Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Six Motivational Potentials Employers Should Consider

Iron Workers Noon Time
Job motivation is an important component for worker progression and organizational development. Motivation takes many forms but is often fostered through the conduit of organizational objectives. Employees seeking needs attainment search through their environments in order to find appropriate paths that create the most likely outcomes. Organizations that can create the right mechanisms for motivational expression are more likely to foster the aspirations of their employees.

Motivational potentials is a concept that entails creating pathways whereby employee motivation can meet beneficial outcomes. In organizations where there are few motivational potentials, and appropriate pathways, it is doubtful employees will come to the conclusion that additional work will result in some level of reward. Without the desire, the pathway, and the reward the employee will continue to treat work as just another mundane task to engage in throughout the day in order to maintain their lifestyle.

Motivational potentials can include the following (Heckhausen & Rheinburg, 1980):

1.) Clearly defined areas of responsibility.
2.) Employees conception of optimal work-results and appropriate measures to reach them.
3.) Consideration of employees' positive experiences with similar work-tasks.
4.) Importance of work-results for sub-dominant goals.
5.) Transparent and performance-oriented incentive systems.
6.) Opportunity of choosing between alternative extrinsic rewards.

Employees seek to own the work and its results, appropriate feedback of performance, have positive work experiences, fulfill multiple goals, trustworthy incentive programs, and meaningfulness of the rewards. To employees the environment must be worthy of their effort and there need to have appropriate opportunities to achieve once that effort is put forward. The compensation structure defines how much and what kind of effort is required for a reward.

Let us assume that Ben is an employee who desires to engage his work environment. However, his supervisor practices control versus empowerment and Ben cannot find an appropriate path to engage his work environment. The extra effort he puts forward is either unnoticed or unfairly capitalized on by his supervisor. After a few attempts at trying to benefit himself through the organization he either gives up or seeks other opportunities for employment. Ben may stay within his position for a while but is unlikely to produce much as he intuitively knows that no benefit can be obtained by offering ideas or working harder.

Ben desires to know what his responsibilities are, wants to know what is considered "strong work", wants to enjoy the tasks he does, wants to enhance his market worth, desires to understand precisely how someone receives additional compensation, and wants a choice in the type of reward he receives. If his supervisor is not transparent with Ben it is unlikely he will trust his supervisor or his workplace. He will not be willing to put forth much effort without a dynamic change to the environment. 

There are organizations that practice the assumption that workers must be controlled and discipline is an appropriate driving force to keep employees productive. Such behavior often encourages compliance but will rarely produce anything beyond low standards of productivity and engagement. Creating an appropriate atmosphere for successful alignment of personal goals with that of the organization can help provide opportunities for motivated workers to reengage their environment. In this century employees are expected to be more than a part in the machinery and should be shown the path forward. Great supervisors and managers can effectively communicate the expectations and follow through with them when they are achieved.

Heckhausen, H. & Rheinburg, F. (1980). Learning motivation in education, newly considered. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 1. pp. 7-47.

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