Managing Individual Behavior

Motivation

Within any organizational setting, job performance and employee satisfaction are of utmost importance to employees to remain happy and deliver their best. According to Redmond and Bower (2016), satisfied employees are loyal towards their organization and committed to achieving organizational goals. As Bauer, Erdogan, and Short (n.d) further note, job performance and employees’ satisfaction are based on major predictors that determine whether people will perform well or not. Among these predictors, motivation is a major force that acts on or within a person to arouse voluntary effort, to offer direction, and persistence towards attaining pre-determined goals. Consistently, and using Kolb’s experiential learning theory, we elaborate on the acquisition of abstract concepts about motivation and attempt to apply them in a range of situation. We preview a specific situation where I was extremely motivated focusing on facts that triggered the motivation. The drawing upon Kolb learning styles model, we focus on the reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation of motivation alongside motivational concepts, theories, and processes to give a comprehensive overview of the learning experience. 

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Concrete Experience

One of the essential things to the military experience is the ability to work as a team. Almost every military exercise is performed with the collaboration and assistance of other people in that particular unit. Majority of the military personnel often serve as team leaders and are responsible for giving directions, coordinating, motivating members to follow their lead, and ensuring the goals set forth have been accomplished. As a leader, overseeing the electricians and power personnel, my responsibilities are varied from joining hands with the teams to giving directives to individual members, to accomplish the operations of this particular unit. Among the several experiences I have had in the military, some of the most motivating and rewarding experience has been collaborating with members of my team to accomplish the various projects assigned to us. More specifically, there was this particular time when I was assigned a team of 40 military personnel, where we were working on a project that took us a whole year. Being in a management position, I was responsible for all the directives and decision-making. I was also expected to give monthly reports about the progress of our project. For the most part, the members were responsible, and they respected me for being concerned about their welfare. By far, the most enjoyable part that motivated me the most was being able to coordinate and work together as a team to accomplish the project within the stipulated time. For me, this was a unique experience that I enjoyed the most. 

Reflective Observation

Virtually, motivation can be broadly used to describe forces acting on or within a person that cause voluntary effort and human behavior activation. According to Barnet (2015), major content theories of motivation focus on internal factors that energize and trigger human behavior.  On the other hand, process theories focus on the conscious human decisions processes to explain motivation. Unfortunately, despite the magnitude of theories attempting to explain motivation, there is no single theory or unification in theories of motivations, which reflects the complexity of understanding motivation. Nonetheless, while it is hard to explain motivation, Bauer, Erdogan, and Short note that, several variables are associated with motivation. Reflecting on the experience, personally, the experience was highly motivating.  Ideally, while having a positive attitude when collaborating with employees was a contributing factor, the togetherness exhibited by the members and their dedication was one of the most rewarding experiences. Working together is an element that is critically important to the military, but seeing the members dedicated and appreciating my role was unexpected. Looking at the experience from the perspective of others, I saw the joy exhibited by my team whenever we made a small milestone towards the completion of the project. Their dedication to the project was evidence that they were greatly motivated by working together as a team and enjoyed celebrating their small wins with their colleagues.

Abstract Conceptualization

Research on motivation is based on a broad rubric of theories, classified into two major categories; the major content theories and the process theories. Virtually, the major content theories include the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Alderfer’s ERG, which is an extension of Maslow’s theory, the motivator-hygiene theory, and the McClelland’s learned needs theory. The process theories include the expectancy theory, equity theory, reinforcement, and the goal-setting theory. Other theories used to explain motivation is the Locke and Latham’s, which is the theory of goal setting and performance. Drawing upon the experience and consistent with the motivational theory, the most appropriate theories to expound on the experience include the Maslow’s theory of motivation, the goal-setting process theory, and Locke and Latham’s theory. Virtually, the theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that individual needs are in a hierarchy form and include psychological security, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs (Barnet, 2015). Similar to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, the Alderfer’s ERG theory is categorized into three individual needs. The theory posits that an individual has three types of needs, which include existence, relatedness, and growth. On the other hand, the theory of goal setting implies that goals are the most important factors that trigger motivation and behavior of employees (“Locke’s goal-setting theory: Setting meaningful, challenging goals,” 2015). The theory by Locke and Latham emphasizes the importance of having specific and challenging goals to awaken motivation in human beings. Based on the concepts and theories, some of the behavior patterns that I can identify myself in include the desire to belong, to be respected by others, and the achievement of one’s potential as outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Alderfer’s ERG theory. The other behavior patterns that my team and I can identify with include the element of personal and team goal setting. Virtually, belongingness relates to the desire to be accepted within a particular group and esteem needs are associated with gaining respect for oneself and others. Self-actualization corresponds to exercising and achieving one’s potential. In practice, working together as a team and having the members accept and respect me as their team leader motivated me to work harder and collaborate with them for the accomplishment of the project. The theory of goal-setting posits that setting goals is a critically important factor that determines the behavior and motivation of employees. Challenging goals may be difficult but not impossible to achieve. Empirical studies indicate that specific and challenging goals are more motivational as employees strive to achieve them and prove they are capable. Consistently, having clear-cut goals about the project and the employees’ roles largely contributed to their motivation as they struggled to achieve the pre-set goals of the project. Looking back, some of the general principles of motivation I can derive from this experience include the importance of clarity, challenge, commitment, understanding employee needs, and the virtue of great leadership. 

Active Experimentation

Employees demonstrate a wide variety of positive and negative attitudes at work. Motivating employees may not be an easy task, but it is not hard to accomplish. As a leader, the theories of motivation provide a solid foundation for me as a team leader and a manager overseeing the electricians and power production personnel. I intend to use the knowledge acquired to lead my team and create an environment that stimulates motivation by observing the five principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

As a military officer responsible for electricians and power production personnel, my main duty involves ensuring the teams complete projects assigned to them on time and efficiently. Job performance is also critically important for the department and the overall military force. Understand how to trigger both personal and employee motivations are critical to enhancing job performance and job satisfaction among employees for increased productivity. The theories also offer a conceptual framework to understand various ways in which employees’ motivation can be activated.

References

“Locke’s goal-setting theory: Setting meaningful, challenging goals.” (2015). MindTools: Essential Skills for an Excellent Career. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_87.htm  

Barnet, T. (2015). Motivation and motivation theory In Reference for Business: Encyclopedia of Business(2nd ed.) Retrieved fromhttp://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Mar-No/Motivation-and-Motivation-Theory.html

Bauer, T., Erdogan, B., Short, J., and Carpenter, M. (n.d). MGT501 Principles of Management, Ch. 3:  Personality, Attitudes, and Work Behaviors. Flat world.  Retrieved from http://scholar.flatworldknowledge.com/books/29741/fwk-127512-ch02/read

Redmond, B.F. & Bower, C.P. (2016). Job satisfaction. In Work Attitudes and Job Motivation. Retrieved from https://wikispaces.psu.edu/display/PSYCH484/11.+Job+Satisfaction

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