What Defines Term "Motivation"


Frank PUCELIK,


the president of Pucelik Consulting Group


There are a lot of behavioral factors that demotivate employees in any organization. If we want to understand what demotivates our employees, we have to understand completely what human needs/characteristics make our “motivational activity” and what behavior in organization affects the idea which we call “motivation”. In this article we will define human characteristics which term “motivation” defines and also business behavior which affects upon these characteristics in a positive or negative way. There are two main incentives for people. This is the need for: 1) success achievement and 2) need for belonging to something. All people want to experience the feeling of value or usefulness (1 – Success incentive). They are motivated by the contribution they may bring or the result they may achieve whether it is work or game. Certain circumstances which fit these incentives are different for different people, but incentives always exist. Some personalities want to gain the recognition of other people whom they respect, others want to get a smile or word of appreciation for their efforts. And yet there are people who are able to evaluate and benefit from the goals reached on their own. However, feeling of satisfaction which people get is always present. Of course, the most spread factor, which we use to satisfy our need for “motivation” – is money (bonuses, premiums, absence of penalties, promotions, etc.). Unfortunately, in our “transition market” the majority of leaders think that this is the most important one and must satisfy the needs for motivation of employees. Employers usually say or mind: “If you want motivation, you have to earn it”. The idea is the following: “make more money for the company and you’ll get percentage as appreciation for your efforts”. Very often this idea has minimum productivity in short-term plan, but it becomes super-effective for long-term plan and for the most productive employees.


The need for belonging is also a powerful driving force in our life. Every person strives to be part of something bigger and greater than him. In this striving we often come to religion, sport clubs or teams, we have hobby, university and school friends and of course we have our families and relatives. Companies, which understand and implement that important incentive, know that people at work are the group in our life which takes more time than all other groups together. If job gives the feeling of value and belonging, then our life becomes more complete and satisfying. Successful companies in the competitive market understand that employees who reach success regularly and feel like they belong to something (company) worthy take better decisions, do their job better, and get better results then the employees in the companies which don’t satisfy this “motive”. If company doesn’t provide types of behavior which would satisfy motives and needs for its employees, then they often choose destructive way for the company and themselves. They strive to feel their value and belonging. If company fails to create positive motivating behaviors in regular daily activity, then habits from the past market start to dominate. In order to feel their value our employees will sabotage, steal enter the groups of “moaners” or they will stop carrying about their responsibilities and will do as less as possible. Most of these alternatives are peculiar to Ukrainian market and are the symptoms of the companies that haven’t learnt yet to satisfy basic motivational needs of their employees. To the disadvantage of satisfying positive motivation, mentioned above, we can add that today many of our leaders use common behaviors from the past market which in fact increases the damage and leads to demotivation of employees. These demotivating habits penetrate deeply and are very destructive. Cruel interactions, personal abuses, penalty system, public criticism, difficult tasks without resources and authority, defaults and broken promises – these are just few demotivating behaviors which are often faced in our companies. If we want to create productive companies, which will be competitive today in the open market we have to understand business principles of highly competitive companies and make sure that we use motivational behaviors, which take into consideration human need for success and belonging. These are fundamental ideas which make best companies the best. They understand that happy, successful, involved, and appreciated employees, with dignity make money for the company. Of course, it is not only about this. Many other important skills and disciplines are peculiar to the best companies, which are the component of their success, but positive motivational behaviors are the starting point.


At the materials: magazine "Human Resource Management" #7 2007