Everything You need to know about Motivation

Concept of Motivation

Motivation is a psychological process that influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions in various situations. It is what drives us to achieve our goals, overcome obstacles, and enjoy our hobbies. Internal and external elements such as our needs, interests, values, beliefs, emotions, rewards, feedback, and social conventions can all influence our motivation.

Motivation can be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.
When we perform something because we find it fascinating, entertaining, or rewarding, we are motivated by intrinsic motivation. The activity itself motivates us, not any external outcome or effect. For instance, we may read a book because we enjoy the story or acquire a new skill because we are interested in it. Higher levels of creativity, autonomy, and well-being are frequently related with intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when we do something because we anticipate receiving a reward or avoiding a penalty as a result of it. We are driven by the activity's outward effect or consequence. For example, we may study for an exam in order to achieve a good score or participate in sports in order to win a trophy. Extrinsic motivation can be effective for completing required but monotonous or unpleasant jobs.

Both sorts of motivation have benefits and drawbacks. In the long run, intrinsic drive can lead to increased engagement, persistence, and satisfaction. It can, however, be altered by elements such as mood, self-esteem, and level of interest. In the short term, extrinsic motivation can lead to greater performance improvement and achievement. However, if it is viewed as controlling or coercive, it might undermine intrinsic drive.

Definitions of Motivation 

According to Abraham Maslow, "motivation is the result of a hierarchy of needs that human strive to satisfy, ranging from basic physiological needs to higher-level needs of self-actualization and transcendence."

According to Frederick Herzberg, "motivation is influenced by two sets of factors: hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are the external conditions that prevent dissatisfaction, such as salary, working environment, and supervision. Motivators are the internal factors that enhance satisfaction, such as achievement, recognition, and responsibility."

According to David McClelland, "motivation is determined by three types of needs: need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power. Need for achievement is the desire to excel and overcome challenges. Need for affiliation is the desire to maintain harmonious relationships and belong to a group. Need for power is the desire to influence and control others."

Features of Motivation

1. Goal-oriented: Motivation is directed towards the attainment of a specific goal or outcome that is valued by the individual or the organization.

2. Personal: Motivation varies from person to person, depending on their needs, preferences, and expectations. What motivates one person may not motivate another person in the same situation.

3. Complex: Motivation is influenced by a combination of internal and external factors, such as personality, values, incentives, rewards, feedback, and social norms. Motivation is not a static or fixed state, but a dynamic and changing process.

4. Multidimensional: Motivation can be classified into different types, such as intrinsic or extrinsic, positive or negative, primary or secondary, and content or process. Each type of motivation has different effects on the behavior and performance of the individual.

5. Controllable: Motivation can be enhanced or reduced by the actions of the individual or the organization. The individual can use various strategies, such as setting goals, seeking feedback, and rewarding oneself, to increase their motivation. The organization can use various techniques, such as designing meaningful jobs, providing recognition, and offering opportunities for growth, to motivate their employees.

6. Measurable: Motivation can be measured using a variety of ways, including observation, self-report, and performance indicators. The intensity, direction, and persistence of an individual's conduct can be used to measure the level and quality of motivation.

7. Learnable: Learning from experience, criticism, and role models can all help to boost motivation. To increase motivation, the individual can cultivate a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and a high sense of self-efficacy. To boost employee motivation, the firm can establish a friendly atmosphere, a clear vision, and a fair method.

Importance and Techniques of Motivation

Motivation is a crucial factor that affects the performance and satisfaction of employees in an organization. It refers to the psychological forces that drive a person to act in a certain way to achieve a desired goal. Let's will discuss the importance and techniques of motivation:

Importance of Motivation

Motivation has several benefits for both the individual and the organization, such as:

1. Improves productivity: Motivated employees work harder, faster, and better, resulting in higher output and quality of work. They also use their resources more efficiently and effectively, reducing costs and wastage.

2. Enhances creativity: Motivated employees are more willing to take risks, experiment with new ideas, and solve problems creatively. They also seek feedback and learn from their mistakes, improving their skills and knowledge.

3. Increases commitment: Motivated employees are more loyal, dedicated, and engaged with their work and the organization. They also have a positive attitude, a high morale, and a low absenteeism and turnover rate.

4. Fosters teamwork: Motivated employees are more cooperative, collaborative, and supportive of their colleagues and managers. They also communicate better, share information, and contribute to the organizational goals.

5. Promotes customer satisfaction:
Motivated employees are more courteous, responsive, and attentive to the needs and expectations of the customers. They also provide better service, quality, and value, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and retention.

6. Develops leadership: Motivated employees are more confident, assertive, and influential in their work and the organization. They also inspire, motivate, and mentor others, developing their leadership potential and skills.

7. Achieves personal growth: Motivated employees are more self-motivated, self-directed, and self-regulated in their work and the organization. They also pursue their personal and professional goals, achieving their growth and development.

Techniques of Motivation

There are various techniques that can be used to motivate employees in an organization, such as:

1. Goal setting: Setting clear, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that align with the individual and organizational objectives. This helps to provide direction, focus, feedback, and recognition for the employees.

2. Job design: Designing jobs that are meaningful, challenging, varied, and autonomous, allowing the employees to use their skills, abilities, and interests. This helps to increase the intrinsic motivation, satisfaction, and performance of the employees.

3. Reward system: Providing rewards that are appropriate, proportional, and fair, based on the performance, behavior, and contribution of the employees. Rewards can be monetary or non-monetary, such as pay, bonus, commission, promotion, recognition, praise, etc. This helps to increase the extrinsic motivation, incentive, and appreciation of the employees.

4. Participation:
Involving employees in the decision-making, planning, and implementation of their work and the organization. This helps to increase the sense of ownership, responsibility, and empowerment of the employees.

5. Feedback: Giving feedback that is timely, specific, constructive, and positive, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement of the employees. This helps to increase the learning, development, and improvement of the employees.

6. Training: Providing training that is relevant, effective, and accessible, enhancing the skills, knowledge, and competencies of the employees. This helps to increase the confidence, competence, and career prospects of the employees.

7. Work environment:
Creating a work environment that is safe, comfortable, and conducive, providing the necessary resources, facilities, and support for the employees. This helps to increase the well-being, health, and happiness of the employees.

Positive and Negative Motivation

A. Positive Motivation

Positive motivation
is when we do something because we find it interesting, enjoyable, or satisfying. We are motivated by the activity itself, not by any external outcome or consequence. For example, we may read a book because we love the story or learn a new skill because we are curious about it. Positive motivation is often associated with higher levels of creativity, autonomy, and well-being.

B. Negative Motivation

Negative motivation is when we do something because we expect to receive some benefit or avoid some penalty from it. We are motivated by the external outcome or consequence of the activity. For example, we may study for an exam because we want to get a good grade or play a sport because we want to win a trophy. Negative motivation can be useful for completing tasks that are necessary but boring or unpleasant.

Both types of motivation have advantages and disadvantages. Positive motivation can lead to more engagement, persistence, and satisfaction in the long run. However, it can also be influenced by factors such as mood, self-esteem, and interest level. Negative motivation can lead to more performance improvement and achievement in the short term. However, it can also reduce intrinsic motivation if it is perceived as controlling or coercive.

Therefore, it is important to balance both types of motivation in order to optimize our behavior and learning outcomes. Some strategies that can help us achieve this balance are:
  • Setting clear and meaningful goals that align with our values and interests
  • Providing feedback that acknowledges our efforts and progress
  • Offering rewards that are appropriate and proportional to our performance
  • Creating a supportive environment that fosters collaboration and autonomy
  • Seeking challenges that match our abilities and aspirations
  • Finding enjoyment and fun in what we do

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory

Maslow's need hierarchy theory is a psychological concept established by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 publication "A Theory of Human Motivation." Maslow further expanded the concept to include his observations of humans' natural curiosity.

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, physiological (survival) requirements are at the bottom and more creative and intellectually oriented 'self-actualization' needs are at the top.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory

Here is a summary of each level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

A. Physiological needs: Physiological needs are the most basic and essential needs for human survival. They include things like air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, and sleep. These needs are driven by the body’s natural instincts and require constant attention and satisfaction. Without these needs met, a person cannot function properly or enjoy life.

B. Safety needs: Safety needs are the next level of needs that arise when the physiological needs are satisfied but not fully. They involve a desire for order, predictability, and control in one’s life. These needs include things like financial security, health and wellness, safety against accidents and injury, law and order, freedom from fear, social stability, property, and health care. These needs are influenced by the environment and society and require protection and support.

C. Love/belongingness needs: Love/belongingness needs are the third level of needs that emerge when the safety needs are met but not fully. They involve a need for interpersonal relationships, affiliating, connectedness, and being part of a group. These needs include things like family, friends, romantic partners, colleagues, community members, pets, hobbies, sports teams, etc. These needs are influenced by one’s self-esteem and social skills and require acceptance and belonging.

D. Esteem/ Ego needs: Esteem needs are the fourth level of needs that appear when the love/belongingness needs are met but not fully. They involve a need for respect, recognition, and self-confidence. These needs include things like achievement, prestige, status, power, autonomy, competence, creativity, etc. These needs are influenced by one’s self-image and social comparison and require validation and admiration.

E. Self-actualization needs: Self-actualization needs are the highest level of needs that manifest when all the lower-level needs are met but not fully. They involve a need to fulfill one’s potential, creativity, and purpose. These needs include things like growth, learning, exploration, expression, innovation, service, etc. These needs are influenced by one’s values and goals and require fulfillment and satisfaction.

Maslow contended that survival requirements must be met before an individual can satisfy higher wants. Because of the interpersonal and environmental hurdles that always irritate us, the higher up the hierarchy we go, the more difficult it is to meet the requirements connected with that stage. Higher needs become more psychological and long-term, as opposed to physiological and short-term, as with lesser survival-related demands.

The order of the levels is not completely fixed. For some, esteem outweighs love, while others may self-actualize despite poverty. Our behaviors are usually motivated by multiple needs simultaneously. Applications include workplace motivation, education, counseling, and nursing.

Herzberg’s Dual-Factor/ Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg’s dual-factor theory, also known as the motivation-hygiene theory or the two-factor theory, is a psychological theory of motivation that was developed by Frederick Herzberg in the 1950s. It states that there are two sets of factors that influence job satisfaction or dissatisfaction: hygiene factors and motivating factors. These factors are independent of each other and have different effects on the employees’ attitudes and behaviors.

1. Hygiene Factors

Hygiene factors are the external conditions that prevent dissatisfaction, such as salary, working environment, supervision, company policies, job security, and interpersonal relations. These factors are necessary but not sufficient for job satisfaction. They do not motivate the employees, but they can cause dissatisfaction if they are absent or inadequate.

For example, if the employees are paid poorly, work in a dirty or noisy place, have an unfair or abusive boss, face unclear or rigid rules, feel insecure about their job, or have conflicts with their co-workers, they will be unhappy and dissatisfied with their work. However, if these factors are improved or maintained at a satisfactory level, they will not increase the employees’ satisfaction or motivation. They will only eliminate the sources of dissatisfaction.

2. Motivating Factors

Motivating factors are the internal factors that enhance satisfaction, such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the nature of the work itself. These factors are related to the content and the quality of the work, rather than the context or the quantity of the work. They motivate the employees to perform better, to grow, and to fulfill their potential.

For example, if the employees are given challenging and meaningful tasks, receive feedback and praise for their performance, have autonomy and control over their work, have opportunities for learning and development, and enjoy their work, they will be happy and satisfied with their work. However, if these factors are absent or inadequate, they will not cause dissatisfaction or demotivation. They will only reduce the sources of satisfaction.

Implications of Herzberg’s dual-factor theory

Herzberg’s dual-factor theory has several implications for managers and organizations who want to improve the motivation and satisfaction of their employees. Some of the implications are:
  1. Hygiene factors and motivating factors should be treated separately and differently. Hygiene factors should be maintained at a minimum acceptable level to avoid dissatisfaction, while motivating factors should be enhanced and emphasized to increase satisfaction.
  2. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites, but separate and distinct phenomena. Improving the hygiene factors will not increase satisfaction, but only reduce dissatisfaction. Similarly, reducing the motivating factors will not increase dissatisfaction, but only reduce satisfaction.
  3. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are influenced by different factors, and therefore require different strategies and interventions. To increase satisfaction, managers should focus on the intrinsic aspects of the work, such as providing challenging and meaningful tasks, giving feedback and recognition, delegating authority and responsibility, offering opportunities for growth and advancement, and creating a supportive and collaborative work culture.
  4. To reduce dissatisfaction, managers should focus on the extrinsic aspects of the work, such as ensuring fair and adequate pay, improving the physical and psychological working conditions, establishing clear and reasonable policies and procedures, providing job security and stability, and resolving interpersonal conflicts and grievances.

Comparison Between Maslow and Herzberg’s Theory

Maslow and Herzberg are two of the most influential psychologists who have contributed to the field of motivation. Their theories have been widely used and applied in various contexts, such as business, education, and health.


Both Maslow and Herzberg proposed that human motivation is influenced by a hierarchy of needs, which are arranged from lower to higher levels. They also agreed that the lower-level needs are related to the external conditions of the work, such as pay, security, and environment, while the higher-level needs are related to the internal aspects of the work, such as achievement, recognition, and growth. Furthermore, they both suggested that the lower-level needs must be satisfied before the higher-level needs can emerge and motivate the employees.


Despite the similarities, there are also significant differences between Maslow and Herzberg’s theories. Some of the main differences are:
  1. Maslow’s theory is descriptive, whereas Herzberg’s theory is prescriptive. Maslow’s theory describes how human needs affect motivation, while Herzberg’s theory prescribes how managers can improve motivation by enhancing the hygiene and motivating factors.
  2. Maslow’s theory assumes that any need can be a motivator if it is relatively unsatisfied, while Herzberg’s theory assumes that only the higher-level needs can be motivators. Maslow’s theory suggests that the lower-level needs can also motivate the employees if they are not met, while Herzberg’s theory suggests that the lower-level needs can only prevent dissatisfaction but not increase satisfaction.
  3. Maslow’s theory implies that there is a fixed and universal order of needs, while Herzberg’s theory implies that there is no such order and the needs can vary from person to person. Maslow’s theory suggests that the needs are arranged in a sequential and hierarchical manner, while Herzberg’s theory suggests that the needs are independent and parallel to each other.
  4. Maslow’s theory is based on a general view of human motivation, while Herzberg’s theory is based on a specific view of work motivation. Maslow’s theory applies to all kinds of human needs and situations, while Herzberg’s theory applies only to the needs and situations of professional workers.
Here is a table of difference between Maslow's and Herzberg’s theories:

Basis Maslow’s Theory Herzberg’s Theory
Nature Descriptive Prescriptive
Essence Unsatisfied needs stimulate individuals Gratified needs regulate behavior and performance
Motivator Any need can be a motivator if it is relatively unsatisfied Only higher-order needs serve as motivators
Applicability Takes a general view of the motivational problems of all workers Takes a micro-view and deals with work-oriented motivational problems of professional workers
Factors The existence of some factors creates a positive attitude and their non-existence creates a negative attitude The positive and negative factors are completely different
Order of needs Hierarchical No sequence

The following diagram summarizes the comparison between Maslow and Herzberg’s theories:


The above comparison diagram depicts the two theories and their primary components. It demonstrates how Maslow's theory is founded on a hierarchy of five requirements, ranging from physiological to self-actualization, whereas Herzberg's theory is founded on two aspects, cleanliness and motivators.

It also demonstrates how Maslow's theory's lower-level needs correspond to Herzberg's theory's hygiene elements, while Maslow's theory's higher-level demands correspond to Herzberg's theory's motivation factors.

The diagram also shows that hygiene elements can only avoid unhappiness but not boost contentment, whereas motivational factors can both raise and cause dissatisfaction.

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