Team Leadership Toolkit


Motivation - Expectancy Theory

One of the key tasks of the leader is to try to influence subordinates to put more effort into fulfilling the goals of the organisation.

The most satisfactory approach to this task has been outlined by "expectancy" theory which says that individuals will put more effort into their work when they can see a link between performance, effort and rewards such that:

1. Increased effort will lead to increased performance
This has implications in terms of the employees basic capability but also in terms of factors within the managers control such as whether the employee:
  • Understands the objectives of the job
  • Has sufficient training to do the job skilfully
  • Has sufficient resources.
2. Increased performance leads to rewards
The employee must be clear that increasing performance will result in rewards being given to him/her.
  • An implication of this is that rewards given on an individual basis will make more difference than more general rewards e.g. an overall pay rise will not have much effect on increased effort.
  • Rewards available for managers to use include: feedback; recognition; staff reports; allocation of work; time off; money (in a few cases).
3. The rewards are important to the individual
The rewards must be those that the individual values and wants for the approach to work. People, however, differ widely in the aspects of work that they place value in.
4. Perception of links
The individual must be able to see that these links exist before they will change their behaviour.


There are a number of implications of this approach for managers. They should: