Intrinsic Motivation at Work

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 10
Words: 4701
Reading time:
17 min
Study level: Master

Extensive research has been done to provide a greater understanding of the significant variation in job performance among employees.

(Barrick & Mount, 2006, Beehr, et al., 2000, Judge, 2001, and Van Knippenberg, 2000). Previous studies have examined issues such as the effects of personality upon job performance (Barrick & Mount, 2006), work stressors and job performance (Beehr, et al., 2000), and co-worker support and job performance (Beehr, et al., 2000). These researchers tend to carve up aspects of job motivation and job satisfaction into numerous detailed elements, which may dilute the convergent effect of these factors on job performance. Although these studies have shown some positive correlations among influences on job performance, each of these variables encompasses aspects of the larger issue of how job motivation and job satisfaction affect job performance. The specific relationship between job motivation and job performance has been investigated by researchers such as Van Knippenberg (2000), showing a positive correlation, while the connection between satisfaction and job performance has been evaluated and questioned by both Moorman (1993) and Fisher (2003).

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In the specific case of job satisfaction, conflicting evidence exists in the research as to the magnitude of its effect on job performance.

Job Motivation and Job Performance

Several authors have explored the relationship between job motivation and job performance including Van Knippenberg (2000), Latham and Pinder (2005), and Tyagi (1985). Van Knippenberg’s (2000) study Motivation and performance: a social identity perspective analyzes job motivation and job performance from the perspective of social identity theory, which helped to establish the importance of an employee’s social identity in the context of how that identity affected job motivation and job performance within the organization.

Van Knippenberg’s work helps to provide further insight into job motivation and its effect on job performance – his conclusions were that “an employee’s social identity is positively related to work motivation, task performance, and contextual performance to the extent that (a) social identity is salient, and (b) high performance is perceived to be in the group’s or organization’s interest.” (p. 357).

Latham and Pinder’s (2005) article, Work motivation theory and research at the dawn of the twenty-first century, examines issues related to working motivation in the last 30 years. In this piece, they reexamine progress that had been made in theory and research on needs, traits, values, and cognitions related to motivation theory. Latham and Pinder concluded that the ability to predict, understand and influence motivation in the workplace is a result of looking at the multitude of the aspects that influence motivation as a whole, rather than just a few. They also highlight how the effects of national culture, characteristics of the job itself, and the fit between the person and the organization specifically can influence motivation and ultimately job performance.

In the article, Relative importance of key job dimensions and managership behaviors in motivation salesperson work performance, by Tyagi (1985), characteristics that may act as more effective work motivators in sales jobs are examined. Tyagi hypothesized that key job dimensions and managership behavior have an influence on work motivation and performance. Some of these aspects he mentions include raising performance standards, manager trust and support, goal emphasis, group interaction, psychological influence, and hierarchical influence. Results of this study supported the hypothesis that key job dimensions and managership behavior had a strong influence on the intrinsic motivation of sales employees. Tyagi suggests based on his results that “both job redesign and managership behavior can be used to motivate salespersons to improve their performance.” (p. 82).

Job motivation has been a difficult concept to define, as demonstrated by the numerous theories of motivation that exist. Ray (1980) summarizes job motivation as the desire to reach job-related goals that are considered to be difficult and socially approved. The review of literature provides evidence for a positive connection between job motivation and job performance; however, exactly what that correlation does not appear to be clearly quantified. Also, as Latham and Pinder (2005) concluded, the ability to predict, understand and influence motivation in the workplace is a result of looking at the multitude of the aspects that influence motivation as a whole, rather than just a few. This dissertation is attempting to accomplish the goal of “looking at the multitude of the aspects that influence motivation as a whole,” by using Ray’s (1980) motivation scale as its operational definition of job motivation. Ray’s motivation scale uses a variety of factors to calculate motivation including the influences of personality, co-workers, social activities, and planning activities.

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Job Satisfaction and Job Performance

The association between job satisfaction and job performance appears to be more clearly quantified but has also been more controversial than that of job motivation and job performance, as illustrated by the research of Moorman (1993), Fisher (2003), Petty (1984), and Judge (2001).

Robert Moorman (1993) discusses that a widely believed adage of managers is that happy workers are productive workers. However, Moorman states that most research on the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance does not show convincing evidence that this relationship is as strong as most managers believe. This article proposes that only a weak link has been found because most research has been measuring the wrong kind of performance.

According to Moorman, job performance has previously been measured by the degree an employee reached either a quantity requirement or satisfied some preconceived standard for effective behavior.

Moorman restates a theory by Organ (1988) that job performance should also include behaviors which he calls Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB). These behaviors include those that might be considered outside the realm of those traditional tasks needed to get the job done, but are important parts of an employee’s contribution to the organization.

In the article Why do lay employees believe that satisfaction and performance are correlated? (2003), Fisher explores what she calls “the happy-productive worker hypothesis,” and tries to explain why this belief is so pervasive, even when prior research has shown that the correlation between job satisfaction and job performance is only modest in strength. She summarizes two studies in this article. In study one, she surveys the opinions of managers, supervisors, and employees, finding that the majority believed that feelings of satisfaction are related to performance. In study two, Fisher tried to explain why this happy-productive worker hypothesis was so widely believed. Fisher used experienced sampling methodology (ESM) to prompt real-time reports of current mood, task satisfaction, and perceive task performance over two weeks.

Results of this second study demonstrated that the concurrent correlations between job satisfaction and job performance were small, with an overall correlation of.10 or below.

Fisher concludes that individual employees may believe that the correlation between happy workers and job performance may exist due to employees’ own personal experiences of being more satisfied when they are performing effectively, and less satisfied when performing below-average levels.

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Research by other investigators (Petty, 1984), (Judge, 2001), agreed that there was a positive association between job satisfaction and job performance, but presented evidence of a stronger correlation between the two factors than noted in the articles by Moorman (1993) and Fisher (2003).

Petty et al.’s (1984) Meta-analysis of the relationship between individual job satisfaction and individual performance, demonstrated more consistent strong relationships between overall job satisfaction and job performance than results from earlier studies. This meta-analysis was limited to empirical studies of the relationship between individual job satisfaction and individual job performance. An analysis of 15 studies showed an average correlation of.31. Based on this positive correlation, Petty et al. recommended that in order to improve labor productivity in the United States, more effective human resource management policies should be adopted.

Judge’s (2001) research job satisfaction-job performance relationship: a qualitative and quantitative review, discussed problems and limitations in previous research due to “lack of an assimilation and integration (of the various models) in the literature.” (p. 376). Conducting a new meta-analysis provided a mean true correlation between overall job satisfaction and job performance estimated to be.30, similar to the 1984 meta-analysis studies of Petty, et al. and encouraging further review of the subject for future studies.

Job Motivation and Salary

In the book Motivation, Emotions, and Managership: The Silent Side of Management Fulton and Maddock (1998) underline that lower-level needs such issues as salary, occupancy, and formal and informal teamwork must be fulfilled to allow employees to concentrate on higher-level needs, such as personal and professional goals and the feelings reflected at the level of self-development. At the same time, abilities to achieve the job satisfaction of higher-level needs must be guaranteed so workers will not regress. Employees achieve best when a wide range of their goals and preferences has been met as they work toward achieving personal aims and institutional aims. The authors underline that when personal goals are matching with institutional goals, the probability of employees working at higher levels of need satisfaction is improved. Job motivation is supported by repeated successes. A history of successes empowers employees to take risks and believe they can meet the demands of new goals. The opportunity to reveal competence and assume responsibility is a motivating factor. Employees’ involvement has been equated to the loss of power in the eyes of some managers. The fear of losing power can be expressed in behavior patterns and seldom in communications between employees. The reasons that some managers in positions of responsibility are motivated are not always easy to establish new rules and principles. Certainly, some employees seek power and self-development. Becoming involved in a politically popular restructuring effort has been perceived as one way to gain job satisfaction. The strategy that the way to wield and build power is to keep it in one employee’s hands is misleading.

Job Motivation, Job Satisfaction, and Leadership

In the book Human Resource Management Armstrong (2003) states that power is created by sharing it with subordinates; when a manager or manager shares power, it grows. The expertise of employees will emerge and flourish when managers call upon them to share power. Consequently, the manager who would bring about change in an organization is one who understands how to motivate and inspire employees and improves their job performance, and, in so doing, build a strong cultural base that is more potent and powerful than in settings where job motivation is not fostered. The empowerment of employees, which is essential for all managers and planners who would foster change, is a complicated process. Job motivation, because of its very nature and latent, must be aimed at, nurtured, developed, and invested astutely. One attempt to structure the organization and job performance in such a way that employees are empowered to accomplish organization goals is site-based management. When job motivation mechanisms and procedures designed to achieve employees empowerment are used, an adequate structure and management should be present to make up that growth and investment of power The job motivation is a skill needed by managers and planners who would get better companies’ performance. Job motivation is first recognized on a basis in which high expectations from and self-assurance in employees are demonstrated. It does little or no good to delegate duties to an employee and fail to give the employees the opportunity to carry out that promise. Job motivation can, if properly carried out within a suitable process, be the main tool of job satisfaction and avoiding a bottleneck in the organization. To motivate employees successfully, a manager must make expectations clear, describe what is the aim of motivation in such a way as to avoid vagueness, control the results of the motivation, provide support to the employee to whom the function is delegated, and, follow up to see the task is completed and what spin-offs or side effects have occurred.

Brown (2004) relates job motivation and job satisfaction to industry and its uniqueness. The author states that all employees are of worth–those who have been elected to organization management, those who are managers, those who are leaders, those who are in the majority, and those who do not have the power of control within their grasp but who have a major aim in the development of organizations. The manager who is able to work successfully with all departments of a community will have a benefit over managers who are financially motivated only by persons supposed to be in power positions.

Maslow’s Theory of Job Motivation

One approach, widely known by managers, is set out by Abraham H. Maslow in his book “Motivation and Personality”. Maslow’s theory of job motivation claims that human motives develop in sequence according to five levels of needs. These needs are: psychological (hunger, thirst), safety (protection), social (be accepted, belong to a certain group), esteem (self-confidence, achievements, respect, status, recognition), and self-actualization (realizing one’s potential for continued self-development) (Maslow, 1997). This theory underlines that needs follow in sequence and when one person need is satisfied it decreases in strength and the higher need then dominates behavior. This leads to the statement that a satisfied need is not a motivator. The author admits that there is a hesitation whether this really applies in practice to the higher needs as it is likely that self-worth requires continuous stimulation and regeneration. In spite of its advantage, it has some threats which make it undesirable in all situations related to job performance and job satisfaction.

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Job Motivation and Leading

Petri and Govern (2003) state that employees need to be led to understand the job performance and job satisfaction, to be involved with focusing on a vision, and to simplify the direction they and the company will be moving. As change factors lead and encourage employees to change as personalities, they must be guided in every possible way. If a systematic view of transformations is taken and if employees are seen as an essential element of the total structure, until employees are given support in changing their actions, major transformations will not occur. The author underlines that leading is the main factor that helps managers to ensure job satisfaction and job motivation.

Again referring to systems theory, until employees’ job motivation changes take place, there will be no reformation in an organization, since one of the main elements of the system, the employees, have not gone through a change. To foster development and alterations in employees requires many issues to be done: understanding and managing change, the investment of major prime resources, creating a productive climate, providing continued strengthening and support; in short, changing employees is a major investment and requisite to changing an organization.

Reed (2001) discusses job innovation on human resource management and new policies applied to job satisfaction and job motivation. Jon’s motivation is the best strategy to deal with disagreement; all significant employees should be involved and understand the needs addressed and the policies for meeting those needs. If the manager builds cohesiveness and possession, employees can work together on a common reason that is built upon a firm base of agreement and reflected in such documents as “we agree” contracts. Following Reed (2001): “Motivation must be understood not as a series of separate “needs” but as the dynamic aspect of the very functioning of a living organism. In other words, any living organism is, in effect, a pattern of intrinsically active and directed relational functioning” (p. 60). Even after building a firm conceptual framework, however, interpersonal and intergroup disagreements will emerge. When disagreements do emerge, they should not be neglected. Disagreements must be dealt with when it is present. Disagreements analysis and interpersonal communication, along with job motivation, may be necessary. Preferably, the manager who can come up with a “win-win” strategy will be far ahead of a result in which one party wins and another loses. Successful managers and change moderators are skillful at conflict resolution.

Job Motivation and Personal Goals

Robbins (2002) underlines that some employees perceive that job motivation and job satisfaction can be brought about only by provoking such a high level of disagreement that employees become so painful they cannot tolerate the difficulty and will seek solutions. While it is important for employees to be able to understand and express a need, creating a conflict to achieve sufficient disagreement so that employees will be motivated to respond is dubious. Creating a high level of disagreement that employees want to make changes can be a form of trick and compulsion. Managers will be more successful if they use data and direct communication to point to a need and construct from an awareness of a need rather than fear or conflict. Successful and motivated employees want to be involved and informed, not provoked, but the staff is not to be left recognized to continue to do what has always been done; in the new structure, independence in the organization may be seen as a necessity. Employees who are to be involved in restructuring must be given safety; they should be given liberty in research and know that if they fail to reach a given aim, they will not be penalized. Employees’ security, not complacency, is needed to improve job satisfaction and motivation.

Thomas (2002) in the work Intrinsic Motivation at Work: Building Energy and Commitment underline that hob motivation and job satisfaction do not come from a fixed framework outside a current of change in organizations. Safety for employees will grow when they know they have the independence to discover and to reach for something better. One practice should be addressed by instructive managers of job performance. Today, every effort in organizations, especially those efforts marked as innovative, must be efficient and generate positive outcomes that can be shown to capitulate major differences by a statistical test. Researchers and managers may have placed an impractical or even misdirected set of needs on efforts by harboring needs that will be attained by important differences. Not all restructuring methods will be successful. Employees should know they are permitted the comfort of failure if there is a truthful effort to achieve, employees have been considered and protected, and an example is understood in the experiment. Managers should be willing to learn from failures. Failures can provide a great learning experience for job motivators and job performers.

The researchers agree that managers, or those who would foster change, must address the issue of quality. Effective managers have agreed that employees should have high expectations held up at work. The same thing has been suggested regarding top management. Employees must be challenged and expected to reach high levels of achievement. Employees and customers expect a quality product, whether that product comes from manufacturers or from service companies. While it seems at times to be a pastime for persons or special interest organizations to point accusing fingers at various aims, companies not being the least of such aimd, accusation contests are not much of an answer. Quality, by whatever standard and in whatever field, is preferred, and in the area of provision, it is important. In most instances, service managers undertake hob motivation and job performance in an effort to achieve quality. If quality becomes predictable and associated with a high service level, the service organization will survive and thrive. If quality, in the eyes of the buyers, is missing in the companies of the nation, a sure and definite shift to change public companies with “something of value” will surface. Managers must be dedicated to improving quality and job motivation in their organizations. Planning and the management of job motivation and job satisfaction are interrelated processes that can be employed to foster changes in the service enterprise.

Management of Job Satisfaction and Job Motivation

Baker (20040 underlines that the management of job satisfaction is perhaps the most complex, hard, and difficult task for managers who would foster new strategies in organizations. Policies to improve employees’ performance are precious only if they can be introduced; in many situations, job motivations are implied–some minor and nonthreatening needs and some that encompass major behavioral changes in what employees do and how they do it. Some motivation needs to reach the very core of the value systems and traditions embedded in the organization. In such cases, new strategies for job satisfaction do not come easily. Only those managers who are real leaders of the motivation process and who demonstrate skills in the area of employee considerations, as well as a thorough understanding of how motivation is achieved, can be expected to have a measurathe ble impact on organization. It will do managers little good, and it will not serve the employees and subordinates of the organization, to make major pronouncements of managerial or structural changes in the workplace if those transformations have not reached into the behavior of managers in ways that can control what is learned and how it is learned. Explanations for job motivation, on the other hand, fail to notice the lifeless intentions underlying organizational policies and structural characteristics that influence actions and results. Employees may reject to explore the original need of strategies, an activity which would demand examining the aim of and motivation for designing structures in a specific manner. One’s perso,nal principles as well as organizatio,nal traditions affect the nature of one’s relations, and one’s approach to disagreement is, therefore, considerably influenced by past needs with others within and outside the organization. Personal principles, whether promoted by the organizational management or not, are personally generated. They are an important part of the employee. Behind organizational policy and structure lie unconscious personal aims rooted in earlier intrapersonal and interpersonal disagreement of key employees. This unconsciously sustained self-protective structure comprises internalized interpersonal affairs that pressure the image of social organizations and the aims and motives underlying employees’ often absurd actions within organizations. These are the disagreements employees carry with them into the organization and the conflicts they reenact in the facilitative culture of the organization. Such reenactments occur at the interpersonal, and group levels of organizational action and are triggered by conditions within and outside the organization and its membership.

Serving communication, job motivation and job satisfaction assist employees in adapting to routine. For instance, Roy ( 1960) observes in “Banana Time: Job Satisfaction and Informal Interaction” that job motivation and job satisfaction is a language for sharing feelings about relationships at work and coping with boredom. Roy found that one group of service managers actually produced a set of principles and procedures that structured the workday and helped them cope with potential differences and pressure. These events were “ritualized” by one worker’s stealing the sandwich of another to signify the start of an interlude. This would occur every day at nearly the same time–what Roy called “sandwich time.” Elaborating on Roy’s comments, Kahn ( 1989) argues, “The communicating function of humor works partly by acknowledging the existence of various issues without pointing directly at them” (50). For the service managers, it was “the beast” of monotony. This might be described as discussing that which is undiscussable by not really discussing it: in other words, mediation cloaked in jest in which the manager may decide the intent of the message for himself or herself (cited Fulton and Maddock 1999). In sum, job motivation and job satisfaction originate in the parent-infant relationship.

Following Reed (2001) states that for employees to distinguish that attempt will in fact result in successful performance, they must understand they either have the ability or can easily get it. Providing readily available support, or leadership, makes employees feel they can easily acquire the required skills and professional knowledge. Employees know that when they run into difficulties because of a low job motivation or lack of knowledge, they have ready access to a resource that can resolve the skills shortage. Available help allows employees to understand that the lacking ability is not a “block” to successful job performance. Managers should let subordinates know that one of their major tasks as supervisors is to give help when it is really required. Possibly too often managers make themselves engaged either by not being around or by giving the feeling subordinates should not “bother” them with the skills shortage. If managers cannot make themselves accessible, guide employees or workers long on experience, or recognized expertise, can be assigned the duty of providing help to other employees when needed. New directions should help the new employee become quickly involved in the organization’s structure and culture. New persons should be introduced to other employees and should be given a chance to get to know those with whom they must work and communicate in executing regular tasks. Proper integration into the organization allows employees to feel they can get tasks done relatively easily through other employees. All people need the ability to solve conflict and improve hob performance. Decision-making skill is the talent to identify, describe, and resolve difficulties. One with this ability has an inquisitive mind, aptitude to reason, and a desire to search for truth. These workers know how to examine and analyze a situation and to detect sources of problems. This skill also involves a talent–the ability to create new approaches and to get multiple methods of attacking a problem. Many managers have learned how easy it is to manage people routinely and interpret them as friends. The same fact applies when leaders become friends with their subordinates. The person is much more likely to listen to a leader who is a friend, to accept strategies from such a leader, and to be motivated because of the friendship.

Medin (1997) underlines that organizations dominated by modes of interpersonal experiences are defensive social systems able to provide successful job performance and job motivation. Relational separateness and individuality are provoking and foster envy among organizational employees. Managerial control of subordinate actions and interactions is of paramount factor. If organizational boundaries are very rigid, poorly managed, and insufficiently open and inflexible, it can lead to poor job motivation and lack of satisfaction. Managers are jealous, mistrustful, and inaccessible. Power relationships provoke low job motivation and insecurity. Information is suspended. Job motivation is concentrated at the top. In such organizations, duty and responsibility are disturbed and often vague. Mistakes and errors are concealed. The ability to communicate negative tasks and conquer suspicious barriers to correcting errors and solving troubles is crucial to organizational restructuring and growth. In so doing, employees reinforce, if not acquire, aptitude. In the psychodynamic approach to job satisfaction and job motivation, managers and employees are required to increase and practice communication and interpersonal relations that enable them to tackle their problems about lack of satisfaction. The mode of experience supports a level of intimacy necessary to solving difficult organizational problems among organizational members.

Summary of Literature Review

While investigating prior research in this area, the data illustrated the need to establish stronger evidence of the correlation between the variables of job motivation, job satisfaction, and job performance. In the current study, the relationship between job motivation and job performance will be reexamined, as well as the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance. The literature shows a need for greater clarity regarding the relationship between job motivation and job performance – an attempt will be made to more clearly quantify these relationships. The writer believes that using the umbrella term of job motivation, operationalized through Ray’s motivation scale, will help to combine many of the variables that influence job motivation. The literature shows some conflicting evidence regarding the magnitude of the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance. Again, the writer hopes to clarify this relationship.

Finally, multiple correlations will be devised to see how both job motivation and job satisfaction collectively affect job performance, which will be a novel approach to this problem.

Demonstrating a strong correlation among the three factors may provide information to managers about how they can create a better environment for employers, employees, and consumers. The effectiveness of a correlation approach to this type of research has been demonstrated in the previous studies mentioned and will also be utilized in the current study. Understanding the interrelatedness of job motivation, job satisfaction, and job performance will help fill a gap in the knowledge base in this area and can have significant implications for bank managers. Establishing that these variables operate collectively can provide a basis for more effective management techniques through increasing levels of job satisfaction and job motivation.


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