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Nature of Motivation

Updated on December 10, 2018

What is motivation?


Some people are found to be more efficient than others. The difference in their performance can be attributed either to their urge or willingness to perform as best as possible or difference in their abilities. Omitting the ability and skill, it is the motive of employees which determines whether they will be more or less efficient. Motivation, the bringing about an inner urge or desire in employees to work to the best of their ability is an important function of management.

The concept of Motivation.

Motivation may be defined as the complex forces inspiring a person at work to intensify his willingness to use his maximum capabilities for the achievement of certain objectives. In other words, motivation is something that motivates a person into action and induces him to continue in the course of action enthusiastically. At work, it determines the behavior of a person.

Dalton E. McFarland defines motivation as: Motivation refers to the way in which urges, desires, drives, striving, aspirations, or needs direct, control or explain the behavior of human being".

The term 'motivation' is derived from the word 'motive'. The motive may be defined as wants, drives, needs or impulses within the individual. Motives are personal and internal because it is an expression of a person's needs. The term 'need' should not be associated with pressing desire or urgency for something. Simply it means something within an individual that prompts him to action. The behavior of a person starts from this needs or motives. These needs and motives start and maintain activity and eventually, it determines the direction of a person. These motives give direction to human behavior because they are directed towards certain 'goals' which may be conscious or sub-conscious.

The starting point in the motivation process is motives or needs of a person. Motives are directed towards the achievement of certain goals which in turn determine the behavior of individuals. This behavior ultimately leads to goal-directed activities such as preparing food and a goal activity such as eating food. Unsatisfied needs result in tension within an individual and engage his search for the way to relieve this tension. He will develop certain goals for himself and try to achieve them. If he is successful in his attempt, certain other needs will emerge which will lead to setting a new goal. But if he is unsuccessful he will engage himself in either constructive or defensive behavior. This process keeps on working within an individual.

Nature of Motivation

Motivation helps in inspiring and encouraging people to work willingly.

One motive may result in many different behaviors: The desire for prestige may lead a person to give money away, get additional educational training, run for political office, steal, join groups or may change his outward appearance. A person wanting acceptance will behave differently in a carpool, swimming pool or office secretarial pool.

Motives are the energizing forces within us:
These forces are invisible and it is very difficult to measure them because all of us are different and the motives energizing us at a point differ from time to time. Observing someone's behavior may indicate that a certain need is present in this person which motivates him onwards.

The same behavior may result from many different motives: Behavior may be caused by a number of different motives. For example, the motives behind the purchase of a car may be: to appear respectable; to satisfy economic values and to reinforce company created status differentials; to appear younger and attractive; to gain acceptance from others or to maintain the acceptance already gained through a similar income level. Therefore, it is wrong to asses that all behavior as coming from the same motive. For different motives, people do different things like attend classes, get married, join unions or groups etc. Thus motives cannot be identified from any specific behavior.

Motives may operate in harmony or in conflict:
Behavior is frequently the result of the interplay of several motives. These motives may drive a person to one direction or in a number of other directions. For example, an employee may desire an outstanding performance and may also be sensitive to being outcast by his fellow employees if he performs too well and receive too much appreciation from the employer. Therefore, the behavior is the result of many forces differing in direction and intent.

Behavior can be used as an estimate of an individual's motives: It is possible to make an estimate of the cause of an individual's behavior by repeatedly observing his behavior. For example, there is truth in the statement that some people always seem to feel insecure and thus behave continuously in a manner reflecting the insecurity of feeling. There are also people who behave in a way that radiates confidence. They are confident in many different social settings so that one finds a constant and repeated behavior from which people probably estimate the motive of the person. Obviously, if a person is at a state of near starvation, most of his behavior will be related to the need for food.

Motives come and go:
Energy level of the motivation may differ in different times. i.e. rarely we find the same energy level of motivation for a long period like a year or 10 years. For example, a young man who prefers to travel during vacation may give up the idea during the tennis season because the joy of playing tennis takes place the need of traveling. The girl who is overly concerned about her hair and clothes during adolescence may turn her attention to other things once she grows up. Humans are constantly growing and the motive at one point in time will not be as intense as the motive at another point in time.

Motives interact with the environment: The situation at a particular point in time may trigger or suppress the action of a motive. You probably have experienced situations where you did not realize the intensity of need of a car till the traveling requirements of your business are not developed. Similarly, many of these sociological needs become stimulated when you are in a situation filled with the sociological factors.

Process of motivation

The basic elements of the process of motivation are:

  1. Motives,
  2. Behavior
  3. Goals

Motives: Motive or need or want or drive prompt people to action. They are the primary energies of behavior. They are the ways of behavior and origin of action. These want or motives are subject to the human being and his mental feelings. They vary and are connected with the mental process of understanding. They affect the behavior in many ways. They arise continuously and determine the general direction of an individual's behavior.

Behavior: All behavior is a series of activities. Behaviour is generally motivated by a desire to achieve a goal. At any moment individuals may indulge in different kinds of activities like eating, walking, talking etc., Swiftly they switch from one activity to other. By understanding the motives one can predict or control the activities.

Goals: Motives are directed towards goals. Motives generally create a state of disequilibrium, physiological or psychological imbalance, within the individuals. Attaining a goal will tend to restore physiological or psychological balance. Goals are the ends which provide the satisfaction of human wants. They are outside an individual; they are hoped for incentives toward which needs are directed. One person may satisfy his need for power by kicking subordinates and another by becoming the president of a company. Thus, a need can be satisfied by several alternate goals. The particular goals chosen by an individual depends on four factors:

1. The cultural norms and values that are instilled as one matures.
2. One's inherited and biological capabilities
3. Personal experience and learning influences and
4. Mobility in the physical and social environment.

The dilemma posed by a large number of needs can often be resolved by integrating wants where one activity may satisfy several needs. Researches have found that many overweight people continue to eat excessively because they have fused the satisfaction of a number of wants like live, security and comfort into the act of eating. Eating, in a way, relates the tension built by the numerous unsatisfied needs.


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    • profile image


      23 months ago

      very nice summarized contents explaining what it means by Motivation

    • boyatdelhi profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks dmop for motivated to write the comment. Keep your motivation level high as much as possible. Over a period of trying, it will become your habit.

    • dmop profile image


      7 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      I feel motivated to leave a comment after reading your article. I have trouble with motivation at times then at other times I drive myself till I burn out. I try to find the balance but struggle with it often. Voted up and useful.


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