Wikipedia defines motivation as, “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” Motivation is a need within us that inspires us to take action. In leadership, motivation theories play a key part in organisational behaviour and creating team success. It forms the centre of influence and therefore effective and inspirational leadership.
To be in a position to motivate your people, first you must understand what actually motivates them in the first place; what makes them tick and what inspires them.
As stated in other articles, the large misconception is that most people come to work just for the money; however, if you delve deeper into the psyche of people and the many supporting motivation theories, you would find that this is far from the truth.
Some quick examples of other factors that can motivate people are:
Due to the complexity of humans and the associated aspect of motivation, many gurus over the years have created a number of motivation theories to try to identify and understand the factors that influence our enthusiasm levels, and therefore our driving force behind our actions. The following are the key theories that have been created over the past century.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was created by Abraham Maslow in the 1940s. He attempted to create reasoning among different motivation levels, stating that motivational needs range from the basic physiological needs like air, food etc to self-fulfilment, like helping others and growing as a person. He identified that our motivational factors influence what we are aspiring for and are in sequential order. Therefore, if you are struggling to find food, then your motivation is to find food and sustain it. You wouldn’t at this point, be concerned with growth and bettering yourself as an individual, but as each need is met, the desire to grow and develop is evident, towards the level 5 need of understanding your worth and true potential.
Herzberg’s Hygiene model – The next of the major motivation theories, Herzberg argues that there are two main factors that people take into consideration when they are motivated. Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory (sometimes known as Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory.) , directly attempted to answer the question, “How do You Motivate Employees?” The conclusions he drew were extraordinarily influential, and still form the bedrock of good motivational practice nearly half a century later.
His findings revealed that certain characteristics of a job are consistently related to job satisfaction, while different factors are associated with job dissatisfaction. The goal of this theory is to do two things:
1. Eliminate the factors of dissatisfaction (the term Herzberg uses as hygiene factors) – which include things like:
2. Create conditions for job satisfaction – Herzberg referred to this as job enrichment, and aims to provide more satisfaction in each individual’s jobs. Typical areas to improve are:
McGregor’s Theory X, Theory Y Model is another of the key contributors to motivation theories. His theory states that there are two ways of managing and motivating individuals.
McGregor’s ideas suggest that many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. On the contrary, enlightened and successful managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop in their roles.
McGregor’s ideas significantly relate to modern understanding of the Psychological Contract, which identifies that there are many ways to understand the unhelpful nature of x-theory management and the positive benefits of the y-theory alternative.
Theory x (‘authoritarian management’ style) –Associated with the following typical points:
Theory y (‘participative management’ style) – Associated with the following points:
Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory – The fourth contributor to motivation theories, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory was developed in 1964, and demonstrates a link between expected results and reward, which follows a similar path to Transactional Leadership. The motivational levels that Vroom suggests are based on how hard an employee wants an outcome. If they want it enough, they will put the effort in to achieve it.
In this sense, managers must find ways to provide achievable goals that inspire the team members, whilst linking the appropriate rewards to those goals.
There are many ways a leader can motivate and inspire their people. The nine most common methods that have been proven to work are:
In tandem with the motivational guidelines, there are common factors to avoid when trying to inspire and motivate people. These common pointers span across any of the motivation theories you may prefer to use, and again, are tried and tested pointers to avoid when leading your teams.
Apply the simple steps below to help inspire, motivate and influence your team to success.