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Herzberg's Two Factor Motivational Theory

Essay by   •  September 29, 2011  •  Case Study  •  3,962 Words (16 Pages)  •  2,423 Views

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Motivational theories are not simply a study of human behaviour but they can act as guides for managers leading and motivating their teams. These theories try to establish people's basic drivers which trigger their behaviour[1]. There is no one theory to summarise human behaviour.

"Certainly such understanding could lead to great power since it would allow the control of behaviour without visible and unpopular trappings of control."[2]

There is however now a much better understanding of why we make certain decisions and what drives us to do these. Often these decisions are made on a subconscious level, or some may be made deliberately. Over the last few decades different theorists have made their contributions to understanding what drives us.

Motivational Theory

In the following paragraphs I will analyse Herzberg's two factor. The theory, as it implies divides our human drivers into two factors. One being a hygiene or maintenance factor, this usually entails conditions to do with work, for example company policy, salary, interpersonal relations, and the work environment. The other factor is a motivator or growth factor. These factors deal with the work itself, such as achievement, recognition, responsibility and the potential to advance within the job. Herzberg emphasises that both these variables are as important as each other.

It could be argued that this theory is simply an extension from Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory and as a consequence it is more applicable to a real work situation. Hygiene factors are Maslow's lower-level needs and the motivators are his higher level needs. Herzberg's original study was made up of a series of interviews with accountants and engineers. They were asked about occasions of when they felt good or bad in a certain job, and what they considered were the reasons for this. This indicated that good job performance led to employee satisfaction and not vice-versa. Results from the interviews were generally consistent. From these Herzberg derived his two factors, hygiene and motivators.

As already mentioned the theory has been tested on several different professions, one of them being on engineers and was proven successful. My architectural practice is of a similar work nature, where small groups of people work in teams and are therefore most commonly situated in open plan, studio like offices. Herzberg's theory is often criticised for not being applicable for unskilled, manual workers. These according to his critics share no interest in their job, it is monotonous or they feel no sense of achievement. Herzberg suggests that taking an interest in your work content is an important motivator. It brings about a sense of achievement. The relevance of this theory in today's world was proven by Phillipshank. He tested Herzberg's theory more recently in an engineering office in Canada; he concluded that the theory was still very much relevant. However salary and working condition were no longer the most important issues. Results showed that achievement was now the main satisfier and company policy was the main dissatisfier.

This makes it all the more appropriate for my office setting, as the work that is undertaken is mainly creative. The architectural profession allows for work to be unique as different projects come in. Currently the number of staff in the studios is in equilibrium with the amount of work coming in. It is a main concern in Herzberg's theory that if workers are not stretched to their potential it creates dissatisfaction. Responsibility and advancement within a job are, according to this theory, important motivational factors. Replacing any of my employees by less skilled workers would be a loss to the team and therefore effective task delegation is a critical part of a successful manager.

The following paragraphs examine different Hygiene factors and how they could be changed in my architectural practice. Hygiene factors in Herzberg's studies have not been specifically identified to motivate workers. When these factors are however administered well and to the employees satisfaction they do not result in dissatisfaction. The motivators or growth factors on the other hand have a direct effect on workers job satisfaction. Personal growth and advancement, nature of work, responsibility, recognition and sense of achievement can all have positive effects on workers.

In light of my new job it becomes apparent that these issues are very real motivators and dissatisfiers. Take for example salary; this is not likely to rise significantly about the natural rate of inflation in the near future. So this is not something I can use to increase levels of motivation in the studio.

In today's tight employment market job security is a factor that has become increasingly important. Ouchi's Z Theory is a study of the way Japanese firms function. His theory showed that loyalty to a company is valued greatly in Japan, and large bonuses are rewarded to those who show this loyalty. The senior partner informed that it is unlikely that the team will have any new recruits in the foreseeable future. This alone should provide some security. I feel that I need to approach this with some caution, as a healthy level of competition should exist between current employees in order to maximise their potential and output.

Working conditions are already of reasonable standards. The studio is a large, open plan and naturally lit room where all of the 15 workers have their own desk and working space. In our architectural practice inter-professional work is very important. Team work and communication is essential. In relation to Herzberg's theory, motivation is encouraged when every individual feels needed and feels that he or she has an important function within the office. Every member of my staff has unique skills, which previously has not been fully recognised. As a new manager I will try and exploit and recognise my member's skills. This should encourage other team members to refer to one another for advice and this finally should give every individual an identity within our studio.

A group that can work together and have good interpersonal relations will automatically result in better office morale and the group will achieve their objectives faster and better. Although I am already aware that the human relations within the studio are at good levels, in order to try and raise motivation I will introduce a team building day. This should improve their moral and my workers will see both each other and myself outside a working environment.

The previous manager was very relaxed on deadlines and the team was never



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