P. Fisher, Ph.D.
One of the enigmas of human relationships is how to best get
other people to do exactly what you want them to do. This can be
particularly crucial in an employer/employee relationship.
Until somewhat recently, there was a major debate in
management circles as to whether one person could motivate others, or
if supervisors only influence the conditions through which employees
become motivated. The debate has concluded in favor of the latter
There are approximately 10 motivating factors that set the
stage in which behavior of people is influenced. Insight and judgment
are needed, however, to determine what combination appeals to which
people at any given point in time. That is the management challenge.
- Idealism. Some people are motivated by
ideals that build on their personal value system. The call to go above
and beyond normal duties, to give extra or prolonged effort because
it’s the right thing to do, or the belief that one can reach higher
personal and/or organizational fulfillment is a powerful motivating
- Accomplishment. Trainers have long known
that trainees should be given readily achievable tasks in the forepart
of their training so that achievement can be self-recognized as a spur
to continue developing. Getting things done provides sustaining
- “Team-mating.” Some people have a strong
need for affiliation and to be part of a larger group which gives a
sense of camaraderie. People seek and need acceptance and a group’s
structure and its inherent support systems bolster individuals’ sense
of belonging. Most people act because they don’t want to let the team
down, or be subject to the team’s sanctions.
- Independence. Other people are motivated
by autonomy. They like being held individually accountable, setting
their own pace, functioning in their own style, and exercising their
discretion. They perform best without close supervision or being
engulfed by a bureaucratic maze.
- Fear. This is a controversial element,
but if you define “motivated” as behavior undertaken irrespective of
willingness or cooperation, then fear has to be recognized as a
powerful motivator. Fear can be intra-personal (fear of embarrassment,
for example), or inter-personal (intimidation by others, for example.)
- Prestige. Recognition factors stir some
people to action in that they not only want to be connected with a
first-class group, but their position within the group compels them to
act in a certain way. For example, a reputation of never having missed
a day of work is motivation to continue an unbroken attendance record.
- Rationality. Logic plays a part in the
performance and motivation of people. Therefore, it is important to
have everyone see the big picture –– not just his or her own more
limited sphere. If one is told, for example, you are going to sell a
product or a service at a financial loss, it becomes logical if it is
understood that the draw of the loss leader results in greater overall
- Safety. Along with security, safety is a
powerful motivator for many people. Not just physical safety, but
emotional safety and comfort as well. The older one gets (an employee
who is approaching retirement, for example), the larger conservation
looms, and radical changes or upsets are not always welcome.
- Compensation. People like to be rewarded
and money certainly plays a part, but it is not the “be all and end
all” for many employees. Other forms of compensation, such as a
positive environment, benefits, awards, and compliments, all play an
important part. Money is just a number above a certain lifestyle level
for many people, and is certainly not always the first –– or only ––
motivator to affect behavior.
- Curiosity. Motivation for some people is
based on the intellectualization of solutions to problems and
challenges that are presented. Thus, behavior is governed by wrestling
with and overcoming obstacles that are set before them. System
developers, for example, often state that it is the challenge that
attracts them to their job and drives their activities. Their
motivation lies in the thrill of breaking new ground.
William P. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Darden Chair in
the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of
Central Florida in Orlando. A former CEO of the National Restaurant
Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association he is the
recipient of numerous awards including the CHRIE Educator of the Year
and the Michael E. Hurst Award for Educational Excellence, and is a
Diplomat of the National Restaurant Association's Educational
Foundation. An author and noted speaker, he serves on corporate boards
in concert with his consulting assignments. A former U.S. Air Force
Officer, he is a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
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