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Motivation Theories in Management


Assessment Tasks:

“Employees who are adequately motivated to perform will be more productive, more engaged and feel more invested in their work.  When employees feel these things, it helps them, and therefore their managers, be more successful.

It is a manager’s job to motivate employees to do their jobs well!”  Lawrie Mullins.

 “It is a widely accepted notion that motivation is a primary driver of behavior.  Human motivation theory describes motivation as effectively laden anticipations of desired situations that guide human behaviours toward these situations.” McClelland, 1985.

There are a number of key motivational theorists (as discussed in lectures).  You are required to prepare a report for submission in week 8.  The report should include the following factors:

  1. A discussion of four motivational theorists of your choice.

(20 marks)

  1. An assessment of the techniques used to implement each of these theories to a real life organization of your choice.          (40 marks)
  1. Demonstrate and determine the effectiveness of the implementation of these theories at these organizations.

(this could include the implementation of any of the elements below:

  • Discuss the degree to which the company has managed to achieve set targeted outcomes through the implementation of the motivational theory.
  • The degree to which the company has improved its business performance in terms of market share, sales volume, profitability, customer satisfaction.
  • The increase of employee satisfaction.
  • The decrease of employee turnover.                                (20 marks)


  1. Prepare a range of recommendations as to how the implementation of these techniques could be improved in the future at your chosen organization.                                                                       (20 marks)

Total 100 marks.



Most organizations focus their attention on what ought to be done in order to achieve a sustained high level of performance through employees. Managers are trying to come up with best ways to manage employees by motivating them to perform better in order for the organization to achieve its organizational goal and at the same time maintain a team of motivated employees (MINER, 2005).

The purpose of this paper is to analyze four theories of motivation critically and assess techniques used to implement these principles in Zappo Company.  On the same note, the paper explores the effectiveness of implementation of motivation theories. By discussing techniques used by Zappo to implement theories of motivation. And how the company has achieved its target goals and the degree to which the company has improved its business performance in the market.

Keywords: Motivation Theories, Motivation Techniques, Zappo Company


  1. Introduction………………………………………………………………. 4
  2. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs………………………………….. 5
  3. Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory……………………………………………..6
  4. McClelland’s Need for Achievement Theory……………………………….7
  5. Elton Mayo’s Theory of Motivation………………………………………..8
  6. Assessment techniques used to implement motivation theories in Zappos


  1. Effectiveness of implementing motivation theories in Zappos Company…10
  2. Recommendations on implementation of motivation techniques………….11
  3. References…………………………………………………………………12

Most organization strives to achieve a high level of performance through the activities of its employees. Consequently, today’s business environment is characterized by stiff competition and uncertainties in the market. Motivation of employees is imperative when it comes to improving productivity of employees to achieve a sustained high level of performance within the organization. Motivation can be termed as he forces within an individual that pushes an individual to develop an inclination for specific behavior (MINER, 2005). According Mukherjee (2009), motivation is individual enthusiasm to put more effort on his or her responsibilities to achieve organization goals. Most organization seek out to employ individuals who are motivated and can be able to motivate others within their workplace to perform better in order to accomplish the assignments assigned to them.

Inadequate motivations do occur in organizations because some of the employees joined an organization with different expectations, outlook and behavior. Despite individual challenges of motivation and productivity, most organization seeks ways of ensuring there is continuous productivity in order to achieve organization goals.

Quite a number of theorists have come up with motivation theories to explain what individuals need and sources of motivation to employees within an organization.


Motivation Theories

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow held that a person is naturally good and proposed that people possess inner driving force that has a budding potential. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is classified into five needs which exist in a hierarchy. Lower-level needs on the bottom of the hierarchy must be fulfilled first, before the needs of the next level are fulfilled.

Physiological Needs: These are basic needs a person needs in order to live comfortably. They include needs such as food, shelter, water. These needs can be satisfied by providing reasonable pay to employees in order for them to obtain these needs.

Safety needs: Needs to do with safeguard against threat, danger and deprivation, behaviors which make employees feel insecure with respect to job security. Discrimination in workplace and constantly changing administration policy are critical safety needs that need to be addressed in an organization (THOMPSON, 1996).

Social Needs: The feeling of belonging to a particular organization, manifested through friendships, affection, association and acceptance. These needs are satisfied in the workplace by having pleasant managers and supervisors, friendly co workers and as well as good interaction between employees, management and customers.

Self-Actualization needs: One’s need to realize the potentials in him for continued self-development. The desire to be better and more of what is or capable of becoming. It is expressed by ones need to excel in his career after achieving all the basic needs, safety needs and social needs. For instance, after working for many years individual feels complete because he has enough money to provide for him, good friends and social status and appreciation from employers, co-workers, and his or her social friends. One feels complete and challenges himself to pursue PH.D, or participate in Philanthropic activities. Bill Gates is a good example of an individual in self actualization stage.

Derivation of motivation from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

  • Satisfied need do not motivate an individual.
  • The extent that a need in the lower level of the hierarchy is satisfied, the next need higher in the hierarchy becomes the motivator of behavior (MINER, 2005).

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

This theory is also referred as Herzberg Motivation-Hygiene Theory and focuses on sources of motivation which are applicable to accomplishment of assigned tasks (HERZBERG et als., 1993). Herzberg identified that job satisfaction (motivating factors) and dissatisfaction (hygiene factors) impact motivation of employees in the workplace.

  • Motivating factors or satisfiers: They include such things as recognition, achievement, responsibility, career advancement and individual growth.
  • Hygiene factors or dissatisfies: They include such things as working conditions, job security, supervision, interpersonal relations, company policy status and personal life. These factors do not motivate employees; however, they cause dissatisfaction if they are not provided in the workplace.

Herzberg used the word “hygiene” to refer to the sense that these factors operates to remove dangers and hazards from the work environment (as cited Duttweiler, pg 371). Herzberg believed that deprivation of hygiene factors cause job dissatisfaction; however, reducing risk factors does not directly lead to job satisfaction (Herzberg, 61).

McClelland’s Need for Achievement Theory

The theory suggests that, when a need is intrinsically strong in an individual, its requirement motivates a person to behave in a way that will lead to fulfillment of the need (SAXENA, 2009).). By and large, these needs are acquired through life experience while interacting within one’s environment. Realistically, since these needs are learned, rewarding good behavior tends to re occur at a higher frequency (Weiner, 2001).

McClelland pointed out three precise needs: Need for achievement, need for power and need for affiliation.

People with a need for achievement are characterized by the desire to do things better. They try to find a solution to problems, want good feedback in their performance and always set easily achievable goals to achieve.

Individuals with high need of power desire promotion and are characterized by desire fo being in charge, prefer competitive situations and are most concerned with influencing others in the workplace.

Individuals with affiliation needs identify themselves through social approval, companionship and are characterized by the creation of friendship, prefer cooperative rather than the competitive nature of jobs and involve themselves with high mutual understanding responsibilities GIBSON, & HODGETTS, 1985).

Elton Mayo’s Theory of Motivation

Elton Mayo developed his motivation theory after studying Hawthorne Electric Factory for five years. At first Mayo believed that employees were motivated by their working conditions, skills and as well as their salary and wages. Mayo conducted experiments by isolating workers into two groups and studied the effect of changing lighting working conditions. Mayo believed that the level of production will decrease with changing lighting conditions from better to worse in the company. Interestingly, when these working conditions continued to be worse, the productivity of workers remained the same or improved instead.

He therefore, concluded that changing working conditions or employees salaries and wages has little effect on the productivity. Mayo then suggested that employees are motivated by teamwork, greater involvement of the manager and better communication between the manager and employees of the organization.

Assessment of techniques used to implement motivation theories in Zappos Company is an online shopping store based in Las Vegas. This organization has been able to motivate its employees towards achieving their organizational goals of selling shoes online. Zappos company mission is to provide the best customer service possible.

Motivation techniques employed by Zappos

Communication: Good communication among managers and employees is a motivating factor in an organization. Zappos CEO has ensured that the company has maintained flat organization structure to ease communication process in Zappos. As a result employees have increased freedom leading to more satisfaction among the employees hence motivating them to work towards attaining organization goals.

Creation of good working environment: Zappos core values is build based on creating an environment that develop inclusiveness and encourages motivation of employees. The organization addresses self-actualization needs of the employees that they desire to obtain from their work experience.

Good customer relation: Zappos CEO believes the best way to win customer relation is by caring and being sensitive to customer limit (ZEPEDA, 2007). At Zappos, work is structured differently to bring out the best in their employees by allowing them to communicate for long with their clients. Employees are allowed to build a personal relationship with their clients to make the employees become more affiliated and feel motivated at work.

Satisfying employee’s needs and desires: The Company is dedicated to paying its employees well by giving them a good basic salary with attractive allowances such as full health care cover and compressed workweek.

Pleasant working environment: Zappos Company is build based on happiness of both employees and their clients. Zappos offices are eco-friendly and risks against hazards is reduced almost to zero. Zappos provide enjoyable environment to work in and at the same time addresses employee needs for affiliation, achievement, and good working conditions (HSIEH, 2010).

Effectiveness of implementing motivation theories in Zappos Company

By and large, Zappos have enjoyed numerous benefits from motivating their employees by applying techniques obtained from motivation theories. The organization is having among the best team of motivated employees whose goal is geared toward satisfying the organization objectives. Currently, the organization is ranked number 15 in “100 best Companies to work for” on the Fortune magazine research.

Zappos is proud of being able to provide excellent services to their clients because of having a motivated team of employees. The company products are well marketed, and the demand for shoes from the company is soaring high(MICHELLI, 2012). The company is proud to attain its overall sustainment goals. The organization has enjoyed tremendous growth in the online industry and increased its market share on the online niche. The Company is among the best to work for because of its motivation strategies and ability to provide employees a chance to achieve their self-actualization goals.

Zappos offered a 5-week training to educate employees about the company’s core values and also gave an offer of $2000 for any employee who feels the company is not good to work in to quit. Only 1% of Zappos employees took the offer and quit. The rest continued to work with the organization. This level of commitment shows that most employees in Zappos are motivated well enough to remain and work for the organization.

Recommendation on implementation of motivation techniques

To ensure that all the employees are adequately motivated, Zappos Company can employ Armstrong motivation process. This process begins with identification of individual needs for employees within the organization (Beck, 2004). After identifying individual needs within the organization, the company can set measurable goals believed to satisfy these wishes of employees. Realistically, the organization ought to set behavior direction geared to achieve the specific objective. If these goals are achieved, the employee needs will be satisfied, and such behavior will be repeated when such a need occur. Bringing what is referred to as intensification effect to the organization.

Promotion and development: Zappos can employ this strategy of recognizing positive behavior and promote individuals to motivate them to work even more exceptionally. Employees are “developed” into a team of motivated individuals who perform their job better by identifying their career needs and developing on them.

The organization from should assess motivation level of the employees to ensure that the employees are consistently motivated. By contunually providing a hygienic working environment, challenging opportunities and identification of excellent performance; the company can be able to maintain a team of motivated employees who work hard to achieve the organization goals (VAN WART et als., 2005).


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