Business Management - Human resource management: motivational theories
There are many motivational theories that Human Resource Managers may use.
However, what HR Managers must be aware of is that no two individuals are
alike and that what motivates one individual will not necessarily be
appropriate for the next employee.
The classical school of thought said what will motivate employees is
constant repetition of tasks associated with the division of labour within
the workplace so that their skill levels improve accordingly.
The scientific approach extended the classical approach and used
remuneration based on output as the motivating force in the workplace
together with careful monitoring of work practices.
The organisational theory approach used the approach that if employees
were correctly managed then motivational levels would improve as shown by
Henri Fayol setting out his 14 principles of sound management.
The behavioural approach adopted the approach that the employees will be
motivated if management meets their psychological needs. There were
numerous strategies adopted by theorists that adopt this approach. These
* Mayo stated that motivating employees was associated with giving
adequate attention to the employees and improving the social environment of
* McGregor adopted a theory that stated that employees were motivated
according to what type of person they were - type X or type Y. Type Y
people are best motivated by encouraging them to achieve their goals and
treating them as individuals. Type X people are best motivated within a
controlled environment where they are told what to do and how to do it.
* Maslow established a hierarchy of needs that must be met if employees
are to be motivated. The lower levels of need should be met first and
management should work their way up the hierarchy in order to fully
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is based on a pyramid structure. IMAGE.
Herzberg also established a motivational theory. This theory was based on
Maslow's theory. He distinguished between needs that he defined as job
satisfiers (higher order needs) and those he defined as job dissatisfiers
(lower order needs). Management must find the means to make jobs more
enjoyable and challenging for employees in order to motivate them. The
dissatisfiers are associated with external or extrinsic needs whilst the
satisfiers are associated with internal or intrinsic needs.
Other theorists including Alderfer, Skinner and McClelland - all attempted
to establish how best to motivate employees in order to improve their
performance level and to ensure that they stay with the organisation.
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