What Is Staff Motivation? - Theories & Strategies

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  • 0:02 Importance of Motivation
  • 0:48 McClelland's Motivation Theory
  • 2:11 Adam's Equity Theory
  • 3:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Orin Davis
Keeping a staff motivated is an important part of management. Let's review two theories about staff motivation, McClelland's achievement motivation theory and Adams's equity theory, which relate to giving employees incentives and reasons for doing their best on the job.

Importance of Motivation

5 o'clock and it is quitting. . . Nope, not tonight! The boss wants you and your coworkers to stay late to get more work done on a project that is due next week. The manner in which all of you respond to this request is going to depend on the level of staff motivation. If the team is motivated, every member has incentives and reasons for doing his or her best, and the team will buckle down and dive in. If not, however, morale is going to be low, and it's likely that the work will not be of high quality.

Let's review two of the major theories about staff motivation and how to increase it. Many other motivation theories fall along similar lines of these two and likewise have similar implications.

McClelland's Motivation Theory

The first theory is McClelland's Achievement Motivation Theory. A motivation is a cause or reason for engaging in a behavior, and people are often motivated to fulfill their needs. According to Harvard professor David McClelland, there are three key needs that employees aim to fulfill:

  1. Achievement
  2. Power
  3. Affiliation

The need for achievement is a desire not just to get things done but accomplish things that others cannot do. It's a drive toward the pursuit of challenging accomplishments and reflects an orientation towards tasks. The need for power reflects an orientation towards status and is primarily about the desire to be influential. People want to be recognized for what they do, and to see all of the effects that they're able to cause. The need for affiliation pertains to a desire to be liked and/or accepted and suggests an orientation towards relationships.

While each person has all three needs, there tends to be one need that is stronger than the other two, and this can change from time to time. A manager needs to create the ways and means for employees to fulfill their needs and to be cognizant of which employees have which needs. In this way, a manager can set tasks, teams, and leadership roles in accordance with the orientations of the employees.

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