Theories of the motivational process in organizations and employees

Theories of the motivational process in organizations and employees

The motivational process of people is the same in personal life and the professional sphere.

The mental characteristics of employees are relatively the same and they all need similar incentives to increase motivation in their work. Reference: “Motivation management”, (

In theories about the motivational process of employees, the emphasis is placed mainly on some of the mental processes that take place in motivation, although to some extent attention is paid to the needs.

This group of theories is usually defined as more useful than the practical management of human resources because it is the basis of the applied motivational techniques. The processes that are the subject of attention here are mostly:

  • expectations (theory of expectations);
  • goal achievement (goal theory);
  • behavioral choice (reactivity theory);
  • sense of equality (equality theory)

Theory of expectations

The concept of expectations was originally developed by Victor Vroom as a “Theory of Valence, Instrumentality, and Expectations.” Reference:

He considers motivation as a derivative of three variables: how much the person wants something (reward, for example), ie. what value for him is what he seeks to achieve or possess (valence);

The personal assessment of the probability of the efforts made to lead to a result (expectations) and the assessment of the extent to which the result will lead to obtaining the desired (instrumentality).

Latham and Locke goal theory

They prove that motivation and performance are higher when the individual is set certain clear goals, when these goals are difficult but achievable and accepted, and when feedback is built on the quality of the performance.

The participation of the employees themselves in setting the goals is an important means for the successful setting of the high goals and the achievement of motivation. Reference:

The theory of goals is in line with the concept of target management that emerged in the early 1960s and is largely discredited mainly because its implementation is approached bureaucratically and without the support of those who will be managed, as well as without reliable feedback systems.

At present, goal theory is the basis of performance management systems known in human resource management, which are the successors of the concept of target management.

These are the systems in which the management staff plans their work and is evaluated and self-evaluated based on the so-called “Key target areas”, decomposed into deadlines, tasks, etc.

Reactivity theory

Thus, as formulated by Brem, this theory is based on the assumption that “to a certain extent, to which the individual is aware of their needs and the behavior necessary to achieve them, and provided that freedom of choice is in place, choose behavior that maximizes the satisfaction of his needs. ” If his freedom of choice is threatened, the individual will react, ie. will be motivationally activated against future restrictions on his freedom. More employee motivation theories: “Motivational theories in organizational behavior“,

Some of the consequences of this theory are that individuals are not passive to influence, but actively seek to make sense of the environment in which they work and reduce uncertainty in it by controlling the factors on which their remuneration depends.

Management may have a set of wonderful ideas for motivating staff, but they are doomed to failure if they are not perceived as meaningful and acceptable by the objects of motivation and are not in line with their values ​​and orientations. No evaluation system has been invented yet, which is not subject to manipulation by the evaluated if they consider it necessary and acceptable.

The motivation of employees with equality theory

The previous motivational theories consider the person and his motives, mainly as a separate person. However, organizations are social systems in which everyone is connected to everyone and some extent dependent on others.

Everyone observes the others, compares himself with them, judges them. This theory takes into account the circumstances in question and adds new dimensions to our understanding of the motivation process.

Equality theory is concerned with an individual’s subjective perception of how he or she is treated compared to others. To be treated equally means to be treated fairly compared to a group of other people or another person.

Equality and honesty are not only ethical categories, but necessarily involve emotions and feelings, and there is always a process of comparison. However, equality does not mean equal treatment for everyone. On the contrary, people do not expect to be treated the same as everyone else, because the people themselves are not the same.

The core of the considered concept is the existence of a directly proportional connection of equality with motivation.

The model postulates that employees tend to compare what they invest in the organization (I) and what they receive from it (O).

What is invested in the organization (I) are all the elements with which employees believe that they contribute to something in it: education, qualification, experience, loyalty, commitment to its goals, time, effort, work results. Receipt (O) includes not only direct remuneration, but also the non-monetary elements of remuneration, and social and psychological “income” such as security, prestige, etc.

Everyone compares the “fairness” of their “I / O contract” both in itself and concerning that of their colleagues. The idea is that the individual strives for a comprehensive balance of the considered relations.

Apart from its obvious correspondence with the reality, this concept is also valuable in the analysis of some special cases of imbalance that can be identified in comparisons.

If a person considers himself to be “overestimated”, his reaction to restore balance could be external and internal, physical and mental, namely: more diligent work (internal, physical reaction), revaluation with underestimation of the received (internal, mental reaction), convincing others to ask for an increase in remuneration (external, physical reaction), choosing another, “more convenient” object of comparison – for example, someone even more overrated than him (external, mental reaction).

The reactions in case of underestimation are almost the same, but “mirror”.

This concept explains only one but very important aspect of the process of motivation and job satisfaction. It raises many questions and even answers some of them. For example, why the highly educated tend to “overestimate” their education, and those with longer experience – their experience and experience.

Most of the employees tend to choose objects (individuals and groups) that are higher than them in terms of remuneration and are not compared to unfavorable cases for them. Many people have stable and high self-esteem, which is very difficult to look at dispassionately and objectively.

Management receives from this concept too many difficult tasks “for home thinking”, but perhaps among the most important and easiest of them is how important it is to seek an understanding of subordinates, how they perceive their “I / O contracts ”and comparisons, and not to impose on them any notions of honesty, equality, and justice.