Motivation is driving force for an individual.

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Abraham Maslow’s need hierarchy:

Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist. He developed a model of hierarchy of needs to explain human motivation. His theory proposed that people have a number of basic needs that must be met before people move up the hierarchy to pursue more social, emotional, and self-actualizing needs. The pyramid of needs is explained as below:

Physiological Needs

The theory generally is portrayed as a fairly rigid hierarchy in shape of pyramid. The physiological needs are at base which include food, water, clothing, sleep, shelter and reproduction. These are the basic necessities for any individual’s survival.

Safety Needs

After physiological needs come Safety Needs. These include protection from bad elements in society, security, law and order, stability, strength and freedom from fear. Once a person’s basic needs are satisfied, he requires safety and security as want for order and predictability sets in.

Social Needs

These include friendship, family, friend’s circle, memberships of various groups and clubs, work group, educational qualifications, salary, community belonging etc, in short, each person seeks affiliation in society.

Esteem needs

This category includes achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, and respect from others.

Self-Actualization needs

This is at the peak of need pyramid. This includes realizing personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Maslow felt that there was a clear distinction between gaining love and gaining respect or esteem. He felt that people get respected for their exceptionality and mastery.

Alderfer’s ERG theory:

Clayton Paul Alderfer was an American psychologist and HR consultant known for additionally developing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Alderfer’s ERG theory of 1969 condenses Maslow’s five human needs into three categories: Existence, Relatedness and Growth. All three include material and physiological desires.

Existence needs

These include need for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs. Housing, clothing, food, health are the needs for basic existence.  Maslow’s physiological and safety needs fall under this category.

Relatedness needs

These include the individual’ ambition to maintain significant interpersonal relationships. We all feel the need of belonging to individuals and groups in our personal and professional lives. We all try to maintain relationships with significant others like family, friends, co-workers and employers. We like to cherish social esteem. This means to be recognized and feel secure as part of a club, social organization, group and our extended family. Getting public fame and recognition nourishes our self-worth.  Maslow’s social needs and esteem needs fall under this class of need.

Growth needs

These include need for self-development. Growth need refers to the necessity for personal growth and self-discovery which a person continues throughout his life. For Maslow, a person is always ‘becoming’ ‘developing.’ A person never remains static. At every stage of life person grows mentally and physically.  The realization or fulfilment of one’s talents and potentials and fulfilment of those is called self-actualization.

Vroom’s expectancy theory:

Victor Harold Vroom is a business school professor at the Yale School of Management. His expectancy theory of motivation is the belief that an individual chooses to behave in a particular way based on what could bring him the most beneficial outcome. Vroom’s expectancy theory assumes that employee behaviour results from conscious choices to maximize pleasure. Vroom noted through his study that an employee’s performance is based on individual factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities.

Vroom says that an individual’s motivation is affected by how much he is valued in his organization and rewards associated with it. This act is called Valence. Employers must recognize that employees will put efforts which will generate good results which Vroom calls Expectancy.


Valence refers to the emotional orientation of people with respect to outcomes (rewards). The depth of the want of an employee for extrinsic satisfaction includes money, promotion, time-off, leave benefits etc. For intrinsic satisfaction rewards such as sense of fulfilment, sense of achievement is important. Management must find out what an employee values – extrinsic or intrinsic satisfaction.


Instrumentality is the perception of employees as to whether they will actually get what they desire. Sometimes the boss promises additional perks or benefits  – often the promises are not fulfilled. Management must ensure that promises made must be fulfilled.

Motivation is a function of valence, instrumentality and expectancy. M = V x I x E

Locke and Latham’s goal-setting theory:

Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham spent many years researching the theory of goal setting, during the time spent on the research, they identified five elements that need to be in place for individuals to achieve goals.

Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback and Task Complexity.


A clear, measurable goal is more achievable than one that is poorly defined. The most effective goals have a specific timeline for completion.


The goal must be little challenging in order to achieve it. If the goal is easily met, it becomes a plain achievement.


one needs to put thoughtful effort into meeting a goal. When you share your goal with someone else in order to increase your accountability you will put in efforts to achieve that goal.


For achieving a set goal one must learn to take feedback from genuine people from time to time.

Task Complexity

If a goal is especially complex, make sure you give yourself enough time to overcome the learning curve (involved in completing the task. In other words, if a goal is really tough, make sure you give yourself some padding to give you the best chance at succeeding.

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