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Performance Management Using Expectancy Theory

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Performance Management Using Expectancy Theory

If employees are rewarded for good performance, they will experience job satisfaction and organizations will benefit from their employees' hard work. Despite its limitations (Mayes 374), Expectancy Theory can be a useful tool for managers in enhancing employee performance. Expectancy Theory, proposed by Victor Vroom of the Yale School of Management, proposes that a person will decide to behave or act in a certain way because he or she is motivated to select a specific behavior over other behaviors due to what he or she expects the result of the selected behavior will be (Oliver 244). The theory is identified by the view that behavior is purposeful, based on conscious intention and goal-directed. Managers and supervisors can make use of Expectancy Theory by determining what the employee needs and expects and then use a variety of methods to determine what specific rewards will be most valuable to each employee.

The Expectancy Theory model of motivation is a practical and powerful tool for human resource managers to demonstrate to other managers the importance of all human resource functions in creating a motivating environment. If the model is utilized and monitored in an organization, there is a strong probability that its employees will be highly motivated. Expectancy Theory is made up of three different parts: expectancy, instrumentality and valence (Seybolt, Pavett 644). Expectancy is the first element of Expectancy Theory. It emphasizes that for a person to be completely motivated, that person needs to believe that their effort will result in a desired reward. Different variables can have an effect on a person's expectancy level. These variables include the person's abilities, experiences, and the understanding of his or her supervisor's expectations (Seybolt, Pavett 645. Instrumentality is the second element in Expectancy Theory. Instrumentality is a person's belief that if he or she meets the expectations of a supervisor, then he or she will be rewarded for performance. Some variables relating to instrumentality are trust between the employee and management and how formalized reward systems are written into company policy (Seybolt, Pavett 645). Valence is the final element in Expectancy Theory. Valence is the attitude one has towards the reward he or she has about performance. Valence is not the actual level of satisfaction that an individual receives from an outcome, but rather the expected satisfaction that person receives from that particular outcome (Seybolt, Pavett 645). The value that is placed on a certain outcome depends on the individual. That value is directly related to that person's identity, what their particular needs are, and what they prefer to work toward on the job. Expectancy Theory plays a major role in explaining motivation in the workplace, specifically when assessing performance appraisal effectiveness. For an organization to achieve specific results, it must establish, monitor, and reward the behaviors it desires from its employees.

Expectancy Theory does, however, have its limitations. Expectancy Theory mainly focuses on extrinsic motivational factors such as paychecks, bonuses, and employee recognition. Some employees may not be motivated by those types of rewards. Therefore, it is important for managers to understand what their employees' desire when it comes to rewards before utilizing the expectancy theory model (Guest 268). Another weakness in Expectancy Theory is that it assumes that employees have the necessary abilities, resources and opportunities to perform well. Simply knowing what motivates an employee to perform at a desired level may not help if they do not possess the resources to complete their job functions (Guest 268). Also, it is limited because in some organizations rewards may be tied directly to a person's positions, his or her job responsibilities, and his or her education. Expectancy Theory does not take into consideration that an employee's beliefs, wants and needs might change over time. When an organization utilizing the theory understands that a person's valence belief changes, they are given the opportunity to reevaluate the effectiveness of the theory (Mitchell, Beach 236).

I find the Expectancy Theory interesting because it is a very simple and straightforward way of motivating employees. I like that it is ultimately the employees' decision on how they want to behave based on the outcomes they expect. It allows an employee to answer the questions: Can I do it? What is in it for me? And how much do I want it? Expectancy Theory helps management understand the relationship between the employee's attitudes, his or her perceptions towards the ability to achieve corporate goals, and the rewards the employees desire to achieve based on their performance. I believe that motivation is a key part of performance management because if an employee is not motivated to work then they will not want to perform to the best of their ability. Motivating employees they will enable them to achieve personal goals within the workplace, they will experience job satisfaction, and they will want to further develop other skills to improve their performance.

Motivating employees is not only important to the individual, but it is also important to the organization. The more motivated the individual is, the more motivated the team will be, resulting in a more powerful and successful business. Motivating individuals will also lead to an optimistic and challenging work environment. But not all employees desire the same rewards so it is important for management to know what motivates their individual employees because one particular reward for one person might not, in fact, be what another individual desires. By offering different rewards, employees can then determine whether that reward is worth the effort they are willing to put forth. I feel that Expectancy Theory can relate to all employees at all different levels within the organization and in all different industries. In a sales environment, the Expectancy Theory can provide the framework through which sales managers



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