. In doing these, the managers should treat each employee differently. This is because there is no time the people are at same need level. The factors that will motivate them are therefore different and so each should be carefully and individually identified.

The limitation of this Theory

It is not in all cases that people seek for needs hierarchically. We have some cultures that exalt social needs beyond self-actualization, we have some people who forsake the search of such basic needs as food to seek higher needs such as esteem, for example ‘the starving artists’. The other thing is that it is not true that people work at satisfying one need at a time; some can be sought for concurrently, unless there have conflicting interest.

Herzberg’s Factor Theory

Herzberg makes a continuation of Maslow’s theory by coming up with two parts of motivation. “Hygiene or maintenance factors, which serve to prevent dissatisfaction; these include job security, salary, company policy, conditions of work, and interpersonal skill” (Herzberg cited in Mullins 1996:494). The second one is the suggested “motivators or growth factors, including achievement, responsibility, recognition and personal growth” (Herzberg cited in Mullins, 1996:494).

Thomas (2000), acknowledges, “Herzberg’s hygiene factors associate closely related with Maslow’s lower order” (Thomas, 2000). He further says, “Attention to hygiene will prevent dissatisfaction, but will not motivate, where as growth of the satisfiers will motivate employees” (Thomas, 2000).

Laxmikanth (2009) says, “Herzberg found out that the set of factors involved in the job satisfaction events were entirely different from the set of factors involved in the job dissatisfaction events” (Laxmikanth 2009). He further states that, “He called the former set of factors as ‘satisfiers’ (motivators or growth factors or intrinsic factors) and the latter set of factors dissatisfies (hygiene factors or extrinsic factors)” (Laxmikanth 2009).

Relation to management

From this theory, managers should strive for job enrichment that would provide the intrinsic values and motivation to the workers. From this theory, we have the following aspects: the company should create jobs with enough challenge to utilize the full potential of the employees.

Those who have more ability should be assigned more responsibility. This will further motivate them to exploit their potentials. The third aspect is that if a certain type of work cannot fully utilize the potential of employees, the management should think of automating the job or putting there employees who have lower ability to fit the low demand of the work. The fact behind this aspect is that under utilization of an employee causes de-motivation.


The two-factor is explicit because it is a way of nature to welcome accolades for satisfaction and to censure external issues for dissatisfaction. It is not a guarantee that the presence of job satisfaction insinuates high motivation among the workers. Thompson and McHugh (2002) state in criticism of Herzberg’s work that, “employees are more likely to reflect the satisfying events at work, as what they have achieved, their own performance” (Thompson and McHugh 2002).

Employee Empowerment

“In the empowerment of employee’s, an employee’s role has changed” (Osborne and Plastrik, 2000). Some organisations have begun to address their employee’s as associates, (Guest 1999). Guest (1999) continues by acknowledging, “The move towards management empowering employees is seen as rewarding and motivational by putting more value on the individual.

We can define it simply as giving up the right of make certain decisions, and transferring it to the juniors. It is an acceptable management practice where workers are increasingly demanding that they be part of decision makers in what concerns them and the running of the organizations. They are slowly rejecting places where they are not allowed to be part of the decision making process.

The managers will now change from being the sole decision makers to becoming coordinators of the activities in the company or the organisation (Brown, 1995). Among the many factors that lead to effective empowerment, the culture of the organization is very important. This is what will determine the level of empowerment among the employees. An example is if managers are threatened by loosing power. The managers too should be careful to know in what and when to empower the employees.

According to this theory, people are increasingly motivated as the have an increasing sense of self-determination. This goes alongside the feeling that one is increasingly becoming competent. This results from the growing sense of self-effectiveness. This will make them confident of themselves and will be determined to work more to prove their competence. Managers should therefore improve self-efficacy for it is a very vital tool for empowerment.


It creates trust between the team members, the workers and the managers. In this way, people are able to work giving the highest value and priority to the goals of the organisation. Empowering the employees will also energize them in what they are doing, to strive to do the best for they feel that they are part of the whole process and the organization. That is to say that they have been motivated and will work to obtain the best results.

It has also the overall effect of improving the performance of the workers because they make people fully responsible for their actions, and working. It also exposes workers to many learning opportunities and so making them to learn and develop in various fields in the organization. In succession, there would be no difficulty in getting a person to fit in the position of the outgoing leader.

This is from the fact that all people were involved in doing things the leader would be doing. Gronfeldt and Strother suggests that there are three main benefits, “The main three benefits are believed to be (a) enhanced responsiveness to customer needs, (b) better handling of service breakdowns, and (c) enhanced job satisfaction”( Gronfeldt and Strother, 2006).


The most outstanding disadvantage here is the individual ability. If a person knows that they are not able to carryout a certain task, could be from previous experiences, it will be difficult for him to handle such future responsibilities. To empower them will not help improve their abilities (Armstrong, 1994). The other thing is that people have to be trained intensively on how to handle the company’s procedures leading to more costs in terms of training.

The motivational issues of today leave much to be discussed and developed as they did many decades ago (Storey and Sisson, 1993). This paper has discussed the overview of the four theories and has looked at the merits and the demerits of each. It is there good to observe that not all will apply in all cases when motivating employees. They should be considered in a careful balance in order to achieve an overall management style that keeps the workers motivated as they contribute their potentials to the organisation.


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