What Is Motivation In Management? - Definition, Process & Types

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  • 0:01 The Definition of Motivation
  • 1:26 How to Motivate Employees
  • 1:49 Expectancy Theory
  • 2:35 Equity Theory
  • 3:11 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shauna Kelley
Motivation in management describes ways in which managers promote productivity in their employees. Learn about this topic, several theories of management, and ways in which this applies to the workplace. Use quiz questions to test your knowledge.

The Definition of Motivation

Often, people confuse the idea of 'happy' employees with 'motivated' employees. These may be related, but motivation actually describes the level of desire employees feel to perform, regardless of the level of happiness. Employees who are adequately motivated to perform will be more productive, more engaged and feel more invested in their work. When employees feel these things, it helps them, and thereby their managers, be more successful.

It is a manager's job to motivate employees to do their jobs well. So how do managers do this? The answer is motivation in management, the process through which managers encourage employees to be productive and effective.

Think of what you might experience in a retail setting when a motivated cashier is processing your transaction. This type of cashier will:

  • Be friendly, creating a pleasant transaction that makes you more likely to return
  • Process your transaction quickly, meaning that the store can service more customers
  • Suggest an additional item you would like to purchase, increasing sales for the store

In short, this employee is productive and delivers a high-quality output.

How to Motivate Employees

There are many ways to motivate employees. Managers who want to encourage productivity should work to ensure that employees:

  • Feel that the work they do has meaning or importance
  • Believe that good work is rewarded
  • Believe that they are treated fairly

All of these tasks fall under one or more motivational theories.

Expectancy Theory

Expectancy theory outlines the connection employees expect between effort and reward. If an employee does very well and puts forth additional effort, they will likely expect to be rewarded accordingly. In a retail setting, for example, a cashier might offer to work a double shift when a manager is short staffed, but would expect praise and perhaps additional compensation for doing so.

Employees who do not feel rewarded become unmotivated. Think about how you might feel if you continually worked as hard as possible but never received additional recognition or compensation. Would you continue to work as hard as possible, or would you think 'why bother?'

Equity Theory

Equity theory indicates that employees are best motivated when they feel that they are being treated equally. If two employees perform the same job, and believe that they do so equally well, they would expect equal pay and equal recognition.

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