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“The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”
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Each person has a personality and attitude that is unique to him or her. This will impact how he or she behaves in the workplace, including how he or she will perform work duties and interact with others in the workplace. When managers hire new employees, they must make every effort to ensure they hire people who have the personality and attitude that makes it likely they will be good employees with the right characteristics needed for the work environment. This lesson will discuss personality, attitude, and briefly explain the hiring process.
Even if the right employees are hired, they still must be motivated to do their work and do it well. This lesson also will discuss ways that managers can motivate employees once they are hired.
Personality in the Workplace
Each individual who participates in the workforce brings a unique personality that determines the type of employee he or she will be, including how he or she will interact with others. Personality can be defined as “the overall combination of characteristics that captures the unique nature of a person as that person reacts and interacts with others…Personality combines a set of physical and mental characteristics that reflect how a person looks, thinks, acts, and feels” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005, p.74-75).
Research has indicated that generally, the following five personality dimensions tend to characterize most people (Yukl, 2006, p.196-197):
Surgency or extraversion
Dependability or conscientiousness
Adjustment or neuroticism
Intellectance or openness to experience
Managers must be aware that different people bring different personalities to the workplace and at times, these personalities will conflict. When this occurs, managers will need to practice conflict management. Various approaches exist that can be used to handle personality conflicts, including the following:
Attitudes in the Workplace
In addition to personality, attitudes represent a powerful force in the lives of individuals and within any organization. In the workplace, managers and employees must be aware of their own and others’ attitudes and must recognize how these impact behavior in the workplace. Attitude can be defined as “a predisposition to respond in a positive or negative way to someone or something in one’s environment” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn, 2005, p.86). Attitudes have three components:
The Cognitive component is based on an individual’s values, beliefs, opinions, knowledge, and information that he or she possesses. These are the antecedents, or foundation, that create an individual’s attitude
Affective componentis the specific feeling that an individual has regarding certain people, places, and things in life. The affective component is the attitude itself, and it is based on the antecedents in the cognitive component.
Behavioral componentis the behavior that results from the attitude.
To illustrate how the three components work together, Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn (2005, p.86) offer the following example:
HOW ATTITUDE AFFECTS THE WORKPLACE
Attitude is an important concept in the workplace. Employees with a good attitude are more likely to do their work well in a manner that helps an organization achieve its goals and objectives. They tend to have more loyalty towards an organization and are more likely to respect their supervisors and coworkers, behaving in a way that helps foster a positive work environment. Such employees also tend to be better satisfied.
Employees with a bad attitude can be a problem in the workplace. They usually will be less satisfied with their jobs and as such are more likely to routinely be late for work, and they will experience more absenteeism. While on the job, they may have health concerns, both physical and mental, that create problems in the workplace. And, such employees are more likely to leave, increasing turnover rates and causing an organization to devote more time and resources to hiring new employees.
Hiring the Right Employees
The hiring process can be complex. To briefly explain, the hiring process begins with an organization’s human resources (HR) department maintaining accurate job descriptions for each job in the business. A job description provides “a detailed outline of the duties, qualifications, and conditions required to do a specific job” (Brown & Clow, 2008, p.257). When an organization has job descriptions of this nature, the organization knows exactly the type of people needed to fill each job in the business. Attention can be focused on recruitment, which is the process of “actively looking for qualified people to fill a job” (Brown & Clow, 2008, p.259).
The first step in the recruitment process is to inform individuals looking for a job that an organization has vacant positions. One way to achieve this is by placing job advertisements, which are paid announcements about job vacancies that are placed in newspapers and other mediums that provide information to the general public. Once a business receives applications from individuals who are interested in the vacant position, the next step is to conduct interviews to learn more about the applicants and determine who should be hired.
The interview process must be handled carefully to comply with federal law. This includes using the same set of questions for each candidate to ensure consistency in how each applicant is treated. As part of this process, those responsible for the interviews must ensure that they avoid asking questions that are prohibited by federal law. For example, they cannot ask an applicant to reveal his or her age.
Once the interviews are completed and a possible candidate is selected to be hired, the hiring process continues with a background check as well as a check of the individual’s references. At times, organizations may find it useful to conduct tests intended to assess a job candidate’s personality and attitude. This can help determine if he or she seems likely to be compatible for the organization, possessing a personality and attitude that would make him or her a suitable employee. Examples of such tests that may be used by employers include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
To be successful an organization must have the right people working in each job performed in the business. This includes finding people who have the right personalities and attitudes to be a good fit for the organization.
To be successful in the workplace and help organizations achieve their goals and objectives, employees must be motivated and engaged while at work. Motivation is the act of providing someone with a reason for doing something. Motivation can also be a force or prompt that spurs a person to action. When a person is motivated, he or she is eager to take action or perform work. Engagement complements motivation. When an employee is engaged, he or she is committed to getting the work done and may even have an emotional connection to the work.
Individuals are motivated by a variety of things, and something that is a primary motivator for one person may have little or no motivational value to another person. Scholars have offered various theories about how leaders and managers can motivate employees and encourage their engagement at work. These theories can be divided into two categories—needs-based theories and process-based theories.
A variety of theories exist in each category. This lesson will introduce two of the most widely accepted needs-based theories and two of the most widely accepted process-based theories.
One of the most well-known and extensively used needs-based theories of motivation is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory was developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Maslow argued that every individual has five categories of needs, and these occur in a hierarchy, with the most basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy. Only when basic and lower level needs are met can individuals advance up the hierarchy to meet higher level needs. According to Maslow, the five levels of needs can be described as follows:
Frederick Herzberg developed the Two-factor Theory, another needs-based motivation theory that argues that certain factors in the workplace cause employees to be satisfied while others are a source of dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, when they accept a job, employees want things such as job security, a competitive salary, and benefits such as health insurance as well as a good work environment, including pleasant and cooperative coworkers. Herzberg call these things the hygiene factors on a job and regarded them as part of the work setting. These are similar to the physiological and safety needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
According to Herzberg, providing the hygiene factors is only part of what motivates employees to feel engaged at work and strive to do the best possible job. As Herzberg explained, if employees do not feel that they are being paid a fair salary and/or if they dislike other things about the job, such as the relationship they have with coworkers, they will be dissatisfied and will not do their best work (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005, p.124 -125).
However, just because employees are pleased with the hygiene factors, it does not necessarily follow that they will be satisfied with the job and motivated to be engaged while at work. As Herzberg explained, job satisfaction derives from motivator factors, which are things such as a feeling of satisfaction with the work itself, feeling a sense of achievement, and receiving recognition for the work performed. When employees are satisfied with the motivator factors in their job, then they will experience job satisfaction and be motivated to be engaged, producing their best possible work (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn 2005, 124 – 125). The motivator factors are similar to the social, self-esteem, and self-actualization needs on the third, fourth, and fifth levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Equity Theorywas developed by John Stacey Adams in 1963. Adams argued that fairness is a primary motivator for employees. If an individual feels that his or her efforts at work are recognized and rewarded appropriately, he or she will be motivated to perform to the best of his or her ability. But if he or she feels that his or her efforts are not appreciated and/or are not being adequately compensated, that individual will not be motivated to do good work.
In addition, equity theory argues that individuals compare their own situation to that of coworkers doing similar work. If they think a coworker is being recognized or rewarded more but that coworker did not do more or better work, they will regard this as unfair. This viewpoint will damage their level of motivation and engagement, including the possibility of causing them to have an unfavorable opinion of their employer.
Expectancy Theory argues that individuals use a rational decision making process to decide whether it is to their benefit to put more or less effort into their work. As part of this process, according to the theory, individuals ask themselves three questions:
Contemporary Motivational Strategies
In recent years, organizations have developed several strategies in an effort to motivate employees and increase their job satisfaction. These include the following:
In addition to the above, managers can use the job characteristics model as a guide to design jobs that are more likely to motivate employees in positive ways, ensuring that they behave appropriately on the job and at the same time, increase their job satisfaction. Under this model, jobs should be designed with attention to the following characteristics (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005, p.148 -149):
Jobs that have a high degree of each characteristic are more likely to provide positive motivation to employees than jobs that have a lower degree of each characteristic. When designing jobs with the intent of motivating employees, managers should strive to include the highest degree possible of each of these characteristics.
ADJUSTMENT OR NEUROTICISM:One of the five personality dimensions that tend to characterize most people. People in the adjustment or neuroticism dimension are usually emotionally stable with good self-esteem and self-control.
AFFECTIVE COMPONENT:One of the three components of attitude. The affective component is the specific feeling that an individual has regarding certain people, places, and things in life. The affective component is the attitude itself, and it is based on the antecedents in the cognitive component.
AGREEABLENESS:One of the five personality dimensions that tend to characterize most people. In the agreeableness dimension, people tend to be cheerful and optimistic as well as nurturing, being sympathetic and helpful. They express a need for affiliation with others.
ATTITUDE:A predisposition to respond in a positive or negative way to someone or something in one’s environment.
BEHAVIORAL COMPONENT:One of the three components of attitude. The behavioral component is the behavior that results from the attitude.
COGNITIVE COMPONENT:One of the three components of attitude. The cognitive component is based on an individual’s values, beliefs, opinions, knowledge, and information that he or she possesses. These are the antecedents, or foundation, that create an individual’s attitude.
DEPENDABILITY OR CONSCIENTIOUSNESS:One of the five personality dimensions that tend to characterize most people. Individuals who score high on the dependability or conscientiousness dimension are generally dependable with personal integrity. They also have a need for achievement.
ENGAGEMENT:Complements motivation. When an employee is engaged, he or she is committed to getting the work done and may even have an emotional connection to the work.
ENLARGEMENT:In an effort to reduce monotony, management increases the number of tasks required for a position, giving the employee greater variety in work duties.
ENRICHMENT:Management gives an employee more autonomy, control, and authority over how he or she completes assigned work. This technique also is called job enhancement or vertical job expansion.
EQUITY THEORY:Process-based theory that argues that fairness is a primary motivator for employees. Employees expect to be treated fairly both on their own personal merits as well as in comparison to their coworkers.
EXPECTANCY THEORY:Process-based theory that argues that individuals use a rational decision making process to decide whether it is to their benefit to put more or less effort into their work. As part of this process, individuals consider whether a high level of effort will result in preferred outcomes with rewards that have value to the individual.
HYGIENE FACTORS:Things such as job security, a competitive salary, benefits such as health insurance, and a good work environment, including pleasant and cooperative coworkers. These things are part of the work setting and help determine whether employees will be satisfied with their jobs.
INTELLECTANCE OR OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE:One of the five personality dimensions that tend to characterize most people. With the intellectance or openness to experience dimension, individuals are curious and inquisitive, with a tendency to be imaginative and open-minded, focused on learning as much as they can.
JOB CHARACTERISTICS MODEL:A guide that helps managers design jobs that are more likely to motivate employees in positive ways, ensuring that they behave appropriately on the job and at the same time, increase their job satisfaction. Under this model, jobs should be designed with attention to five characteristics—skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback.
JOB ROTATION:Employees are rotated between two or more jobs in an organized fashion that exposes them to different experiences on the job and requires them to use a wider variety of skills. This provides cross training and is intended to enhance job satisfaction.
MOTIVATION:The act of providing someone with a reason for doing something; a force or prompt that spurs a person to action. When a person is motivated, he or she is eager to take action or perform work.
MOTIVATOR FACTORS:Things such as satisfaction with the work itself, feeling a sense of achievement, and receiving recognition for the work. When employees are satisfied with the motivator factors in their job, then they will experience job satisfaction and be motivated to be engaged.
NEEDS-BASED THEORIES OF MOTIVATION:Argue that individuals are motivated when their actions will enable them to obtain the things that they need.
PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL:A process of systematically evaluating performance and providing feedback on which performance adjustments can be made.
PERSONALITY:The overall combination of characteristics that captures the unique nature of a person as that person reacts and interacts with others. Personality combines a set of physical and mental characteristics that reflect how a person looks, thinks, acts, and feels.
PROCESS-BASED THEORIES OF MOTIVATION:Argue that motivation is a rational process, whereby individuals analyze their environment, draw conclusions regarding it, and then take actions that they feel are most appropriate for the situation.
SURVENCY OR EXTRAVERSION:One of the five personality dimensions that tend to characterize most people. Individuals in the surgency or extraversion dimension tend to be outgoing, sociable, and are assertive with a need for power.
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