What is Motivation?

Motivation means incitement or inducement to act or to perform. In an organisational sense it means the process of facilitating subordinates to act in a desired manner to achieve organisational goals. The word motivation is derived from the word “Motive” which means a need or desire that causes a person to act.

It is an inner state which allows for the energizing and activation of a behavior towards certain goals and directs that behavior towards the goals. Motivate thus by extension would, simply put, refer to an action that provides a person with a motive and motivation will thus be the act or process of motivating. Motivation is a method that begins with a physiological or psychological deficiency or desire that activates behavior or a drive that helps in achieving goals.

And motivators are those techniques that are employed by a business to address the said deficiency, for instance, an employee  requires 5000Rs extra above his salary, and if there is a bonus of 6000Rs available, he will be motivated to earn that bonus, because the technique or motivator addresses his deficiency. Stephen P Robbins’s definition of motivation also enforce this assertion. He defines motivation as “the willingness for exerting high levels of efforts towards goals of the company through the effort of satisfying the need of the person”.

The process of motivation as understood from this analysis is a complicated process that involves the task of understanding and dealing with human behavior. This is the reason why the various theories of motivation becomes important, because these theories try to understand and put forth how motivation works, so that the process can be efficiently discharged.

Expectancy Theory

The theories of motivation are broadly classified into various heads such as Need theories, Process theories etc. The Expectancy theory, which is the topic of this discussion falls within the category of process theories. Process theory deals with the explanation and description of the process of how behavior comes to be energized, directed, sustained and controlled. These theories provides various ways through which work environments can be analysed and requisite changes in the environment be made to bring about organisational and behavioral changes which will amount to motivation. These theories primarily defines the various elements involved in the process of motivation and then using that elements as premise emphasizes how the process functions within that premise.

The Expectancy Theory developed by Victor H Vroom is premised on the assumption that anticipation of rewards and punishment similar to their actual materialisation can motivate people. That is to say the mere expectation of a favourable result compels action. An employee who expects an extra reward works with a behaviour characterised by an increase in the intensity and a persistence which is directed towards that reward.

This theory relies upon 4 assumptions :

  • Behaviour is a result of a number of forces in the work environment and in the individual.
  • Behaviour is a result of people’s conscious decisions.
  • Needs, Goals and Desires vary from person to person.
  • Favourable outcomes lead to action and unfavourable ones leads to restraint.

The Expectancy theory is a complicated motivational theory that relies on three variables or elements.

  • Individual Behaviour : Individual Behaviour relates to the actions a person performs. These actions include working overtime, coming late every day etc and composes of action that are bound to have an effect on the total outcomes.
  • Performance Outcomes : Performance outcomes are the results of the individual behaviour of an action on the individual separately and by extension on the firm. For instance, an employee who work overtime if backed up by the requisite skill for his job will perform productively, which become the performance outcome.
  • Reward Outcomes : Reward outcomes refers to the implication of the employee performance outcome. Reward outcomes can be both extrinsic and intrinsic. When the reward is tied to a person’s inner needs and not for external benefits and is being done for the sake of doing it such reward outcomes becomes intrinsic and when the outcome comes from outside, externally, then it is known as extrinsic outcome.

The relation between these variables lies at the heart of this theory. The relation between individual behaviour and the performance is known as the Expectancy. It is the belief that a particular behaviour will lead to the desired performance outcome.

The knowledge of an employee that the completion of a desired level of performance will lead to valued outcomes, then the completion of the performance becomes instrumental for such reward, and hence this relationship is known as Instrumental relationship exists between the two variables performance and reward.

The importance that a person assigns to a favourable outcome is known as Valence.

Vroom defines motivation as a “process governing the choices among alternative forms of voluntary activities which is controlled by the individual”. The choices made by the individuals is determined by his belief on how well the expected results of a particular behavior will match or eventually materialize the desired results. This theory advocates that the intensity of a tendency to perform in a particular manner is governed and controlled by the degree of the expectation that definite desired results which appeal to the individual will follow. Thus at the crux of this theory lies the desirability of the outcome or valence. This desired outcome determines how the cognitive process of the person will function and the person will cognitively choose that which he believes is the best. Thus this theory amounts to being a theory about the mental processes regarding options and choice of certain options or different variables and the motivation becomes an outcome of Expectancy, Instrumentality and Valence. This theory with all these concepts relies on three pertinent relationships :

  • Performance-Reward relationship which is about the degree to which the employee believes that getting good appraisal for performance will lead to organisational rewards.
  • Rewards-Personal Goal Relationship – The extent of attractiveness or appeal of the potential reward to the individual.

Vroom put forth that when selecting an option the option with the greatest motivational force will be chosen by the individual. Expectancy and Instrumentality as variables represent attitude/cognition of the employee in the decision making whereas Valence represents his value system . These three factors interact to form the decision.

The Function is : Motivation Force = E x I x V. When all factors are high there is strong motivation and when all of them are low there is a strong avoidance. Hence when there is strong valence, with high probability of reward and high level of expectation then the motivation force for that activity will be strong and vice versa.

This theory is a very simple theory that clearly revolves around a person’s expectations, actions, and effect of such actions along with the reward for such action. It is a very simple theory to understand and put into motion.

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