Motivational Theory is a very important part of management education. As managers, our core job is to motivate the team. For achieving the same, it is important to understand what motivates individuals. Every person is intrinsically motivated differently. While some people strive for recognition and tangible rewards, others find their goals by contributing to a larger project or feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.
The 8 Motivational theories found in this blog are intended to give you an idea of which motivation would work better for you, from intrinsic motivators that depend on natural rewards like food, sleep, and sexual gratification, to extrinsic motivators like monetary bonuses or free pizza. Here is a comprehensive post for all the motivational theories you will ever need.
Motivational Theory 1: The James-Lange Theory
According to the James-Lange Theory, when we experience an event, our body reacts to it physically. These physical reactions then lead to emotions. For example, if we see something that scares us, our heart rate will increase and we will start to breathe faster. These physical reactions will then lead to feelings of fear or anxiety.
The James-Lange Theory is one of the most well-known motivational theories. It has been influential in developing other motivational theories as well, such as the Cannon-bard theory and the Schachter-singer theory.
Relevance to Managers: Though the theory finds its origin in Medical Sciences, it has far-reaching implications in the corporate world as well. As a manager, you have to look for signs of physical reactions. This becomes particularly important if you are supervising a manufacturing shop floor or any hazardous activity
Motivational Theory 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
We wrote a detailed theory on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Here. Please refer to it for further details and insights.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a popular motivational theory that has been around for many years. This theory states that people have different types of needs and that these needs must be met in order to motivate people. The most basic needs, such as physiological needs and safety needs, must be met before people can be motivated by higher needs, such as social needs and self-actualization needs.
Over the years, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been used to help explain why people do certain things. For example, if someone is working hard to get a promotion at work, it may be because they are trying to meet their need for self-actualization. Or, if someone is engaging in risky behavior, it may be because they are trying to meet their need for excitement.
While Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a popular theory, it is not without its critics. Some people argue that this theory is too simplistic and does not take into account all of the different factors that can Motivate people. However, despite its critics, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs remains a popular motivational theory that is widely used by psychologists and others.
Motivational Theory 3: Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Cognitive dissonance is a theory that says that people are motivated to reduce the inconsistency between their thoughts and actions. For example, if someone smokes cigarettes but believes that smoking is bad for their health, they may feel cognitive dissonance. To reduce this inconsistency, they may try to justify their smoking by saying that it relaxes them or that they only smoke occasionally.
Motivational Theory 4: Self-Determination Theory
Self-determination theory says that people are motivated when they feel like they are in control of their own lives. For example, if someone feels like they are able to direct their own lives and make choices that affect their future, they will be more likely to be motivated than if they feel like they have no control over their life.
Motivational Theory 5: Goal-Setting Theory
The goal-setting theory says that people are motivated to achieve specific goals. For example, if someone wants to lose weight, they will be more likely to be motivated to exercise and eat healthy food if they set a specific goal such as losing 10 pounds in two months. Setting specific, achievable, and realistic goals is key to being motivated.
Motivational Theory 6: Social Influence Theory
Social Influence Theory suggests that people are heavily influenced by the opinions of those around them. This theory is based on the idea that humans are social animals and we seek approval from others. Therefore, we are more likely to conform to the beliefs of those around us. This theory can explain why people are more likely to believe false information if it comes from someone they know and trust.
Social Influence Theory is a powerful tool for understanding human behavior. It can help us to understand why people conform to the beliefs of others, even when those beliefs are false. It can also help us to understand why people are reluctant to change their opinions, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
Motivational Theory 7: Self-Efficacy Theory
According to Self-Efficacy Theory, people’s beliefs about their abilities affect their motivation. People who believe they are capable of achieving a goal are more likely to be motivated to achieve it. This theory was developed by psychologist Albert Bandura.
Self-efficacy beliefs can be influenced by past experiences. If someone has achieved a goal in the past, they are more likely to believe they can achieve it again. Seeing others achieve a goal can also increase self-efficacy beliefs.
This theory has been found to be particularly relevant for academic achievement. Students who believe they are capable of doing well in school are more likely to be motivated to put forth the effort required to succeed.
Overall, Self-Efficacy Theory is a valuable tool for understanding motivation. It helps to explain why people with different beliefs about their abilities may be more or less motivated to achieve a goal.
Motivational Theory 8: Equity Theory
Developed by J. Stacey Adams in 1963, equity theory is based on the premise that people perceive and act according to their levels of fairness. Employees who feel that they are being treated equitably will work harder and stay with their current employer longer. Those who feel that they are being treated unfairly will likely look for other employment opportunities.
Equity theory has three key components: inputs, outputs, and comparisons. Inputs refer to the time, effort, and resources that an employee puts into their job. Outputs refer to the rewards that an employee receives for their work, such as salary, benefits, and recognition. Comparisons refer to the way in which an employee compares their own inputs and outputs to those of others. If an employee feels that their own inputs and outputs are not equal to those of others, they will likely experience feelings of inequity.
Equity theory is a useful tool for understanding motivation in the workplace. It can help employers to create a fair and equitable workplace where employees feel motivated to do their best work.
Motivational Theory 9: Alderfer’s ERG Theory
Alderfer’s ERG Theory states that there are three core needs that motivate humans: existence, relatedness, and growth.
Existence needs are the most basic needs, such as the need for food and shelter. Relatedness needs are the need to feel connected to others, such as the need for love and belonging. Growth needs are the need to develop and grow as a person, such as the need for self-actualization.
This theory is different from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in that it does not rank the needs in order of importance. Instead, it states that all three types of needs can motivate humans at any given time.
The ERG Theory is a helpful way to understand what motivates people. By understanding what people need, you can better meet their needs and help them reach their full potential.
Motivational Theory 10: Contextual Reinforcement Theory
Contextual reinforcement theory posits that people are more likely to repeat behaviors that are reinforced in the context in which they occur. For example, if someone is praised for their work performance in a meeting, they are more likely to repeat that behavior in future meetings. This theory can be used to explain why people tend to stick to certain routines and habits.
This theory has been supported by research, which has shown that people are more likely to repeat behaviors that are reinforced in similar contexts. For example, one study found that employees who received praise from their supervisors for good work performance were more likely to repeat that behavior in future interactions with their supervisors.
There are two main types of reinforcement: positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by a positive outcome, such as a reward. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by the removal of a negative outcome, such as punishment.
This theory can be used to motivate people by reinforcing desired behaviors. For example, if you want someone to continue exhibiting a certain behavior, make sure to praise them for it in the context in which it occurs. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that they will repeat the behavior in future similar contexts.
Motivational Theory 11: David McClelland’s Theory of Motivation
David McClelland’s Theory of Motivation states that people are motivated by different things. Some people are motivated by achievement, while others are motivated by power or affiliation. McClelland proposed that people’s motivation can be measured by taking a test that measures their need for achievement, power, and affiliation.
McClelland’s Theory of Motivation has been found to be accurate in predicting people’s behavior. For example, research has shown that people who score high on the need for achievement are more likely to take risks and be innovative. People who score high on the need for power are more likely to seek out leadership roles. And people who score high on the need for affiliation are more likely to cooperate with others.
Overall, McClelland’s Theory of Motivation is a useful tool for understanding why people behave the way they do. It can help explain why some people are more driven to achieve than others, why some people seek out leadership roles, and why some people are more cooperative than others.
Motivational Theory 12: Herzberg’s theory of motivation
Herzberg’s theory states that there are two factors that influence how people feel about their jobs: motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators are things that make people want to do their jobs, such as recognition, challenging work, and opportunity for growth. Hygiene factors are things that make people not want to do their jobs, such as low pay, poor working conditions, and lack of job security.
According to Herzberg’s theory, the best way to motivate someone is to focus on motivators. This means giving people recognition for their work, offering them challenging work tasks, and providing opportunities for them to grow in their careers.
Motivational Theory 13: Freud’s Theory of Motivation
Freud’s theory of motivation states that there are three levels of needs that must be met in order for someone to be motivated. The first level is the most basic, which is the need for survival. This includes the need for food and water. The second level is the need for safety, which includes the need for shelter and security. The third level is the need for love and belonging, which includes the need to be loved and to belong to a group.
Freud believed that people are motivated by these needs in different ways. For example, some people may be more motivated by the need for survival, while others may be more motivated by the need for love and belonging.
Overall, Freud’s theory of motivation is a helpful way to understand why people are motivated to do certain things. It can help us to better understand human behavior.
Motivational Theory 14: Hersey’s Theory of Motivation
Hersey’s Theory of Motivation states that there are four basic ways that people can be motivated:
1. Directing – This is when someone gives clear and concise instructions on what needs to be done. This is often used when someone is new to a task or job.
2. Persuading – This is when someone tries to convince someone else to do something. This can be done through logic or emotion.
3. Supporting – This is when someone offers help or assistance with something. This can be in the form of physical, emotional, or financial support.
4. Encouraging – This is when someone offers encouragement or positive reinforcement to someone else. This can be done through words of praise or affirmation.
Motivation Theory 15:Dwerk’s growth theory
Dwerk’s growth theory states that people are motivated to grow and develop as individuals. This theory is based on the idea that people have an innate need to progress and evolve. People are constantly striving to improve themselves and their situation. This desire for growth is what motivates people to achieve their goals.
It also emphasizes that hard work and perseverance are the only ways to grow and develop yourself as a person while talent and knowledge can best be a starting point. The theory presents us to the concept of a “Growth Mindset” and asks managers and trainers to put forth the idea and inculcate these virtues among individuals.
There are many different motivational theories out there, but the ones we’ve covered in this article are some of the most popular and well-known. By understanding these motivational theories, you can better understand what motivates yourself and others, and how to create an environment that supports motivation. If you’re interested in learning more about psychology, be sure to check out our other articles on the subject.
Samrat is a Delhi-based MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. He is a Strategy, AI, and Marketing Enthusiast and passionately writes about core and emerging topics in Management studies. Reach out to his LinkedIn for a discussion or follow his Quora Page