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Motivation and job satisfaction.

Motivation and Job Satisfaction

Within your management organization, there are different people executing the same or similar tasks at various levels of productivity. We can objectively and systematically measure differences in performance, but recognizing why these discrepancies exist may be more difficult.

What is performance?

Performance is a function of ability and motivation. The absence of either may explain the discrepancy in productivity. Ability is defined as a combination of aptitude, training, and experience:

Ability = (Aptitude x (Training + Experience) ) Each of these elements must be present if a person is to perform well in a given situation. Aptitude is usually defined as a natural talent for a task. At the same time, ability is dynamic characteristic that can be continually developed through training and experience.

Performance is also influenced by motivation. The distinguishing characteristic of motivated behavior is its goal orientation. Motivation energizes the behavior and then dictates the behavior to act and obtain some aim. Ability and motivation combine in a multiplicative relationship:

Performance = (Ability x Motivation) If ability or motivation is low, the result will be low performance. High motivation may compensate for low ability only to a limited extent. Likewise, if high ability exists with little motivation, performance will be low.

The final question remains, "Can the organization stimulate the individual to higher performance with specific policies and programs?"

The organization is the rational coordination of the activities of a number of individuals to accomplish certain goals. The very structure of an organization is characterized by its superior/subordinate relationship. This relationship plays a vital role in motivating people, both in the methods used to supervise and influence the performance of workers and in the enticement of promotion to a higher management level.

How the organization relates to its employees is based upon the management's view of the nature of man. There are four basic theories of the nature of man as reflected in managerial behavior and attitudes toward the organization. These basic assumptions will determine the types of personal relationships that will be established and influence the organization's managerial structure.

The rational-economic man

The theory of rational-economic man originated in the philosophy of the English utilitarian economists. Its primary premise is that man balances the amount of satisfaction achieved from an action with the amount of effort the action takes. Man will then behave in a way to maximize self-interest. This theory further assumes that money is the primary satisfier.

There are four main propositions in the rational-economic theory:

* Man is motivated by economic incentives and will perform those functions with the highest compensation.

* Organizations are most capable of providing economic incentives and may thus motivate and control man.

* Man's unconscious drives are intrinsically irrational, preventing the logical calculation of self-interest.

* Organizations must monitor and neutralize man's irrational feelings and direct man to meet self-interest objectives.

The rational-economic man theory assumes that man is incapable of self-control and that the organization must control these irrational feelings with external forces to achieve the organization's goals. To accomplish this task, the organization must have a highly centralized authority structure. The manager carries the burden of all planning, organizing, and supervising. Subordinate workers are expected to obey those who occupy positions of authority.

Faced with a problem, this type of organization looks to external changes for solutions, not relationships. For example, if the level of production decreases, the solution might be to improve the control system, increase incentives, or re-evaluate the design of the jobs.

The social man

The social-man theory developed as a response to the Industrial Revolution and its effects upon workers. This theory held that man was losing a sense of identity because industrial life took meaning out of work. Man has a need to liked by fellow workers.

The following assumptions make up the social-man theory:

* Man develops a basic sense of identity through relationships with others.

* Industrialization and rationalization of the working system eliminated meaning from work, and, consequently, man must find meaning in social relationships at the job.

* Man is more responsive to social forces than to management incentives and controls.

* Man responds to management only to the extent that the supervisor can fulfill social needs.

Under this model, the organization is concerned with the needs of the workers. Motivation and control must be balanced with an understanding of man's feeling, need for acceptance, and desire to belong.

The function of the manager shifts from the planner-controller to the mediator between workers and higher management. The initiative for work as a source of motivation is transferred from management to worker.

In responding to problems, the social-man organization would first review its intrinsic relationships with workers. Low performance may mean low morale cause by poor personal relationships with a supervisor or by peer group pressure to retain jobs.

The self-actualizing man

The self-actualization theory also finds its source in the Industrial Revolution. It holds that as job tasks became more fragmented, man was unable to relate work to the total organization purpose. This theory believes that establishing this relation to the whole enables man to grow as an individual and develop his or her full potential. The self-actualizing theory assumes that man has different needs at different times, which can be classified into a system of priorities.

Man's motives are arranged in a hierarchy of needs (developed by Albert Maslow), beginning with the need for survival and working through needs for ego satisfaction, autonomy, and, ultimately, self-actualization. Man seeks to satisfy a higher need for self-actualization. When a lower need, such as job security, is threatened, higher needs become less important until the lower need is again met.

The theory of a hierarchy of needs leading to self-actualization is based on certain propositions:

* Man is self-motivated and self-controlled; man seeks growth and maturity and is capable of handling both.

* Man needs to exercise a certain amount of autonomy and independence to expand personal capacities.

* There is no inherent conflict between man and organization. Given the opportunity, man will voluntarily integrate individual goals with those of the organization.

Organizational structure under a self-actualizing model is not the typical pyramid of authority. Rather, power is more broadly distributed. Management surrenders some of its traditional prerogatives of decision making to allow employees to participate.

The organization is not as concerned with fulfilling the social needs of the self-actualizing man as in making work more challenging. Through meaningful work, man can gain a sense of self-esteem and maximize abilities.

The process of motivation becomes intrinsic, and the manager becomes more of a catalyst and facilitator than an external motivating force. Satisfaction comes from high-quality performance and creativity. As a result, the individual becomes more involved with the organization.

The complex man

The complex-man theory emerged as a reaction to other theories of the nature of man. This theory holds that man's motives are not monolithic, but instead reflect the many facets of human personality. Motives interact and combine to create more complex patterns of behavior. For example, money may satisfy the need not only for security, but also for self-esteem and power.

The nature of complex man is based on the following premises:

* Man is capable of learning new motives through organization experiences. An individual's motivation patterns will ultimately be the result of interaction and synthesis between his or her initial needs and organization experiences.

* Man can become involved with an organization on the basis of many different motives. Satisfaction and effectiveness are dependent on the nature of the job, ability and experiences on the job, and the nature of fellow workers.

* Man can respond to a variety of managerial strategies; there is no one correct approach for all people.

The complex model is a continued extension of the self-actualizing model. It recognizes the value of a broad-based organizational structure that promotes the concept of increased authority and responsibility for the individual worker. This type of organizational structure has been defined as "organic" because of its flexibility. Lines of authority do exist, but there is decentralization on lower individual levels, which presents opportunities for performing tasks using different methods in different parts of the organization.

In this type of organization, management is not "them" or "us", but a blending of people working together. Open communications is one of its most important features. Such an organization creates an atmosphere which encourages skill development and promotes leadership possibilities. The manager must have an ability to sense and appreciate various abilities and motives and direct his of her behavior accordingly.

Each of these theories of the nature of man presents some facet of individuals' relationships with the organization. Many of the individual premises of these theories have been shown to be true in subsequent research studies.

Individual motivation

There are definite reasons which can explain the difference in the performance levels of people working in your organization. Perhaps the most important people is activating and directing individual motivation.

All individuals have certain basic needs and motivates that incite them to some behavior. These motives represent behavior potentials and influence behavior only when they are aroused by appropriate environmental and situational conditions.

Each motive is directed to the satisfaction of different kinds of needs that are important to an individual at any given time. The motivation to perform certain tasks is also dependent upon whether or not appropriate rewards were received in previous similar situations. Finally, the attractiveness of each alternative behavior is dependent on the individual's concept of his or her ability to perform certain tasks.

Motivation then is influenced by the individual's belief that through direct efforts, specific objectives may be realized. This can expressed as: E (effort) leads to P (performance), which leads to O (outcome).

Successful task performance leads to desirable outcomes. Research has shown that the higher the E-P and P-O ratios are for an individual, the greater will be his or her motivation. In other words, the more the individual desires the outcome, the greater the effort and higher the performance will be.

The organization can influence these two factors in several ways.

* Economic motivation. Studies confirm that most people regard pay and promotion as important rewards when they are related to performance. In these cases, people will be highly motivated by economic rewards.

However, research also concludes that there are large individual differences in the degree to which these rewards are valued, depending on a person's needs at a given time and on the kinds of needs these outcomes will satisfy. At the same time, if there appears to be no real difference in the allocation of rewards between good workers and poor ones, motivation and performance rates decrease.

* Social motivation. Several studies have shown that social needs are a strong motivator. In one study, individual workers received extremely high compensation for performing tasks in an isolated area, separated from other workers. Most workers requested a change to another department within one week. High turnovers and absenteeism are definitely related to social isolation which results from mechanical or architectural designs in a company that does not consider employees' social needs.

* Achievement motivation. Achievement is an important stimulator of good performance. Man has the desire to excel, whether it pertains to competition against other people or against established standards.

It has been demonstrated that when individuals perform routine, boring tasks with little or no competition, they develop negative attitudes. Too little stimulation is uncomfortable.

* Job enrichments. Job enrichment can make a significant difference to workers' attitudes and behaviors. A well-designed job will arouse needs that will motivate performance and provide opportunities for growth.

If an individual experiences positive feelings about him- or herself when successfully completing a task, he or she will feel the need to achieve similar success with subsequent tasks of the same kind. The motivation has been strengthened and reinforced.

Management can further increase the satisfaction level of its employees by allowing them more autonomy. Satisfaction increases when a job allows the employee to feel personally responsible for a meaningful portion of work.

* Self-actualization. The need for self-actualization often prompts people to seek new challenges in order to grow. Self-actualization is the need to realize one's own potentials, or being creative in the broadest sense of the word.

The self-actualized individual receives rewards from the intrinsic feeling of growth, more than from extrinsic compensations he or she has acquired.

It is more difficult of the organization to fulfill the self-actualization need of man. Most organizations rely heavily on extrinsic compensations, such as pay raises and promotions. Intrinsic rewards can be achieved if management is committed to creating the proper working atmosphere. This climate must allow freedom of though and discussion as well as group participation in planning and decision making.

The Hawthorne study of the Western Electric Company in 1939 is considered to be a landmark case study in the field of management. This study emphasized the importance of studying the feelings, attitudes, and perceptions that employees have about their working environment and how it affected job performance.

Organization climate

The underlying theme of this study is that the organization must become involved in the concept of the quality of life in the workplace. It is enough that the organization provide jobs and financial compensation. The organization must be concerned with the social needs of its workers. Needs for efficient task performance must be balanced with a recognition of the need for acceptance, belonging, and achievement.

One of the most important needs that companies too often neglect is the need for equity. People want to be treated fairly; they want the same standards and expectations established and applied to all workers. Inequity exists when individuals perceive that the ratio of other workers' performance to rewards is unequal to their own.

Perceived inequity can undermine job motivation to lessen their performance, if marginal workers are receiving the same benefits and increases. By its action or its inaction, the organization has created an atmosphere in which people are motivated to be marginal performers.

Higher levels of performance may also be obtained through specific extrinsic rewards offered by the organization. The importance of these rewards will vary with the degree of strength of these needs to the individual.

Job performance constitutes the most frequently used incentive program. From the organization viewpoint, merit raises are more effective than promotions because they offer greater flexibility. An opening must exist to promote an individual, but raises can be granted at any time for superior performance. However, for the rewards to motivate employees, they must be associated with performance.

In addition, specific criteria of relationships with subordinates can either increase or decrease group cohesiveness and production. It can mean the difference between an organizational climate of mutual trust and respect and one of indifference and dissent.

Traditionally, supervisors have used one of two leadership styles to motivate subordinates. Authoritarian, or production-centered, supervisors make all of the important decisions without consulting subordinates. Democratic, or employee-centered, leaders encourage group discussions and group decision making.

The production-centered supervisor emphasizes production and sees employees as people who are supposed to get work done. The employee-centerd supervisor is concerned about the individual and takes an active interest in his or her employees. These stereotyped images serve to demonstrate the different functions, attitudes, and philosophies of the manager's role.

Management's main objective is the rational coordination of money, labor, and materials combined together for the purpose of achieving established goals. Theoretically, there is much latitude in the alternatives that an organization may used in reaching these goals. Consequently, there should be room for many different leadership styles within the organization.

Some organizations will decide that they must regulate the work of others through systems that monitor employees. Others will choose to surrender some of the traditional decision making and control to subordinates. In part the leadership style chosen depends on the nature of the supervisor and the employee.

In recent years, a third form of leadership has been tried in various companies. The team management approach blends the two other styles of leadership. The manager is no longer the sole source of defining roles, assigning tasks, establishing goals, regulating standards, or administering rewards. Instead, managers and workers form a "team," and the group as a whole performs these functions.

By expanding worker participation, this method encourages the worker to become more involved with the organization and its goals. Work groups also create and reinforce standards and expand communication.

Effective team management should increase efficiency by creating an atmosphere of mutual agreement and identification of objectives. This climate encourages development of each person's skills and knowledge and grants new authority to competence.

The supervisor still plays a leading role in team management. He or she must have the diagnostic ability to sense and appreciate the various abilities and motivations of employees, so that he or she can direct the energies of each team member into an effective working unit.


Our property management organizations must become more involved with the quality of life of our employees. It is no longer sufficient to offer only extrinsic rewards to our workers.

We must search and reach a better balance between our organization objectives of efficient task performance and the personal objectives of our employees for individual and social growth. Motivation and control have to be balanced with an understanding of man's feelings, need for acceptance, achievement and autonomy.

Sufficient research has demonstrated that higher levels of performance may be obtained through specific management policies and programs. The atmosphere you create within your company sets the crucial tones which will determine whether you stimulate your employees to positive or negative actions.

However, by recognizing the impact of aptitude and motivation on performance and then taking steps to motivate employees in a positive way, managers help ensure both that employees complete tasks well and that they are personally fulfilled.


Warren G. Bennis, Organization Development: Its Nature, Origins and Prospects. 1969. Richard N. Farmer, Barry M. Richman, and William G. Ryan, Incidents for Studying Management and Organization. 1970. Allan C. Filley and Robert J. House, Managerial Process and Organization Behavior. 1969. Douglas T. Hall, Donald O. Brown, Roy J. Lewicki, and Francine S. Hall, Experiences in Management and Organizational Behavior. 1975. David A. Kolb, Irwin M. Rubin, and James M. McIntyre, Organizational Psychology. 1971. Edward E. Lawler III, Motivation in Work Organizations. 1973. Harold J. Leavitt, Managerial Psychology. 1972. Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Psychology. 1970.

Barbara K. Holland, CPM [R], is president of H&L Realty and Management Company in Las Vegas. She is author of the IREM book Managing Single-Family Homes, is a member of the IREM national faculty, and is a contributing author for many real estate publications. Ms. Holland is a member of IREM's Academy of Authors and has served as president of the IREM Las Vegas Chapter and Chairperson of the Property Management Committee for the Las Vegas Association of REALTORS [R].
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Author:Holland, Barbara K.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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