What is motivation in business?


Why do people work? Why do some strive for the highest attainments while others are content with mediocrity?

Such questions are central to Management. There are no simple rules for stimulating employees to greater effort. Motivation comes from motives which are expression of human needs by a human being. All human actions are caused by a particular need or motive. The need can be defined as lack of something. Human beings try to get this lackness removed. Various persons have defined motivation in their own words, like.

“Motivation means a process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals.”


“Motivation refers to the way in which urges, desires, aspirations, strivings and needs direct control or explain the behaviour of human beings”.

—D.E. Mc Farland

“Motivation is a general term applied to the entire class of—drives, desires, needs, wishes, and similar forces—when it is said that managers motivate their subordinates. It means that they do those things which they think will satisfy these drives and desires and induce the subordinates to act in a desired manner. On the analysis of these definitions, we can derive the following features:

  1. Motivation is a personal and integral or complete feeling,
  2. Motivation is a dynamic and continuous process.
  3. Motivation causes goal directed behaviour.
  4. Motivation is the product of anticipated values from an action and the probability that the action will lead to these values.

The anticipated value is called ‘Valence’. It is defined as the strength of a person’s preference for one outcome in relation to others.

Process of Motivation

Motives are the ‘whys’ of behaviour. They are the mainspring of action. They are also called as needs, wants or impulses within the Individual. It means something within an individual that prompts that person to take action. Motivation can be viewed as involving a chain reaction—starting out with felt needs, resulting in wants or goals sought for, which give rise to tensions (that is) unfulfilled desires then causing action towards achieving goals, and finally satisfying wants. We can show it as below:—

  • Needs 
  • Wants or goals 
  • Tensions 
  • Actions toward achievement of goals
  • Satisfaction of wants

Importance of Motivation

Motivation is one of the most important factors determining the organisational efficiency. Asound system of motivation is desirable for more than one reasons—

1. Motivation plays an important role in determining the level of performance.

2. High motivation results in low employees’ turnover and absenteeism.

3. Effective motivation helps overcome resistence to change and negative attitude on the part of employees.

So, no manager can function if he can’t inspire his subordinates to give their best to the organisation. Every manager is responsible for motivating his immediate subordinates.

Principles of Motivation

1. Principle of Participation—Participation involves consultation with subordinates in matters relating to their jobs. Participation brings loyalty on the part of employees. They feel that they are working for their own organisation.

2. Principle of Communication—Communication helps employees understand the complications of motivational system. Motivation to accomplish results tends to increase as people are informed about matters affecting those results.

3. Principle of Delegated Authority—Motivation to accomplish results tend to increase as people are given authority to make decisions affecting those results. In this process, people develop sense of belongingness, this leads to more efficiency.

Techniques of Motivation

Some of the common techniques of motivation used by managers to motivate subordinates are as follows:—

1. Financial Incentives—These are a source of satisfaction of both the basic needs and growth needs. These are however, ineffective where basic needs are reasonably satisfied. Pay, bonus, profit sharing etc. are common financial incentives.

2. Non-Financial Incentives—Money alone is not sufficient to satisfy the higher order needs. A man is not motivated by money alone. He can also be encouraged by factors other than

money e.g. the job, supervision, status, participation, recognition, etc.

Sound Motivation System

Since there cannot be a single source of motivation, management should devise a system of motivation within the framework permitted by the enterprise. The following guidelines are useful in developing such a system.

1. A system of motivation should fully integrate human-needs and is consistent with people’s motives.

2. A system should be based upon proper selection and orientation of people on the organisation.

3. It should also be productive and motivate people to work more efficiently and according to best of their abilities and skill.

4. A system of motivation should be flexible in the sense that it should be changed in the light of changes in environment.

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