Motivation may be described as ‘having sufficient reason’ for doing something.
Nobody ever does anything unless they have a reason for doing so:
to motivate is ‘to furnish with a reason or motive’, i.e. ‘to make somebody want to do a particular task’
You may find a certain task either enjoyable or unpleasant:
- If enjoyable, you will need very little motivation to make you do it (or a strong penalty to stop you doing it);
- If unpleasant, you will need a powerful motivation to carry it out (and very little excuse to avoid doing so).
Therefore management has a basic choice in motivation of either offering some nature of reward for carrying out a task, or making the threat of some form of penalty for not doing so (the traditional ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ philosophy).
But although the ‘big stick’ may have worked well in the last century when unemployment was high and there were few if any social security benefits, it is almost totally ineffective in the economic and social environment of today.
This is not to say that ‘fear’ does not motivate. When used occasionally and selectively it can provide a spur to the poor performer who has the potential to do better; and fear can – and should – be used in disciplinary matters. When used continuously, however, it can ‘motivate’ the best performers to find another job, and demotivate the others into giving minimum acceptable results.
There are many theories behind positive motivation to include:
- Motivation is achieved by the promise of satisfaction of individual needs.
- Each individual has different needs and wants.
(and these may change from week to week and from year to year)
- Each individual has a different level of drive.
(the effort which he/she is willing to apply to achieve each need)
Motivation must relate to the promise of something in the future
(people are not motivated by things which have already happened)
- Group motivation can be based on the common needs of the group
(but additional attention must be directed to individual needs).
- Fear can be used as an occasional short-term motivator
(but in the long term it leads to friction and dissatisfaction).
- Removing any cause of dissatisfaction will not motivate
(it will result only in a ceasing of the demotivational effect).
- There is a level beyond which each individual can not be motivated
(if any need is reasonably satisfied, further reward has no effect).