How to motivate staff - that seemed to be the holy grail of management theories during much of the 20th century.
No one found that holy grail, but the search for it did lead to a large number of insights into how people become motivated. We have produced summaries of the main six theories/writers - see menu on the left.
- Expectancy Theory
- FW Taylor - Scientific Management
- Elton Mayo - Hawthorne Experiment
- Fred Hertzberg - Job Satisfaction
- Abraham Maslow - Hierarchy of Needs
- Douglas McGregor - Theory X & Theory Y
Anyone who wishes to know more had best read the original books.
As to our own views. Motivation happens on three levels:
- The Individual Level which is often about a biological response - interest, curiosity, and drive. People we have trained, when asked to reflect on times when they felt motivated, almost always named one of two factors - a challenging task and recognition .
- The Group/Community Level where the group or community generates feelings of loyalty, commitment, and stimulation. Particularly strong in the armed forces.
- The Organisational Level which is perhaps more about commitment rather than motivation. The organisation can create the conditions - pay, promotions, working conditions, etc. that support mangers and leaders in motivating their staff. It establishes the psychological contract between employer and employee
This is depicted pictorially below.