Work can be described as tasks performed by an employee with the expectations of compensation from employer. In every workplace, employees need to have positive attitude and motivation in order to work effectively. Generally, employees who are motivated tend to complete their work accurately and promptly with minimal or no supervision from employer. Motivation can be described as a force that drives one’s love for a job to an extent that he/she may work without necessarily demanding reward for completed work. There are two types of motivation, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves a situation where an individual is influenced by personal interest towards a specific task or career, regardless of whether his/her performance is rewarded or not (Gagne & Deci, 2005). Importantly, intrinsic motivation is a natural ability that has significant influence on cognitive, social and physical change or growth in a person such that, the tends to have a higher chance of working hard in order to boost his/her skills. This in turn raises capability level of such an employee, thus making him/her to be productive and prosperous in whatever he/she does (Gagne & Deci, 2005)
Extrinsic motivation involves a situation where a person’s drive to work is influenced by reward, outcome or results of certain work. For instance, if one is promised a large amount of money after completing a certain task, he/she tends to do the best and complete such a task on time. This means that the person is controlled or mentally driven by materialistic or external factors (Gagne & Deci, 2005).
These two types of motivation are used to distinguish different things that cause a certain drive in people. According to some studies, all employees have different goals and satisfaction levels in relation to their work (Aamodt, 2009). For instance, some people work in order to gain fame, some work to earn income, while others simply love the feeling of accomplishing their goals. All these different factors have contributed to the formation of motivation theories covering all different personal obligations.
Case Study on Lydia
A case study was performed on a 58 years old Lydia, who had worked with Norman Electronics for more than 12 years. She was a highly valued and productive assistant, thus prompting the company to give her promotion and post her to accounting office. However, her motivation deteriorated soon after her promotion, with her performance at work nose-diving considerably.
What work motivation theory best describes Lydia?
According to research, a theory that best describes her instinct behavior towards her first career is drive theory. This theory states that all living things are born with certain psychological necessities that drive them to work until they get satisfaction; if needs are not satisfied, the outcome would be negative (O’Neil & Drillings, 2012). We can also classify her in the intrinsic motivation group.
As seen in Lydia’s case study, she completed all her work on time, and with utmost accuracy. At times, she was even seen covering extra or overtime hours just to complete her work accordingly. This motivation to work was driven by the number of people who depended on her. She greatly appreciated the feeling of being important, taking into consideration the influence of people on her motivation. From these facts, one would deduce that, job attitude exhibited by Lydia had significant influence on her performance (Riketta, 2008).
How could Lydia’s age and finance have affected her work?
Although she was financially stable and had very few financial obligations to take care of, she still followed her drive and always got to work on time. We could also claim that her motivational drive came from the love of her work. Additionally, her age and loneliness could also have contributed to the love she had for her work. Indeed, she had the feeling that she was highly appreciated in the company and that many people depended or relied on her. As the number of people increased, she realized that she needed to put more effort in her work in order to make them happy and satisfied.
However, when she was promoted to a higher level where she was only in charge of five individuals and was given less work, her drive took a downward trend. This was attributed to the fact that she was a social person who derived her motivation from interacting with people and solving their problems; the declining number of dependants reduced her drive to work. In her accounting role, she did not feel as important as before, thus lowering her performance level. Therefore, she ended up getting bored by her new career, which also affected her willingness and strength to face challenges.
What tests could be used to evaluate Lydia’s satisfaction and attitude
Tests that could be used to evaluate her satisfaction and attitude in her new position include the Job Characteristics Model (JCM). This is used to show that each type of work can be defined using five characteristics, including skill variety, task identity, task importance, autonomy, and task feedback (Na-Nan & Pukkeeree, 2013). These characteristics are used to explain a person’s psychology regarding personal work and outcome preferences. This is mainly done by a test or calculation of motivation potential score (MPS), which is determined using the following formula:
The results can be used to show Lydia’s attitude towards her new job, including what can be done to improve or motivate her (Na-Nan & Pukkeeree, 2013).
Emotions or attitude that may have influenced Lydia
Emotions can greatly impact one’s personality, perception, physical health, and motivation (Thompson & Phua, 2012). When analyzing Lydia’s first position, we realize that she had positive emotions and attitude towards her work. This is seen through her high performance, daily attendance and punctuality, and her interaction with other employees. Her judgment and means of handling stressful situations were also of high quality and very effective. On the other hand, when she changed responsibilities, her work performance also changed due to changes in emotional connection that she placed on the job.
It is worth noting that change in attitude is the highest and most reliable factor that can lead to good or poor work from an individual (Aamodt, 2009). This only proves that her view towards her new position was negative and this affected her physically and mentally. Here, she is seen coming to work late, falling sick often and occasionally exhibiting physical signs of exhaustion and tension. This poor working ethics and behavior led to deterioration of performance in accounting department, which produced poor results that negatively affected employees, employer, and business in general. If her employer could have taken the opportunity of consulting her before shifting her to a different department, he/she could have understood her motivation techniques and saved the business a great deal of time and efforts that were eventually wasted.
In conclusion, motivation is the main factor that causes a person to either succeed or fail. Each person has his or her own level of likes, dislikes and motivation. If one’s ability is discovered and nurtured during childhood years, it will eliminate or prevent any chances of failure later in life. It can help a person in achieving most, if not all, of his or her goals and ensure a happy and stress-free life. In Lydia’s case, if her free-will to choose what she wanted to do had not been denied, she could have retired from the company a happy person with good results. There would never have been a crisis in her work, given the fact that she always loved what she did. This creates a good moral lesson to all employers that, they should always try to understand behaviors and attitudes of their employees, including what motivates them in order to initiate changes that focus on sustaining satisfaction in the workplace. It is also evident that good work does not come only from one’s capability, but also from motivation and attitude factors. Nevertheless, motivation is a natural form of adaptation that cannot be forced on anyone.
Aamodt, M. (2009). Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Belmont, CA, USA: Cengage Learning.
Gagne, M., & Deci, E. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(1), 331–362.
Na-Nan, K., & Pukkeeree, P. (2013). Influence of Job Characteristics and Job Satisfaction Effect Work Adjustment for Entering Labor Market of New Graduates in Thailand. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(2), 95-104.
O’Neil, H., & Drillings, M. (2012). Motivation: Theory and Research. NY, USA: Routledge.
Riketta, M. (2008). The causal relation between job attitudes and performance: A meta-analysis of panel studies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(2), 472–481.
Thompson, E., & Phua, F. (2012). A Brief Index of Affective Job Satisfaction. Group & Organization Management, 37(3), 275–307.