Human Resource Management and Motivation Theory
A problem of workforce motivation is tantamount to a problem of organizational functionality. Indeed, the economic and operational process of any organization are of little to no value in the hands of personnel who lack the personal drive to achieve high levels of quality or productivity. As the Human Resources Management Director for a firm suffering from just such a condition, it has fallen upon me to identify some ways that we can begin to improve motivation within the organization.
The recommendations offered here are designed to address structural and conceptual issues within the organization which have prevented it from properly moving its employees to participate at a high level. In attempting to improve workforce motivation, it is first necessary to identify some core aspects of motivational theory within the context of the achievement of organizational goals. Indeed, the attainment of such a condition requires a sensible balance between managerial commitment to the strategic interests of a business and to the human interests of its everyday operation.
Research and experiential evidence will tend to demonstrate that there is a symbiotic relationship between these aspects of organizational orientation which suggests that effective strategy must inherently consider the implications of the experience of the personnel who will implement business strategies. Therefore, we enter into this discussion under the assumptive basis that an organization’s performance success will be inherently based on the performance effectiveness of its personnel.
In relation, organizational management must therefore be devoted in a large part to the eliciting of motivation and performance effectiveness in personnel. As the HRM from the firm in question, I have considered at the initiation of this process such varied measures as the reconsideration of the factors which are typically used to evaluate organizational performance, the setting of benchmarks for employee performance, the consideration of metrics for assessment of employee and team performances and the overall shift from financial models of management to employee-centered strategies.
These are, importantly, all ways of motivating the employee which rely on the improvement of the visibility of performance expectations. I would argue that the greater the clarity applied to an individuals understanding of his or role in an organization, the less likely that this organizational member will suffer frustration, confusion or other obfuscating workplace experiences. Motivation theory also offers us something of a blueprint for improving levels of operational efficiency in ways that will ultimately encourage grater workplace productivity.
To this end, much of our strategy regarding employee performance management centers on the changing nature of business today, within which companies “must continually improve their performance by reducing costs, innovating products and processes, and improving quality, productivity, and speed to market. ” (Becker, 770) It is with this in mind that I have undertaken the duties of HRM, recognizing that the lackluster performance and related motivation obstacles at the firm are directly related to a failure on the part of the firm to remain in tune with progressive changes in the industry.
Therefore, by considering the primary aspects of operation as a function of employee performance, organizational management can direct its attention to evolving its operational capacity through personnel. As much of this discussion centers on how changes in the personnel scheme can have the effect of strengthening the correlation between employee performance and overall organizational performance, an important example comes to us from the twin histories of industrial development and the discourse on its psychological effects.
An example can be seen in Bethlehem Steel, the 19th and early 20th magnate of industrial development. Here, a highly regarded organizational theorist named Frederick Winslow Thomas began to observe the values in distributing labor according to performance indicators as a means to improving overall business functionality. In its embryonic stages, Scientific Management Theory began to show in Taylor’s principled reconsideration of labor division.
By beginning to designate tasks according to the individual strengths of laborers, by equipping the right laborers with the optimal supplies, by motivating workers with financial incentives relating to individual efficiency and by providing all workers and tasks with explicit guidelines to be induced during labor training periods, Taylor forever changed the face of industrial labor.
(Papesh, 2) Certainly, today, businesses are often too complex or segmented, their industries too competitive and diversified, to be understood simply in terms of financial balance or the achievement of strictly external market benchmarks. Traditional markers of company success, or of the success of individual performers in a company, have been understood in terms of the proportion between what an employee or department earns and what it costs.
(Marchington et al, 81) However, it is increasingly apparent that such strictly quantitative perspectives tend to cast too modest a net in attempting to wrangle an understanding of true performance values. More problematic than that is the threat that when reducing employees to quantified investment properties, it may often become difficult to effectively measure the qualitative value of individual or group performances. In this case, a failure to recognize the abstract, indirect or uncredited efforts of an effective employee may create a motivational backlash.
This will, in turn, diminish the firm’s access to a quality performance by a formerly effective if unfairly overlooked part of the team. This is why I have implemented a process of data gathering which will seek to measure performance success according to versatile and evenhanded metrics, specifically trying to best determine that which inclines employee commitment. In consideration of this subject, our reading leads to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which are reinforced by the commonly high priorities present in our discussion here.
Specifically, Maslow cites such conditions as the need for self-actualization, for socialization and for personal security all as having a direct bearing on the ways people will tend to prioritize when making major life decisions such as where and how to work. Here, the text demonstrate “the assumption that motivation comes from within and cannot be imposed. ” (Herbig et al, 563) This is something that we find is true from one culture to the next and, indeed, which will be crucial to our strategic reorientation in the face of operational and personnel challenges.
When properly understood, many organizations are today recognizing, performance values will be measured by a wide array of factors, but will be primarily dependent upon the management of personnel performances individually and in team contexts. To this extent, an organization such as ours must genuinely consider with an importance of equal or greater consequence such factors as customer satisfaction, process efficiency and innovation when coming to an understanding of personnel performance realities.
Drawing correlative relevance between these factors and observable performance traits will help to improve an empirical understanding of the relationship between performance and larger organizational indicators such as those relating to the marketplace or the organization’s practical structure. Additionally, these factors will supplement our organization’s understanding of financial figures, helping to better interpret the meaning of otherwise potentially misleading or untimely numbers.
(Rodrigue et al, 1) This is to say that we can ultimately make personnel decisions which are more ably informed, and which will therefore allow us to produce process changes concordant with the apparent needs of employees. Still, it is important to appeal to more traditional methods of motivational appeal as well. Though they cannot alone improve motivation and performance, economic incentives do play a vital part in meeting the interests of organizational personnel.
A crucial and preemptive approach to ensuring that project contributors are meeting performance expectations is to provide in advance all such contributors with benchmarks of achievement and, simultaneously, to provide them with distinctive offers of financial incentive, organizational advancement, more prominent stakeholding or some other level of recognition of performance achievement. This way, individuals are made aware of concrete and easily definable responsibilities and the positive prospects associated with effective or exceptional performance of these responsibilities.
“The importance of establishing baseline measures” is both instrumental to maintaining a gauge for performance quality and to ensuring that project contributors know how to read and respond to this gauge. (TSG, 1) Ultimately, clarity, fairness and a sense that they are a part of an effective and positive organization will promote motivation in our employees, which will help to improve productivity. Significant policy changes will be needed to accomplish these goals.
Becker, Brian & Barry Gerhart. (1996).The Impact of Human Resource Management on Organizational Performance: Progress and Prospect. The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, p. 779-801. Herbig, Paul & Alain Genestre. (1997). International Motivational Differences. Texas A&M International University: Department of Management and Marketing. Marchington, Mick & Adrian Wilkinson. (2005). Chapter 3: High Commitment HRM and Performance. Human Resource Management, p. 79-98. Online at http://www. cipd. co. uk/NR/rdonlyres/E3E9E634-ED62-4F0D-9089-B331BB116742/0/1843980622sc. pdf>. Papesh, Mary Ellen.
(1987) Frederick Winslow Taylor: Business Biography. University of St. Francis. Online at http://www. stfrancis. edu/ba/ghkickul/stuwebs/bbios/biograph/fwtaylor. htm Rodrigue, Rodney; Claudia Follet; Harvey B. Powell & Peter Weymouth. (2006). System and method to improve operational status indication and performance based outcomes. Time Wise Solutions, LLC. Online at <http://www. freepatentsonline. com/20060259338. html>. Tasmanian State Government (TSG). (2006). Evaluation. Project Management Guidelines. Online at <http://www. projectmanagement. tas. gov. au/guidelines/pm6_11. shtml>