Friday, October 1, 2010

Motivational Theories

  Behavioral scientists have coined the term motivational theory to define the way humans move. There is an internal force that gets us to move and puts direction in our movements. Motivational theory explains why humans do certain things and how their behavior is started. It is a highly important concept to study. Within motivational theory, there are two sub categories: content theory and process theory.
 In the content theory, there are internal things that get each of us to move. It may be different things that energize us but we all have the same desires and needs. It is these core desires that sustain us. A scientist named Abraham Maslow created a theory based on a hierarchy of human needs. In his theory, there are five basic needs each of us has to have in order to live and function. The bottom level of basic needs is physiological. For example- sleep, eating and water. The next level up are safety needs. Examples of these are- security of body, employment, money and health. The third level is love and belonging such as- family, relationships, and friendship. The fourth level is the need for esteem such as- confidence, self-esteem and respect. The top level is self-actualization. Examples of this are- creativity, solving problems and lack of prejudices. In this theory, as we move our way up the pyramid to the top, we are able to do more and are more motivated. When we are in the self-actualization level, we can reach our full potential. We desire to do more and become more. But in order to get to this level we need to master the prior levels first.
 The other type of motivation theory is called process theory. This kind of theory helps us understand how our thoughts motivate our behavior. Setting goals and reaching those goals are key points in this study. This theory feels that all people are motivated to accomplish the goals they have set. But those goals have to be specific. This study also describes the need for reinforcement, which encourages us to follow through with goals. They have studied how you can control behavior when they have manipulated the consequences. We can easily tap into that motivation if we have defined goals and have positive reinforcement.
 Motivational theory is relevant in today’s business world. Companies need to understand these basic needs and help employees reach higher on Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid.  When employees’ basic needs like a comfortable home and money are met, they are getting closer to the top need of self-actualization. When they are on top, they will be more confident and will strive to be better employees and be their best self. It will benefit both the company and employees as they work together on this goal.  It is something many companies are starting to recognize and they are quickly seeing the benefits.

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