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Workplace Motivation Paper

“Motivation refers to the individual forces that account for the direction, level, and persistence of a person’s effort expanded at work” Schermerhorn, Jr., Hunt, Osborn, 00, p. 147). Within this definition there are three key words that are easily misinterpreted by managers direction, level, and persistence. Direction refers to an individual’s choice when presented with a number of possible alternatives. Level refers to the amount of effort a person puts forth. Persistence refers to the length of time a person sticks with a given action. Once managers fully understand the meaning of motivation they can begin to apply it in the workplace. But, first managers must determine which category of motivation is best. There are three categories that the theories of motivation fall in reinforcement, content, and process. Reinforcement theories emphasize the linkage between individual behavior and some specific outcomes to show how managers can alter the direction, level, or persistence of individual actions. Content theories profile different needs that may motivate individual behavior. Basically, content theories focus on the physiological or psychological deficiencies that we feel a compulsion to reduce or eliminate. Process theories focus on the thought or cognitive processes that take place within the minds of people and that influence their behavior. After managers have determined the category of motivation theories he or she wishes to implement, he or she can then decided which theory within that category is best.

Of the three categories, the content theories category is the best choice because its primary focus is on individual needs. The theories within this category suggest that the manager’s job is to create a work environment that responds positively to individual needs. Four of the better known content theories are Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory, Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and David McClelland’s acquired needs theory. Without going into a lot of detail, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory offers a pyramid of physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. Alderfer’s ERG theory is based on Maslow’s hierarchy theory except it collapses the five needs categories into three. The three categories of the ERG theory are existence, relatedness, and growth needs. Herzberg’s two-factor theory (also known as the motivator-hygiene theory) identifies job context as the source as the source of job dissatisfaction and job content as the source of job satisfaction. McClelland’s acquired needs theory proposes that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences.

Clear View Company

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A middle-aged woman manages one of the Customer Service departments within Clear View Company. She tends to be a hands-on manager, meaning; she likes having direct contact with each of the four employees in the department. Each of the four employees has high regards for the manager because she takes into account each individual’s needs. By doing this, she is able to apply the appropriate theory of motivation in order to improve each employee’s job performance. The department is comprised of two men and three women, one of who is the manager; all of them work together to achieve the common goal of maintaining the Customer Service processes within Clear View.

It has become priority for the Customer Service department to be more efficient in the issuing Customer Service reports. Essentially, the Customer Serviceor’s Office has to improve on the timeliness of finalizing the Customer Service reports. Thus, the employees within the department job performance must be improved in order to increase the timeliness of issuing these reports. Therefore, the manager of the department is making every attempt possible to motivate the employees with the hope that their job performance will improve. The manager has determined that each employee responds differently to each motivation strategy.

The first of the four employees is a woman in her mid-fifties. She is considered to be a part of society’s middle class. She has been a Clear View Companyemployee for twenty years. She has been diagnosed with cancer and has a lot of outside stresses that may be affecting her job performance. She tends to complain about any type of changes that might affect the department whether good or bad. Her motivation right now is just to make to her retirement date. Her personal motivation is based on Alderfer’s ERG theory because her higher order of needs can no longer be satisfied thus her lower order of needs has been activated so that she can be satisfied.

The second employee is a single male in his early-twenties. He has been employed at Clear View Companyfor two and a half years. He is also motivated by Alderfer’s ERG theory because he relates to the three categories of the theory existence, relatedness, and growth. He relates to these three categories because of his desire for material well-being, for satisfying interpersonal relationships, and for continued personal growth and development. Therefore, he is not resistant to change within the workplace because in the end he will benefit from the growth process.

The third employee is a woman in her early-thirties. She has been employed with Clear View Companyfor ten years. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory motivates her because her physiological, safety, and social needs have to be satisfied before her self-esteem and self-actualization needs are satisfied. Thus, she is somewhat resistant to the need for improvement. This is because the need for improvement is not a priority but she needs the job to satisfy her security (safety) needs therefore, she will make the necessary changes to improve her performance.

The fourth employee is a married man in his late-thirties. He has been employed with Clear View Companyfor over fifteen years in various departments. He was recently demoted from his manager position in another department to a regular position within the Customer Service department. He is motivated by McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory because of his need for achievement, affiliation, and power to move back up the corporate ladder. Therefore, he does not resist any suggestions that would improve his job performance.

Out of the six employees, one of them responds to McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory, two of them respond to Alderfer’s ERG theory, and the other responds to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. The manager of the department tries to motivate each employee according to the theory that he or she responds too. Thus, she allows for the employees to provide her with feedback and suggestions as to how he or she prefers to be motivated.

Management’s Motivation Philosophy

Even though each of the four employees respond to different theories of motivation they all respond more positively to McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory when utilized by the manager. The manger of the department understands by applying McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory will assist her in achieving the goal of the department.

The three individual needs that have to be identified by the manager are need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power. The need for achievement is the desire to do something better or more efficiently, to solve problems, or to master complex tasks. The need for affiliation is the desire to establish and maintain friendly and warm relations with others. The need for power is the desire to control others, to influence their behavior, or to be responsible for others (Schermerhorn, Jr., Hunt, and Osborn, 00, p. 157).

For each of the four employees, the manager of the department identifies that each of them have a need for achievement. This need is easy to identify because all of the employees seek to excel within Clear View. Each employee also has the need for regular feedback in order to monitor his or her own achievements. Most of all, each employee shares the common goal of solving complex tasks that is why they work for Clear View Company where solving complex tasks is an everyday job.

The manager of the Customer Service department also identified that each of the four employees has a need for affiliation. There are only four employees in the Customer Service department including the manager, because this is a small group, each employees has a need for affiliation. They have the need for harmonious relationships with other people. Moreover, they have the need to feel accepted by other people. Each employee feels in order to achieve their common goal they should have warm relationships between them.

Lastly, the manager of the Customer Service department identified that each employee has the need for power. However, each employee’s need for power varies. Some of the employees have a need for personal power to direct others. This need is apparent in the employees who want to move up the corporate ladder. Other employees have a need for institutional power. Institutional power is based on employees wanting to organize the efforts of others to further the goals of the department as a whole.


“The challenge of motivating employees has long been recognized as an integral part of managing” (Williams, 00). Motivation plays an exceedingly important role towards excellence. Therefore, motivating employees to perform to the best of their ability is seen as one of the manager’s primary tasks. Thus, the manager of the Customer Service department has determined in order to achieve the desired result of motivating the employees she will utilize McClelland’s acquired needs theory. By motivating the employees, the manager is able to get the best of each employee’s production ability. Meaning, each of the employee’s productivity level will be conducive of how he or she is motivated.

With McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory, managers have the ability to teach employees how to develop certain needs. The manager of the Customer Service department understands that motivation can give employees a sense of responsibility in carrying out routine tasks. By utilizing McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory, the manager of the Customer Service department is able to improver her employees job performance. McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory proposes that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences. This is the reason why this is the best theory of motivation for Clear View Company.

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