Theories of Human Motivation
Theory 1: Money as a Motivator
This theory states that all workers are motivated primarily by the need for money; so if you want to get the
most out of your workforce, you pay them more. This has particular effectiveness in areas where payment
is directly linked to the accomplishment of objectives. This theory is prevalent in many businesses in the
form of performance-related pay, incentives, bonuses and promotion schemes. While few would argue that
it does not have some validity (indeed it is the driver behind most sales forces the world over), it is not an
all-encompassing theory. It doesn't really address the sometimes complex reasons why people are
motivated by money. And it excludes people who are not driven primarily for money.
Theory 2: The Hierarchy of Needs
This theory is probably the best-known motivation theory. It was coined by Abraham Maslow during the
1940s and 1950s. In essence, it states that our motivations are dictated primarily by the circumstances we
find ourselves in, and that certain 'lower' needs need to be satisfied before we are motivated towards
'higher' accomplishments. Maslow divided these objectives into five distinct stages, starting at physiological
needs and ending at self-actualisation needs. In practice, the theory has its application in ensuring that the
workforce have sufficiently comfortable surroundings and working conditions in order for them to be free to
do their best for their company.
Theory 3: Theory X and Theory Y
In 1960, Douglas McGregor advanced the idea that managers had a major part in motivating staff. He
essentially divided managers into two categories – Managers who believe that their staff are lazy and will
do as little as they can get away with; and managers who believe that their people really want to do their
best in their work. The former managers believe that staff will do things if they are given explicit instructions
with clear consequences if they...