Management Methods and Employee Motivation

There were some interesting things that I learned from my management class tonight that I wanted to share. This is a discussion of management theories and how employees knowing what they want can push for proper management. Also a little about Employee motivation

Self-determination Theory V.S. Goal Setting Theory

Self-determination Theory

This theory is based on people that are classified as “Self-determination”

  • Individual prefers control over their actions.
  • The amount of control an individual has, will directly increase the amount of motivation they have in that area.
  • Extrinsic rewards are not always as important as intrinsic rewards.
    • I.E. Self satisfaction(Intrinsic) V.S. Monetary value(Extrinsic)
      • Self- Concordance- The extent to which people pursue personal goals with feelings of intrinsic interest and identity congruence.
      • Individuals are more likely to achieve/pursue goals consistent with personal interests and core values.

For Individuals

  • Choose your job for reasons other than extrinsic rewards.( Find something you like to do)
    • In the long run, self satisfaction will keep you motivated for longer.

For Employers

  • Provide plenty of intrinsic rewards as well as extrinsic incentives.
    • Find employee interests.
    • Pay attention to what actually motivates the employees, have an external survey conducted of your employees to find out what makes them feel valuable to the company.

Goal Setting Theory

Goals can define what needs to be done and how much effort is needed to accomplish the goals.

  • Evidence of this working
    • Specific goals do increase performance
    • Difficult goals, when accepted, Result in higher performance
      • Difficult, but attainable. Never reaching goals can be extremely demoralizing.
    • Feedback leads to higher performance
      • “You didn’t hit your goal, here are somethings you could do to help yourself improve”
  • The factors influencing goal performance relationship
    • Commitment- Individuals need to be engaged with this goal to be committed into achieving it.
    • Task Characteristics- Setting goals that are harder to obtain without tools or resources you have will cause individuals to give up on that goal.

Promotion Focus VS Prevention Focus

Promotion Focus

Individuals that are Promotion Focus Orientated:

  • Seek advancement and accomplishment.
  • Will approach situations in a manner to move them closer to goals
    • Brown nosing with upper supervision.
    • Spending time proving yourself to others.
      • “Let me tell you how good I am”

Prevention Focus

Individuals that are Prevention Focus Orientated:

  • Want to fulfill duties and obligations
  • Want to avoid conditions that pull them away from their goals/objectives
    • Are not inclined to show off or brown nose
      • “My performance will show them how good I am”

Goal Setting and Ethics

What is the cost of emphasizing goals and goal production?

This is a very interesting topic. If you ask anyone “Would you do something you would not be okay with everybody knowing you did?” Most people are inclined to say “NO, they won’t”. But yet, there are so many mass corporate scandals that involve the average individual. When goals gradually increase, pushing employees to a higher required limit, this increases the desire to cheat. Take a short cut. Everyone heard about the Wells Fargo deal. Employees, trying to keep their jobs, created fake accounts for customers. Wells Fargo got caught and has made strides in finding other ways to motivate employees.

Self Efficacy Theory

Individuals that believe they can perform a task, gives the ability to perform the task. “I think I can, Therefore, I can”

This recently has become one of my favorite topics to discuss. The opinion you have of people DIRECTLY affects the way you treat them. There was a story of a principal telling a new teacher that her class was full of geniuses and praised them so much. The truth was, this was a below average class. At the end of the year this class had the highest scores in the school. Alternatively, the principle did the opposite with another group of kids and had extremely negative results.


Negativity in a work place can be extremely detrimental to the way employees treat other and can have an extreme effect on team work. Most people have seen Bambi and most people remember the infamous quote of “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.” This is an extremely hard habit to break once you are in the swing of it, and I know it is something I personally need to work on.

Reinforcement theory

Behavior is a function of its consequence

  • Reinforcement conditions behavior
    • If someone is doing something you like or appreciate, show it.
    • If some one is doing something you don’t like, Ignore it.
  • Behavior is environmentally caused
    • EVERYTHING around you will effect your behavior.
      • Growing up in nature gives you more of an appreciation
      • The way you are treated affects the way that you treat others.

Operant Conditioning Theory

This is another fun topic. The best way for me to explain this one it to tell a story about what my wife is doing. My wife decided that she wanted to potty train our daughter young. She put a small step stool in the kitchen and every time our daughter sat on the stool, she got a chocolate chip. ( She is an early developed chocoholic) After a week of this, she broke out a little training potty and did the same. And now she only gets a chocolate chip if she actually goes potty. Below I have attached a video clip from the T.V. series The Office. The video says classical conditioning but it is more of an operant conditioning.

If this topic interests you, you can look into “B.F. Skinner” and even “Pavlov Dogs”

Expectancy theory

Expecting acts will be followed by a given outcome.

  • Effort performance- Effort= Performance
    • This is a line of thinking is when an employee thinks that just because they are contributing what they consider to be effort, that correlates with performance, and they should be rewarded for their performance.
  • Performance Reward
    • This is a more popular thought process with employers. An employee that is performing, gets rewarded base on what their performance is. This can cause issues if an employee and employer have different standards or ideas of performance.
  • Rewards Personal Goals
    • Goal orientated reward system. You get rewards when goals are completed.

Huge factor of motivation is meeting expectation

  • If an employee does what he or she feels deserves a reward, and does not receive it… motivation and sometimes even trust goes out the window.
  • There was a study conducted that employees that are promised a huge bonus will increase production to hit the mark. Once that mark is obtained, Performance will immediately drop.

Reinforcement Theory

Going along with the behavior manipulation mentality, reinforcing behavior is effective for the people that are generally:

  • Late
  • Absent a lot
  • in need of accident preventative motivation.

Equity Theory

Everyone is equal and this method is said to help productivity, satisfaction, turnover variables. “motivation by fairness”

Effort Makes Something Valuable

Putting effort into something is guaranteed to make is more valuable to an individual. This is the self satisfaction that everyone should seek. When you take a step back and look at the overall project, the results, It may not be perfect… But it’s yours. I also feel this is one of the concepts that cause people to be so hard on themselves. One my own projects people may say “Wow! That looks really good!” But I will always see the flaws, Because I care about the project so much I want it to be perfect.

There was another study done where a man laid out blocks and had someone build something following the instructions. The man officiating the experiment would then break it apart twice in a row saying it was done incorrect. Regardless of whether or not it was. After wards a survey was conducted that proved that having to redo their work and having to watch their creation destroyed right in front of their eyes was extremely demoralizing.

Jobs that have a relational job design, that allows employees to be apart of something they contributed to, is said to be the most motivating and causes the most self satisfaction. This is also said to help an employee work harder and increase performance after seeing the good their project did.

I wanted to talk more about work styles that can affect all the above theories but I am out of time today.

Leave any comments if there is anything important you think I missed or if you think something is wrong.

As always, thank you for reading.



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