Victor Vroom and Why Motivation Goes Wrong

24 September, 2013

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Have you ever wondered why people suddenly lose motivation?

Victor Vroom gives us a simple way to understand not what motivates people, but when they are and are not going to be motivated by something.

It is simple really…

The only problem is the obscure words Vroom chose for some of his model. But let’s not let that get in the way.

I am going to ask you to do something and promise you a reward if you do it. Will you be motivated?

Here is what goes on in your mind…

First, do you believe that if you put in your best effort, then you will get the result I am looking for? If you do, then that is good, but if you think you don’t have the skills or the resources, or if you think the task is too hard, or my standards are too high, or I am deliberately setting you up to fail, then you won’t be motivated – and that is that.

This is what Vroom called ‘Expectancy’.
Let’s say you are satisfied…

The next question you will be asking yourself is whether you believe that if you do as I ask, I will actually deliver the reward I promised. A lot of organisations have a record of letting people down here; promising promotions and pay awards that never come. Can they be surprised if people get demotivated?

This is what Vroom called ‘Instrumentality’.
Let’s say you do believe me…

Finally, you will consider whether the promised reward is worth the effort. This is a simple cost-benefit assessment: a chocolate bar for a day’s work – No; a meal out for two at a posh restaurant for an hour’s work – Yes.

This is what Vroom called ‘Valence.
Let’s say you want the reward…

Then you will be motivated to undertake the task.

But… if any link in the chain is broken: no motivation.

I told you it was simple. Here is an illustration from The Management Models Pocketbook, and you can read the section on Vroom in the free extract from that book too.

Expectancy Theory

Further Reading 

The Motivation Pocketbook

The Management Models Pocketbook


Motivational Needs

17 September, 2013

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


If you need to motivate your team, then you absolutely need to understand the concept of ‘needs’.

Most psychological models of motivation, starting with the best known of all – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – are based on a simple premise:

Human beings have needs. Therefore the promise to
satisfy them is necessarily motivating.

Maslow is overdone in training courses, management guides and, yes.. blogs. So we’ll skip that for a moment, but you can always take a look at The Motivation Pocketbook.

Modern thinking focuses strongly on four workplace needs:

1. The Need to Master our Work

We have a deep psychological drive to achieve proficiency and mastery and, when we do so and are able to work at that level, we find our work deeply satisfying. We fall into a ‘flow state’ where our work totally absorbs us.

2. The Need to Feel a Sense of Purpose

What question do small children ask, continually?

Why? Why? Why? Why?

As adults we equally need an answer to this and if we sense that our work has a real meaning and purpose that aligns with our values, then it is highly motivating.

3. Relationships

If you work full-time, then you probably spend more time with your work colleagues than you do with the person or people you thought you had chosen to spend your life with. People are social creatures and we have a powerful need for strong social relationships in which we feel there is a place for us – and ideally some sense of esteem from those around us. Respect is also a very important motivator.

4. Control

Once again, young children hold a mirror to us as adults. Much toddler mis-behaviour (and the same is true for a lot of teenage actions) is driven by a desire to control our lives, our environment and our choices. Rob people of control and stress is a rapid result. Give workers more control and that is intrinsically motivating.

Two other Needs Based Models on the Management Pocketblog are:

  1. David McClelland’s Three Motivational Needs
  2. Ryan and Deci’s Self Determination Theory

 

 

Further Reading 

The Motivation Pocketbook

The Management Models Pocketbook


What Motivates your Team Members?

10 September, 2013

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Exercise 1: What Motivates You?

This is a list of factors that commonly motivate people at work. Score the factors from 12 to 1, with 12 being the most important and 1 the least important, according to your perceptions of what motivates you.

What Motivates You

Herzberg’s Hygiene and Motivational Factors

Traditionally, motivation was viewed as single scale from low to high. Frederick Herzberg’s research led him to propose that dissatisfaction and satisfaction were not opposites of each other, but that we have two scales:

  1. From strong dissatisfaction to no dissatisfaction
    Some things leave us upset or angry. Take them away and we don’t feel good – we just stop being dissatisfied.
    Herzberg called these ‘Hygiene Factors’.
  2. From no satisfaction to strong satisfaction
    Some things don’t bother us if they are missing, but we are really pleased by their presence and motivated to achieve them.
    Herzberg called these ‘Motivational Factors’.

Hertzberg - Hygiene and Motivational Factors model

This nicely explains why a messy workplace kitchen or rest-room gets people massively annoyed, but nobody celebrates the fact that their warehouse has clean facilities – this is quite literally a hygiene factor.

If hygiene factors are not right, they dominate workplace agenda, causing poor morale and motivation. Putting them right will not make a great workplace but it will stop the rot.

Few people will be motivated by motivation factors until hygiene factors are right. But once they are, use motivating factors to boost morale.

Note that some people have different attitudes. To some, money is a hygiene factor, for others it is a motivator. What is nearly always true is that my perception of a fair wage determines the point at which money for me moves from being a hygiene factor (below that level) to a motivational factor (above). However, my attitude to money and what it could bring me will determine the extent to which it really motivates me.

The Results

Hertzberg gave examples of hygiene and motivating factors and there were six of each in the list you looked at. Tot up your scores for each by entering the scores from the top of the article into these boxes. If you score highly on hygiene factors, this suggests things aren’t quite right at work for you. If you score highest on motivational factors, then let your bosses know what they need to do for you.

Hertzberg - Hygiene and Motivational factors

 

Further Reading 

The Motivation Pocketbook


Setting Good Goals

9 July, 2013

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Goal setting is such a fundamental part of management, that we sometimes forget what it is for.  It has become embedded into formal processes that can distance us from what we are doing and turn good management practices into form-filling, box-ticking routines; devoid of any real meaning or purpose.

So let’s be explicit about what goal setting is for

We set goals for others so that they will know when they have achieved what we want.  We set goals for ourselves, for the same reason.  Goal setting is therefore about:

  • Giving a clear direction and reason for work
  • Giving an equally clear indication of when to stop
  • Being explicit about what triggers the reward – which may only need to be a thank-you
  • Setting a standard of achievement, on the route to mastery
  • Motivating people to achieve what is needed

SMART Goals

There are a lot of formulations of SMART goals – most typically:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

All of these are designed to remind users that good goals are explicit about what is expected, balance challenge with realism, are rooted in what is important, and have a time-scale attached.

What, Why, When, What if?

Good goals need to answer these four questions:

  1. What do you expect of me; precisely?  I need to know what you want in enough detail to be able to meet your expectations.
  2. Why are you asking it of me?  Without a sense of valuable purpose, I shan’t be motivated.
  3. When do you need it by?  So that I can schedule the work into my diary and assign it the right priority.
  4. What if things don’t go according to plan?  What resources can I draw upon, what help will you offer, what compromises are appropriate and what are not acceptable, what authority do I have to make decisions?

The key, however, to good goals is that they must be agreed between you, the manager, and the person for whom you are setting the goals.  The best way to get the commitment you need is to express the goals clearly, put them in writing and then to look your colleague in the eye, and ask: ‘do you accept this goal?’

When goal-setting becomes a formal process it loses its power.  Make good goal-setting an everyday routine – part of your day-to-day management of your team and of each individual.  Formal, annual or quarterly goal setting will then feel easy – it will set the strategic context for your day-to-day management.

Further Reading 

The Appraisals Pocketbook

The Motivation Pocketbook

Performance Management Pocketbook


David McClelland’s Three Motivational Needs

20 November, 2012

On a couple of occasions, the Management Pocketblog has referred to David McClelland’s theory of Motivational Needs.  The first time was in comparing it with Self Determination Theory, and the second was earlier this year, when we were thinking about job satisfaction.

In neither of these is the model fully explained – although you will find eight pages devoted to it in The Management Models Pocketbook and three in The Motivation Pocketbook – which is a veritable compendium of motivation theories.

Motivating me with McClelland’s Model

Let’s say you want to motivate me to take on a new role.  It can be any role, but let’s suppose you need someone from customer support to step into a sales role… which is not my preference and so I am not (yet) keen.

The first thing to note, is that I can never succeed without some decent training and support.  But I am not going to absorb that training and properly use the support unless you have motivated me to want to do the job.  So how can you present this as an opportunity for me to seize and savour?

McClelland suggested that we all have three needs, but that we each have them in different amounts.  If you can appeal to my strongest need, then I will take the opportunity to fulfil it.

David McClelland's Motivational Needs

The Need for Power

Suppose my strongest need is for power (evil Bond-villain laugh, while stroking a white cat).   You can present this new role as an opportunity for me to impress my peers, to stand out from them and to stand above them, by moving into a directly cash generating role.  It is a chance to show what I can do and get myself promoted.  If I do this role well, you might tell me, I will be looked up to and move into a sales management position from where I can control the sales process and lead a sales force.  The sales I make can create respect and generate bonuses that will enhance my prestige.

The Need for Achievement

If my strongest need is for achievement, I will see the trappings of power as appealing but superficial markers of success.  What really matters to me will be the sense that I have done something worthwhile and challenging.  You must assure me that the task I am taking on is difficult.  My need for achievement will not be satisfied by doing something easy.  But equally, i have to feel that I can achieve something, so you must also reassure me that the task is possible, if I work at it.  Set me targets and watch me meet them.  Reinforce my success by recognition and more stretching targets still.

The Need for Affiliation

If, however, my strongest need is for affiliation, nothing will matter much unless I feel a part of a group, a team, a social network,  So you must emphasise what a collaborative, social role sales is.  You must show me how I need to work as a team with colleagues from marketing, design, manufacturing… You would also do well to emphasise the social nature of selling; building relationships with customers and nurturing those relationships.  Show me how success means a strengthening of bonds and a joint celebration and yet how, in failure, we will all have a chance to learn together and collectively renew our commitment.

So here’s the Deal

McClelland gave us one of the best-researched models for workplace motivation – which is pretty reliable at predicting job satisfaction.  But any job can be framed and adjusted.  If you know the needs of your team – and you should be able to get to know them that well, as their manager – then you can use it to ensure all are motivated effectively.


Three ways to Stifle Motivation

7 February, 2012

There are many theories of motivation around, yet most of the ones that turn up on training courses hark back to the 1970s, 1960s and even the 1950s.  Is there any new thinking on motivation, for the twenty first century?

It turns out that there is.  And it isn’t just new thinking: this is research-based and supported by experimental evidence.

Self Determination Theory

Self determination theory (SDT) emerged into the limelight in 2000 with one of the now most-cited papers in psychology: ‘Self-Determination Theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.  It was published in the Journal ‘American Psychologist’, and written by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci of the University of Rochester.

University of Rochester psychology professors Richard Ryan, left and Edward Deci outside Meliora Hall May 25, 2010. The two are internationally recognized scholars who developed Self-Determination Theory, which holds that well-being depends in large part on meeting one's basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.   //photo:  J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

Richard Ryan (left) and Edward Deci (right) are both at the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology of the University of Rochester.  There, they direct a training program focused on SDT and maintain a substantial website that acts as a valuable (but technical) resource on SDT.

SDT in a Nutshell

We are all motivated to satisfy three fundamental needs, which are described as ‘psychological nutrients’.  If one or more of these needs is unfulfilled, we lose motivation.  Critically, Ryan and Deci also see the fulfilment of these needs as essential to our sense of well-being.

These three psychological nutrients are:

  1. Autonomy
    Being able to make your own choices and live your own life
  2. Competence
    Feeling able and confident in what you are doing
  3. Relatedness
    Having safe, secure social relationships (which do not threaten your feelings of autonomy or competence)

Does this sound familiar?

It did to me.  In my well-thumbed copy of Ilona Boniwell’s excellent ‘Positive Psychology in a Nutshell’, I have written against these the terminology from two older and more familiar models: Clayton Alderfer’s 1969 ERG Theory and David McClelland’s 1961 Theory of Needs.

ComparingNeedsTheories

Lots more Depth

So, the needs Ryan and Deci have identified are familiar – although not identical to those described by previous researchers.  What is more convincing in their work is the greater subtlety they characterise in examining how these three factors act to motivate us.

They don’t try to describe all of the motivational phenomena that they observe in their experiments with one grand theory.  instead, they have articulated five (to date) ‘mini theories’ to account for different aspects of motivation.

These make Self Determination Theory a very compelling model, worthy of greater study.

  1. Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET)
    How we assess our social context and how that evaluation affects our intrinsic (self) motivation.
  2. Organismic Integration Theory (OIT)
    How we internalise external factors, turning them into motivators or de-motivators.
  3. Causality Orientations Theory (COT)
    how we make behavioural and situational choices based on personality orientations towards autonomy, control and our need for competence.
  4. Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT)
    How autonomy, competence, and relatedness are basic psychological needs, essential to our well-being.
  5. Goal Contents Theory (GCT)
    How intrinsic and extrinsic goals have different affects on our perceptions of satisfaction and well-being.  There is a great animated video, made by a colleague of Ryan and Deci, below.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The Motivation Pocketbook

The Motivation Pocketbook

The Management Models Pocketbook
(for Vroom’s Expectancy Theory and McClelland’s Theory of Needs)

The Performance Management Pocketbook

The Reward Pocketbook


Bankers’ Bonuses and Brain Biology

1 February, 2011

Back in September 2010, we did a post about John Stacy Adams and Equity Theory.  Here are some edited highlights, as a primer:

Equity Theory in a Nutshell

Adams considered the comparisons we make between the outcomes we get (through reward such as pay) and the work we contribute:  the ratio O/W.

You unconsciously compare your own ratio (O/W) with my ratio, as you perceive it (O’/W’).  If you find that they are equal, you will be content.  If, however, my ratio is bigger than your ratio, you will be unhappy –you will perceive an ‘inequity’.

It is also the case that if you think you are over-rewarded, then you will probably feel a sense of guilt.  Our innate need for fairness is what drives Adams’ ‘Equity Theory’.  He argued that where we feel a sense of inequity, we respond in a way that will, in our minds, remove the inequities.

Why so Fair?

Is our sense of fairness a result of social or cultural pressures, or is it the way we are wired?  Four researchers at Caltech and Trinity College Dublin became the first to glean definitive evidence into this particular nature versus nurture debate.

What they found is that our brain’s reward centres respond more strongly when a poor person gets a financial reward than when a rich person receives the same reward.  What surprised them was that this is true for the brain of the rich person as well as for that of the poor person.

Image Credit: Elizabeth Tricomi/Rutgers University
Dr Tricomi was the principal author of the research paper

‘People who started out poor had a stronger brain reaction to things that gave them money, and essentially no reaction to money going to another person,’ Professor Colin Camerer says. ‘By itself, that wasn’t too surprising.’

What did surprise the team was that people who started out rich had a stronger reaction to other people getting money than to themselves getting money. ‘In other words’ said Camerer, ‘their brains liked it when others got money more than they liked it when they themselves got money.’

So what happened to good old self interest?

Clearly the results appear fly in the face of self interest, so how does the team explain them.  They think that it is about reducing discomfort – seeing a poor person getting a reward goes some way to allaying a little of our own guilt.

So will bankers give away their bonuses?

Maybe some will, but perhaps the guilt of discomfort has a value.  That’s something the experimenters did not measure, and until they do, we will never know what it takes to make a more equal society.

Which brings us back in a roundabout way to the vexed question of nature versus nurture.  We now know that something of our sense of equity is wired into the way our brains work.  What we don’t know is whether that wiring took place because of our genetics or our experiences.  So let’s speculate, based on two observations:

  1. There would seem to be real evolutionary advantage for a social creature living in small groups to develop a sense of fairness that guides its decisions
  2. There are plenty of opportunities in our present society for a sense of equity to be over-written by self-interest in our formative years, yet it seems to persist.

I say: chalk this one up to nature!

Learn More

You can read a far fuller summary of the research at the Caltech website, or, if you have a mind to, you can read the full paper that was published in the journal Nature (25 Feb 2010).

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Motivation Pocketbook

The Reward Pocketbook

The Management Models Pocketbook

The Thinker’s Pocketbook


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