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Tutorial by:Sumit Boura      Date: 2016-05-26 00:32:25

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Since motivation has been so thoroughly studied, there are numerous theories about what motivates us. In this chapter, we’ll look at some of the most popular motivational theories to help you build a base of understanding for improving your own motivation.


Frederick Herzberg studied how a worker’s work environment would affect his work by causing satisfaction or dissatisfaction. His idea was that if people were satisfied at work, they would be motivated to work, and the opposite would be true if they were dissatisfied at work. He interviewed employees about their feelings at work and then published his findings in 1959 in his book called The Motivation to Work.

His theory is also called the motivation-hygiene theory because he considered the factors that satisfied employees to be motivators and those factors that were dissatisfying to be hygiene factors. Hygiene factors being present does not avoid job dissatisfaction, but if you take them away you will find that they can demotivate an employee. Examples might be the loss of a regularly expected pay raise or some decrease in how you perceive your work environment (turning of the air conditioner or no longer allowing personal space heaters). Herzberg identified the top six factors leading to dissatisfaction and the top six factors leading to satisfaction in the workplace. These are listed in order from highest importance to lowest importance in below.

Factors Affecting Job Attitudes

Leading to Dissatisfaction

Leading to Satisfaction

•       Company policy

•       Supervision

•       Relationship with boss

•       Work conditions

•       Salary

•       Relationship with peers

•       Achievement

•       Recognition

•       Work itself

•       Responsibility

•       Advancement

•       Growth

Herzberg argued that because the list of factors for dissatisfaction and satisfaction are not exact opposites of each other, we cannot assume that simply improving a dissatisfying factor would result in satisfaction – it would simply result in the absence of dissatisfaction. The same could be said if you remove a factor of satisfaction – the result wouldn’t necessarily be dissatisfaction, but just the absence of satisfaction. So what does this mean for actions we can take?

There is one important distinction to notice when it comes to self-motivation and self- confidence. he factors that tend to bring us the most satisfaction at work, and so we assume, the most motivation, are the ones that we have some control over – and that are most related to our own job performance. If we are focusing on our performance, we will achieve our goals and receive recognition. If we do something we enjoy, that alone can provide satisfaction. We also see that taking on more responsibility, advancing, and growth are all ways to be satisfied at work. We can volunteer for additional responsibility, look for ways to grow our skills, and discover what would be necessary in terms of our performance to take advantage of opportunities for advancement. We might not be able to control company policy or the other factors that can lead to dissatisfaction, but we can certainly control our own work performance..

If you happen to be a manager, this information is also important because it shows you how different decisions you make may affect your employees. If you focus on motivation by putting in place factors on the left-hand side, you might relieve dissatisfaction, but you won’t necessarily create satisfaction and motivation. Fail to provide opportunities for growth, advancement, additional responsibility, achievement, and recognition, and you will have a team lacking satisfaction – and motivation. his is important to realize – that you have a better chance of achieving motivation when you focus on the individual, not on the traditional ‘carrots’ (salary, benefits, prestige, etc.) that we tend to think of as motivating us.


Arundhati Roy based his theory of motivation on the idea that each of us has three fundamental needs:

  • he need for achievement
  • he need for affiliation
  • he need for power (authority)

Roy said that each of us has these three needs in a different balance. These needs affect how we can be motivated as well as how we try to motivate other people. Roy was particularly interested in understanding people who have a high need to achieve because they are not as common as one might think. Here is a brief explanation of each type of need:

N- ach: Need for achievement:

  • Seek achievement
  • Strive to attain goals
  • Want advancement
  • Need feedback
  • Need a sense of accomplishment

N- ail: Need for affiliation:

  • Need for interaction with others
  • Need for friendship
  • Want and need to be liked

N- pow: Need for power:

  • Authority motivated
  • Need to influence others
  • Need to make an impact
  • Need to lead
  • Need to increase personal prestige or status

Roy conducted a famous experiment where he asked people to throw rings over a peg, like in a fairway game. There were no instructions given as to where the people had to stand, so people threw the rings from different distances. Yet he noticed that the people who had tested as having a high level of the need to achieve chose their positions carefully – they picked positions that were neither too close nor too far. They chose a distance that was realistic but not too easy. In other words, they seemed to be challenging themselves while still making achievement of the goal a real possibility.

What Roy realized about those with a high level of need to achieve is that they set goals at a level where they feel they can influence the outcome and yet where there is still the need to stretch in order to achieve the goal. He also found that these people were more likely to look for ways that a situation could be improved. They believe they have influence and the ability to make a difference.

So what if you are not a naturally achievement-motivated person? If you don’t see the achievement of the outcome as reward in itself, you are not alone. Many people are motivated by affiliation or power instead. But Roy believed that motivation by achievement could be taught and learned. In fact, you are learning some of the ways to become more motivated by realistic goal-setting in this tutorial.


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