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Sunday, 03 July 2016

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Motivation and Success as identical twins

The word 'Motivation' has become one of the amply conversed topics in this era. Plethora of views and ideals are expressed on the subject of motivation particularly within corporate and academic circles. Motivation is taught in degree and master degree programs conducted by almost all reputed universities under management subjects owing to the importance placed on the subject of motivation in the present day context. Many organizations spend a substantial amount of money and time in conducting regular programs internally and with reputed motivational speakers to motivate the staff to get the maximum out of them in view to drive the organization towards its objectives.

Yet, how to motivate people effectively remains a common question. It is not only concerning other people, one may find it difficult to motivate himself for doing something good for him. All in all, one can get what he wants, which is worth the investment or the effort, done from someone who is motivated to do it. People do not do anything, good or bad, without a motivation. Higher the motivation higher the effort he makes. Simply, the success is directly and sturdily impacted by motivation and thinking of success where there is no adequate motivation to achieve success is a flop. History has proven that motivated people have undertaken herculean tasks and achieved much success in every sphere of human existence.

Every entity has a prime necessity of having motivated people within it, if that entity wants to be successful. The entity can be a family, an association, a business organization, a country or any other make-up of human beings. Individual is not an exception. If somebody needs to achieve something to be successful, he must have a sufficient motivation for putting the needed effort which definitely encompasses a dedication and a sacrifice.

Motivation has two aspects; self-motivation and the motivation created within others. Many people give less prominence to self-motivation even though they talk a lot about motivating others. As they do not consider self-motivation as the firm ground needed for them to stand on to motivate others. This is much visible with some parents and teachers who do all hard work to motivate their children and students but do not do enough to motivate themselves to correct themselves.

What scholars say

Many theories have been presented on the subject of motivation. Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs theory, Herzberg's two-factor theory, Alderfer's ERG theory, McClelland's acquired needs theory are among widely discussed motivational theories in this age.

Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs theory talked about two principles, namely, Deficit principle and Progression principle.

In Herzberg's two-factor theory, he identifies two sets of factors that impact motivation in the workplace, namely, Hygiene factors which include salary, job security, working conditions, organizational policies and technical quality of supervision and satisfiers or motivators which include things such as responsibility, achievement, growth opportunities and feelings of recognition.

Clayton Alderfer's ERG theory or Existence, Relatedness and Growth theory is built upon Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.

David McClelland's acquired needs theory recognizes that everyone prioritizes needs differently. He also believes that individuals are not born with these needs. McClelland identifies three specific needs, namely, High need for achievement, High need for affiliation and High need for power.

Other than these theoreticians in motivational theories who are well known within the academic circles, there may have been thousands of others who have expressed their ideas and theories on the subject of motivation. Whether any of these theories comprehensively addresses the true nature of the human psychic pertaining to motivation becomes a question in situations where some organizations that practice these theories too fail to motivate their people to meet those organizations' corporate objectives.

Disregarding the depth and the breadth which all these theoreticians went into in their respective theories, all these theories can just be categorised into two types; The factors that create intrinsic motivation and the factors that create extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is something which is generated by the work itself. A scientist or a researcher who strives to invent a new thing or arrive at some new conclusion without expecting any monetary gain or any other benefit is motivated by the intrinsic motivation. Even an employee, who becomes quite happy on learning that his employers have implemented something which he proposed, gets motivated further through intrinsic motivation. Simply, the child who reads a book for long hours at night for self-satisfaction, without thinking of sleep is motivated by this.

Extrinsic motivation is created mainly by benefits the person is getting such as salary or other financial gains and perks. Even the reputation, recognition and the privileges that the employee gains within the organization due to the positive contribution he makes for the organization through his good work could in a way be understood as extrinsic motivational factors.

Also, the person who does social work for earning some reputation and respect in return is primarily instigated to do such work by extrinsic motivation.

The politician, social worker, government employee or any other person who discharges his duties mainly due to intrinsic motivation and not due to extrinsic motivation is doing an honourable job.

Universal reality

Motivating oneself or others only for a good cause is very essential. Otherwise, motivation can bring about disasters not benefits. There are many instances where motivation has been used to do harm to oneself and others.

Nonetheless, all the motivational factors are stemming from one universal reality which is the likeliness of each individual nurtured by that individual's temperament or psychic state. Until this is identified clearly and addressed in a proper manner no person could effectively be motivated.

But the question is, should one always succumb to this temperament or let the others to succumb to it? It should not be the case, as temperament may not be for the good always. Specially, if parents and teachers allow their young children or the students to give in to their own dispositions which may be childish or short sighted in many cases, the result will not bring about success but destructions. Therefore, parents and teachers have a huge responsibility for inculcating good ambitions within children and motivating them effectively to achieve those good ambitions. Yet, the application for an organization such as a company or for a country should be quite different and what is more important for them is identifying each individual's motivational factors precisely.

In an organization, the management has to identify each employee's motivational factors before it is too late to retain the good employees and to get the best out of them. It is true that the organization has to compromise its some of the short term objectives a little bit in taking actions to motivate its staff. But that compromise will bring many an advantage to the organization than what it sacrifices due to the compromise it makes.

In a country too, the policy and law makers must try to understand the varied motivational factors, at least based on different categories, which the people of the country fall into, and make policy frameworks accordingly rather than taking the entire country as a whole in deciding policies and incentives for the people. Doing so will definitely help the countries not only to achieve development goals but to stop brain-drain and to bring back intellectual expatriates including scientists, professionals and academics who have left the country of their birth due to the reasons which are mostly connected to motivational factors.

To achieve success through motivating others, the management of the organization, in case of a corporate and the policy and law makers of the country, in case of a country, should have enough proper management skills and the belief that the proper management culture, which puts adequate emphasis on the matter of motivating people, creates a win-win situation in a corporate or in a country.

Also, the onus the parents, teachers and other elders have for motivating children for a good ambition is something which should not be considered less important. But, one should keep in mind that the success which comes through motivating others totally depends on the degree of self-motivation the motivator has within him and the level of purity of his self-motivation.

If one finds it difficult to motivate himself for a good cause, he should look for a wholesome inspiration, finding which may not be difficult for him.

(The writer holds an MBA and a Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Moratuwa and counts many years of experience in management and lecturing.)

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