Individual and Group Motivation in the Workplace
Melissa A. Garza
Motivation is used in the workforce not just to attract individuals to that organization but to keep them there. One definition of motivation "has to do with a set of independent/dependent variables relationship that explain the direction, amplitude, and persistence of an individuals behavior, holding constant the effects of aptitude, skill, and understanding of the task, and the constraints operating in the environment" (Campbell & Pritchard, 1976). Numerous studies have shown that group motivation has a positive correlation to a better work environment.
Individual and Group Motivation in the Workplace
Mark Twain observed that everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Like the weather, everyone talks about unmotivated employees, clients, or teammates, but unlike the weather, something can be done about lack of motivation. Unmotivated people are viewed as discouraged. Their discouragement may be seen beneath their apathy, absenteeism, uncooperativeness, rebellion, or other symptoms. Discouraged teammates need encouragement to become contributing members in the workplace (Losoncy, 1995). Reward systems are strategic mechanisms that are used to help achieve the initiators goals (Klubnik & Roschelle, 1996). There are many companies that are beginning to realize the importance of aligning compensation and reward systems aimed at reinforcing the employees objective.
Clearly, a major motivation for working is money for both team and individual, but money in and of itself is not important, it acquires importance as a means of fulfilling needs. The importance of money should not be overestimated. One survey asked that if you were to get enough money to live as comfortably as you would like for the rest of your life, then would you continue to work? Over 63% of those who responded to this survey did say that they would continue to work. It appears that money is important if the employee views it as a means to a desired end, but it is definitely not the sole vehicle for satisfying all of the employees needs (Aldag & Brief, 1979). A second area that might motivate individuals and teams is social interaction. Work is social. The importance of the social aspects of work is a function of several factors in addition to the employees need-state (Aldag & Brief, 1995).
Two Types of Motivation
Two states of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic have been identified by researchers. The employee attributes job behaviors to outcomes that are derived from sources other than the work itself through extrinsic motivation. Some examples of extrinsic outcomes include pay increases, promotion, or fringe benefits. The employee who is motivated extrinsically tends to feel a lack of control over on-the-job behavior. An example would include a teacher who states that teaching is a bore, but that he/she really enjoys the long Christmas vacations and summers off (Aldag & Brief, 1979).
On the other hand, intrinsic motivation involves the employee attributing job behaviors to outcomes which are derived from the job itself. These intrinsic outcomes are experienced by employees independent of involvement of others, except in the cases where the work involves processing or serving other persons, as with the case of counselors. An employee who is experiencing a state of intrinsic motivation tends to be committed to the job and self-fulfilled through it (Klubnik & Roschelle, 1996). An example of an employee experiencing intrinsic motivation would be a teacher who states, "The money I earn as a teacher is nothing, but I really enjoy introducing a student to a new idea."
One way to increase an employees level of intrinsic motivation is by changing the work itself (i.e., redesigning the job). Job redesign, for increasing motivation (and performance), ultimately requires that the job be restructured to include the opportunity for the employee to experience an array of positive intrinsic outcomes that depend upon performance. Simply redesigning the job to incorporate intrinsic outcomes which are not contingent upon the employees performance will probably lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. However, it does not necessarily mean that it will lead to higher levels of job performance. In other words, an employee will be more satisfied after experiencing an intrinsic outcome (Aldag & Brief, 1979).
An important exception to the contingency argument concerns task persistence. Several studies have shown that persons who perform intrinsically motivating tasks engage in those tasks longer than the employees who are not intrinsically motivated therefore in the cases where the employee has discretion over the time devoted to a task, and task persistence leads to greater productivity, then one would expect levels of intrinsic motivation to be positively associated with job performance (Klubnik & Roschelle, 1996).
The leader must recognize that the manner in which the organization rewards team members can have differing effects on the teams and individuals subsequent performances. Organizations should provide team leaders ways to recommend or dispense some type of reward to members of successful teams, whether it is monetary, public recognition, commendation, praise, celebration, or preferential treatment. Researchers report that "team performance may hinge on desirable consequences to individual members contingent on the whole teams performance ". Team leaders may need to point out how each team member may benefit in different ways if the team succeeds (Bass & Avolio, p.34, 1994).
The team leader will sometimes have direct control over rewards that are available to team members. Although the intent of rewards to team members is typically to recognize superior performance and maintain or increase motivation, the team leader should recognize that the methods used to allocate rewards can have different effects on individual and team performance. In fact, "allocations of rewards can often affect status, conflict, and leadership in groups" (Bass & Avolio, p. 34, 1994). There is convincing evidence that reward allocations based on an equity rule (rewards are proportional to effort and output) promote increased performance, while an equality rule (i.e., where all the members receive the same reward) benefits group relations. Thus rewards, commendations, and recognition can be used to reinforce different team outcomes (Bass & Avolio, 1994).
Individual versus Group Rewards
Studies have found that as people were rewarded for their individual performance, the team's performance ability worsened. On the other hand, the more people were rewarded for their performance on a team, then the team's overall performance increased. Hence, the business units performance was better, and the teams and their business units made more process improvements. It was found that rewards for individual performance are detrimental to team performance, hence the term "work team." Rewards for team performance lead not only to better team performance but also to better individual performance. A lot of the impact that plays a role on the team is due more to how the performance is defined rather than the reward itself. In order to reward team performance, team performance should be defined along with ways for measuring, reviewing, and evaluating the performance. The positive impact of team reward practices on performance is due largely to the fact that team reward practices in and of themselves achieve only a small improvement in performance. The main impact comes from defining and reviewing. On the other hand, basing rewards on team performance helps to achieve equality in the performance management of teams, because it gives people a strong signal about what is valued in the organization.
As stated earlier, rewards for individual performance have a disruptive effect on team performance. Pay equity and satisfaction with work in general are a couple of qualities in which rewards impact individuals. Individuals in the workforce gained more satisfaction as they received pay for their individual contributions, but still the performance of their teams was adversely affected! This poses a dilemma for team performance management. If individually based reward practices, while not conducive to team's performance, are important for employee satisfaction, employees sense of fairness must be related to the logic of the traditional merit-pay system (Morhman, Cohen, & Morhman, 1995).
Studies show that team rewards like individual rewards are related to employees sense of being fairly paid and lead to general satisfaction. An example of a team studied, was a high-performing team of chemists. This team had become so aware of their interdependencies and connections with one another (as a team) that they could not separate out their individual contributions to the teams performance. When it was time for management to initiate the ranking of individuals for pay purposes, the members of this team refused to be ranked differently than all their teammates. They demanded that management rank them all at the same level within the larger group of employees being ranked. In essence, they demanded that, even within the individual merit-pay system, they be rewarded as a team, which was the only way that seemed fair to them.
The challenge for organizations that are transitioning to teams is to merge the traditional ideas of what constitutes "fair" rewards with the emerging ideas of fairness in general. In the beginning, employees are reluctant to give up their traditional feelings of individual contribution and sense of fair treatment. Employees might find it wrong that they should be rewarded for what the group accomplishes. This is especially true when the team is held back because of weak individual performances from others or if the team succeeds because of their extra effort or extraordinary skills. At the same time, members may identify the reward systems directed to an individual as a barrier to team effectiveness. As the transition to team progresses, people will gradually come to see traditional individual merit-pay systems, especially those that rely on ranking, as divisive. There will be increasing demand for pay systems that acknowledge the contribution of the individual without putting teammates against one another, and there will be increasing demand that teams should be rewarded for what they have achieved as teams. Managers need to help this shift in logic to take place (Mohrman et al, 1995).
Focusing on individual performance can take away from team performance in another way. It can redirect people too much to their own set of performance goals and responsibilities without considering their contribution to the overall teams performance. On the other hand, people want to be recognized for what they bring to the organization as individuals. Therefore, organizations are increasingly changing the basis for merit ratings from recent past performance to the level of skills, knowledge, and competencies that the individual has achieved. This has the effect of transforming pay-for-performance merit-pay systems into pay-forskills merit-pay systems. In a system such as this, pay increases are given for development of skills and may be based on whether and to what degree developmental goals have been reached. Organizations can move even further to team logic by distributing pay for performance at the team or larger unit. Usually team rewards do not remain the teams as a whole. The rewards are distributed to the members. Sometimes this distribution is automatic. Perhaps everyone gets a bonus that is an equal percentage of their base pay or an equal cut of the bonus pool. Sometimes the team might determine the distribution by jointly identifying members that are especially deserving of a larger or smaller cut. Team input and agreement is important in determining whatever distribution practice is used. Often team-based bonuses are available in addition to, rather than instead of individual rewards (Morhman et al 1995).
Reward systems within a team-based organization should fit the logic of that organization. In order for people to feel equitably rewarded, individuals could (and generally should) be rewarded for the performance of all the performing units to which they belong and contribute. This leans toward a multilevel reward system based on team performance, business-unit performance, and organizational performance and may imply recognition of multiple-team membership. Many mangers that focus on lateral organization and teamwork often continue to believe that good performance is primarily a function of "superstars" and reflects the skills of a manager rather than all the units combined (Morhman et al, 1995). The reward system in a team-based organization should reflect the fact that advancement in such an organization is more likely to involve lateral development than traditional "promotion."
Implementing Reward Practices
Finally, organizations can implement reward practices at the business-unit level that are conducive to performance management in team-based settings: gainsharing and profit sharing. These redirect employees to the larger performing unit by making it in everyones interest to improve the performance of the group as a whole. They are reward systems that thoroughly embed the logic of sharing in the groups performance that allows everyone to share in the economic value or outcome of that performance. The research shows that well-designed practices of this type lead to a high degree of perceived fairness which leads to bonuses that can be given along with team bonuses and individual rewards (Morhman et al., 1995).
Reward systems for managers in traditional organizations were often used to support corporate direction. For example, rewards for department managers were often based on the extent to which the goals that were negotiated within their department were achieved. To further test this practice, in regards to reward, was the old managerial role and the assumption that the performance of a department was based on how well the manager managed the unit and negotiated unit goals.
Team-based organizations have entire teams and business units that negotiate goals, direct their own performance, and manage aspects of their performance (Meyer & Allen, 1997). If reward systems are to be used to set direction in teambased settings, then all of the participants in the performing unit should be rewarded for their performance. A reward system consistent with set goals rewards a team member for how well the team, the business unit, and the larger organization did. Rewards for individual performance may not be logically consistent with some team-based organizations, since teams are the core performing units and it is difficult to separate out each individuals impact. (Morman et al., 1995
In considering individual differences, there are some very general characteristics of work that most people will find rewarding and that will enhance their affective commitment to the organization. Lind and Tyler (1988) argued that commitment to social groups can only be sustained if the person believes that in the end, desired outcomes will be distributed fairly. It also has been argued that the development and maintenance of intrinsic motivation for an activity depends in part, on the competence-enhancing experiences associated with the activity (Meyer & Allen, 1997).
Leaders who are encouraging accomplish eight goals through means of motivation:
Communication when the leader creates an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect for everyones roles and responsibilities.
Team building the leader builds teammates by being a positive influence and recognizing individual and group potential. Discouraging leaders believe that the way to build people up is by tearing them down, but studies have proven otherwise.
Giving meaning and purpose this leader can combat burnout and lifts teammates by giving meaning to what they do (teams as well as the individuals).
Winning team feeling the leader increases productivity by conveying positive expectations.
Confronting with class this encouraging leader has the skills to constructively steer the discouraged teammates back onto the productive path.
Find a way this leader is a realist and an optimist who encourages the team to face realistic challenges head on and then mobilize their unlimited artistic, creative minds to find a way to meet them.
Enhanced morale through involvement the leader knows how to tap the creative minds of the team members, which increases the morale through everyones involvement.
Turn individuals into a winning team the encouraging leader emphasizes cooperation over competition and values everyones contribution to the teams outcomes (Losoncy, 1995).
An encouraging leader can provide conditions that will fulfill the teams social needs as they relate to the teams productivity, cohesiveness, identity, and affiliation. The encouraging leader is sensitive to fulfilling each teammates social needs and recognizes that these needs are an important part of a total encouragement strategy.
A lot has changed within the job environment over the past years. Society is changing drastically and the way in which jobs are done is changing and motivating techniques are changing. Formerly, people were motivated by material gains, while they still are today, people want meaning and purpose in their lives so the motivating or team leader should give the team a positive purpose (Losoncy, 1995). A team leader or manager should encourage them verbally by letting them know that what they do is important and is contributing to others within the company.
Many people give up when the team faces problems. They might conclude that there just arent any solutions, and they stop looking because of lack of motivation. These team members can be motivated by communicating an unbending belief that problems have solutions and that the members of the team are the kind of people who can find the solutions. The people they associate with affect their feelings in their aspects of life including on the job. Being surrounded in a positive and uplifting environment, influences ones personal and professional life and will rub off on the team. Individuals are affected by their environment, but the environment is also affected by its individuals (Aldag et al, 1979).
Motivate teams and individuals by using "talking-it-up" language. This language is used by speaking in positive, lifting, upbeat language. Sometimes the teams energy can be better spent on one challenge than another. Determine with the team the most effective way to spend energies. If the team feels that one challenge would take an inappropriate amount of time, accept the situation as it is by sweet surrendering. Then quickly mobilize their energies to attack the next challenge (Losoncy, 1995). Individuals can also be motivated by helping them develop a more rational view of self, others, and life. They should seek a plan and ask "what do I want."
There may be people within the workplace that are apathetic, uninvolved, rebellious, or closed-minded. Show the apathetic person that he/she has something to contribute. Encourage them to share their input. Turn close-mindedness into openness by building pride in the persons growth. Theoretically, every person has ideas for how to improve his/her effectiveness, so spending a few minutes with each person and creating a safe atmosphere will help the person to think improvement (Losoncy, 1995).
A sensitive leader is tuned into the morale and perceptions of the membership, so a formal or informal analysis on how the team feels about the way its ideas are handled might be a motivating factor. Accepting criticism allows the individual to grow and learn by looking at possible improvements in their workplace. An individual who takes a chance and shares an idea indicates that a successful perfection-ectomy was performed. Another motivating factor for employees would be for a teammate or manager to acknowledge their appreciation for an idea that the individual has come up with, and to offer thanks for that idea. Some apathetic or uncooperative people have at some time or another shared their idea with a leader who took credit for it and consequently built distrust and turned them off. So one way to motivate these individuals might include crediting them on a regular basis or after a job well done.
Many people are inclined to think "me" rather that "team" in their actions, and it is the responsibility of the leader to develop a plan to change this mental set to "we." Therefore, something that can be done is to initiate an active team power campaign. Teams should be talked up at staff meetings, and fill the environment with reminders for everyone to think "team" and to work together. Team power can be built by encouraging cooperation and discouraging competition among your people. If there are times when one person is played against another, then the leader needs to be sensitive to finding ways to encourage cooperation among their people. While many leaders make the mistake of believing the way to motivate people is by highlighting competition, the motivating leader knows that highlighting cooperation is a more effective approach to developing all of the people, so cooperative behavior should be pointed out. By creating a team theme as opposed to an individual theme, the leader brings in more of the resources of the organization (Losoncy, 1995).
To build team power, it helps to understand the social structure of your people. One of the most effective tools a leader can use to achieve this is a sociogram. It helps identify the leader, the rejected, the isolates, mutual friends, and mutual enemies. This is an effective way to develop strategies to help everyone be an involved, contributing member of the team. Self-esteem is important, as is team-esteem so the leader of the team must build pride through rallying around the teams resources, achievements, and uniqueness. Finally, most successful teams are not composed of individuals, but instead have people who work together, so "team" should be a regular part of the vocabulary.
A motivating team leader should be a positive influence on the lives of the members of a team. When there is disharmony or distrust on a team, then there should be a plan to resolve differences and promote greater understanding. When there are people who are down and out, then a strategy should be developed to lift them up and bring them in, so they can shine.
Team-esteeming is building the total "esteem of the team" by uniting them through their uniqueness, achievements, common potential and goals and shared vision. It is important for team members to have positive team-esteem so that the working environment is enjoyable and productive. Team-esteem is built by an asset-focusing leader who rallies around the resources, achievements, and uniqueness of the membership. The following are items which fall under the different areas of team:
Rallying Around Resources of the Team:
Rallying Around the Achievements of the Team:
Rallying Around the Uniqueness of the Team:
Rewards are the motivational attributes directly under the control of the organization. Generally, behavior is directed toward goals, which are tangible things that individuals perceive as satisfying the needs that are stirring them up and energizing them.
Certainly belonging, or social, needs are reflected in many of the goals people strive to fulfill in organizations `12to foster harmonious interpersonal relations. Goals that mesh with the higher needs, needs for esteem and for self-actualization, provide todays organization with its greatest motivational leverage.
The final link in the motivation system is the satisfaction an individual receives from his job. Satisfaction is partially determined by the employees levels of performance. The employee does a good job and rewarded for it. The employee derives satisfaction from these performance-contingent rewards (Aldag & Brief, 1979). Satisfaction derives from the rewards given for effective performance and is the basis of employee morale. The level of morale is clearly reflected in the degree of employee commitment both to the job and to the organization. When effective performance was not rewarded or when the rewards did not tie into the goals of employees, no consistent relationship was found between performance and satisfaction.
An employees expectation that effective performance will be rewarded constitutes another important filter in the link. Unless an individual is sure that his performance will lead to rewards that tie in with his/her personal goals, he/she will not choose to direct his/her efforts toward quality performance.
In conclusion rewards may be thought of as the attributes of the tangible world that an organization makes available to employees. When the rewards an organization provides are identical with the goals employees seek, then there is a perfectly functioning motivation system. When the reward system is used properly, it motivates the workplace to do three things. First, the initiative behaviors are assumed and accepted. Secondly, the initiative behaviors contribute to the companys achievements and share in its prosperity. Finally, the behaviors focus on increased knowledge, obtains the newly required skills, and improves performance. (Klubnik & Roschelle, 1996).
Aldag, R. J. & Brief, A. P. (1979). Task design and employee motivation. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company.
Bass, B. M. & Avolio, B. J. (1994). Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Klubnik, J. P. & Roschelle, M. (1996). Battling the barriers to success. Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing.
Losoncy, L. E. (1995). The Motivating Team Leader. Delray Beach, FL: Saint Lucie Press.
Meyer, J. P. & Allen, N. J. (1997). Commitment in the Workplace: Theory, research, and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Mohrman, S. A., Cohen, S. G. & Mohrman Jr., A. M. (1995). Designing team-based organizations: A workbook for organizational self-design. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Copyright 1998, Center for the Study of Work Teams, University of North Texas. All Rights Reserved.