There are people out there in the workforce that believe they are obligated to do their best at their job simply because that is what is expected from all of us as humans. On the other hand, there are those out there that want to only do as much as they can get away with doing. No matter which one of these employees you are or are working with companies and employer’s need to understand the concept of motivation.
Motivation comes in many forms such as money, benefits, or simple recognition within. Motivation also leads to higher productivity and profit and that is what we are all looking for in business. The key to unlocking peak performance from your work force is the concept of human motivation. In addition, the key to motivation revolves around one fundamental principle: “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). We have all been socialized to believe that only “selfish” people consider “What’s in store for me.” When in reality all people are motivated first by self-interest. The word selfish is used as a negative label for someone’s perceived behavior. Understanding the concept of self-interest is perhaps the only way we will understand our need to achieve.
Self-interest or feeling good about your self is a fundamental ingredient of motivation. When you work an extra hour, not on the clock, you are doing it for one real reason. It makes you feel good to either get the job done well or to help someone else. In the end you might get some sort of recognition in the company but usually you will not stay an hour extra today to get a gold star in two weeks from now. Dr. Gerald Kushel, has stated in his book “Reaching the Peak Performance Zone”; there are several variables involved in motivation. Among them are intensity, durability, context and value (reward). Motivation intensity has a big part in how hard someone will work for his or her reward. If an employer offers a reward that does not mean a lot to the employee then they will not work for it. Intensity has to do with how strongly the person wants the reward (Opportunities in Human Resource Management Careers, Traynor and McKenzie). A person can be highly motivated, mildly motivated or only slightly motivated. The person answers the question “What’s in it for me?” with “Something I want very much,” the performer is considered highly motivated. If the answer is “I can take it or leave it,” that performer is considered only slightly motivated. Durability has to do with how long lasting the motivation is (duration) (Managing Human Resources, Sherman, Bohlander, Snell). Motivation tends to last longer when it is reinforced intermittently rather the consistently. Some how, intermittent rewards are stronger. A person can come to expect the reward rather than see it as a treat, which it is supposed to be. Psychologists have believed this for years. Perhaps it has to do with the uncertainty or the surprise factor of the stimulus. We tend to take for granted and not appreciate the thing that has become routine. There is a certain excitement factor and something we cannot take for granted or assume.
We have learned that the intensity and duration of a given motivator are enhanced if the reward is immediately given following the act of behavior (Managing Human Resources, Sherman, Bohlander, Snell). This immediate reinforcement leaves no confusion in the mind of the performer, as to what the reward is for. For example if you tell an employee, “If you finish this stack of paper work and type this letter for me I will treat you to lunch.” If you choose to tell this person “I owe you one.” and do not give them their reward until the following week, they might have already forgotten what it was for. In turn, when you ask for another favor and promise a reward your employee will be less motivated to do it.
What might ordinarily be perceived as a reward to one person it might be a punishment to another. You must custom fit a reward system to your employees and jobs to get the ultimate performance from you reward system.