How can the manager in this case study use Maslow's Hierachy of Needs to understand his emplyees' motivation?
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Matthew James was the manager at Health-Time, a small but popular fitness club in a mid-sized college town. Health-Time had found a niche in the local market, providing high-quality aerobics classes and lots of them. The instructors at Health-Time were superior to those at other facilities around town, and Health-Time offered high-impact, low-impact and step aerobics and body-sculpting classes. By offering more than 80 classes per week, Health-Time attracted members who wanted a variety of classes at all times of the day. The Health-Time facility also included exercise bikes, stair climbers, treadmills and a small weight room, but its “bread and butter” was clearly the aerobics program.
Matt James had recently taken over as manager after working at Health-Time for five years as an aerobics instructor. Matt’s classes were popular, and he was justifiably proud of the aerobics program and his part in making it a success. When he took the job as manager, however, Health-Time was not in good shape financially. Membership was dropping slightly, and personnel costs were way too high. In his first month as manager, Matt worked to streamline the staff by eliminating the positions of assistant manager and weight room supervisor and cutting the membership coordinator position to half-time. Though there was unavoidable unhappiness surrounding these changes, Matt was pleased that he had reduced the management staff to himself, Clarissa (a half-time bookkeeper), and Mei-Chen (a half-time membership coordinator).
After a short month as manager, Matt felt that he had the “office side” of the club in order, and he turned his attention to the receptionists and aerobic instructors. He had noticed that many receptionists and aerobic instructors did not take their jobs as seriously as he would like. The receptionists spent more time chatting with members than on job tasks (i.e., checking people in, writing receipts, answering phones, and cleaning up during downtime). The aerobics instructors often ran into their classes with little time to spare and had to rush to get their cassette tapes ready for class. Instructors and receptionists were also accustomed to informally swapping shifts and classes when the posted schedule conflicted with other plans. Almost all of the reception staff and aerobic instructors were students at the local university. Receptionists were paid the minimum wage and aerobics instructors were paid about $15.00 per class taught.
Matt decided to hold a general meeting to let the aerobics and reception staff know what he expected now that he was manager. Though he had been their “buddy” when he taught aerobics, he knew that his loyalty now had to be with the financial success of Health-Time. He truly cared about the club and wanted to see it thrive for both professional and personal reasons. At the meeting, Matt told the instructors and receptionists that they all had to pull together for the good of Health-Time. To promote a family feeling, he provide them all with sweatshirts displaying the Health-Time logo. He then explained why he thought they should shape up and change their behaviors on the job. As his employees slumped in their chairs, he laid down the law:
“I know things have been lax around here,” he said, “but the success of Health-Time depends on everyone pulling together to make this place work. I know you’re all used to the way things used to be around here, but we have to change. There’ll be no more idle chatter on the job, and every instructor will be prepared for class at least 15 minutes ahead of time. All changes in the schedule will go through me. When we do change and when this club is as successful as it can be, you’ll feel proud to be a part of this place and what we’ve accomplished together!”
Three weeks later, Matt was perplexed. Three of his receptionists had quit, telling him that they could earn minimum wage elsewhere. Two aerobics instructors had decided to start teaching at the University Athletic Club rather than at Health-Time. Although the remaining staff members were now following his rules regarding job behavior and scheduling, morale seemed to be at an all-time low.
“You know, I just can’t understand these people,” Matt complained to a friend. “We’ve got a great thing going with Health-Time. We’re the best aerobics program in town, and they should feel proud to be a part of it. I know I get a real bang out of making that place the best it can be – I always have, even when I was just an instructor. But these people just don’t seem to care. And when I talk to them about the problem, it only gets worse. I even gave them sweatshirts to get them motivated, but they still quit on me! Is it me, or is it them? And what should I do now?”
- Describe the motivational problems of the staff at Health-Time using Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy.
- Describe the motivational problems of the staff at Health-Time using the expectancy theory of motivation. Discuss the staff’s outcome valences, effort-to-performance (E-to-P) and performance-to-outcome (P-to-E) expectancies.
- Describe the motivational problems of the staff at Health-Time using the equity theory of motivation. Discuss whether the staff is in a situation of underreward inequity or overreward inequity, and how they are attempting to restore a feeling or sense of equity.
- What strategies would you recommend to Matt to deal with the problem?
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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains that people have certain needs that have to be met, and their needs are ranked. Lower needs include survival needs like air, food, and water, and higher needs include self-esteem. The highest need is self-actualization, which means that a person feels he has met his potential. The needs in order are: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, becoming manager met his higher needs of self-actualization, but did not meet his employees’. When they worked there before, they felt like they were all friends. They did not get paid much, but they enjoyed each other’s company. They had each other’s backs. They looked out for one another. When one person could not make a class, he knew that he could call another person and that person would cover. They were a family. The need for love and belonging was met. The club was popular, and it sounds like even though the conditions were not great (they did not make much money and they were always rushing), they had each other. Matt did not understand that. He came in and upset the balance. When he took away that level of love and belonging, the incentive to remain was no longer there. There was only money. They were not working there for the money, and certainly not for sweatshirts.
Expectancy theory of motivation states that a person will behave one way when he expects something in return. In other words, the employees worked hard and remained at the club when they knew things would remain as they were—informal and friendly. E >P is expecting effort to result in performance. They put out pretty good effort, and they got pretty good performance. P>O is expecting a reward for performance. When Matt changed things, they no longer felt the incentive that they had before. What they expected from him was friendship, and what they got was a hard line. So they put less performance or quit. Valence is how something is worth. This is where Matt really miscalculated. Things that he considered worth nothing, like the friendliness and informal relationships, were actually the most valuable to his employees.
Finally, equity theory basically says that people who think they are under-rewarded or over-rewarded will be distressed about it. In this case, the employees felt undervalued. They did not think Matt understood the contribution they made to the club, and what they contributed to the atmosphere. It was not a chain, but a unique place. If he was going to make it just like the other clubs, they could quit and go work at one of those clubs. So that’s just what they did. That way, at least they maintain their pride.
Matt does have a problem, because even if the club is a good place to work it won’t be if it goes under. He needs to explain to everyone that he is making these changes in order to keep the place operational. One thing he might do is be more open with everyone. He could make the place co-op, keep that sort of chic, special vibe kind of like Trade Joe’s. He could also be less tyrannical in his decisions and make the same changes, such as getting receptionists to get work done, but talk to them about why. He might also want to look at which changes are saving and making money and which ones he is just making willy-nilly too. He might have caused some bad blood by firing so many people. Finally, instead of having a meeting where he tells people what to do, he should solicit employee input and take advantage of that fact that they see him as one of them. Perhaps if he explains where he went wrong and apologizes he can salvage this situation.
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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that everyone is different. They have different expectations and their needs and wants are not every time the same. All their needs are to be ranked in two ways in such that one is the Lower needs and the other one is the Higher needs. Lower needs include basic things like our daily needs like water and food. However higher needs are more to what others feel like self-esteem and a sense of belonging.
Maslow’s Hierarchy became the manager, he did not realise that even though he had met the needs of self-actualization, but not his employees’. They felt the change after he made that rule. They felt that even though the pay was not up their expectations, they felt a sense of belonging working together.The club was popular, and it sounds like even though the conditions were not great they appreciate the company they had. However, Matt came in and ruin all the happiness they had. All he cared was money. They were not working there for the money, and certainly not for sweatshirts.
Matt also did not realise that what he did made his employees felt unappreciated and unvalued. They did not think Matt understood the contribution they made to the club, and what they contributed to the atmosphere.
Matt also felt that the club should be maintained as how he wants it to be. In this case, many employees would be unhappy about it as he did not quite explain the importance of keeping the workplace in that manner. He could also at least not restrict them for talking to each other. He might also want to look at which changes are saving and making money and which ones he is just making willy-nilly too. He might have caused some bad blood by firing so many people. Matt could have also handled the situation better if heif he explains where he went wrong and apologizes.
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