A key driver of success in the international business environment is developing an appreciation to distinct cultures and personalities. Understanding employee’s motivations has become a critical tool for the executive team to be able to effectively motivate, engage and retain its human capital. Applying the Human Motivation Theory, Entities and their executive team may consider focusing on the three main motives when attempting to understand, categorize and consequently motivate their employees. These are:
Consequently, businesses that understand and master employee categorization and their specific needs are more likely to develop an optimal work environment for diverse employees and thereby develop a distinct competitive advantage. Ultimately, the aim is achieving self-actualization, employee loyalty and commitment.
Employees with a prevailing requisite for achievement are goal-oriented and find moderate risk taking to be natural. This can also be compared and associated with a sales team and other first liners within a commercial setting. For these types of employees, the executive team can apply goal-setting theory, which directs the attention of employees to specific, task-oriented goals.
In goal-setting theory, five main mechanisms that affect performance include:
- Commitment, the need to engage employees with the tasks being performed.
- Importance, which in turn affects the commitment levels.
- Self-belief, which can be transmitted through navigational leadership.
- Feedback, which can take the form of performance appraisals.
- Task complexity, ensuring the right employees are assigned appropriate tasks.
Furthermore, in consideration of moderate risk takers it is imperative to mention employee safety needs which deals with workplace safety and job security. Crucially, risk-taking employees need to be provided with a safe environment to be at ease with taking risks on behalf of the entity. Coupled with the application of goal-setting theory, achievement-oriented employees should find the required daily motivation to complete tasks successfully.
On the other hand, employees whose motives are that of affiliation usually prefer to work in cooperative environments where communication and collaboration are of essence. This can be compared to the operational, back-office or second liners within a commercial setting. For these types of employees, the executive team can apply social-cognitive theory, where the three fundamental motivators would revolve around the:
- Work environment
- Employee self-efficacy and
- The specific nature of tasks being performed.
These types of employees, therefore, exhibit a prevalence of social needs. Furthermore, as these types of employees are mostly concerned with self-efficacy, the requirement for the executive team to develop and reinforce positive performance and beliefs becomes and essential tool for managing motivations. Therefore, a general recommendation in the quest of adequately managing and continuously motivating this employee type, is the application of respectful inquiry. This type of communication standard reinforces a softer approach to the management of human capital by delivering the understanding that employees are in control, competent and crucially, cultivates a feeling of belongingness.
Another type of employee motive business managers should consider, is driven by the need for certain employees to have an impact on other employees. This can be compared to the team leaders within a commercial setting. This type of employee motive is associated with esteem and recognition needs and therefore, to motivate this type of employee, the entity must provide continuous feedback, performance appraisals and opportunities for growth. Moreover, respectful inquiry (as discussed above) is another powerful tool which is critical since it provides the understanding that employees are in control and trusted.
Ultimately, due to the ever-changing and complex business environment in contemporary markets, motivating employees can provide for a significant competitive advantage. Furthermore, entities must recognize that the motivation process entails a certain level of respect between the executive team and subordinates which, in turn, reinforces the idea of a softer model when managing human capital. Additionally, performance standards, monitoring, evaluation systems and feedback loops are critical tools that the executive team must deploy to effectively assess, manage, and develop distinct employee types.
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