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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
Employee motivation is crucial to any
company, February 10, 2006, 2D.
Have you ever heard someone say
“he doesn’t need a raise, let’s give him a fancy title?”
You may have even encountered a situation like this
yourself. The belief behind such a statement is that titles
provide motivation for a worker to remain with and to
perform well for the organization. Is this an accurate
answer such a question, one must first define motivation and
describe how it works. In the field of organizational
behavior, a common way to define motivation is “something
that arouses, directs, and sustains behavior toward the
accomplishment of some goal or set of goals.” The
“something” that activates and gives sustained direction to
behavior can be a wide variety of things. Just as people
are unique, so are their wants, needs, and desires.
people are driven to achieve internal, or intrinsic,
rewards. Recognition from others for a job well done,
feelings of accomplishment, or satisfaction that comes from
serving others might be the “things” for which people work
and aspire. Other times people work to receive rewards
given from others. Pay and pay raises, promotions, bonuses,
vacation time, and a variety of other externally awarded
incentives can be used to direct people’s behavior.
valuable and motivating to one person might be of no value
to someone else. An employee covered on a spouse’s insurance
plan might have no need or interest in your company’s
insurance offerings. Likewise, employee benefits for family
members or dependents have little or no motivating effects
for those without family or dependents.
of reward strived for also varies among people and even
within people at different points in their lives. Just as
hunger pangs drive a person to seek out food and then later
subside after food consumption, so might the desire for
specific rewards differ at different times in their lives
and careers. Status, promotions, and big offices have more
motivational effect for junior employees than for senior
employees who have already acquired and attained those
So is a
job title as motivating as a pay raise? It depends on the
particular needs of the employee and what he or she finds
rewarding. In some cases, a new and improved title could
provide enhanced feelings of achievement, recognition, and
responsibility—it could enhance motivation and performance.
However, for the employee who is motivated by pay and the
things that it symbolizes or can do or the one who struggles
to pay bills and support a family, a title will have little
or no value. For people who desire and require pay and
raises to keep them directed and performing at work, pay and
raises should be given.
Organizations must understand the needs and desired rewards
of their workers to bring out the best from their people and
to keep them properly motivated.
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