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Motivational Theory and Application Essay Sample

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Motivational Theory and Application Essay Sample

There are as many motivational theories as there are people to motivate. We focus on two dissimilar theories, which initially seem in opposition to each other. Through proper development and application, we see the ability to use both in the merger/acquisition scenario. The anticipated outcome of using both theories is the generation of a new and stronger organization than is possible by choosing one of the previous organizational structures. Using a work motivation survey, we explore the applicability of our idea.

Managers in any organization must set goals to achieve the organization’s mission. They can define goals as a desirable objective that is to be achieved. There are two reasons or purposes to use goals in the workplace: (1) goals are useful in framing and managing motivation, (2) goals can be an effective control device. Robbins states, “That specific goals lead to increased performance and that difficult goals, when accepted, result in higher performance than easy goals.” (Organizational Behavior, 2001).

Reflecting back to my military days, I can relate to Robbins statements. As a senior noncommissioned officer, I supervised several soldiers, and the harder the task, the better their behavior, and their performance was at its highest level. A prime example while stationed in Germany was training and preparing to deploy to South East Asia. The goal was to train the soldiers for dessert warfare. The training tasks were routine and boarding during training however, once we actually deployed, and survival became the goal, you could see an immediate change in their attitude and motivation. This goes back to the more difficult the goal the higher the performance.

There are several elements of the Goal-Setting Theory. Specifying what the goal is, acceptance of the goal, participation in reaching the goal, and performance feedback. As mentioned earlier, survival was the goal on the battlefield, but in the civilian sector, obtaining the competitive edge is survival in the business world. Another way to ensure the organizational goals are met, is to develop a compensation system that rewards those who contribute to the organization’s mission, and achieving the goals of the organization. Those who participated in achieving goals, will accept the added responsibility even if the goals are difficult and demanding because they were allowed in the decision making process by having a voice in the matter.

Generally, people who feel that are stakeholders of an organization’s goal will work toward the achievements of those goals. In my department, the tag office is gearing up to issue the new www.GEORGIA.gov license plates. This is a phonemically task because there are more than 200,000 vehicles registered in Muscogee County. The goal for us was to receive the tags, inventory the tag, and store the tags in less than five hours. We formed a committee, we discussed the goals, we informed every committee member of the performance requirements and the goal was met in three and a half hour, instead of five. If we had not met our goal there would have been a feeling of dissatisfaction, but by achieving the goal, there was a feeling of competence and success.

Self-improvement over prior performance, satisfaction of completing difficult tasks, knowing progress, and setting realistic goals where the top four responses in our work motivations survey. This reinforces the belief that employees want to set their own goals and work hard to achieve them. Accomplishment of goals and the satisfaction it brings is also demonstrated in the survey. The survey included an even mixture of gender, seniority and job responsibilities. Although each diverse group had its own tendencies, the general consensus strongly supports the Goal-Setting Theory.

Managers need to understand the goal-setting theory by involving subordinate’s participation, and that those difficult goals will generate a higher level of performance, but also realizing that the easier the goal the more likely the goal is to be accepted.

In contrast to the Goal-Setting Theory, the reinforcement theory is when it is believed that reinforcement conditions behavior. Reinforcement is the attempt to develop or strengthen desirable behavior by either giving positive consequences or withholding negative consequences (Nelson & Quick, 1994). Reinforcement theorists see behavior as environmentally caused. The reinforcement theory does not concentrate on the personal feelings of the individual, but rather what happens when the individual takes some action. What controls behavior are reinforcers, when immediately following a response, increases the probability that the behavior will be repeated (Luthans & Stajkovic, 1999). The reinforcement theory is considered in discussions of motivation because it provides a great means of analysis of what controls behavior.

Reinforcement is the attempt to develop or strengthen desirable behavior by either giving positive consequences or withholding negative consequences. Positive consequences are a result of a behavior that a person finds satisfying. Positive reinforcement results from the application of positive consequences following a desirable behavior. For example, many companies use bonuses and award ceremonies to recognize employees. This is an example of positive reinforcement. Negative consequences are results of a behavior that a person finds unattractive (Nelson & Quick, 1994). Negative reinforcement results from withholding a negative consequence when a desirable behavior occurs. An example of negative reinforcement would be docking an employees pay for being late (undesirable behavior) and not docking their pay when they are on time for work (desirable behavior).

The reinforcement theory relies on positive reinforcement and recognizing the impact of different schedules of reinforcement on behavior. Rewarding a behavior with recognition immediately following that behavior is likely to encourage its repetition. The recognition can take many forms, whether it is a pay raise, an award, or simply a pat on the back. Rewarding desirable behavior is important to a business to keep the motivation of the employees high.

Although Goal-Setting Theory and Reinforcement Theory view employee motivation from different angles, they are not mutually exclusive of each other. By allowing employees to participate in the decision making process, they feel ownership of the process and therefore have a greater motivation to see organizational success. Once the employees have set the goals, standards, and procedures, then they can be held accountable through behavior reinforcement practices. Positive and negative reinforcement elements can be assigned to the behaviors the employees outlined during the decision making process. This will also help in the transition phase from one organizational system to another.

All key elements of our preliminary actions for human resource to ease the corporate culture clash are now in place. We have defined our organizations’ cultural differences, we have established our line of communication with the key merger executives and we have an open line of communication for our employees to merge. Now we must motivate the topside to listen, take our advice seriously and motivate our employees to take the initiative to communicate with one another, and generate a feeling of one organization. Human resource has outlined the following steps:

1.We must outline visions that encompass the values and beliefs’ of the individuals and the organization.

2. We must define several goals that represent a lifestyle desired by most.

Both visions and goals should be outlined by the sub-cultures within the merged corporations. Once established, mechanism to promote the common visions and goals must be devised and put into place by human resources. Mechanisms such as an annual company outing that represent a lifestyle desired by most and an employee of the month compensation for goal promotion or achievement can be a part of the solution. Individual compensation should also promote the organization’s visions.

As our merged organizations strive to achieve our goals, we will encounter walls and or stumbling blocks. Human resources’ task is to turn these crossroads into opportunities for individual personnel and or organizational teams.

A common vision is the standard constant for success across all social classes and or lifestyles. Human resources must present this merger/acquisition to our employees as their vision, thereby motivating them to develop a more exciting organization. Human resources must recognize the barriers and work at removing them. An organizational vision that motivates is the secret to achieving an organization desired by their employees. (Webb, Capt. B., p.1)

Employee participation in creating a new organizational structure can be done using Goal-Setting Theory. This will reduce the conflicts of organizational cultures normally generated during a merger or acquisition, because neither of the former structures will exist. Instead there will be a new organizational structure with employee input, thereby making all employees stakeholders in the new organization. Afterwards, Reinforcement Theory can be implemented to maintain accountability in the newly created organization.

Diversity among motivational factors is inevitable within any organization, however, it is the commonality of certain beliefs which produce the solidity of the group. In our work survey, there are clear differences between the motivational factors of men and women. The men identified competitive factors higher on the list of motivators, while women listed group cohesiveness as their top motivational elements. Naturally managers/professionals chose goal setting and achievement as high on their list, as opposed to the social items preferred by administrative/clerical staff. All employees listed improvement over past performance as a major motivational factor regardless of time with the company. The most recognizable difference between employees based on seniority, was group cohesiveness, which was chosen more by the senior staff members. Although there were differences between identifiable groups of employees, the overall dedication level was similar.

The survey group seems to be a highly cohesive team due to comparable levels of commitment. This group will work well together with the normal divisiveness between salaried and hourly employees. The managers and professionals, who are salaried, will be less likely to socialize and more likely to stay focused on the task. Conflict could arise if a workflow problem occurs and the administrative employees do not reduce socialization until the task is completed. Only the normal differences in motivation seem to exist in this group, which overall seems to be a highly motivated team. This would be a group capable of setting their own goals and being motivated by reinforcement methods related to the goals they set for themselves.

During our exploration of two common motivational theories and their application to our merger/acquisition scenario, we discovered the possibility of using both theories concurrently to generate a greater result. If the work motivation survey represented our workforce, the application of our collective hypothesis would have a strong possibility of success. The likelihood of success would be far greater than choosing which of the current organizational structures would be most likely to succeed. Our hypothesis would reduce resistance to a single organizational structure and increase employee ownership in the new company.


Goal Setting Theory. 10 Oct. 2003 . How I-O psychologists help employers motivate workers. Prepared by the Society for Industrial

Organizational Psychology – SIOP. 30 Oct. 2003 .

Luthans, F. & Stajkovic, A. (1999). Reinforce for performance: The need to go beyond pay and

even rewards. Academy of Management Executive, 13(2), 49.

Nelson, D., & Quick, J. (1994). Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Realities, and

Challenges. St. Paul: West.

Robbins, S. (2001). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Webb, Capt. B. Elements of Motivation. Retrieved November 1, 2003, from http://home.att.net/~elements.of.motivation/

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