Motivation, Productivity & Change Management Research Paper Starter

Motivation, Productivity & Change Management

This article will focus on the importance for a manager to understand how to motivate employees and manage change within an organization, and how productivity is affected by the nature of the information-based organization. A summary of motivation theories is presented, including the needs-based, process-based, and reinforcement motivation theories. This is followed by an overview of the most mainstream change management models for creating organizational transformation. Finally, the paper presents a discussion on how productivity is affected by employee motivation, and how today's fast-paced information-based organizations can take advantage of motivational and change management theory.

Keywords Change; Change Management; Motivation; Productivity; Transformation; Innovation

Management: Motivation, Productivity, and Change Management


In the year 2000, the well-known management guru Peter Drucker predicted a changing organizational landscape; one that is centered on information rather than productivity, focusing on worker knowledge, information sharing, and task specialists. Looking at the current state of contemporary organizations, one can conclude that Drucker was right. Today's organizations face the challenges resulting from exponential growth in global competition, short product life cycles and quickly changing consumer demand (Muthusamy, Wheeler, & Simmons, 2005). These factors, combined with information availability and accessibility described by Drucker, have led organizations to find success through innovative and creative thinking, employee empowerment, and the sharing and management of knowledge. This has created a significant paradigm shift in how organizations motivate employees, how much value they place on worker productivity and where it fits, and how organizations deal with change (the foundational basis of 'innovation' and 'transformation' — popular buzzwords for today's organizational practitioners). This paper provides an overview of each of these topics, and how they are interrelated with each other.


Never before has motivation played such a critical role in the workplace. Employees, in general, have more freedom than ever in getting their jobs done. The idea of self-managed employees and a democratic workplace is no longer the organization of the future. Rather, companies are beginning to embrace these concepts in order to have a changing organization that can adapt to an unstable and increasingly changing work environment. Some suggest that a completely democratic workplace is inevitable (Collins, 1997). This is creating a shift in emphasis from managing to leading, of which motivation plays a big role. The best leaders understand how to motivate their employees, using a transformational leadership style that is inspiring, intellectually stimulating, and provides individual consideration for each employee (Bass, 1999). Leaders of modern-day organizations must know how to motivate each of their employees in order for them to thrive in dynamic work environments. Understanding the various motivation theories is the first step to putting them into practice.

Motivation Theories can be categorized into three areas; needs-based, process, and reinforcement (Kinicki & Williams, 2003). All three categories should be considered by managers and leaders in the right situational context.

Needs Theories

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory is probably the most widely recognized motivational theory. Maslow asserted that our needs are fulfilled in a progressively complex way — a hierarchy consisting of five levels. An individual's needs are prioritized by the position in the hierarchy, whereby certain needs cannot be achieved until the needs in the lower level of the hierarchy are fulfilled. The five levels (from bottom to top) are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, self-esteem needs, and self-actualization. The physiological needs that one has are elements such as food shelter, clothing, and other most basic necessities. The safety needs include protection from physical and emotional harm, and the elimination of conflict. Clearly, in an industry such as construction, safety is a larger concern than it might be for computer programmers (Halepota, 2005). The social needs include elements like the need for love, friendship, affiliation, and belongingness. The self-esteem needs include elements like job status, respect, promotion, and recognition. Finally, self-actualization is a level where all of the needs are met, and one is completely satisfied with their surrounding environment. Organizational leaders should concentrate on where their employee's needs fit within the hierarchy. For example, it would not make sense to promote an employee without first offering an adequate salary.

A second widely-used needs theory was developed by David McClelland (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2006). McClelland suggested that individuals have three needs: a need for achievement, a need for power, and a need for affiliation. He suggested that every individual is different with regards to his or her needs, and in order to adequately motivate someone, a leader should have a clear understanding of their own employee's needs with regards to these three areas. For example, someone with a high needs for affiliation might be well-suited for a human resources position, while someone with a high need for achievement might be well-suited for a sales position. A leader can make a critical mistake by exclusively using motivational techniques that concentrate in the wrong area, such trying to fulfill affiliation needs for a group of engineers that enjoy working in solitude.

The third needs theory that is often embraced was developed by Frederick Herzberg, and is often referred to as Hygiene Theory of Job Satisfaction (Kinicki et al., 2006). Herzberg suggested that organizations have elements that can be classified as satisfier's and dissatisfiers, and that in order to satisfy and motivate employees, a leader/manager should remove the elements that dissatisfy employees and improve the elements that satisfy employees. Such elements as rules and regulations, salary, work environment, and supervisors are classified as dissatisfiers, or hygiene factors. Promotion opportunities, learning opportunities, job recognition, and challenging work are classified as satisfiers. While both are important to motivating an employee, oftentimes organizations only concentrate on removing the dissatisfiers, which does not intrinsically motivate the employee, especially in the long run. Take the employee who is not happy with his or her career progression, and attempts to resign, only to be tempted to stay with an increase in salary — a short-term solution that does not create the desired satisfaction.

Process Theories

There are three predominant process theories of motivation; Victor Vrooms Expectancy theory, Equity theory, and Goal setting theories.

The expectancy theory of motivation has three components (Kinicki et al., 2003). First, the employee has an expectation that his or her efforts will lead to high job performance. Second, the employee understands that if he or she performs at a high level, there will be a positive outcome. Finally, the employee understands the value of the possible outcome. These three components — expectancy, instrumentality, and valence are three elements of Vroom's theory. An example to demonstrate this needs process might be a commissioned salesperson who is preparing for a sales call to a potential new customer. The salesperson knows that in order to get the sale, an effort must be made, rather than having the purchase order just "drop in his lap." He spends half the night preparing his presentation, knowing that he will not present well without adequate presentation (effort leading to expectancy). He knows that if the presentation goes well, he will likely get the sales order (performance leading to instrumentality). Finally, he knows that an order will lead to a sales commission, and he'll be closer to his monthly sales goal (outcome leading to value or valence). He is motivated to prepare and get the sale.

Another process needs theory is Adam's Equity Theory. Adam asserted that the employee/employer relationship was a two way street where the employee has a number of inputs into the organization, and expects a number or resultant outputs that are fair and equitable. For example, an employee might bring past job experience, educational accomplishments, and might work 10 hours per week more than the average. To make these inputs feel equitable, the employee is motivated by good pay, promotional opportunities, and a good working environment. When there is an imbalance between input and outputs resulting in a feeling of inequity, the employee will have a feeling of dissonance- something is not right in the relationship. As a result, he won't be motivated towards achieving high performance. To remedy this, an employer might consider the individual's inputs separately, and compensate them accordingly to satisfy the inequity. Ramlall (2004) suggested that the Equity theory also considered the...

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