Studies on motivation are the most popular in sales force motivation literature. Many authors have tried to develop theories of motivation as an explanation of human motivation.
These theories are concerned with the type of incentives or goals that salespeople strive to attain in order to be satisfied and perform well. Process theories help in understanding the underlying psychological processes that generate motivation.
The theories of motivation can be studied under the following heads:- 1. Cognitive Theories 2. Non-Cognitive Theories.
1. Cognitive theories are further divided into content theories and process theories.
Some of the content theories are:- i. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory ii. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory iii. McGregor’s Theory – Theory X and Theory Y iv.Willian Ouchi’s Theory v. McClelland Three-Need Theory vi. Alderfer’s ERG Theory.
Some of the process theories are:- i. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory ii. Porter and Lawler Expectancy Theory iii. Equity Theory.
2. Non-Cognitive Theories can be further supported by the reinforcement theory. Reinforcement Theory is further subdivided into:- i. Hull’s Drive Theory ii. Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory.
Theories of Motivation
Theories of Motivation – Cognitive Theories and Non-Cognitive Theories
Since understanding the relationship between motivation and the performance of an individual or a group in an organizational setting is important, motivation has become a study of academic and professional interests. At the same time, researchers and theorists are working towards investigating to explore reasons and rationales behind motivation and how it pushes employees to work. Moreover, the relationship between motivation and other psychological variables including job performance and job satisfaction have turned out to be important issues of scholastic investigations. So far the theoretical developments on motivation have been categorized into classes.
1. Content Theories:
Content theories focus on human needs (physical and psychological needs) and desires that compel individuals to behave in a way that mitigates their needs. What are these ‘needs’ that motivate people? These ‘needs’ form the basic features of the content theories.
i. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory:
Abraham H. Maslow, a renowned American psychologist developed a conceptual model of motivation that postulates five-level needs that are arranged in a set of hierarchy to show the importance of different needs. It believes that human needs follow a hierarchical structure where psychological needs are at the bottom and self-actualization needs are at the top of the structure. Safety, social, and esteem needs are in the middle of it.
The theory states that the lower level needs are satisfied prior to fulfilling the higher level needs. So, physiological needs are satisfied first before safety needs appear. Again safety needs are met before one feels the need of fulfilling the social needs. These continue till an individual reaches the stage of the self-actualization need level.
According to this, one higher-level need cannot be a motivating factor unless the preceding lower-level need is satisfied. Moreover, once a need is satisfied, it cannot be a motivating factor and it sparks the importance of the next order need. Therefore, it can be construed that according to the theory only unsatisfied needs act as motivators. It believes that satisfied needs cease their importance as motivating factors.
A short description of the five order needs is given below:
a. Physiological Needs:
Physiological needs are the basic or biological needs that explain the basic requirements of human life for survival and maintenance such as – food, clothes, shelter, etc.
b. Safety Needs:
Safety needs arise from the want of safety, security, and protection from dangers and uncertain environments. When people become apprehensive of their economic insecurity, fearful of own and family well-being, jittery of losing their job, etc., they feel the urge of satisfying the safety needs.
c. Social Needs:
Social needs relate to the need for love and belongingness. Humans have inherent needs to love or be loved, needs for social acceptance, and yearnings for affection and companionship.
d. Esteem Needs:
Esteem needs correspond to the need for power, achievement, respect, affiliation status, etc. Esteem needs are of two types – (a) self-esteem that includes self-respect, self-confidence, knowledge, independence, etc., and (b) esteem from others such as – reputation, recognition, etc.
e. Self-Actualization Needs:
Self-actualization implies one’s need for realizing self-potential or the desire to be self-fulfilled. It ignites an urge within oneself to become what one is capable of becoming. There is no involvement of material gain or recognition but a sense of accomplishment that emerges with the fulfilment of this need. Those who are creative such as – painters, writers, musicians, etc., are influenced by these needs.
Sales managers must understand the needs of salespeople working at various organizational levels. A salesperson working at a lower order has a need to prove his worth and has to work towards confirming his footing in the company. To him, satisfying the safety and security needs are a big challenge.
In contrast, a senior salesperson or a sales manager has a need for recognition and esteem. It is important to note that both cannot be motivated by the same means and a sales manager needs to be aware of such needs and ways to tackle them. The need hierarchy theory points towards varying needs that come across employees serving lower and higher ranks.
ii. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory:
Fredrick Herzberg (1966) developed the two-factor or dual-factor theory of motivation. According to him, various sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction are classified into two groups.
These are as follows:
a. Hygiene Factors or Dissatisfiers:
These factors include company policy and administration, technical supervision, interpersonal relationships with peers and supervisors, salary, job security, personal life, and working conditions.
b. Motivation Factors or Satisfiers:
The satisfiers include achievement, recognition, advancement, opportunity for growth, responsibility, and the work itself.
In general, dissatisfiers are linked to job context and satisfiers to job contents. Job context provides the necessary support to work in an organization. It does not give any satisfaction to the workforce but its absence definitely gives rise to dissatisfaction amongst employees.
Job contents, on the other hand, provide satisfaction to the employees as they clearly state the responsibilities that are to be fulfilled by the employees. It is seen that the absence of job contents generates dissatisfied employees who lack motivation
It is also interesting to note from the above discussion that the reason for dissatisfaction in salespeople is linked to the absence of both hygiene and motivation factors. But it is also important to keep in mind that simply with the presence of good company, policy and administration, working conditions, etc., one cannot motivate sales force unless they get achievement, recognition, etc., in return. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain hygiene factors at least at a threshold level so that these factors do not distract job motivation.
Also, it can be generalized that these motivational factors incite salespeople to put in more efforts for organizational as well as their own development. It is believed that a company needs to generate a job environment that provides both job content and context to motivate employees for best results.
McGregor, a noted psychologist, is the main proponent of theory X and theory Y of motivation in the 1960’s. Both the theories are based on certain assumptions of human behaviour. He also suggested the management’s responsibility in each situation.
Following are the main assumptions of the theory X:
a. Average people are basically lazy.
b. They dislike work and lack ambition.
c. They are indifferent to organizational goals.
d. They are mainly oriented towards meeting physiological and safety needs.
Following are the main responsibilities of theory X:
a. The management should direct, motivate, and control the behaviour of people. The management should show the threat of punishment for non-compliance with the work done.
b. The management should exercise close supervision and stricter control.
c. The management should follow an autocratic type of leadership style.
External control is needed to motivate salespeople to work on the desired path because salespeople are assumed to be somewhat immature and irresponsible. Close supervision and procreating a fearful and panicky environment can drive the employees towards their goal. High centralization of decision-making and stringent leadership style are the right prescriptions for the salespeople who always try to avoid work, if they can.
Similarly, assumptions of theory Y are as follows:
a. Average people do not dislike work.
b. They know how to apply self-direction and self-control, and show commitment towards their objectives. This is because of the reward linked with the job.
c. They do not shun job responsibility.
d. They have the capacity to show imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in their jobs.
And, responsibilities of theory Y are as follows:
a. The management exercises decentralization in decision-making and delegation of authority.
b. The management creates scope for job enrichment and finds ways to extract effective and efficient performances from the employees.
c. The management shows concern for the satisfaction of not only psychological and safety needs but also social, esteem, and self-actualization needs.
So in short, the theory assumes the salespeople to be co-operative, responsible, and hardworking. Management can take up participative leadership and delegation of authority as means to motivate the sales force. It is supposed that salespeople are capable of self-direction and self-control. The management takes steps to satisfy both the lower- (say, by money) and higher-order (say, by recognition) needs of the salespeople.
iv. William Ouchi’s Theory:
Theory Z was originally developed by William Ouchi in 1981 and was published in the book Theory Z – How American Management can meet Japanese Challenge. It is an integrated model of the Japanese and American management practices. It is also called the hybrid model of motivation. Japanese management believes in group effort, group decision-making, and social cohesion in the organization. The American management, on the other hand, emphasizes on individual freedom in decision-making.
The distinguishing features, keeping in mind both the American and Japanese management, of theory Z are presented as follows:
a. There should be trust, integrity, and openness amongst organizational participants such as – employees, management, work group, union, and supervisors.
b. Employees have a strong loyalty and interest in team work.
c. A strong bond between the employees and the organization keeps retrenchment, etc., at bay for a lifelong existence of the organization.
d. Due recognition is given to employee participation in decision-making, particularly in matters that affect them.
e. An integrated organization talks about job rotation which in turn brings interdependence of tasks and team spirit.
f. Organizational control system should be informal.
g. The leader should coordinate the efforts of the employees in order to develop common culture and to this end the leader encourages communication, debate, and analysis.
The theory focuses on mutual trust, strong cooperation, and mental bonding between salespeople and sales managers to cause successful performance.
A sales manager’s role is to coordinate the activities of salespeople. They can seek the suggestions of salespeople to manage the sales activities. This means that salespeople are given additional importance in the organization to make them more jobs involved. Their views are often listened to in decision-making. This approach definitely improves the sense of commitment and belongingness amongst salespeople within the organization. They become more emotionally involved within the organization and so perform better.
v. McClelland Three-Need Theory:
David C. McClelland, a prominent personality in the field of psychology from Harvard University used Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and identified three types of needs.
These are the following:
a. Need for achievement (n Ach).
b. Need for power (n Power).
c. Need for affiliation (n Affiliation).
Salespeople with high ‘n-ach’ show a strong drive to overcome challenges and are self-starters. This implies that they need no major external incentives to work on their jobs and achieve results. They can take moderate risks and choose activities that give them immediate and accurate feedback. To them, accomplishing a task provides more intrinsic satisfaction as they do not bother much about the material rewards. They are very open in their communications.
Salespeople with high ‘n-power’ are very influential and want to control the group. They become successful in managerial positions.
Salespeople with high ‘n-affiliation’ are hungry for social acceptance. They like to work as members of a team that is working for a common goal.
Salespeople differ in terms of achievement orientation, power drives, and social interaction potentials. Sales managers should develop motivation programmes in such a way that all these three types are benefited. High n-ach with low n-power or low n-affiliation salespeople needs to enhance their leadership qualities and group cohesion. Again, high n-power salespeople cannot succeed without flexible and empathetic minds. Similarly, high n-affiliation salespeople should enhance self-dependence and self-control.
vi. Alderfer’s ERG Theory:
Claytron Alderfer (1969) came up with this theory in line with Maslow’s need hierarchy which showed a reduction in the number of levels from five to three.
The motivation theory, that he formulated, related to the satisfaction of three needs which are as follows:
a. Existence needs (E).
b. Relatedness needs (R).
c. Growth needs (G).
The existence needs are concerned with the satisfaction of physiological and safety needs. This is tantamount to the satisfaction of the first and second level needs of Maslow’s need hierarchy. The relatedness needs put importance on the interpersonal and social relations which finds resemblance with the satisfaction of the third and fourth level needs of Maslow’s need hierarchy. The growth needs are related to the individual’s intrinsic desire for personal development. This complies with the satisfaction of the fifth level needs of the same.
Though the same logical deduction for sales force motivation can be drawn from Maslow’s need hierarchy. But, the ERG theory does not fit exactly with the framework of Maslow’s need hierarchy
The points on which Alderfer differed from Maslow views are discussed as follows:
a. ERG limited the number of need categories to three. These are existence, relatedness, and growth.
b. ERG theory did not plead that the satisfaction of lower-order needs stimulated the start of the next higher-order need.
c. ERG believed that salespeople may both move up or down the various stages of needs. It follows the frustration-regression process which states that in case an individual is unable to satisfy a certain level of need, he can either regress or move down to the next level of need.
d. They believe that more than one need may arise at the same time. As there are no clear demarcations amongst different needs, salespeople can make an effort to satisfy them at different levels simultaneously.
So, more than one level of need can motivate salespeople at the same time. Salespeople can be motivated by existence (say, money), relatedness (say, social relationship), and growth (say, a desire for personal development) needs to act in a manner that the organization wants them to at the same time. All these work in tandem to motivate sales force.
2. Process Theories:
Process theories involve how motivation acts upon people, i.e., dynamics of motivation, interplay, and interaction of different motivation stimuli. How people cook different motivational inputs is an internalized process. Needless to mention, the efforts of people to satisfy needs are goal-bound.
i. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory:
Victor Vroom (1964) hypothesized that in order for a person to be motivated towards achieving a goal, his effort, performance, and motivation must be linked. He proposes three variables to account for this, which he calls valence, expectancy, and instrumentality.
Valence refers to the strength of an individual’s preference for a particular outcome. It denotes the values or attractions of an outcome that results from efforts to the person in terms of reward. Expectancy refers to the probability of an effect that a particular action or an effort will have on the performance. Instrumentality refers to the perception of the relationship between performance and reward, and relates to the outcome of the job performance. It refers to the probability a person assigns to each performance-outcome alternative.
All the three variables, according to the theory, are linked to motivation.
Motivation = Valence (V) x Instrumentality (I) x Expectancy (E).
The theory, also, focuses on three types of relationships:
a. Effort-performance relationship – Here, expectancy variable plays the influencing role as expectancy determines the strength of belief that a particular effort or action gives rise to a performance. (This is also called the first level outcome.)
b. Performance-reward relationship – Here, instrumentality plays the influencing role. It yields perception that says that favourable performance will produce expected rewards which will satisfy needs.
c. Reward-personal goal relationship – Here, valence plays the influencing role. The valence may be positive, negative or zero. A positive valence means the person desires outcome. The negative valence means the person avoids having negative consequences such as – stress, layoffs, etc. Zero valence indicates that a person appears indifferent to the outcome.
ii. Porter and Lawler Expectancy Theory:
Porter and Lawler (1968) made an extension to the earlier expectancy model developed by Vroom. The theory infers that performance results from the effort, ability, and role perception of the individual and leads to various outcomes or rewards. Some rewards are extrinsic (e.g., salary, promotion); some are intrinsic (say, self-esteem, job satisfaction).
Effort is spent on the basis of perceived effort-reward probability and the value of the reward (valence). An individual evaluates the equity or fairness of rewards comparing against his efforts expended and performance achieved. Depending on the perception of equitable reward, satisfaction occurs. The degree of satisfaction again moderates the effort or energy that is due for the individual to spend for his performance in further tasks.
An employee always expects justice and fairness in treatment from the top management. They want their worth in performance to be rewarded justifiably. It often happens that good salespeople (obviously, on performance factor) are treated equitably with poor salespeople in salary raise, promotions or rewards which creates a great deal of frustration and disappointment for the top performers.
Salespeople with years of experience, seniority in age, knowledge, and skill are wrongly placed in the same sales positions with the new and young salespeople; it becomes an injustice on the part of the management. Ideally, the younger should never be given equal status with the older; rather the seniors should be placed in the higher ranks.
During recruitment, selection or preparation of wage and salary structure, top-level managers sit in a meeting to decide on promotion or punishment of salespeople where they always consider contributions of the employees/candidates on an individual basis. They should not overindulge a high achiever nor should they undermine his performance. When the sense of inequity comes in the salesperson’s mind, it definitely distorts his satisfaction.
iii. Equity Theory:
J. Stacy Adams (1965) was the proponent of the equity theory of motivation. Inputs and outcomes are the main variables of this theory. The theory is based on the assumption that employees are motivated by a desire to be equitably treated on inputs they invest and outcomes they receive in their workplace. These inputs are time, effort, education, special knowledge, training, experience, etc., and outcomes are pay, promotion, recognition, social relationships, personal development, etc.
An individual compares his (say person A) outcome-input ratio with the ratios of others in the organization. The following comparison can be drawn from this theory to study the extent of motivation and satisfaction of employee A.
Here, ‘A’ perceives his outcomes-inputs ratio as equitable to the others and hence feels satisfied and motivated. Inequity comes in when the ratios are not equal. If the ratio of A is significantly lower than the same of others, A will feel dissatisfied and frustrated. On the contrary, if the ratio of A is significantly higher than that of others, A would feel guilty. Therefore, the perceived equity creates motivation for an employee and the perceived inequity leads to tension within him. The degree of tension is proportionally related to the magnitude of inequity.
B. Non-Cognitive Process:
Under this theory, it is believed that the behaviour and experiences of the past are the stimulators of motivation. This can be further supported by the reinforcement theory.
B.F. Skinner, a sagacious psychologist propounded the reinforcement theory of motivation. It says that behaviour is the outcome of the past consequences. This means that people learn from their past experiences, previous knowledge, etc., and use it to rework on the behavioural disposition; so that they can control future consequences.
Similarly, salespeople learn from their mistakes that they have rendered in the past; rewards and punishments they have received and previous dealings with superiors, subordinates, and peers within the organization; and customers, distributors, competitors from external environment.
They use these earned experiences to shape their future behaviours and take decisions on how to act in a particular situation. These reinforcements may be positive or negative. Positive reinforcement (say, reward) entails repetition of behaviour and negative reinforcement (say, punishment) spurs avoidance of behaviour. They help them act accordingly in different situations and accomplish goals effectively.
Theories of Motivation – Content Theories, Process Theories and Reinforcement Theories
Studies on motivation are the most popular in sales force motivation literature. Many authors have tried to develop theories of motivation as an explanation of human motivation. These theories are classified into three broad categories, namely content, process, and reinforcement theories.
Content theories try to explain the contents of an individual’s need structure or motives. They try to determine what it is that motivates people to work. These theories are concerned with the identification of the needs and drives that salespeople have and how they prioritize the needs and drives in their life.
These theories are concerned with the type of incentives or goals that salespeople strive to attain in order to be satisfied and perform well. Process theories help in understanding the underlying psychological processes that generate motivation. Reinforcement theories explain the ways in which various types of rewards and punishments influence the level of motivation of people.
1. Content Theories:
Content theories explain the structure of the needs and motives and how the individuals prioritize these needs for achieving equilibrium between the desired state and the rewards expected out of the job. Popular theories of motivation are the need hierarchy theory of Abraham Maslow, the two-factor theory of Frederick Herzberg, Douglas McGregor’s theory of X and Y, ERG theory of Clayton Alderfer, and the Z theory of William Ouchi.
(i) Need Hierarchy Theory:
Abraham Malsow propounded this theory where he looked into the hierarchy structure of the different types of needs of an individual over a period of time. It was thought that financial needs are the most important in the need structure of the individual and it can motivate people for a long period of time, but in the subsequent years, factors such as working conditions, security and safety, and a democratic style of supervision by the sales managers were found to be stronger motivational factors than the financial rewards involved in a job.
Subsequently, higher order needs, such as recognition, self-actualization, and esteem needs, had a greater relevance in motivating employees.
Abraham Maslow’s need hierarchy theory proposes that:
1. All people possess five sets of needs.
2. These needs, namely physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs, follow a hierarchical pattern from the most fundamental or basic survival instincts to the most advanced needs of personal growth and development.
3. People are motivated to engage in behaviour that will result in the satisfaction of the lowest level of needs currency not fulfilled.
4. Once a need is satisfied, the next need in the hierarchy becomes dominant. In other words, a higher order need cannot become active unless the preceding lower order need is satisfied.
5. A satisfied need is not a motivator and an unsatisfied need activates goal-seeking behaviour.
6. Higher order needs can be satisfied in many more ways than the lower order needs.
7. People wish to move up in the hierarchy and seek growth. No individual is content with physiological needs.
These are the basic needs and they have the greatest strength among all the needs of the individual. They are the basic human needs to sustain human life such as food, water, shelter, and clothing. They are identified with the bodies and are relatively independent of each other. They must be met repeatedly within a relatively short period of time to remain fulfilled.
These needs are perceived to be finite which means that after a reasonable gratification, they are no longer demanded and are not motivators any more. The need structure for physiological needs varies across culture. Research indicates that satisfaction of physiological needs is always associated with money and financial rewards, which can buy the products and services to satisfy these needs.
The value of the factor termed as ‘money’ diminishes as one moves from lower order needs to the higher order in the hierarchy.
This is related to physical and psychological safety from external threats. These needs arise out of fear of physical danger and deprivation of the basic physiological needs. This is a need for self-preservation and is generally concerned with the future. The salespeople have a feeling of fear about whether they will be able to maintain the same level of income to protect themselves and their family and provide food and shelter to their family members.
These needs include protection from physiological danger, economic security in the form of fringe benefits, health and insurance programme, desire for an orderly and predictable environment, and the desire to know the limits of acceptable behaviour. This needs safety of both the emotional world and the physical world through protection against danger, deprivation, and the threat of extinction.
The third set of needs is called social and affiliation needs or needs for belonging, which describes the individual’s desire for company and companionship of other people. These needs for contact and interaction with peers and other members of the society are triggered once the first set of two needs is fulfilled. The individual wants to receive and give acceptance, affection, and friendship, and a mere pat helps people in the gratification of their social need.
As human beings are perceived to be social beings, they have a need to belong to and be accepted by various groups. When this need becomes dominant, a person will strive for meaningful relationships with others. These needs provide meaning to work life and individuals are not perceived to be like inert instruments.
They are treated as secondary needs as they do not threaten the existence of the human being. They are substantially infinite and are satisfied by the symbolic behaviour of psychic and social contacts.
These are growth needs and are related to a sense of self-worth and self-esteem in the society and the organization. Such needs for personal recognition become evident when the lower order needs are fulfilled. The salesperson wants to be more than just a member of the group and need self-esteem and recognition from others. Satisfaction of these needs produces feelings of self-confidence, prestige, power, and control.
When these needs are dominant, an individual may resort to disruptive or immature behaviour to satisfy the desire for attention. He may start throwing tantrums, restrict his work, go slow, and make arguments and show frustrations. These needs are rarely satisfied and satisfaction is not always reached at through mature behaviour. It is also generated by an irresponsible act. Modern sales organizations offer few opportunities for the satisfaction of these needs.
It is the desire to grow more and more, that is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. It is that need which urges individuals to optimize their potential. The best way to define the intent of this need is through the adage ‘what a man can be, he must be’. It is the desire to become what one is capable of becoming, which can be satisfied in many ways.
Once activated, it can never be fully satisfied or fulfilled. The more such types of needs are fulfilled, the stronger they become. The specific form that the self-actualization needs take varies from person to person. It is not necessarily a creative urge but it means creativeness in realizing, to the fullest, one’s own potential.
The way self-actualization is expressed can change over lifestyle and different stages of life. They motivate the individual continuously and does not end with satisfaction as they are substantially infinite. Modern life gives a limited opportunity for these needs to obtain an outlet of expression.
(ii) Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory:
Frederick Herzberg propounded this theory by grouping the motivating variables into two categories- hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are those factors that when absent in any motivational programme increase dissatisfaction with the job, and when present help in preventing dissatisfaction but do not increase satisfaction or motivation.
Motivators are factors that when absent in a job prevent both satisfaction and motivation, and when present lead to satisfaction and motivation. He had identified ten hygiene factors and six motivators that are used to explain the motivation concept in the context of the business organization.
Hygiene factors are factors that prevent dissatisfaction because their effect on the salesperson resembles the physical hygiene of the body. He found many such factors in the workplace such as money, quality of supervision, status, security, working conditions, policies and administration, and interpersonal relationships.
These factors do not motivate people but they prevent dissatisfaction. They provide no growth in the worker’s output, but they prevent loss in performance caused by the work restrictions. They try to maintain motivation at a zero level by preventing negative motivation from occurring. This is the reason for naming them as maintenance factors.
These are extrinsic elements of a job but are related to the conditions in which the salesperson has to perform the job.
Motivators are the factors that involve the feeling of achievement, personal growth, and recognition that one can experience in a sales job, which offers a challenge and scope for achievement and growth as pointed out by Herzberg. Herzberg observed that factors related to the job itself can have a positive effect on job satisfaction and result in increased performance.
They are called motivators or satisfiers, and they are identified as the work itself, recognition, advancement, the possibility of growth, responsibility, and achievements. Motivational factors, such as achievement and responsibility, are directly related to the job itself and the salesperson’s performance, recognition, and growth that are secured from it.
Motivators are job centres and are related to the job content. Maintenance factors are related to the context of the job and the environment surrounding the job.
(iii) Alderfer’s ERG Theory:
Clayton Alderfer proposed a modified need hierarchy with three levels. Salespeople are initially interested in satisfying their existence needs, which combine physiological and security factors (pay, physical working conditions, job security, and fringe benefits all address the need). Relatedness needs involve being understood and accepted by people above, below, and around the sales staff at work and away from them. Growth needs are those involved with the desire for self-esteem and self-actualization.
The ERG theory does not propose that people move up or down a hierarchy of needs as suggested by Maslow. The ERG theory argues that it is possible for more than one set of needs to be activated at the same time. The salespeople may move up or down in the three-step hierarchy of needs.
Satisfaction leads to progression, and frustration leads to increased importance of lower order needs. He suggested that a person can pursue two needs at one time. If one salesperson is continuously frustrated with his growth need, then the relatedness needs may emerge as primary and the individual may redirect his efforts towards these lower order needs.
(iv) McGregor Theory of X and Y:
According to Douglas McGregor, the traditional organization with its centralized decision making, hierarchical pyramid, and external control of work is based on certain assumptions about human nature and motivation. Theory X assumes that most people prefer to be directed, as they are not interested in assuming responsibility and want safety.
Accompanying this philosophy is the belief that people are motivated by money, fringe benefits, and threat of punishment. The theoretical assumptions that the sales manager holds about controlling its human resources determine the whole character of the sales organization. This philosophy also determines the quality of its successive generations of managers.
Theory X assumes that work is inherency distasteful to most people. Most people are not ambitious, have little desire for responsibility, and prefer to be directed. Most people have less capacity for creativity in solving sales-related organizational problems. Motivation occurs only at the physiological and safety level. Most people must be closely controlled and often coerced to achieve the sales organization’s objectives.
Theory Y assumes that work is as natural as play if the working conditions are favourable. Self-control is often indispensable in achieving the sales organization’s goals. The capacity for creativity in solving organizational problems is widely distributed in the population. Motivation occurs at the social, esteem, and self-actualization levels, as well as the physiological and security level. People can be self-directed and creative at work if properly motivated.
The result of these assumptions is that many managers are giving prime considerations to the satisfaction of physiological and safety needs. Sales managers believe that they should treat their people like children, providing low-level need satisfaction rewards if the work is done well and withholding these benefits if the work is done poorly. This is called the ‘carrot and stick principle’.
Theory Y presents a dynamic view of an individual. The individual is seen as having growth and development capacities. Since the worker has potential, the management must decide how to tap it. It assumes that people are not inherency lazy and unreliable. It proposes that people can be basically self-directed and creative at work if properly motivated.
It should be an essential task of the sales manager to tap and use the potential of the individuals. Theory Y assumes that integrating individual goals with those of the sales organization to make the job a mean through which each salesperson can enlarge his competence, self-control, and sense of accomplishment.
It permits the calculated democratization of a sales organization where an individual’s growth is encouraged and stimulated, thereby contributing to the continued growth of the sales organization. Theory X and Y are attitudes or predispositions towards people; although the best assumption for a manager to have may be theory Y, it may not be appropriate to behave consistency with these assumptions all the time.
(v) Z Theory of William Ouchi:
This theory originated from Japanese business practices because their sales managers are found to be making better use of the human capital. The rate of productivity of the average Japanese employee is found to be three times that of an American employee.
The absenteeism is low, organizational commitment is high, and the turnover rate is low for many Japanese firms. There are three basic factors that have contributed to the success of organizations in Japan, namely technology, culture, and management systems.
The management system integrates the individual and his/her life with the whole organization to produce efficient results. In a Z type of organization, great stress is laid upon the long-term employment of the employee, which contributes to enhancing the employee morale. It helps the employees to get familiar with the co-workers and the organizational working environment.
The anticipation of a long career with one organization encourages workers to become integrated into the organization. Management in turn invests money in order to develop the talent bank within the organization. Employment in such organizations is a permanent bondage of the worker with the organization.
The decision-making style in such organizations is participative. The problem at hand is given to all the employees and is put to discussion in an informal way. When everybody is familiar with the problem that the organization is facing, a formal request is made for a decision.
The final outcome may not be the reflection of agreement between the sales staff and the sales manager, but it indicates the incorporation of decision inputs from any individual or group which it is likely to affect. Punishments are more subtle and as a punishment the employees are demoted to the level below their current job for any kind of failure. It is the collective responsibility of all the members to reach the goal rather than of an individual sales manager.
2. Process Theories:
This is the second category of motivation theories that helps in understanding the underlying psychological processes that generate motivation. While the content theories explain the nature and content of an individual’s need structures, process theories describe the psychological processes involved in the formation of motivation and its direction.
(i) Equity Theories:
Equity theories explain the relationship of employee motivation with the perception and feelings of the salespeople. The motivation of salespeople is influenced by the extent to which they feel that they are being treated fairly and equitably by the organization. Equity theory is an extension of Bernard’s concept that salespeople tend to evaluate what they get from the organization and what they contribute to the organization.
Their level of motivation is decided upon by the equity built out of this evaluation. The theory goes further, to propound that it is not only the individual’s contribution against the return from the organization, but also the evaluation of what others are getting in the organization. People get motivated not only by what they get but also by seeing and believing what others get in the organization.
They tend to make a social comparison of inputs such as education, effort, time spent on the job and rewards such as money, working conditions, and recognition for themselves and others in the organization. It helps in understanding both the causes and the likely consequences of feelings of inequitable treatment among the members of the sales organization.
This theory suggests that each salesperson measures himself against a ‘comparison person’ or someone in a Comparable sort of organizational situation. If the salespeople see themselves and their comparison persons as being treated approximately in the same way, they feel that they are being treated fairly and equitably. If they see that the comparison person is being treated differently, they feel the situation to be inequitable and they will be motivated to do something to try to establish or restore a more equitable situation.
The comparison process takes into account the inputs or contribution of each person and also outputs or rewards for each salesperson in the sales organization. The kinds of inequity include the overpayment inequity in which the person gets more out of the job relative to what he puts in comparison with others and the underpayment inequity, which is the reverse phenomenon.
The sales manager can look at the consequence of the inequity and accordingly design motivational programmes. The feeling of inequity is uncomfortable and produces a sense of tension within the salesperson. A situation of perceived equity can be restored by following various mechanisms. The sales manager may decide to change the level of output (reward) or reduce the level of input (efforts) of the sales staff so that equity can be maintained.
The sales manager can try to change the outcome by giving an additional financial incentive, by allotting a bigger territory or bigger office facility, or by giving even personal facilities. Anything perceived to be an outcome important to the individual can shift the salesperson’s ratio of inputs to outcomes. The sales manager can change the perception of the sales personnel towards the inputs and outcomes.
Rather than actually changing inputs and outcomes, a person may change his/her perceptions of these factors. The sales manager can really change the inputs and outcomes of others. He/she may try to restore equity by attempting to convince a comparison person to reduce his inputs, i.e., by asking him to work less and enjoy the benefits.
Equity can also be restored by changing one’s perception of others’ inputs and their outcomes. For example, a person’s perception of the inputs provided by someone else to the organization may be distorted downward. The salesperson can also change the comparison person. If comparing one with another person creates feelings of inequity, choosing someone else for comparison may result in less uncomfortable feelings.
The equity can also be restored by leaving the situation. If a given situation seems to invariably leave a person feeling inequitably treated, the most drastic solution is to leave that situation. This could take the form of requesting a transfer to another department or territory, or in extreme cases, leaving the organization altogether.
These theories underline the importance of establishing and maintaining fair and equitable methods of treating the employees. These theories brought into focus that not only sales organizations should treat their members equitably and fairly, but also they must be seen to do so in the eyes of the members themselves as equity is in the mind of the beholder.
This can help the sales manager to find out what factors create feelings of unfair treatment and hence help them to avoid situations that may be costly to the organization.
(ii) Expectancy Theory:
This theory was propounded by Victor Vroom who stated that motivation is a product of three factors, namely how much one wants the reward (called valence), one’s estimate of the probability that efforts will result in successful performance (called expectancy), and one’s estimate that performance will result in receiving the reward (called instrumentality).
Valence refers to the strength of a person’s preferences for receiving a reward. It is an expression of the amount of one’s desire for a goal, for example, if a salesperson strongly wants a promotion then the valence for promotion is high for that employee. Valence for a reward is unique to each salesperson and is conditioned by experience, and it may vary substantially over a period of time as old needs become satisfied and new needs emerge over a period of time.
The sales manager needs to gather specific information about an individual salesperson’s preferences among a set of rewards and continue to monitor the changes in the preferences. Since salespeople may have either negative or positive preference for outcomes, valence may have a negative or positive value as well.
Expectancy is the strength of belief that work-related efforts will result in the completion of a task. Expectancies are always expressed as probabilities and are the salesperson’s estimate of the degree to which performance will be determined by the amount of effort expended. Its values will vary between zero and one. If the salesperson finds that there is no chance that his efforts will lead to desired performance, the expectancy is zero.
Self-efficacy is the belief that one has the necessary capabilities to perform a task, fulfil role expectations, or meet a challenging situation successfully. Salespeople with high level of self-efficacy are more likely to believe that exerting efforts will result in satisfactory performance. Some employees also suffer from the ‘imposter phenomenon’. Imposters believe that they are not really as capable as they appear to be and consequently fear that their incompetence will be revealed to others.
Instrumentality is the salesperson’s belief that a reward will be received once the task at hand is accomplished. Here the salesperson makes another subjective judgment about the probability that the organization values the performance and will administer rewards on successful performance. The value of the instrumentality also varies between zero and one. If the salesperson sees that promotions are based on performance data, instrumentality will be rated higher.
The multiplicative combination that produces the strongest motivation is high positive valence, high expectancy, and high instrumentality. It is a valuable model for augmenting the efforts of sales managers in understanding the mental processes through which motivation occurs.
People are treated as thinking individuals whose beliefs, perceptions, and probability estimates of success powerfully influence their behaviour and thus values human dignity. It encourages sales managers to design a motivational climate that will stimulate appropriate employee behaviour.
The sales manager should understand the dynamics of the salespeople’s behaviour and all the influences of these factors on them. The most important factors having a bearing on the level of motivation of the salespeople are job satisfaction and the quality of work life. Job satisfaction is the feeling about the job, and if people feel that they are fairly treated and are happy about the outcomes they receive, they will be satisfied.
A satisfied salesperson is not always the most productive one because sometimes people are happy about their job as they do not have to do anything on their job. Job dissatisfaction aggregated across many individuals creates a sales force that is more likely to exhibit a higher turnover, a higher level of absenteeism, more grievances and law suits, stealing, sabotage and vandalism, and poorer mental and physical health conditions due to job stress, higher insurance cost, and more lawsuits.
Quality of work life programmes create a better workplace environment that can enhance the salespeople’s well-being and satisfaction. The quality of working life programmes can be classified into eleven categories- adequate and fair compensation, a safe and healthy environment, jobs that help in developing human capacities, a chance for personal growth and security, a social environment that fosters personal identity, freedom from prejudice, a sense of community and upward mobility, constitutionalism or rights to privacy, dissent and due process, a work role that minimizes infringement on personal leisure, and family needs and socially responsible organizational actions.
This theory explains motivation in terms of the expectations that salespeople have about their ability to perform effectively in the sales job and the kind of rewards they expect to obtain if they complete the job successfully. There are three separate factors that influence a person’s motivation to perform effectively. These are expectancy, performance, and valence of outcome.
E—P expectancy is a person’s belief and expectation that efforts lead to performance (E-P). This explains the link between putting effort into a job (E) and performing the job effectively (P). A strong E-P expectancy is a necessary condition for the existence of high levels of work motivation.
Unless, a salesperson believes that putting in efforts on the job is likely to lead to effective performance, there is little reason even for trying to do well. Expectancy that performance leads to outcome (P—O) is based on the assumption that the more strongly a salesperson believes that positive outcomes will follow from effective performance, the more motivated he or she will be to perform effectively.
A salesperson’s motivation is influenced by the P-O links that the salesperson perceives to exist between performing effectively and attaining the desired outcome. Valence of the outcome (V) is the degree of impact that any outcome may have on a person’s motivation will depend on how much the person values that outcome.
There is a difference in the way people value outcomes. The term valence is the degree of satisfaction that a salesperson anticipates that he will experience when an outcome is attained at some point in future, while value refers to the amount of satisfaction a person actually receives from an outcome.
The reason for using valence in place of value is that a salesperson’s motivation to perform effectively now is based on what the person expects or anticipates will happen in future as a result of current effective performance. The ability of any outcome to influence current motivation is dependent upon the extent to which the person expects or anticipates that he will positively value the outcome when it is obtained.
So it is the anticipated value called valence rather than the actual value that determines the influence on a person’s motivation. High E-P expectancies are dependent upon two factors, ability and self-confidence. The sales manager must ensure a good match between the salesperson’s skills and abilities with the requirements of the job.
The sales manager can also alter the reward system to influence the motivation level by identifying which outcomes have a higher valence and then making the attainment of these outcomes contingent upon the effective performance.
3. Reinforcement Theories:
These theories explain the ways in which various types of rewards and punishments influence the motivation level of the salespeople in organizations. Reinforcement value refers to the degree of preference for any reinforcement when the possibilities of their occurrence are equal.
These theories are based on the principles of learning by which salespeople learn to connect a particular job performance with the reward and then work faster towards achieving the result again and again by reinforcing their behavioural pattern in the desired direction.
(i) Hull’s Drive Theory:
It is based on the idea that the wide variations in human behaviour can-be explained by principles of learning. The activation of a drive leads to random behaviour. In the course of that behaviour, the salespeople accidentally display such response that reduces the drive.
When that happens, the behaviour leading to drive reduction is strengthened. Over a period of time, with repeated reduction of that drive, a habit is formed. Hull is of the opinion that the goal object is discovered in the course of random behaviour and the reduction in drive produces reinforcement, and drives, in turn, activate habit.
(ii) Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory:
According to this theory, it is not necessary for a drive to be reduced for learning to occur. The behaviour is under the control of external rewards. Positive rewards increase the probability of a behaviour and negative rewards decrease its probability. Persistence is greater when an organism is rewarded sometimes, rather than each time it makes a desired response. This is called partial reinforcement.
He postulated that different kinds of reinforcement schedules produce different kinds of persistence. This has relevance to the salespeople. As the sales manager understands that different kinds of reinforcements produce different kinds of persistence, he can plan a motivation programme to increase the level of persistence for salespeople either with a different kind of reward system or a combinational reward system.
The theories of motivation help the sales manager to understand the principles underlying the motivation. They also indicate how the sales manager can use the findings and implications of motivational theories to constantly motivate the sales force in’ the organization so that salespeople stay committed to the organization’s goals and are motivated to contribute to their optimum capacity level.
Theories of Motivation – Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation, The Porter and Lawler Model Expectancy Theory, Equity Theory of Work Motivation and a Few Others
1. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation:
Victor Vroom felt that content models were inadequate explanations of the complex process of work motivation and he developed a relatively new theory of motivation. According to his theory, motivation of any individual depends on the desired goal and the strength of his expectation of achieving the goal.
Vroom’s model is built mainly on three concepts — valence, instrumentality and expectancy.
They are explained as under:
Vroom says that valence is the strength of an individual’s preference for a particular outcome. It can be taken as an equivalent of value, incentive, attitude and expected utility. For the valence to be positive, the person must prefer attaining the outcome to not attaining the outcome. A valence of zero occurs, when the individual is indifferent towards the outcome. The valence is negative when the individual prefers not attaining outcome to attaining it. This can be observed from the managerial implication of this theory.
Another major input into the valence is the instrumentality of the first level outcome in obtaining desired second level outcome. For example, assume that an individual desires promotion and feels that superior performance is a very strong factor in achieving that goal.
His first outcomes are then superior, average or of poor performance. His second level outcome is promotion. The first level outcome of high performance thus acquired a positive valence by virtue of its expected relationship to the preferred outcome of second level promotion. In this case, the person is motivated to achieve superior performance because he has desire to be promoted. The superior performance (first level outcome) is seen as being instrumental in obtaining promotion (second level outcome).
The third major variable in Vroom’s theory is expectancy. Though expectancy and instrumentality appear to be the same at the first glance, they are quite different. Expectancy is a probability (ranging from 0 to 1) or strength of a belief that a particular action or effort will lead to a particular first level outcome. Instrumentality refers to the degree to which a first level outcome will lead to the second level outcome. Vroom says the sum of these variables is motivation.
All the content theories assume that satisfaction leads to improved performance. However, it was later found that there is a very low positive relationship between satisfaction and performance. Lyman W. Porter and Edward E. Lawler exploded the complex relationship between motivation, satisfaction and performance.
According to them performance is a function of three important factors, viz.:
(i) If an employee wants to perform, he must be motivated;
(ii) Motivation alone does not ensure performance and hence a person must have the necessary abilities and skills as well;
(iii) An employee must have an accurate knowledge of the requirements of the job.
Following are the key-variables in this model:
Effort does not directly lead to specific levels of performance. Effort is only the amount of energy exerted by an individual to achieve a specific task. It is only the result of the attractiveness of the reward and how he perceives a relation between effort and pay-off. The individual will exert greater effort if he perceives that there is a greater probability that his effort will lead to the reward. So motivation is seen as a force on the employee to expect effort.
Effort alone is not enough, as performance results only when the effort is continued with the ability. Effort and performance cannot be taken to be the same.
A person gets intrinsic reward himself by performing a task well. Intrinsic reward will be a feeling of accomplishment. Extrinsic rewards like pay, promotion and status are offered by the organisation.
The satisfaction depends on the perceived rewards and the actual rewards. If an individual feels that he should have received more for what he had done, it results in dissatisfaction and vice versa.
Thus, motivation and achievement result in satisfaction or dissatisfaction of an employee about the job, organisation, etc.
Credit of developing this theory goes to J. Stacy Adams. This theory argues that a major input into job performance and satisfaction is the degree of equity (or inequity) that people perceive in their work situation. Inequality occurs when a person perceives that the ratio of his or her outcomes to inputs and the ratio of other’s relevant outcome to inputs are unequal.
Schematically this is represented as follows:
Both the inputs and the outputs of persons and others are based upon the person’s perceptions. Age, sex, education, economic and social status, skill, experience, training, effort, education, past performance, present performance, level of difficulty, position in the organisation etc., are examples of perceived input variables. Outcomes consist of rewards like pay, status, promotion and intrinsic interest in the job.
If the person’s perceived ratio is not equal to the others, he or she will strive to restore the ratio to equity. Thus, the work motivation of oneself depends upon other’s inputs, output and one’s perceived output.
R. de Charms proposed that the introduction of extrinsic rewards, viz., salary, benefits and perks that had been previously intrinsically rewarded due to the pleasure associated with the content of work itself would tend to decrease the overall level of motivation. This proposition is called Cognitive Evaluation Theory.
Motivation theorists assumed that intrinsic rewards (or motivators) such as achievement, responsibility and work itself are independent of extrinsic rewards (or motivators), viz., high salary, promotions and pleasant working conditions. In other words, the stimulation of extrinsic motivators would not affect the stimulation of intrinsic motivators.
But the cognitive evaluation theory argues that the use of extrinsic rewards result in deviation of the outcome of intrinsic rewards. In simple terms, it can be said that if an individual is provided with the extrinsic rewards to perform an interesting work, it would result in the intrinsic interest in the task itself to decline.
For example, the software engineers in Satyam Infotech Ltd. are offered extremely high salaries, which created interest in the work and reduced the special need of interesting work or challenging work. Though the work is not actually challenging, the lucrative salaries for clerks in commercial banks and insurance companies motivated them to have interest in their clerical work.
It is criticised that if the extrinsic rewards result in the decline in the need for intrinsic rewards, organisations need not provide intrinsic rewards, interesting work, challenging work, etc.
Edwin Locke in the late 1960s proposed that intentions to work towards a goal are a major source of work motivation. We can determine what should we do? And how much effort we should put in and at what direction? If we know the goals clearly. To be precise, specific goals enhance performance. Difficult goals, when accepted would lead to higher performance than normal goals. Further, feedback contributes to higher performance.
The specificity of the goal itself acts as an internal stimulus. Specific hard goals produce a higher level of performance and output than the generalised goal.
Normally, it is expected that the employee is motivated to achieve higher results if he/she is allowed to participate in goal setting. In fact, the concept of management by objectives (MBO) suggested by Peter F. Drucker, assumes that employee involvement in the setting of objectives contributes to higher output. But research in this respect indicate mixed conclusions.
For example, BPL executives give clear direction and goal to each employee with minute clarity and specificity. The employees once understand the goals and have clear direction. The executives indicate that this practice resulted in increase in output and also quality and production of zero defect products.
Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief of performing a task. The higher the self-efficacy the higher would be the performance. Therefore, the organisation has to create a favourable belief in the individual minds that they are capable of achieving higher performance. This in turn would motivate them towards higher performance.
Theories of Motivation – McClelland’s Achievement Motivation and Expectancy Theory of Motivation
1. McClelland’s Achievement Motivation:
In attempting to understand employee motivation, Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs. David McClelland furthered this idea in his learned needs theory. McClelland’s experimental work identified sets of motivators present to varying degrees in different people. He proposed that these needs were socially acquired or learned. That is, the extent to which these motivators are present varies from person to person and depends on the individual and his or her background.
McClelland’s experiment — the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) — consisted of showing individuals a series of pictures and asking them to give brief descriptions of what was happening in the pictures. The responses were analyzed in terms of the presence or absence of certain themes. The themes McClelland and his associates were looking for revolved around the following motivators – achievement, affiliation and power.
According to David McClelland, regardless of culture or gender, people are driven by three motives:
Since McClelland’s first experiment, over 1,000 studies relevant to achievement motivation have been conducted. These studies strongly support the theory.
The need for achievement is characterized by the wish to take responsibility for finding solutions to problems, master complex tasks, set goals, get feedback on level of success.
Specifically, achievement motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for achieving excellence through individual efforts. Such individuals set challenging goals for themselves, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, are highly persistent in the pursuit of these goals, take calculated risks to achieve the goals and actively collect and use information for purposes of feedback.
High achievement motivated managers are also strongly inclined to be personally involved in performing their organizational tasks. However, they may also be reluctant to delegate authority and responsibility. Thus, high achievement motivation may be expected to result in poor performance of high-level executives in large organizations.
High achievement motivation is predicted to contribute to effective entrepreneurship and effective leadership of small task-oriented groups.
Achievement motivation is positively related to the leadership of small task-oriented groups and small entrepreneurial firms and negatively related to the effectiveness of high- level managers in complex organizations or in political situations.
The need for affiliation is characterized by a desire to belong, an enjoyment of teamwork, a concern about interpersonal relationships and a need to reduce uncertainty.
Affiliative motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for establishing, maintaining and restoring close personal relationships with others. Individuals with high affiliative motivation tend to be non-assertive, submissive and dependent on others.
Such managers are expected to manage on the basis of personal relationships with subordinates. This may result in them showing favouritism towards some.
As managers, highly affiliative individuals are predicted to be reluctant to monitor the behavior of subordinates, give negative feedback to others or discipline their subordinates. However, when the power motive is higher than the affiliative motive, individuals are disinclined to engage in dysfunctional management behaviors such as submissiveness, reluctance to monitor and discipline subordinates and favoritism.
The need for power is characterized by a drive to control and influence others, a need to win arguments, a need to persuade and prevail.
According to McClelland, the presence of these motives or drives in an individual indicates a predisposition to behave in certain ways. Therefore, from a manager’s perspective, recognizing which need is dominant in any particular individual affects the way in which that person can be motivated.
Power motivation is defined as the concern for acquiring status and having an impact on others. McClelland used power motivation as a measure of social influence behaviours. Clearly, since most management activities require the use of social influence behaviors and since power motivation measures an individual’s desire to influence, the power motive is important for leadership effectiveness.
David McClelland proposed the Leader Motive Profile Theory (LMP theory) in which he argued that a high power motivation, greater than the affiliation motive, is predictive of leader effectiveness.
Highly power-motivated individuals obtain great satisfaction from the exercise of influence. Consequently, their interest in the exercise of leadership is sustained.
High power motivation is predicted to result in effective managerial performance in middle and high-level positions. However, unless constrained in some manner, some power-motivated managers may also be predicted to exercise power in an aggressive manner for self-aggrandizing purposes, to the detriment of their organizations.
2. Expectancy Theory of Motivation:
In recent years, probably the most popular motivational theory has been the Expectancy Theory (also known as the Valence-Instrumentality- Expectancy Theory). Although there are a number of theories found with this general title, they all have their roots in Victor Vroom’s 1964 work on motivation.
Vroom’s theory assumes that behavior results from conscious choices among alternatives whose purpose it is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The key elements to this theory are referred to as Expectancy (E), Instrumentality (I) and Valence (V). Critical to the understanding of the theory is the understanding that each of these factors represents a belief.
Vroom’s theory suggests that the individual will consider the outcomes associated with various levels of performance (from an entire spectrum of performance possibilities) and elect to pursue the level that generates the greatest reward for him or her.
“What’s the probability that, if I work very hard, I’ll be able to do a good job?”
Expectancy refers to the strength of a person’s belief about whether or not a particular job performance is attainable. Assuming all other things are equal, an employee will be motivated to try a task, if he or she believes that it can be done. This expectancy of performance may be thought of in terms of probabilities ranging from zero (a case of “I can’t do it!”) to 1.0 (“I have no doubt whatsoever that I can do this job!”)
A number of factors can contribute to an employee’s expectancy perceptions:
a. The level of confidence in the skills required for the task
b. The amount of support that may be expected from superiors and subordinates
c. The quality of the materials and equipment
d. The availability of pertinent information
Previous success at the task has also been shown to strengthen expectancy beliefs.
“What’s the probability that, if I do a good job, that there will be some kind of outcome in it for me?”
If an employee believes that a high level of performance will be instrumental for the acquisition of outcomes which may be gratifying, then the employee will place a high value on performing well. Vroom defines Instrumentality as a probability belief linking one outcome (a high level of performance, for example) to another outcome (a reward).
Instrumentality may range from a probability of 1.0 (meaning that the attainment of the second outcome — the reward — is certain if the first outcome — excellent job performance — is attained) through zero (meaning there is no likely relationship between the first outcome and the second). An example of zero instrumentality would be exam grades that were distributed randomly (as opposed to be awarded on the basis of excellent exam performance). Commission pay schemes are designed to make employees perceive that performance is positively instrumental for the acquisition of money.
For management to ensure high levels of performance, it must tie desired outcomes (positive valence) to high performance and ensure that the connection is communicated to employees.
The VIE theory holds that people have preferences among various outcomes. These preferences tend to reflect a person’s underlying need state.
“Is the outcome I get of any value to me?”
The term Valence refers to the emotional orientations people hold with respect to outcomes (rewards). An outcome is positively valent if an employee would prefer having it to not having it. An outcome that the employee would rather avoid (fatigue, stress, noise, layoffs) is negatively valent. Outcomes towards which the employee appears indifferent are said to have zero valence.
Valences refer to the level of satisfaction people expect to get from the outcome (as opposed to the actual satisfaction they get once they have attained the reward).
Vroom suggests that an employee’s beliefs about Expectancy, Instrumentality and Valence interact psychologically to create a motivational force such that the employee acts in ways that bring pleasure and avoid pain.
People elect to pursue levels of job performance that they believe will maximize their overall best interests (their subjective expected utility).
There will be no motivational forces acting on an employee if any of these three conditions hold:
(a) The person does not believe that he/she can successfully perform the required task.
(b) The person believes that successful task performance will not be associated with positively valent outcomes.
(c) The person believes that outcomes associated with successful task completion will be negatively valent (have no value for that person).