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Motivation - general - part 3

Frederick Herzberg (Hygiene factors)

For additional details see elsewhere (see Frederick Herzberg).

Here Frederick Herzberg suggested that people are motivated by ‘satisfiers’ and ‘dissatisfiers’.
Things that people enjoy are, gaining achievement and getting recognition.
Areas of little joy are working conditions and pay.

The dissatisfiers were labelled as Hygiene Factors and provided a worker is happy with these, everything is OK.
The satisfiers have been labelled Motivation Factors these need to be present to keep people happy.

Things like blatant pay inequalities or poor management can cause a lot of problems.
The idea is to recognise these Hygiene Factors and do something about them.

In terms of Motivation Factors Herzberg said that individuals were not driven by failure to try again but by achieving.
This would lead to a degree of satisfaction (that is a personal reward) leading to a repeat of the behaviour.
Another key area for motivation would be recognition for these achievements.

Achievement does not mean 100% success.
If an employee is failing, for example, writes 5 reports per week and never gets any in on time then getting 1 or 2 in on time is a positive step in the right direction and should be recognised as such.
In this way, ‘less failure’ can be seen as success.

Hence, creating many opportunities for achievement with plenty of recognition is excellent for motivation and improved performances.

If you were to list all of the achievements (big and small) that you know about the amount of recognition would not equate.
In other words, many opportunities to reinforce have been squandered.

For example, how many people thank employees at the end of the month for their efforts?
It is usually assumed that there is no need as they are paid to do the job.

Douglas McGregor (X and Y Theory)

For additional details see elsewhere (see Douglas McGregor - (X and Y Theory)).
Basically, Douglas McGregor saw people falling into one of two camps ‘X’ or ‘Y’.

Theory ‘X’ people have little ‘self’ motivation. They require direction, seek safe avenues, shun any responsibility and find it hard to be creative in their thinking. Motivation for these people will be driven by money and other benefits. Management will be by negative reinforcement, punishment and penalties (see Consequences – part 1).

Theory ‘Y’ is just the opposite. People like their work and are easily motivated and can get on with things with little supervision.
They are creative and enjoy problem solving.

The trouble with Theory ‘Y’ is that a manager can fall into the trap of being too lenient and start doing everything by committee.
Sometimes a manager has to make the decision.

Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs)

This theory of his Hierarchy of Needs is discussed in more detail elsewhere (see Motivation – Abraham Maslow).

He postulated that humans are driven to satisfy some basic needs. Whichever one is dominant at the time will win out.

He suggested that humans need to satisfy, in order of importance:

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety, security and order
  • Social and affection
  • Esteem and status
  • Self actualisation

As a manager there will be a tendency to converse with a troubled employee to try to understand exactly where they fit into the above list and direct any action to filling the next ‘need’ on the list. This begins to delve into the realms of amateur psychology.

What ever the state of mind of an employee one day it is unlikely it will remain that way, therefore requiring additional discussion.
It is hard to put such a theory into practical application for solving behavioural issues.

Recognising achievement

The biggest problem is that it is easy to see achievement when there is a ‘recognisable’ goal.
The winner of a race, lasting longer than others in an endurance event and beating an opponent in a final.

It is very easy to miss all of the minor achievements which can accumulate to large successes.
These are equally important to the individual and far more numerous.
Few people will ever win the tennis final at Wimbledon but many will improve in much smaller areas.

Recognition of minor shifts in behaviour may prove annoying to some as giving acceptance to a lower performance level.
However, it is not failure to attain 100% of the target that is important but the progress from 30 to 40% which is significant.
Eventually, that person will reach and probably exceed the current ‘normal’ target level.
This may take time but will be worth it in the long run.

If you don’t take ‘routine’ achievement for granted people will be much more cooperative.


It is easy to try to be an amateur psychologist. By trying to assess peoples’ characters it is easy to end up labelling them in some manner. Given a particular scenario (that is an antecedent (see Giving Orders) people will react in a multiple of ways.
Many of these will be common to a lot of the people.

Behaviour and reason

In any situation there will be factors that will limit the options that you can have in terms of behaviour.
Within this framework how do you handle someone whose behaviour becomes unacceptable?
If such behaviour is allowed to persist it can have a big detrimental affect on everyone.

A manager should not really concern him or herself with why the individual behaves in an unacceptable manner.
Trying to understand how the person thinks is the province of the psychologist and is not needed for behavioural control.
A manager must concentrate on the adverse behaviour.
The aim is to remove the adverse behaviour and replace it with an appropriate one.

Job contract

Everyone is an individual. In this sense you will never know their true character and their true manner of behaviour.
When someone works for you you will be paying them to exhibit a set of behaviours that are required to do the job.
That is the essence of employment.

When a person refuses to commit to the correct behaviours it will limit the breadth of behaviours available to the manager to resolve the issue. Behaviours must come within the realms of the business environment.

Any job will have responsibilities but these are not actions. Try to translate them into actual behaviours.