Understanding Motivation


Motivational Theorists

A Manager's View

A Worker's View



For purposes of study and identification, the major theorists have been divided into three categories. The classicalists are associated with the classical school of management thought. They were some of the first people to formulate an organized theory of motivation. The behavioralists are allied with the behavioral, or human relations, managers. They formed these theories as management's response to the failings and abuse of the classical theories. The contemporaneous theories are generally those that can be used along with any other theory. Many of these have been developed only recently.

The Classicalists

The classicalists' theories began to be formulated around the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are three major, early classical writers. Henri Fayol, working in France, was actually an organizational theorist. His organizational theories, however, contained motivation-related concepts. He also classified management into planning, coordinating, controlling, organizing, and directing--differentiations that are still used today. He also described some basic guidelines for managers. Max Weber (pronounced Vá-ber) was a German whose main area was also organization theory. Like Fayol, his writings also had motivational components. The third early theorist was an American, Frederick Taylor, generally considered to be the originator of classical, and even modern, management.

Henri Fayol

In addition to dividing management functions into separate categories, Fayol detailed some basic principles for managers. Some will be familiar from the chapter on management. Most, if not all, are still valid today, although they are not used by all managers. Those concerning motivation include:

  • Division of Labor
  • Unity of Command
  • Subordination of Interests
  • Remuneration
  • Equity

As will be seen, the effect of each of these varies. Some affect motivation negatively, others positively. Actually, division of labor, or specialization, predates Fayol by many years. In the 1700s Adam Smith extolled the virtues of it in The Wealth of Nations, in which he described the workings in a pin factory. Advocates of division of labor point out, correctly, that it increases efficiency and productivity. It also makes people experts in their areas. However, if the job is divided into tasks that are highly repetitive and essentially identical, then specialization can lead to boredom. Therefore, managers have developed the concepts of job enlargement, job enrichment, and job rotation in an attempt to counteract some of the motivationally negative effects of the division of labor. Job enlargement means adding tasks at the same level of difficulty or involvement. Job enrichment means adding difficulty or involvement (such as self-checking) to the same job. Job rotation involves people trading positions for variety. Fayol recommended division of labor for managers, too.

The Division of Labor Principle is widely applied, as evidenced in the number of specialties and subspecialties in the workforce. Division of labor allows workers to develop greater expertise, makes training faster, and allows big jobs to be completed, and completed in less time.

Fayol's principle of Unity of Command states that a person should have only one boss. Conflicting orders, differing standards and expectations, and confusion--all rather unmotivating--can result when you have more than one manager.

The subordination of interests principle states that the organization's goals are more important than those of any individual. The company should be put first. When your goals are aligned with the organization's this can help motivate you. When your goals are not similar to the company's, there is no motivational effect.

Fayol professed fair remuneration for everyone in the company. Of course money and benefits are important to all employees. They motivate people to work in the first place. Opportunities to increase reimbursement also motivate some people (others seek different rewards). Some of the theorists described later feel that remuneration can motivate only to a certain point. However, most agree with Fayol that when pay is NOT adequate or NOT fairly distributed among the different levels of employees, that this reduces motivation. When remuneration is not fairly distributed, employees may feel that working hard, or even adequately, is futile because the rewards do not coincide with their efforts.

Fayol's Equity principle states that managers should be just and kind towards workers. Fair and friendly treatment was not only human decency, but was also felt to be motivational. These and Fayol's other principles were intended to be a guide for managers to use while also pursuing efficiency, order, and stability. In the hands of some the work environment became these things, but it also became rigid and inflexible.

Max Weber

Max Weber worked in Germany in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and wrote only in German. His work was not translated into English until approximately 1940. Because of this, he was late in being credited with having devised some classical precepts. Weber created what he thought was an ideal form of organization. He devised the bureaucracy. Although he did foresee some problems with it, he never envisioned the modern interpretation of a bureaucracy as something slow, inefficient, and difficult to work with. Weber's system has had a profound effect on the working environment and motivation. The aspects having the greatest effect include his principles of:

  • Hierarchical Structure
  • Division of Labor
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Technical Competence
  • Separation

Although, like Fayol, Weber was actually an organizational theorist, organizations are comprised of people; therefore they affect all employees. Weber stressed the hierarchical structure (pyramid shaped chain of command) of organizations in order to facilitate control of employees. Although all organizations have a chain of command, Weber favored one with a narrow span of control. This meant that there were many managers, each controlling only a few workers. This made close supervision possible. Uniformity of production would increase, but flexibility often decreased.

Hierarchical structures have two opposite effects on motivation. The opportunity to "climb" the organization's "ladder" towards greater power and money increased motivation for some. For those who knew they would not be moving up (that they would stay where they were or move down the ladder) no motivation was provided. Also, it was not motivational when the close supervision of the small work groups became an inflexible, rigid system, or when individual workers who could function independently were subject to close scrutiny.

Weber, like others, had a division of labor principle, but he believed that tasks must be broken down into the smallest divisions possible. He felt this would increase efficiency and reduce training time for new workers. Both were generally true; however, repeating the same limited number of tasks did not provide much motivation.

Weber's system relied on rules to ensure uniformity, conformity, and stability. The people might come and go, but the rules will be there to ensure continuity. This did not provide much motivation for those who are innovators or have their own ways of doing things.

Weber believed in selecting employees not based on friendship or nepotism, but on technical competence. Weber believed that first a job should be described, then the type of education, abilities, and experience needed by a person to fill this position should be listed. As candidates present themselves one need only to match the requirements to the personal facts and seek the best match. The process was meant to be objective and unbiased. By matching the person to the task, workers would be motivated and would perform efficiently. Some motivational effect was also to be gained from applicants knowing that the position would be awarded based on what they knew, not whom they knew. Weber's ideas directly led to job analysis, job descriptions, and job specifications.

Possibly the principle with the greatest effect, but least often explained to anyone, is that of Separation. Weber said that the position in the organization that someone held, is seperate from the person holding it. The idea is related to that of technical competence. The job description describes the work; the job specification describes the person that can do the work. The completion of the work is not dependent on any ONE person. Anybody with the specifications will be able to do an adequate job as outlined in the description.

The motivational effect here is so subtle that many, if not most, people are unaware of it--at least consciously. People may also be unaware of the subtle motivational influence because the principle is applied to different degrees in different organizations. Essentially, it says that you, as a person, do not matter to the functioning of the organization. Any other person having credentials like yours (i.e., that meet the job specification) will be able to do the work. This can lead people to feel that they are not important or that they are not wanted by the organization. Many organizations that claim to care about individual employees in fact feel that people are easily replaceable. Thus, they are willing to go only so far to keep people. This principle also leads some managers to the attitude of "if you don't like your job, quit," because all the manager needs to do is to find another person who meets your position's job specification. Not all organizations function this way. It is important to know which kind of organization is which.

In summary, Weber was a rationalist. He believed in moving organizations to a logically efficient method of operating. Although he did not write about motivation, his organization theories affected it. That, and the fact that his principles are adhered to today, make them relevant for the purposes here.

Frederick Taylor

While many of Fayol's and Weber's ideas affected management and motivation, their primary focus was organization theory. Frederick Taylor is commonly recognized as the first management theorist, per se. He believed that managers should take a scientific approach to studying work and called his collective theories "Scientific Management". He had four main principles, three of which relate to motivation:

  1. Find the critical elements of each task;
  2. Offer monetary incentives;
  3. Use functional foremanship;

Finding the critical elements of each task through time studies was Taylor's way of determining the one best way to do each job. Through careful observation he would find the most efficient way of working. His concern was to increase productivity, wages and working conditions. His ways would benefit not only the company, but also the workers. Some of his methods were designed to increase the speed of the workers, but others reduced fatigue, stress, or injuries.

The increased remuneration and reduction of fatigue and injuries did increase motivation, especially in the early, pay-oriented days of the early industrial era. On the other hand, once the one best way for each task was discovered, all were expected to use it. Reducing flexibility was not motivating to some. Of even greater consequence was the fear Taylor's methods produced.

Although his work had positive benefits, many workers were afraid that the increased demand for output would result in workers working harder and managers and owners getting richer. Unfortunately, they were right. Many managers corrupted Taylor's methods. They used them to increase production, but did not use the pay incentives. Taylor was actually called before Congress, where he explained that his methods would work only if both workers and owners shared in the benefits, instead of just the owners.

The fear created by the abuses of unscrupulous managers and owners is still present today. Many work environments have unwritten standards of performance set by the informal organization. Exceeding these standards is greatly discouraged for fear that management will find out just how fast a job can really be done and make a new, higher standard for everyone. People who exceed the informal rate are called "rate-busters", and they are generally informed quickly what the prevailing rate is. Although this situation does not motivate people to do their best, and the resulting inefficiency can eventually hurt everyone, one can hardly blame the workers, given labor relation's history.

Not only did Taylor devise methods to increase productivity, but he advocated offering monetary incentives to work harder. Taylor devised a piece-rate system to motivate people. Here, workers were paid a certain amount for each item they made or each task they completed. The faster one worked, the more one made. This did work in some cases. However, as mentioned before, some managers did not fully employ the system, to their gain and the workers' loss.

Using functional foremanship meant that different managers were responsible for different phases of production. Workers fell under the control of the manager responsible for the function, such as planning or evaluating the work. This tended to decrease motivation because workers were relegated to performing just the work. Other tasks, such as inspecting the work, were the concerns of managers.

While some of Taylor's ideas came into widespread use, especially when combined with mass-production techniques, his entire system was not highly popular in America. His ideas as a whole did find acceptance in some European countries, however.

Lilian and Frank Gilbreth

The Gilbreths were a husband and wife team who were early believers in Taylor's theories. The Gilbreths' contribution was to add motion study to Taylor's time studies. Rather than devise ways that employees could work faster, the Gilbreths increased production by eliminating unnecessary motions. This also reduced fatigue. Possibly the biggest contribution to motivation by the Gilbreths was their idea of job rotation. They felt variety would decrease boredom and increase morale and satisfaction.

The classical theories are still followed by managers, and the Classicalists made important contributions to some of the foundations of management and motivation. They were also criticized on a number of points. First, most of their experiences were derived from manufacturing situations. Second, some of the theorists made assumptions based on their opinions, not on scientific research. For example, they felt that workers should not, and did not, bring their personal lives, worries, and problems to work. This is not true for most individuals. They also assumed that people were motivated almost exclusively by money. Third, their rational system approach stressed formality and ignored the informal organization. Fourth, classical systems are not usually fast to respond to change, they are more suited to conditions that are fairly constant. Finally, classical theories give the impression that people are simply tiny cogs in a large machine--they do their jobs, are easily replaceable, and perform obediently.

The Behavioralists

The classical methods certainly have their place, but they do have limitations and areas that they do not address. Eventually, as workers and workplaces changed, there were two responses to these limitations and unaddressed areas. One response by the workers was to form unions.

Managers also noticed the deficiencies and, because motivation theories try to reflect reality accurately, new theories and an entire new school of management thought were created.

Elton Mayo

Behavioral Management began with the interpretations of the Hawthorne studies by Elton Mayo. The general conclusion Mayo came to was that there is more to work than just the work. People work to satisfy a number of needs, not just the need for money. So, motivation can be achieved through means other than wages and benefits, and satisfaction is affected by more than just remuneration.

As Mayo's conclusions became known, others contributed their ideas, and the behavioral school of management thought was born.

Douglas McGregor

McGregor may not have been good at naming his theories, but he did summarize both the classical and behavioral systems and endorsed behavioralism. McGregor chose to call his outline of classical ideas Theory X; he called behavioral concepts Theory Y. McGregor believed that people could be motivated by things other than money. He felt that involvement with the organization, through participation in decision making, would not only motivate workers, but would benefit the organization. He felt that most workers not only could make a contribution, but that most wanted to contribute.

Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris questioned some of the basic tenets of classical motivation and job satisfaction theories and amplified the Hawthorne Experiments. He said that, because classical managers controlled workers so closely, the workers became incapable of acting independently. Because the vast majority of the time the workers were not allowed to think for themselves, they became uninterested in doing so during the rare occasions when they could have, or when it would have been advantageous for the company. Argyris further said that lack of involvement and lack of opportunity for independent thought and action would frustrate workers. This would cause them to quit or to work against the organization's goals. Argyris felt that, as people matured, they desired independence, more variety in their activities, and more control over their own actions. To give them these things would motivate them. To treat them as immature and ignore these factors would demotivate them.

Abraham Maslow

Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be used to motivate people. According to Maslow, any need that is unfulfilled can be used as a motivator. One need only find the things that would satisfy a particular person's need. On the other hand, once a need is fulfilled it can no longer be used to motivate. For example, if people have their physiological, safety, and belonging needs met, they can be motivated by offering them opportunities to fulfill status and self-steem needs. It would be better to offer these people recognition or a new title, rather than something from the lower three needs. Once the self-esteem and status needs are met, it would be less effective to try to motivate someone through personal awards or a mention in the employee newsletter. According to Maslow, the self-actualizing need should be appealed to next. Offering new challenges, tuition reimbursement, or work time for learning might be some ways to appeal to self-actualization. Although most books end with self-actualization because this was Maslow's orignal heirarchy, he actually added a sixth and seventh step later. The highest two steps in the final Hierarchy are knowledge and aesthetics. The need for knowledge is expressed in some people's desire to know all there is to know. While this is not possible today, some people still feel the need to try to know all, or at least as much as possible. These people find almost every subject interesting. The seventh step is aesthetics and is seen in the need for artistic qualities, fine design, balance, et cetera, in things.

You can use Maslow's Hierarchy by first determining your location on the hierarchy. Next, you can look toward fulfilling unmet needs. Realize though that not all needs can be met through work. If your need for status is unfulfilled and cannot be filled at work, look to other activities. Often, people can achieve status through volunteer work or community activities.

Frederick Herzberg

Herzberg divides work factors into two groups. He calls one group the hygiene factors; the other group he calls motivators. According to Herzberg, hygiene factors do not motivate people when they are present, but if they are absent they cause dissatisfaction. They are things like reimbursement (salary and benefits), a good supervisor, working conditions, work rules, and seniority benefits. Herzberg says that having a nice manager will not motivate you. On the other hand, if he or she treats you poorly, you will be unhappy--and not motivated. In order to be motivated, one of Herzberg's motivators must be used, and he recommended they be used in conjunction with job enrichment. Herzberg's motivators include achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, growth, and the work itself. According to Herzberg's theory, when these are offered as rewards, people will motivate themselves to achieve them. Once they are earned, the person feels genuine satisfaction. Herzberg goes on to say that every job should be a learning experience, should contain feedback for the person, and the individual should have the responsibility for self-checking the work (rather than having inspectors).

In general, the behavioralists shed light on the importance of non-monetary motivators. They investigated the social and psychological aspects of the worker. The value of the workers' input and need to feel they are more than just a piece of machinery was stressed. The behavioralists did not, however, answer all the questions regarding motivation and humans at work. Whenever people's psyches, are involved the task is complex. For one, money affects people differently, especially when salaries are low. The need for money can also vary with a person's lifestyle. When first beginning a career, money may be the main reason for working. People generally start out with little after leaving home. With people marrying later, their careers and financial conditions may improve, and their material needs may be met to the point where money is less important. People in this situation may be better motivated by interesting work. If these people should later marry and begin a families, then money may increase in importance to the point that it can once again be used to motivate.

Another reason that behavioral management's motivational techniques were not perfect was that some managers' attempts at using behavioral techniques were so transparent that they were seen as being manipulative, and the attempts failed. Finally, the proof that a happier worker, or one treated according to Behavioral principles, was a more productive worker has been less than overwhelming. It has not been proved beyond a doubt that treating workers nicely increases productivity. On the other hand, treating workers nicely has not decreased productivity either. So there is no reason for managers not to treat people as workers, rather than subordinates.

The Contemporaneous Theories

The areas not addressed by the classicalists or the behavioralists have not lead to the development of a third school of management or motivational thought. Instead, it has lead to motivational theories that can coexist with either one or both of the major paradigms. I have chosen the word "contemporaneous," meaning "living or occurring at the same time," and its reference to facts or events to represent this group of theories.

Reinforcement Theory

You may be familiar with the basic principles of reinforcement theory from an introductory psychology class. This is a derivative of the theories of B. F. Skinner. Skinner's study of behavior modification lead him to conclude that people only do what they are reinforced to do.

This could come in the form of positive reinforcement, or a reward, for performing the desired activity. Or it could be negative reinforcement--withholding a reward when the desired activity is not performed. A third possibility is punishment. Punishment consists of an unpleasant consequence for not performing a certain behavior. According to Skinnerian theory, everything people do, they do because they are reinforced to perform that behavior. People may do what others want in order to receive pay or recognition. Or, they do what others do not want just to receive attention--even if it means being reprimanded. Or, people may follow rules because they do not want to face the consequences of breaking them. Reinforcement theory certainly has a place in motivating people. No one would continue to work if he or she received nothing from a job. "Nothing" does not just refer to money, however. Millions of people volunteer their services every year. Although they receive no money, they must receive something--recognition, respect, some good feeling--or they would not continue to do it. But Skinnerian theory must be missing something, also. Humans are too complex to say that, if the right reinforcer is found, they can be trained to do exactly what is desired, and that, if it is administered correctly, they will eventually do it for NO reinforcement.

This is essentially what Skinner said in Beyond Freedom and Dignity. If people are trained through reinforcement, eventually the reinforcer will NOT have to be given every time in order to guarantee performance. For example, let us say a medical technologist receives a piece rate for each blood sample tested. Also assume that he or she is given the reinforcement immediately after completing the test. According to Skinner, after a time the pay could be withheld. The technologist completes a test and receives pay--test-pay; test-pay; test-pay; test-nothing. Skinner says that the behavior has become ingrained in the medical technologist. So, after not getting paid, the technologist performs another test. Then he or she is paid. However, every once in a while the pay is skipped. Then the interval is increased so she makes two, three, four, or more before getting paid again. Skinner said the technologist will keep working and eventually will be trained to produce much for little or no pay. Although gambling follows a similar scenario (except the payoffs are much less frequent) I am convinced that the first time most people completed work and did not receive pay would also be the last. To try this on a regular basis, using pay as the withheld reinforcer, would not work. Even though this worked with Skinner's pigeon test subjects, people, with few exceptions, are not the same.

Expectancy Theory

Developed by Victor Vroom and rather complex in the original form, the expectancy theory asks two basic questions. Essentially, Vroom is saying that, in order for anything to be motivational, the person who is to be motivated must want what is being offered and must believe he or she has a chance to earn what is being offered. Note that in the second part of the theory it does not matter if the person actually has a chance at earning the reward. What the person believes is important. The manager can be perfectly fair and equitable in these matters, but if the worker believes he or she is not capable of earning the reward, then it will not be motivational. Note also that the expectancy theory can be used in conjunction with any other motivation theory. Whether it is money offered by a classical manager, or recognition offered by a behavioral manager, the expectancy theory still applies.

As an example of expectancy, assume that training is a reward being offered by your employer. The first question to be asked is, "Is training something you desire?" If not, then you will not be motivated to perform actions that would earn you this reward. An incentive system featuring this reward would fail for you. If it is something you desire, then the second question needs to be asked, "Do you believe you have a chance of receiving the training reward?" If you believe there is too much competition from your co-workers for the reward or that your coworkers are better qualified, this incentive will fail to motivate you. Only if the reward is something you want and something you believe you have a chance of receiving will it motivate you.

Equity Theory

The equity theory is another that can exist in conjunction with other motivation theories. It says that each person will examine those things that they receive from a job--pay, recognition, respect, status, et cetera--and make an internal and an external comparison. The internal comparison will involve the reward and the effort used in getting the reward. Three possibilities exist. The reward will be perceived to be less than deserved, given the effort required. Here people will feel that they are "owed" something. Working less hard in the future may be how the workers even the score. At the opposite extreme, the reward may outweigh the effort. Here the person is believed to feel guilty over receiving more than was deserved. The third possibility is that the two are perceived as being equal.

The external comparison involves comparing internal reward-effort ratio to the perceived reward-effort ratios of others. Again, three possibilities exist. You may perceive that a coworker's ratio is higher than your own (the coworker received more for his or her efforts than you did). This may also lead to the feeling that you are owed something. Second, you may perceive that a coworker's ratio is lower than yours (the coworker received less for his or her efforts than you did). In this case the theory says you will feel guilty and will work harder to justify to yourself the receiving of greater rewards. The third possibility is that the ratios will be perceived as equal, and fairness has prevailed.

The equity theory does not provide a means to motivate people directly. Instead, like the expectancy theory, it attempts to demonstrate that motivation is a complex endeavor. The theory appears to be valid based just on personal experiences of noting how often people are concerned with how much (or how little) their coworkers are working.

Intrinsic/Extrinsic Theory

The final theory to be discussed here comes from Madeline Hunter of the University of California, Los Angeles. Hunter believes that there are intrinsic, or internal, motivation and extrinsic, or external, motivation. She believes that intrinsic motivation, from within each person, cannot be directly manipulated. She believes that a person can be motivated only by influencing extrinsic factors. She lists five extrinsic factors for motivating: level of concern, feedback, success, interest, and feeling tone.

The level of concern involves accountability. If you are going to be held accountable for something, you will be concerned about it and motivated to act on that concern. For example, a new manager has a reputation for demanding punctuality. Your entire merit raise depends upon getting to work on time. Because you will be held accountable, you are motivated to be at work on time. If the manager did not care, you probably would not either. Or think of a class where a teacher said that you would not be tested on the certain material. Unless another of these extrinsic factors applied (or you possessed intrinsic motivation), you would not be motivated to learn that material. If the teacher said this same material would be half of the next exam, then you probably would sit up and take notice. (Notice how the expectancy theory can come into play here. To be motivated, you also have to want the merit raise, or want to and expect that you can do well on the exam.)

Feedback can motivate you if it is timely and accurate. If you know how well you are doing, Hunter says you are motivated to keep doing it. Conversely, if you have no idea of how you are performing, you will not be as motivated to continue. As an example, how long would you continue to play a game if you never knew the score? How would you know if you were doing well or poorly? Or, how motivational is an annual performance review? If you are told only once a year that you are doing well, it is unlikely that you are being motivated by this feedback.

Success as a motivator is connected to feedback. If you are successful at something, you are motivated to continue doing it--of course, you may need feedback to know whether or not you are doing well. On the other hand, if you are not good at something, you are not motivated to continue. This does not apply to the learning phase, though. The length of the learning phase where people will tolerate poor performance is limited and variable; but if progress is being made, most people will continue to try. Again, feedback from others may be vital in order to know that improvement is being made. This is especially true when the tasks are complex and progress in slow.

Interest in an activity is also motivating. Job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment are all attempts at keeping work interesting. Interest can also be maintained through social contacts at work, through an interesting physical work environment, and from challenging work that provides a learning experience.

The fifth factor in Hunter's theory is feeling tone. This concerns the way in which communications between the manager and worker are handled. Hunter says there are three feeling tones: positive, negative, and neutral. A positive feeling tone includes being asked to perform a task: "Would you please take this next customer?" Even if there is no real choice, if a manager asks someone to handle a customer, the person will usually feel better about it than if a negative tone is used. A negative tone means someone is being commanded to do something, especially in an unpleasant way: "Deal with this customer. Now!" This is motivating--through fear, intimidation, and use of institutional power (power from having a position of authority in the institution)--but it is a distant second. Also, a negative feeling tone is not effective with men. Research by Dr. Deborah Tannen has shown that men, because they live in a hierarchical world, are much less likely to respond to commanding, negative feeling tone.

Finally, neutral feeling tone is neither positive, or negative; it is simply a statement of fact without sarcastic, commanding, or other tones ("Another customer is here"). Neutral feeling tone does not demotivate, but it does not motivate, either.


Why do managers follow some of these theories and not others? There are actually a number of reasons. Some managers believe in a certain system. Their upbringing and personal, premanagement experiences tell them that a certain method is correct. Some mangers were educated, formally or informally, in a certain method. Others have had no training and have had to employ their own methods. These may resemble one of the established systems. Many managers may believe in one method or another, but use that of their bosses or of the organization. Also, sometimes the workers force, or allow, a manager to adopt a particular method.

This last reason is of most concern here. The people in a department may cause a manager to use particular tactics. For example, if a department is cohesive, supportive, and responsive, a manager will be able to apply many of the behavioral methods. Behavioral methods rely on good relations between manager and worker. They also require the participation of the workers. Conversely, if the workers refuse to participate, the behavioral methods will fail, which may force a manager to employ classical methods.

Individual differences may also exist. A manager may use behavioral methods on all but one person in a department if that person fails to respond to those methods. Behavioral methods generally depend on workers taking responsibility for their work and on workers earning theeir managers' trust. Responsibility for completing the work means completing it at a high level of quality and efficiency without a large amount of supervision. Some people cannot, or will not, make this commitment. They may try to take advantage of the system and do much less than their share. They should not be surprised, then, when the manager employs some of the restrictive, close supervision ideals of the classical writers. Also, the manager must trust the worker to work independently. Trust takes time to earn; the worker must first demonstrate that he or she can be depended on before autonomy is granted. Workers who do not take the time and do not make the effort to earn a their managers' trust should not be surprised if they are treated differently from those who have proven themselves.

Possibly the most difficult aspects of behavioralism for many managers to overcome are those of power loss and invested effort. Using behavioralism requires that the manager relinquish some power. It is transferred to the workers so that they may self-supervise, self-check, self-schedule, or make decisions on their own. Sometimes the choices made are not the same as the manager would have made, which is difficult for some bosses.

The second potential problem is the amount of effort a manager must invest to start and maintain a more behavioral working environment. It takes much more effort and patience to use behavioral methods than classical ones. Behavioral management concerns teams, groups, individual feelings, et cetera. Classical motivation is more objective and concrete. Find each person's level on Maslow's Hierarchy or trying to ensure that every position contains learning experiences take time. Because of this, some managers, already pressed for time, may elect not to employ many or any behavioral techniques.

Finally, one of the difficult jobs for any manager is trying to find motivational techniques that will work. By now it should be apparent by the number of theories that exist that there is no consensus as to what works. Here, informed workers may be able to help their managers and themselves.


Most people wait to be motivated, which is not the best way to get what they want. Waiting to be motivated by a manager who may not have the time, interest, or ability to discern what will motivate you should be too random of an experience to satisfy you. Because you have a direct interest in being motivated to work, you should not only participate in the process, but you should take the lead. And you do have an interest in being motivated, because being motivated means not only that you want to work, but that you want to improve, excel, and even look forward to work. This may be the difference between "working" and "having a career." The question now is how to proceed. The first step should be for you to apply the theories presented here to yourself. Analyze your needs. Discover what it is that you want. Ask yourself, "What will motivate me?" You must know what you want before you can go after it. Second, find out whether or not your needs can be fulfilled at work. If not, find out where they can be met. If they can be met at work, then find out which existing motivators can apply toward you. If none of the existing work motivators applies to you, create some that will. Third, approach your manager. Remember that you both have an interest in your being motivated to work. Of course it will be easier for you to ask to apply existing motivators to your situation. Do NOT ask, however, if you have to create your own. If you are asking for something different, make sure that you:

  1. Outline the benefits for your customers or workers;
  2. Outline the benefits for your employer;
  3. Outline the benefits to yourself;
  4. Explain everything in a logical, rational manner;

Make your proposal so sensible and compelling that the manager will find it difficult to refuse. Fourth, remember to be honest with yourself about what you want and, if necessary, be creative in how your employer can use this to motivate you. The most important point is for you to be motivated and achieve the most that you can, it is almost imperative that you take the lead. If you do not know what will motivate you, how can anyone else?


The major motivational theorists have been presented, along with a view of them from managers' and workers' perspectives. This information can be useful before, as well as after, a job has been obtained. Before accepting a position it may help you to analyze the type of motivational theory you feel would work best for you. It will help your analysis and the learning of the material for you to make a list of the aspects and assumptions of the major categories. This is especially true of the behavioral and classical theories. Decide which is best for you. Then, during a job interview, look for evidence that points to the methods used by the manager. Classify each employer and try to obtain the best match between your needs and the methods of the organization.

Once you have taken a job, use the information in this chapter to have the motivators that you feel will work best applied to you. Lastly, do not forget that your actions can influence the methods your manager selects. If he or she asks for your opinion, or attempts team building, et cetera, do what you can to cooperate. This is similar to the decision-making situation. If you are asked and do not respond, do not be surprised if you are never asked again.

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