The most important aspect of any management opportunity is that the situation is always changing and therefore the motivations of employees and their commitment level changes as well. Overall, basic theories can apply but because no situation is black and white, there is no chart or textbook anywhere that can describe the exact method used to approach all situations at a given time. Furthermore, the method and approaches used must be adapted not only to the current event but they must be taken and molded to variables that can be as wide as a given industry or as narrow as the individual. Understanding needs based theory, goals based theory, and concepts of an employee’s commitment to the organization and being able to style them to scenarios are crucial to motivating an organization to meeting its full potential.
Within needs based theories, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory, and David McClelland’s Need’s Theory, the motivation of employees is understood by levels of necessity. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs requires the physiological and safety needs of an individual are the baseline and on a first need basis. As the hierarchy continues, the higher order needs that must be fulfilled and sustained have a social basis and build upon love and belonging to create respect, achievement, and responsibility. The ultimate goal is self-actualization and represents the idealized level of the individual. Maslow’s concept of self-actualization represents “everything that one is capable of becoming” (Value Based Management.net, 2009) Because of the loose definition, a lack of measurable attributes, and as you ascend the hierarchy and your potential grows, self- actualization is unattainable. When applied to the individual in a managerial since, when the needs are fulfilled of staff they are able to perform at a higher level.
Whereas Maslow’s hierarchy is a process that focuses solely on one step at a time, Alderfer’s ERG Theory represents a streamlined version that can be fluid with the individuals changing needs and that can be concurrent. ERG theory consists of three levels, existence which is represented in Maslow’s theory by safety and physiological needs, relatedness which is Maslow’s social needs, and growth which is Maslow’s esteem and self-actualization needs. “As these needs are met, progression can be made to the next level and as needs go unfulfilled, regression exists. For example, if an employee’s growth needs are unfulfilled at work because he or she is in a dead-end position with no opportunities for advancement, he or she may regress back to relatedness needs and try to gain satisfaction from social interactions with co-workers. If relatedness needs are blocked, then an employee may regress to existence needs and seek refuge in food, alcohol, and drugs to satisfy needs”. (Redmond 2009, pg. 6) It is because of transitions of this type that the individual is able to seek several needs concurrently.
It is in McClelland’s needs theory that the transitions of progression and regression disappear completely between needs because the three motivational needs that must be filled, achievement motivation (nACH), authority/power motivation (nPOW), and affiliation motivation (nAFF), represent levels that are different for each individual and can be fitted to different situations and opportunities. For example, a high need for nACH will avoid low-risk and high-risk because both situations appear as losses to a high achiever. To someone with a high nACH level, a low-risk situation is not true success and the high-risk is not based on the achievers ability. A high nPOW is representative of someone whose need is to direct others actions or others goals. To someone with a high nAFF, the need for a cohesive personal relationship to others is a high priority. Because of McClelland’s theory being based on increasing levels, the individual has the ability to increase or decrease the levels and shape their needs. By placing individuals in situations that their levels are appropriate, the individual is more likely to succeed and then can be further trained to increase relevant levels.
The concepts of focus created by levels of needs can also be seen in goal setting theory and used as a tool to direct employee’s attention and just as with needs based theory, each scenario and individual will have a different motivational relationship. The theory of goal setting has been mostly developed in the last 50 years by Edwin Locke and is effective because of it setting a point to reach and allowing decisions to be weighed against the positive and negative effects that employee’s actions will have in reaching the desired goal. Goal setting theory is also effective because of its ability to direct attention, exert more effort, persist longer, and devise effective strategies toward goal attainment. (Redmond pg. 4, 2009)
Goals are dependent on several factors including the employees committing to the goal, how specific the goal is defined, how difficult the goal is in relation to the employee’s abilities, and the level of feedback given. Just as with needs based motivational theories, fulfilling these factors is crucial. When an employee does not participate, cannot define the goal, is not challenged, or is not communicated with, then the full potential of the goal is not able to be reached.
Among other challenges to overcome with goal setting is the potential conflict between personal and organizational goals and maintaining the balance of the two which exists. For example, the monetary rewards for personal performance of managers could directly conflict with organizational goals of efficiency and not overall production. If early budgets are raised significantly based on percentage and bonuses are made off those numbers, no reason exists for managers to significantly raise their numbers past what they will bonus because the next year’s bonuses will be that much harder to reach. Also with goal setting, employee’s actions can sometimes exhibit a sense of tunnel vision in which behaviors of employees can become so modified that the true desired effect of the goal is not reached even though the goal is. This becomes a problem when riskier attitudes and actions create negative impacts in the other facets of the work. For example, if cutting down time is an important aspect of the goal, quality might be heavily sacrificed which will have a negative effect on the organization.
However, research supports incorporating goal setting for several positive reasons including that the flexibility of the employee is increased due to the employee’s ability to draw upon past knowledge and skills and incorporate them into an efficient model for reaching the goal. (Latham & Kinne, 1974). Also, when an employee attempts to achieve a goal that is new to their skills, it encourages them to expand their knowledge base and institute new procedures to achieve the task. (Latham and Baldes, 1975). Research has even found that job satisfaction increases with goal setting and that negative factors associated with work can be decreased. (Susan Ellen Donelan, 1975)
The organizational commitment levels of an employee are directly related to the previous two motivational theories. Within needs based theory, commitment is at its highest when the higher tier needs are fulfilled. Within goal based theory, the more effective the goal is at motivating, the higher the commitment of the employee. Just as with the previous two theories, factors change from person to person and scenario to scenario.
Many definitions exist, but organizational commitment has been defined by Northcraft and Neale (1996) as an attitude reflecting an employee’s loyalty to the organization, and an ongoing process through which organization members express their concern for the organization and its continued success and well being. Different levels of commitment exist and are comprised of different levels of attitudes along with them. For example, with affective commitment the employee has a firm belief in the organizations core values and takes pride in their work for the organization. The organization has developed an atmosphere that the employee can thrive in and in turn the employee has dedicated themselves fully to reaching the potential of the organization. With continuance commitment, the employee feels that they have to stay with the organization because leaving would have a more negative impact than on them staying. It could be that leaving would lessen their 401k or have financial implications, that benefits are not as nice in other organizations, or that job stability is better. This type of commitment produces only a half-hearted work ethic and response to company goals. Finally, with normative commitment, the employee feels a sense of obligation to stay because of it being the right thing to do. A common description is that it is out of “ought to” because the reason is a socially oriented one. Work commitment importance is seen as an indicator of the value of the employee. When those with a high commitment are seen, organizations value their roles over employees that are “coasting” through.
Looking at a scenario using the two motivational theories and work commitment within a situation, it is easy to see why the development of these tools is crucial to managing situations and employees. For example, after experiencing significant turnover, a hotel was managing just 10% occupancy in a market with an average with 40%. Morale was incredibly low and a cycle of dissent continued through the high management turnover. Following the hiring of the new F&B manager, the process of refocusing the staff and turning the negative cycle around started. First, goals were set to establish a direction. Initially, the goals were smaller and attainable with just applying effort. Goals consisted of offering every customer a coffee to go on the house and free juice for kids at breakfast. These were met with resistance at first but with acceptance led to a since of accomplishment because of the higher tips from these customers. When these were achieved, higher goals were established to continue a positive cycle. Goals then became number oriented with higher percentage of customer surveys and lower manager comps. Because of this, service scores skyrocketed.
At the same time, the needs of the employees was analyzed and where possible, met. For example, because of low occupancy, tips and service charges were slashed creating upset employees. With upset employees came lower service scores and a lack of attention to detail. With these lower service initiatives, came fewer occupants and in turn lower tips. To stop the cycle, higher service charges were credited to servers and bartenders and wages were slightly raised for other F&B departments. This created the exact same cycle but in a positive direction. People became more attentive in their work and customers recognized the change and started staying. Another need that was met was that of higher training for employees due to such programs being weak or non-existent. With stronger SOPs and extended sessions of training, a feeling of value to the company was established. Some employees have even started to consider a career in hospitality management and extended training in other departments.
With both of these theories of motivation put into effect, the work commitment of employees has been obvious to management. Whereas before, meetings would be scheduled and attended with disdain, now discussions are met with smiles and excitement. Training classes are now booked with a waiting list while before they were routinely canceled due to no one showing up. The parent company has even noticed the dramatic change in scores and in turn the positive turnaround of attitude. Initially scores for F&B registered in the low teens but with small changes like those above, current scores are in the mid eighties and are climbing. Even brand standards, which are in the mid eighties, have been exceeded.
Needs and goal based theories have helped establish a framework for which management to work in establishing a higher work commitment and reaching the full potential of the organization. These concepts are highly adaptable and can be formed to given situations due to factors being continually changing in a workplace. Developing an efficient workforce and employee base is the key to success and through the implementation of motivational theory, attainable.
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