Case Study: Managing motivation at Technocraft I. Symptoms a) High labour turnover. b) Difficulty in recruiting new employees. c) Poor productivity performance. II. Identifying and analysing the problems We postulate that the first problem relates to the employees’ resentment towards the management team. A useful starting point for understanding this first problem is Abraham Maslow’s theory of individual development and motivation. Marlow puts forward the argument that people are wanting beings, they always want more, and what they want depends on what they already have.
He suggests that human needs are arranged in a series of levels forming progressive hierarchy of importance (1). By adopting Marlow’s theory, it can be clearly discerned that the ‘Affiliation” need, which refers to the intrinsic need for a sense of belonging to the work team, was not satisfied in this case given that Robert Houlden forcefully stopped all the informal working practices that contributed to create a good team spirit and feeling of belonginess. Another contributory factor to the problem of resentment is the lack of employment security, which Maslow identified as one of the main ‘Security’ needs in his theory.
Indeed, George Newell’s refusal to admit to the mistaken and heavy-handed termination of contract of two senior employees, despite Maggie Francis’ warning (2), led directly to a feeling of lack of employment security by other members of the team. The second problem we have identified is the element of job dissatisfaction. It is pertinent to explore this second problem by applying Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation. Herzberg postulates that there are two sets of factors affecting motivation at work.
One set of factors are those which, if absent, causes dissatisfaction. These factors are related to job context, they are concerned with job environment and extrinsic to the job itself. These factors are the ‘hygiene’ or ‘maintenance’ factors (3). In this regard, it is our contention that Robert Houlden’s ‘meet production targets and no nonsense’ tactics directly destroyed the ‘pleasant, hardworking yet playful’ atmosphere that was the cornerstone of job satisfaction, thus proving Herzberg’s postulations(4).
The third problem is the lack of motivation displayed by the employees. We propose two theoretical approaches to analyse this problem. The first approach is based on Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory. The theory is founded on the idea that people prefer certain outcomes from their behaviour over others. They anticipate feelings of satisfaction should the preferred outcome be achieved. In other words, the motivational force is given by the combination of valence, expectancy and instrumentality (5).
Therefore, it can be argued that George Newell’s failure to recognise and match the expectations of employees with regards to the nature of rewards for meeting production targets greatly diminished the value of valence as well as decreasing the probability value assigned to instrumentality as they are perceived by the employees. It follows that a decrease or complete absence of motivation is logical given the circumstances of the case. The second approach in explaining the absence of motivation entails the ‘Esteem’ need found in Maslow’s theory.
It can be discerned that the employees experienced a steep decrease in self –esteem because T-shirts were clearly not what they expected as rewards for their hard work. III. Alternative solutions a) Do nothing b) Change the leadership style c) Change the management tactics d) Creation of a fair reward structure IV. Evaluation of alternative solutions a) Do nothing i. Advantages: * Scenarion 1 – dealing with poor performance: The resignation of two experienced employees could have been avoided with eventual improvements in performance due to better employment security feeling of other employees.
Improvements in performance standards would have been achieved anyway as the newly employed Elena and Veronica would have gained more experience thereby bringing them into line with the other employees. * Scenario 2 – the productivity drive: Decrease in self-esteem of employees could have happened to a lesser degree, given that employees might have felt unfulfilled rather than cheated. ii. Disadvantages: * Scenario 1 – dealing with poor performance: Elena and Veronica’s projected progress might not happen. * Scenario 2 – the productivity drive: Self-esteem could have been lowered by George Newell’s unfulfilled promise. ) Change leadership style – from autocratic to democratic i. Advantages: George Newell would be in a position to account for the employees’ needs by taking into account their views during his decision making process, thereby ensuring steady labour turnover rate as well as maintaining productivity levels. ii. Disadvantages: Employees might perceive George Newell as a weak manager thus acknowledging his authority to a lesser extent. c) Change management tactics – relaxation of tough rules governing the working environment i.
Advantages: a decrease in resentment towards Robert Houlden as a result of a more affable working environment with resulting decrease in job dissatisfaction and increased levels of motivation. ii. Disadvantages: potential ‘slacking’ by employees. d) Creation of a fair reward structure – rewards/bonus should be proportional to the amount of input i. Advantages: the implicit contract between Technocraft and the employees, with regards to rewards for meeting production quota, would have been fulfilled thereby driving the workforce’s motivation upwards.
Similarly, self-esteem needs would have been met leading to a higher degree of job satisfaction. ii. Disadvantages: potential increases in budgeting requirements. V. Recommendations Based on the analysis of the theoretical background carried out in section II and the evaluations developed in section IV, we would like to put forward the contention that solutions C and D should be used in conjunction in order to overcome the problems experienced by Technocraft. VI. Additional notes (1) Maslow’s pyramid 2) George Newell’s escalation of commitment may represent a further cause of discontent in this case. However, it is not discussed here given its impertinency to the argument treated. (3) Herzberg’s dual-factor theory (4) It is interesting to add that the other set of factors which form Herzberg’s model are those which, if present, serve to motivate the individual to superior effort and performance. These factors are related to job content of the work itself. They are the ‘motivators’ or growth factors.
The strength of these factors will affect feelings of satisfaction or no satisfaction, but not dissatisfaction (5) Motivational force = Valence * Expectancy * Instrumentality or M = V*E*I VII. Bibliography Laurie J, Mullins. Management and Organisational Behaviour. London: Prentice Hall, 2005. Linu, Shajahan. Organization Behaviour. New Delhi: New Age Int. Publishers, 2004. Eugene F, McKenna. Business Psychology and Organisational Behaviour. Hove: psychology Press Ltd, 2000.