Employee Motivation

Employee Motivation

Modern management theory advances the thought that motivation of employees is a key task of managers.  The reason that managers are so concerned with motivating employees is that “an organization will be effective only if its members are motivated to perform at a high level” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 296).  Employees and managers that are driven to succeed are huge assets to a company because it is the desire to succeed that motivation seeks to impart.  The basis of anyone’s motivation comes specifically from their life experience and background but there are some basic human motivators that are shared regardless of background.  Basic needs that address physical requirements for life are shared among all humans, needs for food, water, and shelter are common motivating factors and must be addressed for any motivational technique to be effective.

Some management experts contend that motivation is not something that can be taught or exerted by a manager.  The common theory being that, “You cannot motivate anyone except yourself. Motivation is very personal and comes from within. There may be external factors but the driver comes from within. Now what you can do is inspire others. Inspiration precedes motivation”  (Norris, 2011, np.).

There are many contrasting theories that managers are able to use in an effort to motivate employees.  A very popular and seemingly effective theory is known as goal setting theory.  Goal setting theory is effective because it uses specific and difficult to reach goals to motivate employees (Jones & George, 2011, p. 311).  An effective use of goal setting theory is to set goals that are specific and can be divided into monthly, weekly, or even daily goals that are measurable and require effort to reach.  A sales manager would therefore set goals for the sales team that are definable such as a certain unit of sales each month and also that set activity goals such as making thirty phone calls a day in order to prospect for customers.

One of the simplest and most direct motivational theory is known as need theory.  Need theory simply says that people that operate at a high level of performance should be able to satisfy different needs (Jones & George, 2011, p. 316).  This simple motivation is used by companies that allow salespeople to sell products and get paid based on the number of products sold or on the profit made.

Motivation is based on a organization’s overall needs as well as each member’s needs and wants.  Managers must learn to use every type of motivation available to them and be flexible in how they attempt to motivate their organizations.


Jones, G. R., & George, J. M. (2011). Essentials of contemporary management
(4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Norris, R. (2011). How to motivate anyone for success – especially yourself – with seven minutes and a cup of coffee. Training & Management Development Methods, 25(2), June 11, 2011.




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