Term Paper by Shane Zentz from Bethel 2006
July 8, 2006
Every organization requires human resources in order to accomplish necessary tasks. Successful organizations usually have managers that are leaders who motivate and direct employees. This paper examines some of the most prominent and accepted theories about the motivation and behavior of both individuals and entire organizations. Traits of successful management and leadership are also examined. Successful leaders keep their followers motivated to perform their best. Every organization can benefit from highly motivated and dedicated employees and successful leaders. This paper is about how to recognize the needs of individuals, and about how to satisfy those needs in order to help both the individual and the organization become as successful as possible through proven leadership techniques.
The classic theory to explain the motivations behind human behavior is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The bottom of the hierarchy are physiological and safety needs, these are basic survival needs such as security, shelter, clothing, and food. According to Maslow, once those needs are satisfied, an individual moves up the hierarchy to the next needs level, which is social. Social needs are the needs of an individual to be accepted into some social group. The next needs level in the hierarchy is esteem, this is self esteem and praise and respect from peers. The highest needs level in the hierarchy is self-actualization, which is the need of an individual to achieve the most that they can.
Frederick Herzberg has developed the Motivation-Hygiene theory, which is closely related to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. After extensive interviews with engineers and accountants he divided the needs of workers into two categories, hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are closely related to the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (physiological, safety, social, and some of the esteem needs), and are basically working conditions, money, security, company policies, and interpersonal relationships. Hygiene factors tend to be the overall environment of the organization. Herzberg believes that when hygiene factors are fulfilled employees will be more satisfied with their jobs, but not necessarily motivated to perform their best. The other category of Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory are motivators. Motivators are related to some of the esteem needs and the self-actualization needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Motivators are aspects of the job itself, such as responsibility, challenging work, recognition, and achievement. Herzberg believes that hygiene factors can only affect a person’s satisfaction with a position, but he believes that motivators can improve a person’s ability to perform. Managers can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to discover a person’s needs, and then use Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory to discover factors which can satisfy those needs, in order to help the person become the best that they can be (both for the individual and the organization).
Elton Mayo conducted a series of experiments on the motivation and behavior of factory workers in an assembly plant in the 1920’s. Mayo was under the assumption that an increase in illumination would lead to an increase in production. An increase in illumination did increase production, however after illumination was decreased production was also increased. Mayo and his colleagues were very surprised at the results but soon discovered the actual reason for the increases in production. The extra attention that the workers who were chosen for the experiment received had motivated them to perform at their highest levels. Mayo came to believe that the American industrial system, with its repetitive, simple tasks was largely responsible for the lack of motivation and performance of many workers. Mayo also developed the rabble hypothesis, which is his belief that many industrial managers believed that most workers only wanted to satisfy the most basic needs, mainly food, shelter, and security. This hypothesis was probably the forbearer to McGregor’s classic Theory X and Theory Y theory.
Douglas McGregor believed that managers, or even entire organizations, held basically one of two assumptions about the desires and motivations of people to work. The Theory X assumption is that people usually loath work, are un-ambitious, uncreative when it comes to problem solving, and need to be closely supervised and controlled. Theory X managers tend to try to motivate people based on their physiological and security needs. If an individual has progressed past the physiological and safety needs, Theory X type management likely will not succeed. Contrary to Theory X managers, are Theory Y managers. Theory Y managers tend to believe that people can enjoy work, are self motivated, are creative when it comes to problem solving, and can be given independence in their work and work decisions. Theory Y managers tend to try to motivate people at the social, esteem, and self-actualization levels. Theory Y managers also tend to try to work with employees to align the employee’s goals with the goals of the organization. If an individual has progressed past the physiological and safety needs, then Theory Y type management should succeed in helping the individual to achieve personal goals that are also in line with the organizations goals. As all people are different and have different needs, no one style of management will be appropriate for everyone, so a manager should recognize each individuals needs and use Theory X or Theory Y type management as necessary. The goal should be to use Theory X until an individual has progressed past the physiological and safety needs, and then use Theory Y to help an individual mature and become the best that they can.
Chris Argyris has developed a theory called immaturity-maturity that fits in nicely with McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. According to Argyris, an individual starts life out as passive, and builds a dependency on others to take care of them. As individuals age they become more independent, more active, more aware of themselves and their environment, and are better able to control themselves. Argyris believes that many organizations treat individuals as immature children by not letting them have any control over their environment, giving them over-simplified tasks, and expecting them to be subordinate and passive. This leads to immature behavior and can be detrimental to both the individual and the organization in the long run. Argyris’ theory fits in with McGregor’s theory in that when an individual is immature, they should be given minimal responsibility and should be closely supervised (as in McGregor’s Theory X), but once an individual has progressed or matured, they should be given more responsibility and independence (as in McGregor’s Theory Y). The main point of Argyris’ immaturity-maturity theory is that you cannot treat an immature person as a mature person or treat a mature person as an immature person and expect rational behavior or success.
For more than forty years, David C. McClelland has studied why some individuals have a higher need for achievement than others. McClelland believes that individuals with a high need for achievement share several characteristics in common, such as a willingness to take reasonable risks, they prefer to set their own goals, and they are more concerned with achievement than money or the other fruits of success. Achievement motivated individuals also like to receive frequent feedback about their performance on their jobs. McClelland also believes that the traits that are common to successful, achievement motivated individuals can be learned by anyone who wants to be successful as well.
Managers need to concern themselves with the readiness levels of their employees. This is referred to as the development cycle. When a manager tries to improve an employee’s ability to do a task, they are trying to develop that employee or help that employee grow. When an employee increases their readiness level, they should be rewarded with some kind of positive reinforcement. The kind of positive reinforcement used should be something that the individual employee values. Money may motivate some, while simple recognition may motivate other employees. As time passes, some employees may revert back to a lower readiness level for a variety of reasons, such as problems at home or a lack of motivation. The manager of an employee who reverts to a lower level of readiness should first recognize that the employee is in the regressive cycle, and should adjust their management style according to the needs of the employee. Once the employee regains a higher level of readiness, the manager can then revert back to the previously successful management style.
Rensis Likert has developed a system to identify three variables that affect the success or lack of success of an entire organization, or even an entire nation. Causal variables are variables that can be manipulated and controlled by the management of an organization, such as decisions and policies. Intervening variables are variables that reflect the current state of an organization, such as overall employee morale, conflict resolution, problem solving, decision making and leadership. End result variables are the outputs of the causal and intervening variables. End result variables can be profits, technology advances, and effectiveness. According to Likert, to have maximum effect on the end result variable changes should be made to the causal variables.
Informal work groups are a part of almost every organization, and can have an enormous impact on the performance of an organization. George C. Homans has studied how informal work groups gain their power, control the behaviors of their members, and even control the level of production. Homans identified three related elements of informal work groups; activities, interactions, and sentiments. Activities are the tasks that people perform, and informal work groups tend to develop among people who perform similar tasks. Interactions are the way that people act when performing tasks. Sentiments are feelings and attitudes that result from interactions between individuals and groups. Homans believes that these three elements are closely related in that a change one element can produce a change in one or both of the other elements. Homans believes that informal work groups can control the behaviors of its members and therefore are powerful forces within organizations. It is this power of informal work groups that often concerns the management of an organization. Homans points out that although informal work groups can conspire to limit production or productivity, they can also be utilized to increase performance and productivity. The Hawthorne experiments conducted by Mayo illustrate the potential power of informal work groups to increase production.
Management by objectives was introduced by Peter Drucker in the 1950’s as a way to match the goals of individuals with the goals of an organization. Management by objectives is really a communication process whereby the goals of an organization are communicated to all employees. The goals of individual departments must be inline with the goals of the overall organization. The performance of individuals, departments, and even the entire organization are measured by the achievement of set goals. Arbitrarily set goals are generally less accepted than goals that are set after considering input from employees directly involved in the related task. Management by objectives is a continuous process; as goals are met or business conditions change, goals are revised or new goals are created. Although management by objectives can be successful in some organizations, many organizations have abandoned its use because of some flaws in the system. Common problems of management by objectives are that it can generate distrust from employees, setting of goals that are either too easy or impossible to achieve, and performance evaluations that can be considered unfair.
Total Quality Management is a customer driven process to improve the quality of products and services. The fourteen points of TQM are; create a consistent purpose and plan toward quality improvement, adopt the philosophy of quality from the top down, cease dependence on mass inspections to achieve quality, end the practice of choosing suppliers based only on price, identify problems and work to improve the system, institute training, teach and institute leadership, drive fear out of the workplace, break down barriers between departments, end quotas for production, remove barriers to pride of workmanship, institute and encourage various programs of education and self improvement, act to accomplish the transformation, and finally eliminate all barriers from the workplace. TQM is primarily used in the manufacturing sector, but its principles can be applied to any business concern.
Just as individual managers have assumptions about human nature so do whole organizations. The assumptions that organizations have about human nature affects their policies and management style. For example, an organization that assumes people are lazy and dishonest would likely use a closely supervised, controlling management style, but an organization that assumes people are hardworking, honest, and competent would use more of a democratic or participatory management style. There are four sets of assumptions that organizations have about human behavior within organizations; Rational-Economic, Social, Self-Actualizing, and Complex. Rational-Economic assumes that people are mainly motivated by money and are basically lazy and untrustworthy. Social assumes that people are mainly motivated by the need for human contact and companionship and the need to maintain relationships. Self-Actualizing assumes that people are motivated to achieve their maximum potential. Complex assumes that people have varying needs throughout their lives which can include Rational-Economic, Social, and Self-Actualizing needs.
In the last class for this module, we were divided into four groups and given a situation in which we had to design an organization from scratch (in this case a prison) based on one of the four organizational behavior assumptions. The group that I was in had to use the Self-Actualizing assumption. Our group had to come up with ways to help employees feel challenged in their work and to take pride in their jobs. Our policies assumed that out workers would want to achieve their maximum potential. Other groups used the other assumptions to formulate their policies. It was very interesting to see the large differences in policies of the different groups based on the assumptions that they had about human behavior within organizations.
Over the course of the class we had many opportunities to discover our own leadership styles (through the use of the LEAD self test instrument), and to learn when to use any of the four leadership behaviors. The LEAD self test instrument is used to discover the style of leadership that the person taking the test prefers. In situational leadership there are four leadership styles; delegating, participating, selling, and telling. Situational leadership specifies which leadership style should be used depending on the readiness level of the follower. An effective leader will learn to vary their leadership style depending on the situation and the readiness level of their follower. Basically, a follower with a low readiness level would require the telling leadership style, and a follower with a high readiness level would require either the delegating or participating leadership style.
In the fourth class of this module, we watched a video on leadership entitled “In Search of Excellence”, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman Jr. The video focused on the leadership styles of the leaders of several very successful organizations including Disney, Apple Computers, IBM, and McDonalds. All of the organizations documented were impressive, but particularly impressive was Steve Jobs from Apple Computer. Steve Jobs implemented a small autonomous work group (which was allowed to make many decisions including the hiring of new members), and that group developed the first practical and useful personal computer. Tom Peters and Robert Waterman Jr. specified that every manager in every organization should be a coach and a cheerleader to their employees, and that people are the key to quality and success in any organization.
In one class of this module, we learned the characteristics of principle centered leadership. According to Steve Cubby, all principle centered leaders; continuously learn, are service oriented, radiate positive energy, believe in other people, lead a balanced life, see life as an adventure, they are synergistic, and they are ethical and honest. We also learned the seven habits of highly effective people, they are; be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win/win, seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw (continuous improvement and renewal). “Lessons in leadership” is a video by Peter Drucker which explains the common traits of effective leaders. Some of the common traits mentioned in the video are; leaders focus on the mission, say “no” a lot, set examples through their own behavior, enable people to do their jobs, and are principled. The main point of this video was that leadership is a skill that can be learned.
The most effective leaders are those who are flexible. Situational leadership specifies that a leader should understand the needs of their followers and then act to help them satisfy those needs in order to help them achieve their goals and the organizations goals. Every person has different needs and every situation is different, so effective managers and leaders must learn to diagnose the needs of all of their followers and match the right people to the right job at the right time. Effective leaders must also lead by example and be principled and honest with their followers. Effective leaders should also strive to develop their followers into leaders, for example a good leader will help their follower move from social needs to self-actualization needs. An effective leader will also delegate when necessary, direct when necessary, or use a participatory style when the situation calls for it and when the follower is at the correct readiness level. The best leaders are those who know how to help their followers achieve their goals while at the same time achieving their organizations goals.