Published: 28th November 2006
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Foundations of Motivation

A manager's view of employee motivation and use of rewards depends on their perspective of motivation. There a four distinct approaches to employee motivation.

Traditional Approach
The scientific management school uses systematic analysis of an employee's job for the purpose of increasing efficiency. The emphasis on pay evolved into the notion of the economic man. This theory believed that people would work harder for higher pay. This approach led to the development of incentive pay systems in which people were rewarded for the quality and quantity of their work outputs.

Human Relations Approach
Manager's realized that more sociable employees were driven by congenial work groups. These groups meet certain social needs. This appears to be a more important than money as a motivator for work behavior. Workers are treated as people and reliance on trust has become the foundation for increased efficiency. There is a shift from product/service importance to employees being viewed as your most valuable resource.

Human Resource Approach
This approach carries the concept of the economic and social stimulants into the whole person. This approach recognizes that workers are complex and motivated differently. By assuming that employees are competent and able to make major contributions, managers can enhance organizational performance. The human resource approach laid the groundwork for contemporary perspectives on employee motivation.

Contemporary Approach
This approach stresses the analysis of underlying human needs. By providing insight into the needs of people in organizations you can help managers understand how needs can be satisfied in the workplace. Once we understand human needs, we can then focus on the thought processes that influence behavior. The center of attention can then move to how employees seek rewards in work circumstances. Once this flow of motivation is determined, you can develop a system to reinforce this behavior.

Understanding human motivation is the key to a manager's success. Limiting this success can be a manager's belief that what motivates them applies to all. This is an area that requires an open mind. Manager's need to remain open to continual learning to address the ever changing needs of the workforce. If we allow ourselves, observing behavior and allowing human interaction will teach us what the workforce needs. Manager's need to focus on these skills to assure they are meeting the needs of the workforce as well as their organization.

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