Does motivating employees lead to successful people management?

Published: 2019/12/04 Number of words: 2546

1.0 Research Topic
Motivating employees for greater work performance and productivity has gained increased importance as a measure of successful people management. Mullins (1985) stressed that in order to enhance the work of an organisation, director and managers should focus on the motivational level of its employees. Dingley (1986) said “Motivation is important – even crucial – to any economic (or non-economic) organisation for one simple reason, because the source of all wealth and value is human labour”. Herron and Sapiens(1992) observed that motivation plays an important part in the creation of a new organisation as there is no other resource but people and what they invest through their labour. Motivation is one of the means by which workers attempt to affect the way in which they work. Therefore it can be seen as a strategic tool used in managing performance in order to attain the purposes of the organisation.

The writer has chosen this subject to study for its importance as explained above. In addition, he believes the motivation of police employees has a very important role in the security field, particularly as the police work is one of the most dangerous occupations where staff are exposed to risk in society. As a staff member, the researcher takes a special interest in employees’ motivation to work for Dubai Police Force. He has observed the motivation of employees to be crucial to the success of a quickly changing workplace as it assists organisations to develop through greater productivity, thereby bringing improved results.

2.0 Research Aim
This paper will endeavour to explain the differing theories of motivation and find out if there is a relationship between motivating employees and increased work performance and productivity in the Dubai Police Force. It draws on a number of writings by academics and industrialists, some of them well-known including Herzberg, Maslow and Vroom. It will critically discuss these theories and how they relate to job satisfaction, and whether any of them are relevant to the DPF. It will also suggest ways of improving job satisfaction where there might be problems among the workforce.

The following are the objectives of the research:

  1. To conduct a comprehensive literature review about motivating employees for increased work performance and productivity.
  2. To carry out field surveys on motivating employees at DPF using a structured questionnaire administered to employees at all levels
  3. To analyse the data collected and examine a relationship between motivating employees and increased work performance and productivity
  4. To make specific recommendations for DPF

3.0 Theories of Motivation
There is no single definition of motivation but Arnold, Cooper & Robertson (1998)
identified three components:

  1. direction: what a person is trying to do
  2. effort: how hard a person is trying
  3. persistence: how long a person continues trying

One of the most useful general approaches to motivation was developed by Professor Abraham Maslow (1954) in the United States. Maslow identified five types of need which he rated on an ascending scale shown in figure.1

Figure 1

Physiological needs are the most basic for survival, including food, drink, sex and shelter. Our safety and security needs range from protection from threats for the environment, to stability, order and predictability in our lives. Social needs include the desire to belong to a group, to gain colleagues’ acceptance and to give and receive love and affection. Self-esteem and reputation refers to our need to build up personal worth through recognition, respect and self-confidence based on our achievements.
Self-actualisation or fulfilment concerns our need to develop our full potential, to be creative, and to feel we are contributing something worthwhile.

This theory is significant for absence of money as a motivating force to improve performance. Once an employee is earning what they believe to be reasonable pay, they will start to look for other things like job interest and satisfaction, social respect and self-development. Trying to invent complex, expensive and unwieldy reward schemes will not make much difference. The real issues might be boredom, desire for responsibility or dissatisfaction with work conditions. (Glass 1991)

The assumption of theorists such as Likert (1961) who focus on the intrinsic content of jobs is that we can gain a lot of satisfaction from the job itself, provided that it is our job i.e. we have some degree of freedom in determining what the job is and how we will do it. This approach would say that involvement or participation will in general tend to increase motivation, provided that it is genuine.

4,0 Motivational Determinants on Effective Job Performance
In order for an organisation to achieve higher performance and productivity, certain conditions have to be in place. Vroom (1964) identified five determinants which might influence performance in a job: supervision; the work group; job content; reward; and promotional opportunities. A sixth, influence in decision-making, has also found to be important in improving productivity.

4.1 Supervision
Among the qualities required of a supervisor to ensure good performance, there is consideration for their subordinates. The more ‘considerate’, ‘supportive’ or ’employee-orientated’ the supervisor, the greater the extent to which their subordinates will strive to do their jobs well. Davis (1962 p130) declared that ’employee-oriented supervisors tend to get better productivity, motivation and worker satisfaction. Likert (1959b p190) concluded that the supervisor who obtains the highest productivity is ‘supportive, friendly and helpful rather than hostile.’ Evidence for the positive relationship between consideration shown by supervisors and increased productivity was found by Katz, Moccoby & Morse (1950) among supervisors in a life assurance company who were ’employee centred’ rather than ‘production-centred’. Clearly, if higher ranking officers in the DPF have little respect for their subordinates, productivity will suffer owing to decreased motivation.

4.2 Group Norms Regarding Performance
There can exist in any organisation unwritten norms about what is expected in terms of performance independent of what management may desire or impose. Roethlisberger and Dickson (1939) found in experiments at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in the USA that the workers had a network of personal relations which had been developed through a particular way of working together which not only satisfied the wishes of its members but also worked in harmony with the aims of management. Production continued to increase in a way that was independent of experimental changes made by management in physical conditions of work. Thus senior management of the DPF needs to be aware of the cliques who organise work in their own way which may be very different from what may be directed from the top.

4.3 Job Content
To increase motivation and thereby performance and productivity, an organisation must tackle the way that jobs are structured and their content. There are a number of ways of doing this including job rotation where individuals move around different jobs in an organisation, and acting up to a post of increased responsibility. However, the most productive way is job enrichment where there is:

  • Horizontal Expansion: where more activities are included such as giving, in the case of a police officer, more responsibility for the questioning of suspects of a crime, or the writing of reports on incidents.
  • Vertical Expansion: where activities of planning and controlling work are devolved to the person who will do the job. This might involve giving a police constable the task of planning shifts for his colleagues.

4.4 Rewards
The American psychologist Frederick Herzberg and his colleagues Mausner and Snyderman, (1968) proposed a simpler ‘two-factor’ theory of motivation. They divided the features of any job into ‘hygiene factors’ and ‘motivators’, the former including items such as pay, working conditions, supervision, company policy and status. Motivators were achievement, recognition, responsibility and personal growth. They argued that hygiene factors could only either be dissatisfiers or neutral to motivation i.e. if a worker were content with them, he/she would not be dissatisfied, but in themselves they would be unable to motivate. The motivators, on the other hand could increase motivation and performance, and emphasise the need for management to address aspirations for responsibility, growth and independence, without which they will not realise the full potential of their workforce.

4.5 Promotional Opportunities
March and Simon (1958) claimed that organisations in which promotion is contingent on performance will be more productive than those that promote on the basis of family relationships or the old school tie. Georgepoulos, Mahoney & Jones (1957) found that in a study of 600 workers in a household appliance factory a higher proportion of ‘higher producers’ thought that low productivity would hurt their chances of promotion than those who stated that productivity was irrelevant to promotion. Thus the route to promotion in the DPF need to be clear and attainable by all, otherwise individuals will feel excluded.

4.6 Influence in Decision-making
Participation in decision-making by subordinates results not only in greater job satisfaction but also in higher productivity (Scott 1962, Davis 1962). In an experiment among sewing machine operators at the Harwood manufacturing plant in the USA, Bavelas (reported in French 1950) showed that productivity could be increased by worker participation in the setting of production goals. The sewing machinists set a group goal for higher production and the length of time that it would take them. The result was an 18% increase in production that was maintained over 2 months. Thus if all decision-making in the DPF is autocratic and top-down, individuals will feel that they are just cogs in the machine without any power of influence.

Handy (1993) focused on getting tasks clearly defined: their nature, the criteria for effectiveness, their salience and the clarity of the task. Task allocation should follow a structured approach, while idea formulation needs a more supportive style. Standards need to be specified, the urgency with which results are required and tasks need be unambiguous.

5.0 Techniques to Improve Performance and Productivity

5.1 Understanding Self-Image
A manager makes a mistake if he or she attributes their own goals to their staff who may have quite different self-images and motivations. Any attempt to challenge or threaten a person’s self-image will usually be met with hostility and resistance. Try to get in a frame of mind where ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ (not ‘I’m OK, you’re not OK’ for example) where people are optimistic, relate well to others and assume a positive attitude to their life and work. (Glass 1991)

5.2 Buying into the Psychological Contract
The manager needs to buy into the psychological or informal contract in order to motivate their staff. This contract is much broader in scope than the formal employment contract. It covers those tasks that lie outside the formal contract and which make the operation of the workplace go smoother i.e. doing those small duties which show how well you fit in and wish to make your colleagues feel at home. It may also allow freedom with criticism or ideas, to respect age and seniority or to bring new thoughts and methods.

It also covers our expectations to have interesting work. If the organisation can go some way towards satisfying these needs, the more innovative and productive its people are likely to be. (Glass 1991). To do so may be a demanding challenge for the DPF.

5.3 Setting up Quality Circles and Semi-Autonomous Working Groups
Employee satisfaction and contribution can be increased through quality circles and semi-autonomous work groups. The former involves a senior officer meeting regularly with his subordinates to consider ways their work can be improved. The targets are not just quality but also efficiency, cost-cutting and productivity. The philosophy behind such groups is normally that by making continuous small improvements you will make larger improvements in the long-term. Another benefit is that the worker gains some control over his environment and some participation in decision-making. (see 3.6 above)

Semi-autonomous working groups can be formed by grouping a series of related tasks and giving a group an element of organising their own work. This gives people some freedom and responsibility and also satisfies their need to belong to a cohesive group (Handy 1993). However, in a hierarchical structure like a police force where a command and control culture is necessary in order to react quickly to urgent incidents, there may be little scope for self-organisation of work, except perhaps in the administrative areas.

6.0 Conclusions
Motivation is a complex matter: there are many theories about what makes people more productive and high performing, but none which applies to all workplaces. However, creating an atmosphere of trust of the employee, conducive to the creation self-managed jobs where decision-making is in the hands of the job holder will have a considerable impact on production and performance. It is in this area that the Dubai Police Force would be best directing its attentions to deal with motivational issues.

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