Tag Archives: Motivators

The Evolution of Motivation

Everyone talks about ‘motivation’ – the purpose of this post is to briefly track the key concepts and theories.

The framework for modern management is firmly rooted in the concepts of scientific management developed during the industrial revolution, formalised by Frederick Taylor and the Gilbreths. Workers were closely supervised, the method of working designed in detail (time and motion studies) and payments were based on work accomplished (piece rates). Where piece rates were not practical, supervision was intensified[1].

This approach aligns with ‘Theory X’ developed by Douglas McGregor[2] in the 1960s, in which managers believe individuals are inherently lazy and unhappy with their jobs, and as a consequence an authoritarian management style is required to ensure fulfilment of objectives.

X-Y

The first steps towards McGregor’s ‘Theory Y’ (which assumes given the correct leadership, employees can be ambitious, self-motivated, exercise self-control and are willing to take on some amount of professional responsibility to achieve the objectives) came from the work of Henry Gantt.

Gantt’s approach to motivating workers involved training and paying bonuses for achieving production targets. A worker received a reasonable wage, was paid whilst being trained and both the worker and his foreman received bonuses once the worker had learned to achieve the production target. Gantt was fully aware of culture and the need for people to want to succeed but did not develop a ‘motivational theory’ as such[3]. The other limitation is this type of motivation is ‘extrinsic’ and can be very effective in the right circumstances. However, this type of motivation only works where the work items can be counted

One of the first people to develop a true motivational theory was Abraham Maslow.

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[4]

In his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, Maslow states the five levels of the hierarchy of needs as Physiological, Security, Social, Esteem, and Self-actualizing.

  • Physiological needs are described as those needed for survival such as food, water, and sleep.
  • Security needs include safety, steady employment, and shelter from the environment.
  • Social needs include the need for love, affection and being part of a team or group.
  • The need for esteem is centred on the individual’s personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment.
  • The highest need is self-actualization, which is where the individual is less concerned with other’s opinions and is more focused on achieving their full potential.

maslow-hierarchy

A point worth noting is that Maslow stated that the predominance of a need assigned by the individual determines its’ importance not the order presented.  This point is brought up because Maslow’s theory is commonly represented as a pyramid and the assumption that the first need must be satisfied before the next need is even addressed.

 

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation[5]

Vroom developed his Expectancy theory (1964) through his study of the motivations behind decision making. It proposes that an individual will decide to behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behaviour over other behaviours due to what they expect the result of that selected behaviour will be (ie, their expectations based on pervious experience or observation).  This theory emphasises the needs for organisations to align rewards directly to desired performance and to ensure that the rewards provided are both deserved and wanted by the recipients[6].

Vroom

 

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation[7]

Herzberg (1965) theorized that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were affected by different factors and thus could not be measured on the same scale. This theory is known as the two-factor theory; Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory; and/or the dual-factor theory.

  • Hygiene factors are those that pertained to the job and were comprised of supervision, interpersonal relationships, work conditions, salary, and company policy. Hygiene factors cannot produce motivation only satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  • The motivational factors are such items as recognition, a sense of achievement, growth or promotion opportunities, responsibility, and meaningfulness of the work itself.

Herzberg

Hygiene factors need to be removed (cleaned up) before motivation factors can take effect. This theory was developed in the same timeframe as McGregor’s ‘Theory X – Theory Y’.

 

McClelland’s Theory of Needs[8]

McClelland’s theory of needs (1995) is a motivational model that attempts to explain how the needs for achievement, power, and affiliation affect the actions of people from a managerial context:

  • Achievement discusses how people with different levels of achievement needs seek tasks with a corresponding level of risk. The higher the achievement need the higher the risk.
  • Affiliation need is similar to achievement and differs only in the fact it is the need to be associated with or accepted by a specific group.
  • The power portion of the needs theory actually has two sub-sets, personal power and institutional power. Personal power describes the individual who wants to direct others and institutional power describes the individual who wants to organize the efforts of others for the betterment of the institution.

McClelland

 

Aldefer’s Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG) Needs Theory of Motivation[9]

Clayton Aldefer developed his ERG theory as Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (2011) to bring Maslow’s needs hierarchy into alignment with empirical research. He re-categorised Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into three simpler and broader classes of needs:

  • Existence needs- These include need for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs.
  • Relatedness needs- These include the aspiration individual’s have for maintaining significant interpersonal relationships (be it with family, peers or superiors), getting public fame and recognition. Maslow’s social needs and external component of esteem needs fall under this class of need.
  • Growth needs- These include need for self-development and personal growth and advancement. Maslow’s self-actualization needs and intrinsic component of esteem needs fall under this category of need.

ERG

ERG Theory states that at a given point of time, more than one need may be operational and recognises the option for both advancement and frustration/regression.

 

Additional Theories:

This post only looks at a few of the theories of motivation some of the others include:

  • Theory Z (Ouchi): High levels of trust, confidence and commitment towards the workers on the part of management lead to high levels of motivation and productivity on the part of workers (based on observation of Japanese businesses in the mid 1970s – Ouchi suggests that when selecting a person for promotion to a different role [eg, a manual worker to foreman] it is better to select a person with a demonstrated commitment to the objectives of the organisation in preference to the most effective manual worker, the current demonstrated capabilities are not relevant and commitment overcomes obstacles).
  • Contingency theory (Morse & Lorsch): People need to develop a sense of competence and this need continues to motivate people after competence is achieved. A good fit between the organisation’s structure and the task leads to competence, creating motivation.
  • Goal-setting theory (Latham & Locke): Having clear, specific and challenging goals motivate people.
  • Reinforcement theory (Skinner): Human behaviour is shaped by the previous positive or negative outcomes experienced by a person as a consequence of an action. Only positive reinforcement (rewards) should be used to encourage desired behaviours.
  • Equity theory (Adams): People are motivated by their desire to be treated equitably. Perceptions of unfair allocation of rewards can lead to conflict.
  • Achievement motivation theory (McClelland) describes three relevant needs in work situations:
    • The need for achievement – the drive to succeed and achieve performance standards;
    • The need for power – the need for influence over others;
    • The need for affiliation or association – the desire for close, friendly relationships at work
  • Bureaucratic Vs humanistic value systems (Chris Argyris). Bureaucratic / pyramidal organisational values dominate most organisations (the equivalent to McGregor’s Theory X); relationships in this environment result in decreased interpersonal competence, fostering mistrust; intergroup conflict and leading to a decrease in success in problem solving; Humanistic values lead to trusting authentic relationships and improve interpersonal and intergroup cooperation.

 

Conclusion

You can judge for the number of theories outlined in this paper motivating people is a complex issue. Our White Papers on motivation and leadership try to bring these theories into a practical perspective (see WP1048 Motivation and WP1014 Leadership).

This post also supports two of the key themes in my latest book, Making Projects Work are leadership and motivating your stakeholders to help you help them by delivering a successful project. The book is based on the premise that effective motivation requires focused communication within a robust relationship.

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[1] For more on the development of management theories see:
http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf (page 8 to 14)

[2] For more on McGregor’s ‘Theory X – Y’ see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_X_and_Theory_Y

[3] For more on the work of Henry Gantt and access to his books, see: Henry L. Gantt – A Retrospective view of his work http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Resources_Papers_158.html

[4] For more on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

[5] For more on expectancy theory see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectancy_theory

[6] The problem of inadvertently rewarding undesirable behaviour is discussed in:
http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/SA1018_What_you_measure_is_what_you_get.pdf

[7] For more on Herzberg see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_theory

[8] For more on the theory of needs see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_theory

[9] For more on ERG needs see: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/erg-theory-motivation.htm

Gamification – A new way of working

gamification-user-experienceGamification is discussed in Chapter 7 of my book Advising Upwards: A Framework for Understanding and Engaging Senior Management Stakeholders.  This post takes a closer look at the topic from a more basic level and based on some of the research, and will suggest options for making your next wait at the dentist’s fun!

In my book, Robert Higgins, the author of Ch. 7 – The New Confucian Communication Game: Communicating with the Nintendo® Generation, suggests the way to lead in business is very similar to being a superhero in an on-line game and explains the self-organising networks of communication and status that develop (with plenty of help for non-gamers). But the potential is much wider. Gamification has the potential to revolutionise the way people see work, and how they interact with one another within the workplace.

Gamification is the concept of transferring the positive mechanisms present in games (such as badges, leader boards and other forms of ‘instant feedback’) to mundane work tasks, creating a more dynamic, fun approach to the working environment. Applied effectively, Gamification restructures a typically boring task into something fun, competitive and engaging.

Technology research and advisory company Gartner has identified four principle means of driving employee engagement through the use of gamified techniques:

  • Acceleration of feedback cycles to maintain engagement
  • Use of clear goals and rules of play
  • Allow players to feel empowered to achieve these goals
  • The building up of narratives that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity

When used in a positive way, gamification will encourage people’s psychological desires for competition, drive them to engage and participate in a community structure, and increase workplace morale and productivity; it is a great way to motivate and engage the new generation of knowledge worker and reduce attrition.

The key is to develop a meaningful ‘points score’ associated with the performance of the work and then provide effective (and visible) feedback. Built from Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of need’, three key areas to include are:

  1. Level 1: Recognition. This first level focuses on highlighting success and engaging novices. The key themes drive personal brand recognition.
  2. Level 2: Access. This second level builds demand for association and attracts intermediate users by creating value and scarcity around access to ‘special’ resources, people, and tools for improvement.
  3. Level 3: Impact. This third level appeal to power users and advanced users. At this level, bragging rights and incentives align with impact on the growth of the organisation.

Gamification as a concept within business is still in its infancy, but with the energy surrounding its adoption it seems inevitable that in the long term we will all be exposed to this fast growing phenomenon. The statistics certainly suggest there is a potent demand for gamification. Research by Gartner suggests that by 2014 more than 70 per cent of global organisations will have at least one ‘gamified’ application, and by 2015, the research shows that 50% of Global 2000 organisations that manage innovation processes will have gamified those processes. Although this current wave of enthusiasm may be at the ‘peak-of-inflated-expectations’ and about to descend into the ‘trough-of-disillusionment’ on Gartner’s Hype Cycle.

trough-of-disillusionment

Used effectively, gamification has the potential to improve productivity significantly. Three examples include:

  • Using gaming to revitalise ‘lessons learned’, and promote the creation and sustenance of organisational and project knowledge ‘wikis’ rather than boring databases using competitive knowledge ranking systems to encourage increased contributions and improved team engagement (often seen in enthusiast online forums today).
  • Using challenges and rewards to track performance against the plan (where the on-time performance for the updating of progress information and the accuracy of the data provided is weighted more heavily than the actual achievement of results – the ‘players’ all have equal control over updating their progress accurately, but may not have control over the pace of work).
  • Workflow processes can be visually represented and improved by managers and team members alike, with leader boards in turn highlighting and rewarding the innovative thinkers (see more on process improvement).

The use of feedback mechanisms, such as leader boards, allows the creation of a potent dashboard from which other managers can gauge the health of each project. As well as allowing the day to day monitoring that is essential to ensure on time delivery.

Gamification has the potential to become part of the project managers ‘toolkit’, and when combined with other innovations, to contribute to successful project delivery, but it is not a one size fits all remedy to all project problems and should not be forced upon a workforce without first gauging the level of buy-in amongst individual employees. And, it may just be another business fad, but who could deny that to make work fun is a laudable aspiration? Your next challenge is to make a ‘game’ out of waiting at the dentists…..

Rewards to Motivate Performance

When you do a good job, you like to feel appreciated and as a leader, rewarding good performance is one of the key ways to keep your team motivated. However, there is a significant difference in the way many businesses try to use rewards to motivate people and what scientific studies suggest are effective motivators.

The ‘carrot and stick’ approach has been shown to be largely ineffective. This is hardly new; Henry Gantt was advocating rewards over punishment as the most effective motivator as early as 1912. What is interesting though, is that providing transactional bonuses as the reward has also been shown to be largely ineffective. Simply providing a reward of ‘1’ if a person achieved 1X, and ‘2’ if they achieve 2X has little effect on motivation, particularly if the reward is money. If you don’t believe this watch Dan Pink’s TED presentation on the surprising science of motivation at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html or look up Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, wages are a hygiene factor, not a motivator.

What modern research has shown is the type of rewards that are effective. We all have a deep need for autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives, mastery, the urge to get better at doing our work and to feel successful, and purpose, the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

If your leadership provides your team with these elements, you are likely to have satisfied and motivated people working together. Some of the key elements to integrate into your leadership include allowing team members the freedom to define their work within appropriate boundaries*, providing opportunities to develop new skills and linking their work to the objectives of the organisation and where possible benefits to society at large. Your job is to ‘join the dots’ and make the linkages: If we create a more efficient process, consumption will be reduced and there will be a benefit in the reduction of our organisation’s carbon footprint.

Rewards do not need to be large, but it helps if you can create a series of short, medium and long term aims to allow successes to be recognized regularly. Then provide rapid, frequent and clear feedback linked to graduated and scaled rewards for appropriate effort. The rewards themselves should reinforce the three elements above. Rewards that offer more autonomy or more control over a person’s work, or the opportunity to learn something new or polish an existing skill are far more likely to be effective than a transactional payment such as time off work. This is particularly true if the group as a whole can join in to celebrate the success.

So where can you start? One simple thing to try is the next time you need to direct a person to do a job, rather then telling them what to do and when it has to be finished, ask them how they can best achieve the objective of the task and how quickly do they think they can accomplish it. You may be surprised at the positive reaction.

* for more on bounded initiative see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/command-or-control

Engagement – learning from Games

The developers of computer games are focused on creating and maintaining engagement. The longer players play, the better the game! Some of the ideas that can be used to help build team engagement in the workplace include:

  • Recognising individual engagement is easier if there is a sense of collective engagement.
  • Appealing to the emotions of both individuals and the group, encourage collaboration.
  • Clearly show a players progress through ‘experience bars’ and similar.
  • Provide multiple long and short term aims.
  • Reward effort; provide graduated and scaled rewards.
  • Provide rapid, frequent and clear feedback with windows of enhanced learning.
  • Create an element of uncertainty, the occasional exceptional reward.

Use these elements wisely and engagement in you team may become almost addictive – games are!! For more on this topic see Tom Chatfield’s talk on TED

Motivation, Happiness and Engagement

This is the first of a series of posts looking at the interlinked but independent elements of satisfaction, happiness, engagement and motivation. Ideally the members of your team will enjoy all four feelings but this is not always possible or even necessary. A soldier engaged in a pitch battle is unlikely to be ‘happy’ but would certainly be engaged and should be motivated.

Research suggests people have a deep need for Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to get better and better at something), and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves). If your team provides these elements, you are lily to have satisfied and motivated people.

Happiness is different. It would seem happiness is internal, created by the person within themselves. The human mind can synthesize happiness. Shakespeare said it best, of course (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 239–251):
Why, then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

On the engagement front, in November 2010 the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) found in a member’s survey that ‘that negativity, apathy and disillusionment are present in the executive ranks of too many Australian organisations.’ A few of the findings included:

  • 40 per cent of respondents surveyed do not feel appreciated by their employer
  • 20 per cent of participants expressed negative sentiments about working at their current organisation
  • Almost one in three of those surveyed criticised the workplace culture of their organisation
  • 34 per cent of respondents admitted they could be putting more effort into their current role.
  • 33 per cent of those we surveyed said they are considering leaving their employer.

The last piece of the framework is a series of studies in the UK focused on ‘civil servants’ (public servants), the ‘Whitehall Studies’. One key finding is the inverse relationship between coronary heart disease (CHD) and the level of job control. People in highly demanding jobs they could control had half the rate of CHD experienced by people with less control over their work.

Creating an environment where people are engaged motivated and happy has a direct link to their wellbeing as well as delivering your requirements. My next few posts will focus on how to create this win-win situation.

Motivation

Leaders motivate their teams and the surrounding stakeholder community to actively work to support the leader’s objectives. Motivation does not happen by chance, there are many traits the leader can display that assist in creating a motivated team. Some of the key traits are:

Communicate effectively. Communicate with transparency, authenticity and clarity and make it a priority to make time to talk to each and every member of your team on a regular basis. You may be busy, but you really can’t afford to allow communication black holes to develop.

Uncertainty creates a void. Unless you, the project manager, fill that void with clear and positive communication, people will assume the worst and act accordingly. Fear and negativity will creep in and dominate their thoughts, behaviours, and actions.

Build trust and empathy. Travelling to meet with team members in person is an investment in building trust as is asking questions. When you show an interest people’s culture, families and personal lives, often they will open up and by expressing interest, you can establish a much deeper connection that leads to a much deeper level of trust

Build relationships. Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams and organisations are built. It’s much easier to motivate someone if you know them and they know and trust you.

Create a shared vision. Create a vision statement that inspires and rallies your team and organization; a short, simple, rallying cry that means something to the each person on the team. This vision statement must come to life in the hearts and minds of team members. Share it, reinforce it, and inspire your people to live and breathe it every day. A positive vision for the future leads to powerful actions today.

Lead with optimism. Transfer your optimism and vision to others. This inspires others to think and act in ways that drive results. Great leaders inspire their teams to believe they can succeed. As a leader and manager, you are not just leading and managing people, but you are also leading and managing their beliefs and you must utilise every opportunity to transfer your optimism to the team. Both optimism and pessimism are contagious, make sure everyone catches the optimistic bug.

Create purpose-driven goals. Break the vision down into practical, purpose-driven goals. Real motivation is driven by a desire to make a difference; people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a purpose beyond themselves. When team members feel as though the work they do is playing an integral role in the overall success of the company, they are motivated to work harder.

When they feel as though they are working for something more than just the bottom line, and the overall purpose of the project is aligned their personal goals with they feel good about the work they are doing.

Staff the team thoughtfully and nourish your team. Belief plus action equals results. If you don’t believe that something can happen, then you won’t take the actions necessary to create it. If you believe that your team can do big things, they will believe it, too. And that belief will fuel the fires of action and provide you with the results you’re looking for. Surveys consistently demonstrate that employees who think their managers care about them are more loyal and productive than those who do not. If you nourish your team and take the time to invest in them, they will pay you back in productivity, creativity and loyalty. If your team members know that you care about them, they will want to do good work for you. It’s the greatest motivator of all.

Motivating a team is hard work but any of the alternatives are much harder. For more on motivation see WP1048 at http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1048_Motivation.pdf

Motivation

One of the key skills required by project managers, in fact all managers, is the ability to motivate team members and the wider stakeholder community.

Most business approaches to motivation are based on extrinsic motivators – if you achieve ‘A’ we will reward you with ‘B’ and if you are really good and make ‘2A’ we will give you ‘2B’. The theory used by business is based on the assumption the larger the reward the greater the motivation; provided basic principles such as fairness are applied and the reward is commensurate with the effort needed and expectations of the person being motivated. It is assume the increase in motivation will flow through to increased performance.

Management scientists way back to Henry Gantt had established that in the ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach to motivation, fear and the ‘stick’ had little effect, the ‘carrot’ and reward had measureable effect. However, these studies were applied to manual workers.

More recent work by researchers such as Hertzberg in his ‘Hygiene Theory’ (1959) and Maslow’s pyramid of need (1943) placed salary (wages/reward/income) relatively low down the list of motivators. As long as the ‘pay’ was what was expected it had little extra value; inadequate rewards could quickly de-motivate, but once adequate levels were reached ‘pay’ simply came off of the table. This is a basic part of our PMP courses, hardly new or exciting….

However, I have just watched a fascinating video on TED, by Dan Pink, on the surprising science of motivation: starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

A brief summary of the presentation is that traditional rewards do work for simple manual tasks. However, as soon as creative thinking is needed extrinsic rewards have the opposite effect by focusing effort in a narrow band and stopping the more creative thinking needed to solve the problem. The results are measurable negative performance, increasing as the reward increases.

According to Pink, the motivators that do work are intrinsic:

  • Autonomy: control and self-direction over the work.
  • Mastery: the ability to excel at the work by getting better and better at difficult tasks.
  • Purpose: the work contributes value to the organisation and others (in the service of something larger).

These motivators are very similar to the ideas of Maslow and Hertzberg briefly discussed above, and McGregor (Theory X, Theory Y – 1960). What’s fascinating in Pink’s presentation is the fact most organisations reward their senior decision makers with huge pay bonuses to solve some of society’s most difficult problems (and wonder why they fail so often…).

To see the presentation, go to the TED website at: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html – whilst there it is well worth browsing, there are dozens of other fascinating presentations.