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Importance of Motivation

Until modern times there has been little interest in motivation of people in a work environment. From the beginning of the industrial revolution until the end of World War II there was some compelling reason for people to work and work hard.

Industrial Revolution

In the beginning of the industrial revolution people moved to the cities to find work that would give them a better standard of living than the farm work that was available to them. Thus there were many people available for all jobs. If someone did not want to work the hours required under the conditions given, someone else was happy to take the job immediately.

After the rise of unions, the lot of workers improved. In the beginning of the twentieth century, the First World War brought industrial expansion and more jobs, but the patriotic motivation brought even more workers to the workplace.

Scientific Management

The concept of scientific management was implemented by Henry Ford and Fredrick Taylor. In this concept the problem of motivation was essentially ignored. A person was considered to be like a machine. If a person was defective and could not perform the work required, the person was simply replaced with another person who would do the work. The idea behind the assembly line is to have short repetitive jobs for people to do. This results in a rapid slide down the learning curve. If a person has to be replaced, another can quickly learn the job and become productive.

Learning Curve Theory. The concept of the learning curve is quite simple. If people do a job repeatedly, each time they double the number of times they repeat the job, the time to do the work is reduced by a constant percentage.

Figure 5-4 shows a 70 percent improvement learning curve. This means that when the number of times the job is done is doubled, the cost is reduced to 70 percent. If the first time the job is done the cost is $1,000, the second time the cost will be $700. The fourth time the job is done the cost will be $490, and so on. It should be noted that this is similar to the law of diminishing returns in that, for every doubling of repetitions, the amount of reduction is less and less.

Depression Era

In the 1930s the Depression once again caused more people to look for jobs than there were jobs for them. Again, people who did not like the work conditions simply were replaced. When people are trying to satisfy their basic needs, they will work under harsh conditions.

World War II

World War II brought about the patriotic reaction to work. The war engendered prosperity for those who were not in the armed services. The war effort involved total mobilization of industry to defeat the Axis countries. This in itself created a sense of motivation sufficient for people to work their best.

Figure 5-4. Learning curve.

70% Improvement Learning Curve

Figure 5-4. Learning curve.


Number of Units

Post-World War II

Postwar prosperity created a new challenge in terms of motivating workers. For the first time in history the basic needs of U.S. citizens were essentially satisfied. There were enough jobs so that people were generally not afraid of starving or having enough money to buy clothing and supply other basic needs.

The problem was that in this prosperity it was difficult to get people to perform the way that they had during the war. This resulted in high levels of absenteeism, poor performance, and a general lack of motivation to do good work.

Companies recognized this problem and began to spend money to try to find solutions to the problem. For this reason much research was done on the problem of motivation, and a great body of knowledge was accumulated.

Research in the area of motivation is money well spent. Motivated employees come to work every day and produce high quality work. Employees who are not motivated have high absenteeism, produce lower quality work, and actually work a smaller percentage of the time. Millions of dollars could be saved by reducing absenteeism by only 10 percent.

Motivational Ideas

Because we have a limited amount of space available we will look at only a few of the most popular and widely accepted ideas on motivation.

Procedures vs. Motivation

We begin with the theory of scientific management, the idea that efficiency and better use of human resources result if clear and specific procedures are used. The idea behind this is that when people know exactly what they are supposed to do and exactly when they are supposed to do it, they will be satisfied with their jobs, be more motivated, and become more efficient. Studies conducted in this area indicated that the creation of procedures improved performance where nothing else was done to improve the performance of employees. The studies also showed that doing things that were motivational to employees improved performance and efficiency still more.

Typical of these studies is the graph shown in Figure 5-5, which simplifies a number of these studies. A large number of companies were studied. Each company was assessed for the amount of effort that was made to do things that were considered to be motivational. At the same time an assessment was made of the actual performance of the company. Performance was measured by looking at measurable criteria such as employee turnover, dissatisfaction, quality of output, and so on.

In companies that did little to proceduralize their work and did little to motivate their employees, the expected performance was low. In companies where an effort was made to improve procedures but little was done to improve the motivation of the employees, the performance of the company was considerably higher.

In companies where an effort was made to improve motivation but little was done

Figure 5-5. Policy/procedure and motivational effects on productivity.

Figure 5-5. Policy/procedure and motivational effects on productivity.

M—Quality of motivation P—Policy/procedure to improve the procedures, the performance of the company was considerably higher as well. Not only that, but the performance of these companies was considerably higher than that of the companies that had expended considerable effort creating procedures.

The highest performance was in companies that did both. A certain amount of proceduralization in combination with the creation of a motivational environment created the highest performing organizations.

Expectancy Theory

Expectancy theory focuses on people's ideas about their jobs and their surroundings. It focuses on the idea that people will do a certain thing in order to receive some sort of positive outcome. In other words, people will do good work because they see some sort of reward happening as a direct result. Of course, the difficulty with this is that if people have an expectancy that some outcome will result when they behave in a certain way and then it does not happen, there are problems.

Expectancy theory is a simple concept. It says that if you can create an expectancy in a person, the expectancy may indeed become fact. If a person is told that he or she is a poor performer and is no good at doing a job, the person will eventually become no good at doing the job and become a bad performer. If on the other hand a person is told that he or she is a high performer and does good work, the person may indeed become a good worker and a high performer.

Typical of the studies that were done at this time were studies that were conducted in elementary schools. In these studies the researchers administered an intelligence-measuring test at each school. Without looking at the results of the intelligence tests they randomly selected a small group of students in each class. The teachers and the parents were told that these students exhibited a high capability to learn and perform well in school.

After a period of time the researchers returned to the schools and administered another intelligence-measuring test. The results of this second test indicated that the students who had been randomly selected to be in the advanced capability group had improved their grades considerably. The only reason for this improvement was the expressed attitude of the teachers, parents, and peers toward the advanced students.

In practice, in project management, this concept can be applied by treating people with encouragement, giving them a sense of recognition and achievement, and giving praise publicly and criticism privately.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory

The concept of a hierarchy of needs was developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 (Figure 5-6). Like other concepts, this one is relatively simple. The basic human needs are arranged in a hierarchy. The lower needs must be satisfied before the higher needs can be addressed.

Figure 5-6. Maslow's hierarchy.



In Maslow's hierarchy, the lowest level—the needs for food, shelter, and clothing— must be relatively satisfied before effort will be made to satisfy the higher needs of safety and security. Someone who is lacking sufficient amounts of food, shelter, and clothing will be highly motivated to obtain them. Once a satisfactory level is obtained for these things, there is a reduced motivation to satisfy them. As one level of needs in the hierarchy is satisfied, the next level becomes the motivating factor, and so on.

According to this concept, people are always in some sort of a ''needs'' state. This needs state goes to higher, loftier needs as the lower needs are met, but it can also be driven down to the more basic needs if they are reduced.

Several survival biographies and histories of groups have been written over the years about people's reactions to hardship and dire situations. Typically in these stories the group starts out as an agreeable and mutually cooperative group with some goal in mind. As the hardships increase, the motivation moves from satisfying self-esteem to satisfying the need for socialization to the more basic needs. As the lower levels of needs become unsatisfied the individual's motivation becomes more basic and more self-serving. In World War II prison camps, these basic needs became so motivating that people performed acts that they would never have performed under normal circumstances.

The dynamic order of needs from lower to higher is to first satisfy the need for food, shelter, and clothing. These are the basic physiological needs of the individual. Once this has been accomplished or at least relatively well satisfied, the need for safety and security becomes the motivating factor. In satisfying this need the individual's immediate need for the basics has been satisfied, and the individual seeks out the protection of these satisfying factors. A person satisfies his or her need for housing and then wants to ensure that the housing is secure far into the future.

The need for socialization is next. Once the security of basic needs has been satisfied, the person is motivated by the need to have social contact or love. In terms of the workplace, a motivating atmosphere would be one where the individual is made to feel welcome and liked by his or her coworkers. Once a person feels accepted and has a satisfactory amount of love and acceptance, he or she can be motivated by the need for self-esteem.

The top of the hierarchy of needs is self-actualization. This need is satisfied by having the feeling that what you are doing is good for its own sake, and it is not necessary to have the recognition of a peer or even a manager. The person's own self-interest is enough to motivate.

In the 1970s many companies tried to implement this method of motivation. It was felt that the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, security, and safety were already satisfied and that employee motivation could be achieved by increasing workers' ability to socialize. Companies attempted to make their employees ''one big happy family.'' Generally, this was attempted by building golf courses and country clubs and encouraging company sponsored after-hours activities. In general, these programs failed. People's need for socialization was already satisfied, and giving them more of these things did not motivate them further. One side effect of this kind of program was that when these things were later withdrawn there was a great deal of dissatisfaction, and employees became de-motivated.

Hertzberg's Motivation/Hygiene Theory

When it became apparent that there were some problems with Maslow's explanation of motivation, the research continued. In fact, the research was continued by Maslow and his team. One of the team members was Fredrick Hertzberg, who developed the motivation/hygiene theory.

The research behind this theory was based on the need to explain some research where groups of executives and other professionals were interviewed to determine the things that made them feel good or not good about their work. The concept is that if there are things that make you feel good about working, then these things should also be the things that motivate you.

The factors that are linked with people having a good time when they are working are called ''motivators'' or ''satisfiers.'' These were identified as a sense of achievement and a sense of recognition for things done, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, growth, and so on.

The factors that were linked with people having a bad time at work were called ''dissatisfiers'' or ''hygiene factors.'' These factors included things like company policies, relationships with supervisors, salary, relationships with peers, personal factors, status, security, and others. These items were considered to be environmental in nature, and their loss seemed to be associated with bad feelings. Bad feelings were de-motivating. People did not like to do their job when it caused them to feel bad.

To summarize Hertzberg's conclusions, when hygiene factors are maintained, dissatisfaction is avoided. When the hygiene factors are not maintained, dissatisfaction occurs and motivation cannot happen. An unhappy person will not respond to things that make a happy person more motivated. Not only that, but if the same thing is given to people after they have reached their point of no dissatisfaction they would not improve performance. The cost for these types of programs, however, would increase.

''Motivators'' were the factors that allowed people to become motivated. By becoming motivated they developed a will to get things done. This was much stronger than the feelings they had about their work when they were merely dissatisfied. Motivators must be given to improve productivity once the point of no dissatisfaction is reached. The motivating factors are recognition and a feeling of satisfaction and an increase in a person's self esteem.

The organization must carefully maintain the hygiene factors by having a good personnel policy and good leadership practices. To motivate people a feeling of achievement and recognition for work done must be created. People must feel responsibility for their work and feel empowered to do it. This is of course what the principles behind the human factors in project management are all about.

Supervisory Style and Delegation

All of these theories seem to indicate that the most motivational methods that can be used will center on high maintenance of the hygiene factors that Hertzberg uses in his explanation. Companies must have good and fair pay policies, good supervision and leadership, and all of the other environmental factors that make an employee workplace an environment conducive to doing good work. Without these things the employees will probably not work to their fullest potential.

Work can be designed so that it improves a person's sense of achievement and recognition. People need to be responsible for the work that they do and have the tools and means at their disposal to complete the work. Employees should feel that they participate in the process of work assignment.

Job and Work Design

Many large organizations in the past simply expected employees to perform the job for which they were paid. The employees' happiness was of little concern. The concept was that people were there to do work for the company, and they could be happy on their own time. The attitude seemed to be, ''Here is a meaningless repetitive job. In return for doing it we will give you money and other rewards. You have to spend eight hours a day here doing this work that you do not like so that you can ultimately have time to yourself and money to spend.''

Under this system employees became very unhappy and resented the company. This was evident in an aggressive attitude toward the organization or apathy or lack of interest in the company at all. The results of this attitude were evident in conflict between company representatives and employees. Managers came to think that the employees did not care about the company and its success or failure, and the employees did not think that the company cared about their well-being.

For these reasons it is necessary for job design to take place. The purpose of job design is to change these attitudes toward work. Job design is particularly important to the project manager, because a project environment is often uncertain and insecure for the project team, and the proper design of the job of the project team is therefore important to the success of the project team and the project.

Job Enlargement. Job enlargement is done by simply making the job larger. Going back to the ideas of Henry Ford and Fredrick Taylor, the idea of the assembly-line job was to have the job as short as possible to minimize training and maximize interchange-ability of people on the job. The objective was to be able to keep the assembly line going even though changes in the workers and other problems might occur.

In an assembly line the work is broken down into very small units, and each person does a small amount of the total work required. For example, in a new Saab automobile plant in Sweden, the Saab engineers estimated that a subassembly of the engine could be manufactured in 12.6 minutes using assembly-line techniques. The engineers also determined that a single person, working by himself or herself, could make the same subassembly in 30 minutes. On the assembly line the job of each of the workers was only 1.8 minutes each. By enlarging the job the size of the job went from 1.8 minutes to 30 minutes.

Although the total effort spent to manufacture the subassembly was larger, Saab felt that the total life cycle cost of assembling the engine was lower. This was due to a much higher motivation, lack of boredom, and a feeling of accomplishing something meaningful. The workers felt good about their job and were much more motivated. This resulted in lower levels of waste and rework due to poorly assembled engine subassem-blies. The cost of defects in the engine subassemblies was quite high if the defect caused serious damage to other parts or if the engine ultimately failed in the field.

All of the other costs of unmotivated employees also served to offset the additional time of assembly. Disruptions due to worker absenteeism, tardiness, poor attitude, and so on served additionally to offset the total cost of the assembly.

One problem with job enlargement is that in enlarging the job it is possible to take a small meaningless job and make it into a large meaningless job. It would not be particularly motivating for an assembly-line worker who is responsible for tightening four screws if his or her job was enlarged to tightening sixteen screws.

Job Enrichment. Job enlargement was improved by the concept of job enrichment. The crucial difference was that job enrichment programs not only enlarged the job to make it more meaningful to the worker but also changed the nature of the job itself to make it more motivating.

The major difference between an enlarged job and an enriched one is that the enriched job includes a planning and control task as well as the operating task. Previously, the planning and control of work was done by someone else, and the operational part of the work was the only part that was delegated.

An example of job enrichment is the operation of an automotive maintenance facility. Without job enrichment the mechanic is given assignments from the manager. When each assignment is completed the mechanic goes on to the next assignment. The manager does all of the planning and scheduling work. The manager does the entire interface with the customer. With job enrichment, the mechanic is required to talk to the customer and determine what problems need to be addressed in agreement with the customer. The mechanic might actually be required to schedule the work and promise the customer when the work will be completed.

Another important characteristic of job enrichment is that the information flows from the persons furnishing the input information directly to the persons needing the information. This is different from the traditional nonenriched job where most information is first sent to the supervisor and then retransmitted to those in need of the information. In this way a relationship is formed between the person doing the work and the person benefiting from the work being done.

In job enrichment there are four motivational effects that occur:

1. Lack of boredom

2. Feeling that the work is meaningful

3. Feeling of being responsible for the consequences of what work is done and how it is done

4. Feeling of competence in accomplishing the task

In project management, job enrichment is fundamental to the management of the project. Each of the persons on the project team as well as the stakeholders of the project are encouraged to make their own individual plans for the work that they do. In fact, the work that each individual associated with the project does is discovered and self-assigned in the course of the planning and execution of the project. People working on projects should design their own tasks, plan them, estimate the cost and time necessary to do them, and provide feedback to the stakeholder needing the work to be done.

Quality Circles. Quality circles are ad hoc organizations within the company and the project team. They are a volunteer group of people who have mutually agreed to address some sort of problem. They can be composed of anyone in the organization desiring to address the problem, and membership must be voluntary.

Quality circles must be supported by the company organization but not managed by it. Facilities, support, and time to meet and work on issues that the quality circle is addressing must be given to them.

Let us say, for example, that there is a problem with a high number of defects in the paint of an automotive fender. A group of volunteers can form a quality circle to address the problem. The group might consist of assembly workers, inspectors, quality assurance engineers, paint engineers, and so on. The company assigns a facilitator to assist the quality circle in achieving its goal.

The quality circle meets on company time, discusses the problem, and attempts to analyze problems and solutions. The facilitator attempts to make resources available to them and to ensure that they have access to managers who must ultimately approve their solution to the problem.

This is in keeping with the aims of job enrichment in that each person on the quality circle is there voluntarily, is responsible for the planning, execution, and feedback of what he or she does, has an interest in the results, and feels responsible for the process.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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