Motivation theories explain about human nature and human needs. These theories demystify the nature of people and the forces that drive people into action. Motivational theory explains why people take the actions they take at work. These theories can be classified into organismic or mechanistic. Mechanistic theories view the human being as passive and needing prodding in order to take action.
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Organismic theories, on the other hand, view the human being as proactive and having initiative in his actions. The intrinsic needs and physiological drives of human beings account for this proactive nature. It is necessary to note that, at the work place, motivation is the result of incentives and human needs.
A human being will feel more motivated when provided incentives meet his intrinsic needs. Motives are directed towards the achievement of a certain goal. Thus, the motives influence the behavior of the human being.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the theories that explains human motives as related to their needs. Maslow classifies human needs into five categories from the most pressing to the least pressing. It is also necessary to note that three of Maslow’s identified psychological needs are the most pressing needs for generation Y. These needs include basic human needs such as food, shelter and clothing.
A person is not likely to start thinking of satisfying the other needs unless the psychological needs are met. Employees will desire a job that is capable of catering for and satisfying their psychological needs. Next in the hierarchy is a need for safety and security.
Once his psychological needs have been satisfied, man will desire to ensure safety of the basic needs. People need to be sure of maintaining their status in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe.
Members of an organization are likely to be motivated if their future is safe. If their future is in danger, persons will deem other things as unimportant. Again, people will work harder in life once they have satisfied their psychological needs in order to secure their future.
Once safety and security needs have been met, social needs emerge as important. Man needs belongingness and recognition by the society. Employees will work harder to obtain outstanding results in order to gain belongingness and recognition in their organizations.
In addition, organizations reward and recognize outstanding performance to motivate employees. It is worth mentioning that these three needs are the pressing needs in early adulthood. The needs of self esteem and self actualization arise much later in adulthood as Maslow explained.
Douglas McGregor proposed two theories to explain the motivation in human beings. Theory X assumes that people are inherently lazy and need prodding in order to carry out a task. On the other hand, Theory Y assumes that people view work as play or rest. It is noteworthy that while some elements of generation Y require nudging in order to accomplish tasks, a number also like working independently and are self driven.
Thus, the choice of which Theory to apply in motivating employees should not be made on a generalized approach but rather on an individual basis. Under Theory Y, McGregor proposed that employees should be given challenging tasks and involved in participative decision making.
It is noteworthy that these are the same qualities that persons in early adulthood, commonly referred to as generation Y are seeking in their jobs. Consequently, to motivate the Generation Y, managers should be considering approaches that cater to their needs for recognition through active leadership opportunities, cash incentives and job enrichment.
In summary, approaches that best suit the needs of generation Y should be adopted. Leadership should cultivate trust and participatory leadership in the team.
This will increase productivity in the team. The expectancy theory should be applied to ensure that reward systems award young adults with items they need. However, caution needs to be exercised to ensure that the extrinsic rewards given do not overshadow the need for the intrinsic drive to do work.