Motivational Process


Motivation is defined as the reason (material, perceptual, cognitive, pressure) that provides a cause to human behavior by arousing, sustaining, and directing it toward the attainment of the objectives determined by those reasons (Wortman and Loftus, 353). Motivation holds the answer to the ‘why’ of human action because when we attempt to reason for a particular behavior or attitude then basically we are finding the motivations responsible for that particular behavior (Gorman, 2003, 1). People perform a variety of actions through multiple roles according to their dominant motivation that guides their behavior (Creech, 1995).

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In psychological studies the implicit motivations determining human behavior are not only considered from point of view of biological drives and neurological impetus but they are also explained by relational aspect of human behavior where motivation is a dynamic aspect of the behavior that helps people to interact with the world (Nuttin, 1984,1)The purpose of this article is to identify the motivation models in organizations that could lay the framework of employee encouragement and motivate them towards optimal performance.

Motivational Process

The process of employee motivation is a complicated process and hence it possess organizational challenges of administration and management. Motivational process arises out of everyone’s need to achieve performance and ensure performance is achieved around him or her (Creech, 1995). Drawing paradigm from the tenets of hierarchy theory that state that motivation causes people to first secure first-level needs of food and shelter for survival and then look for security, safety, assimilation, social acceptance, and self actualization, employee motivational models conform to same strategy where employees look for survival followed performance increment, recognition and then taking upon higher management responsibilities in the process of self actualization and self improvement (Creech, 1995; Cummings and Schwab, 1973).

Although the motivational tools have changed constantly from the days of industrial revolution, they have followed closely on social motivational structure where employees basically satisfy their first- and second-level needs as assured levels of income and purchasing power and then rise on the survival requirements (Fred, 1973; Fred, 1973). Globalization, trans-nationalism, and communication revolution have made organizations increasingly multi-faceted that and salary and payments do not remain as the only motivators today (Cummings and Schwab, 1973). Modern workforce is relatively more educated, multi-skilled and handles both creative and mental work with aplomb. Today, job satisfaction, workplace environment and recreational opportunities constitute equally important considerations in the work environment (Creech, 1995).

Factors affecting Employee Motivation

Organizational leaders, managers and psychologists have been constantly on the look out of factors that motivate employees. From a very broad perspective, the age-old “rewards-principle” still holds true within any modern organization to motivate and inspire workers, however, the composition of rewards has changed dramatically and today it hosts numerous parameters that are even difficult to undertake in a single employee-satisfaction model. It must be remembered that reward system plays both the ways – of motivating as well as demotivating employees (Kleinbeck, et all. 1990). For example if workers are assured to realize rewards on basis of better performance, it may motivate them to work better. On the contrary, a perfunctory reward  given with mere intention to avoid dissatisfaction by maintaining an work-environment balance may have little or no motivational impact on the employee to perform better Also crucial is the employee-employer relationship that can have profound effects on attitude and performance of workers (Creech, 1995).

Principles of Organizational Motivation

From the above discussion various principles are postulated for organizational motivation that are discussed point wise below.

Principle 1: Motivation comes when employees perceive that effort leads to performance: When employees exert high effort they naturally want their effort to , make a difference in their performance. There must be an organizational culture that inspires employees with confidence that their efforts would translate positively in terms of performance-that their efforts are highly correlated with performance and also that better performance could be a natural outcome of higher effort (Grant,1990).

Job performance and competence development is a function of ability, job design, and motivation. The combined relation of these factors on job performance is generally complementary in nature-implying that if the employees possess required ability within the framework of a well designed job, then their performance merely determined by of motivation (Grant,1990; Chruden and Sherman, 1980; Miner, 1980). This is an important inference that emerges from the discussion-if organizations can design the jobs and work environment to optimal degree, then increasing motivation leads to higher performance. Corollary, if employees recognize their ability, the design of their job is perfect and moreover, employees assess their abilities to be perfectly in tune with the job requirements, then performing at a higher level in itself acts as a motivation that in turns improves the performance. Conversely, lower abilities and incorrect job designs have a limiting effect on job performance and motivation levels. The performance-effort correlation  goes down and so does  the slope of the effort-reward function and therefore motivation decreases.

Principle 2: Motivation comes when employees perceive that performance leads to reward: Employees put high efforts only when they have a valid reason for it and they perceive benefits from their efforts. In nutshell, employees must feel that their performance leads to improvement in outcome. Thus, strong T perceived correlation between performance and expected rewards/positive outcomes leads to higher motivation the stronger the motivation.

A strong performance-reward correlation, can be understood if one understands that rewards are based on a performance contingency model. Higher performance must always lead to high rewards, and similarly low performance cause low rewards or even negative rewards.

The main thrust of this discussion is that employees should not be merely provided with value based generic reward system, but instead a contingency performance based system, that accords rewards matching to their performance and requirements thereby providing the motivation..

Principle 3: Motivations comes when employees perceive a performance-supportive cost structure: There are chances within an organization that negative outcomes at workplace can negate a high quality reward system, from motivational point of view. Thus if employees sense that their higher efforts would be accompanied by a reduction in stress, improvement in work culture and betterment in office environment, their motivation levels would be higher(Grant,1990; Quick, 1992).

Principle 4: Motivation comes when employees’ energy and focus are not scattered: An organization that engages its employees simultaneously in multiple channels, diversifying their priority and focus, essentially works against motivating employees. Employees must feel that maximum reward would come from their key performance areas, and the alternative objectives, responsibilities do not constitute a performance parameter (Grant,1990; Kleinbeck, et all. 1990). If significant proportion of an employees time and resources are allocated to any one project, they should not be impeded by efforts in too many directions

Corporate Motivation Structure in Disney

Recognizing the importance of employee motivation crucial for organization, especially one with its core thrust in creative and imaginative field, Disney has consciously stressed on above-mentioned principles to create an organizational environment that motivates employees towards higher performance and increased participation. The corporation believes in instituting a collaborative culture that creates a platform for employees to come forward, share their thoughts and efforts and strive to orient themselves with the dynamic goals and objectives of Disney Corporation.


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Philip C. Grant. 1990. The Effort-Net Return Model of Employee Motivation: Principles, Propositions, and Prescriptions; Quorum Books.

Uwe Kleinbeck, Quast, Hans-Henning.,  Thierry, Henk., Hartmut Häcker; Work Motivation .Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990. 286 pgs.

Quick, Thomas L. “What Motivates Best?” Sales and Marketing Management April 1992: 113-121.

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