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Role of Motivation and Individual Behavior


When people are motivated, they accomplish goals. In the workplace, workers can be very productive when they feel they are a part of a team, or part-owner of business. They feel this sense of belongingness and so they strive for the company’s success. This is one of the many kinds of motivation that affect individual behaviour in the workplace.

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Motivating employees is a challenge to managers. Managers have to demonstrate trust to their employees. Ways to demonstrate trust include such actions as removing some controls, or by asking a person to create a plan or schedule, or by putting subordinate in charge of something one would normally handle.

People always connect work with life’s fulfilment, and connect their satisfaction at work with their feelings and satisfaction of life and happiness with their family. Work and life balance suggests a balance for life and what people do. There has to be a blending equality that includes work, family, pleasure, fulfilment, and satisfaction.

Part of good and productive management is to motivate employees to become productive and to work for the fulfilment of the organization’s objectives. Motivation is an important factor in determining performance of people in an organization. It is the heart of performance management.

Studies have found that successful managers have stronger power motives than less successful managers. The human need theory asserts that people have urges relative to the three needs which are the need for achievement, the need for affiliation, and the need for power.

Theories of motivation include those expounded by Frederick Taylor who is known as the father of scientific management. He defined work in terms of the specified tasks designed for the workers to follow. The workers have no independence and they cannot judge between what is right and what is wrong in the workplace. (Luecke & Hall, 2006, p. 18)

The social scientist Douglas McGregor formulated the Theory X and Theory Y approach to management. Managers who embrace Theory X have two motivational tools: the carrot and stick – greed and fear. Theory X sees the boss as prodding the employees, exerting too much control in the workplace. Theory Y assumes that when people are motivated, they accomplish goals. (Fournies, 1999, p. 34)

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Another motivational-factor theory is the Hawthorne effect which refers to the productivity benefits that companies create when they pay attention to their employees and treat them with dignity or as equal partners. David Garvin and Norman Klein (cited in Luecke & Hall, 2006, p. 19) made their own research on this and found that work output was not simply a function of a job’s scientific design, but was also influenced by social norms, management-employee communications, and the level of employee involvement in workplace decisions.

Abraham Maslow (1943), who is the originator of the human need theory, formulated the pyramid theory of need. He arranged it like a pyramid or ladder. Basic needs were at the bottom of the pyramid. As one set is met, the need moves up the ladder to the next. Another is the need structure, order, law, and limits, and the need for strength in the protector.

The next in the ladder is belongingness and love needs that include the need for recognition, acceptance and approval of others. Self-esteem needs include how we value ourselves and our love and respect for ourselves and for others. We also have the desires to know and to understand. (Maslow, 1943, p. 236)

Self-actualizing needs are those where we place our goals for our career. Management in the organization has to look how it has met the needs of employees before they can go on and be effective in their job. The need theory is focused on the acquired needs that people learn in the process of acquiring new life experiences over their lifetime. The three major groups of needs that people acquire include achievement, affiliation, and power (Kopelman et al., 2006, p. 233). It is the motivations that people have for certain attitudes towards their work and their relations with their employers.

Affiliation is the need that people try to satisfy in the work place as well, and organizations must provide their employees with favorable conditions for professional and personal development in the work place. (Duxbury & Higgins, 2001, p. 13)

Finally, the need for power is the moving force of the career development and professional progress of an employee (Kopelman et al., 2006, p. 233).

In business, it is a matter of always being active, always looking for improvement, and in pursuit of excellence to do the right things. This involves action or activities to get to the customers’ demands quick, to answer their needs, to improve the business always, etc.

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Individual behaviour in the organization

Organizations and the people acting and running these organizations encounter change every now and then. We have drivers of change such as globalization, Information Technology, the Internet, etc. As a result of these changes, authors and commentators call the world we live in as a global village. It is difficult to achieve something in this world – a world which they have called a global village.

The term global village is an oxymoron. It is nicknamed ‘village’ because it has been made simple by computers, the internet, and the globalized world – we are connected. But in this so-called simplicity, humans have to live in a most complicated way. Computers have made our lives complicated, if not miserable.

Individual employees have to cope, adjust, and change day in and day out with their organizational life. There are many things to cope with. One phenomenon appears after another until the worker and the manager become puzzled what and how to follow. Most of us belong to an organization, which maybe a particular business, or a group with humanitarian goals.

Many of the people who started these organizations would say that they formed the groups to make life easier and to make the world a better place to live in. But we know that these organizations have complicated goals, beginnings, and outcomes. They haven’t made life a better place to live in. They have made our lives difficult, although there is an exception to some. There are organizations out there which have noble intentions, although (again this word) these organizations are victims themselves of the changes brought about by many factors.

An organization with a business background and objective – or simply said, a business organization – can never offer simple lives for its members. This complicated world of the managers, employees and ordinary workers makes life so harsh, difficult and uncompromising.

Individual employees have to cope because global organizations operate in a most complicated way, not to mention that organizations are composed of peoples of diverse cultures. Multinational corporations and multinational enterprises are global organizations composed of people of diverse cultures. Living with peoples of different cultures can make the lives of ordinary employees, and even managers, very unbalanced. Work and life balance is difficult to achieve.

Our emotions, feelings, personal lives have never been so affected by organizational activities that we tend to look at the office or the organization headquarters as our home away from home. We spend and dedicate our time, efforts, and knowledge to the organization. We look at the office as more than a place. Family life plays second fiddle. We believe that if we are happy in the organization, we are happy at home. The organization comes first.

Moreover, the organization’s strategic operation is very different than it was a few years ago. Employees have to give up, sometimes. Businesses and organizations are manned or controlled by humans, not by machines – machines are there to follow our commands. But humans commit mistakes or errors, and succumb to the changes and ambiguities in organizational life.

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In our dealings with fellow employees, we commit errors. Our errors and inadequacies, faults, perceptions are in many ways what make us human and make us unique. The world has been interpreted by theorists, thinkers and researchers who made sense of things in very different ways. Many of these issues are perceptions but are essential to handling the nearly infinite stimulus our mind receives. The more the organization has become complicated to our own perception, the more we commit errors and mistakes; and the more our lives become miserable.

Like the organization, human nature is complicated – it is filled with emotions and feelings. In an organization, there are complexities, errors, and successes, because organizations are manned by humans like us. We are not governed by theories but we formulate these theories out of our experiences and continued socialization. In the course of time, these theories seem to rule over our behavior and activities.

Schemas are constructs that contain information about our values, how we perceive ourselves and others, and how we adjust to things and changes in the environment. Schemas are components of cognitive-behavioral therapy and are powerful tools in interpersonal relationships. (Clegg et al., 2005, p. 56)

In our socializing activities, we commit errors which are a part of our behavior in making judgments, interpretations, assumptions, and beliefs about our social world, the people within it, and our place in it. Examples of these errors are stereotyping, self-fulfilling prophecies, the ‘halo’ effect, attribution error, cognitive dissonance, and so forth.

These affect our relationships with managers and co-employees. This should be minimized, if not avoided, because this is one way of judging people; instead of managing, we divert from the right path. Instead of motivating, we discourage employees. Stereotyping is not always negative. Self-fulfilling prophecies and the ‘halo’ effect are a result of our own fulfilling dreams – a result of looking at one’s self as something greater, or holier-than-thou attitude.

The most common issues concerning stereotyping center on culture and race. People have been asked to suppress their stereotyping behavior. Another of the errors in managing people is ‘self-fulfilling prophecies’ which affects how we perceive others and how we act when we interact with them, but it also affects how we perceive and act ourselves. If we look at others the way we think of them, they may act the way we perceive of them.

Within attribution we are prone to two key errors. The first is the fundamental attribution error. When we see someone fail or behave in certain ways we believe it is due to their personality, attitude, or disposition.

When we think of work as a mere tool for us to live, we can hardly be motivated. We will continue working for the sake of the salary we get from the company we work for. But we have to cope with our organizational life, the same way we cope with family life. This has to go together. Work and life have to balance. Organizations which promote work-life balance will have productive workers because these workers are well motivated. Success in work and happiness in the family always go together.

Organizations employ many strategies to improve competitive advantage. Group dynamics and team building are concepts of continual improvement. Group dynamics influence individual behaviour. (Firth, 2002, p. 23)

Team building is one of the many innovations which benefited workers. In team building, workers are formed in teams or clusters and function through teamwork and motivation. Each team is given independence, the members are allowed to function at their own utmost capacity, and are trained in the process, becoming multi-skilled, while each member is responsible to the team. A cluster competes with other clusters when it comes to skill, but they are all working for one organisation. As individuals mature in their job, and become accustomed to it, they significantly improve their skill and organizational knowledge, becoming more professional and expert in their own respective fields.

The philosophy behind teambuilding is that when individual workers are allowed to work at their own pace and given the responsibility as part of the team, they become well motivated. The motivation is that each individual works for improvement and advancement of the organisation. A member becomes like a part owner of the business. Each cluster works like an independent body but each member is multi-skilled that allows the cluster members to be flexible. Cluster methods provide improvement not only as workers but as developed individuals.

Teamwork can develop individual flexibility and learning. This concept is like that of motivation. The purpose is to motivate the workers into aiming for the success of the organization.

Creating teams require some skill and real talent. It requires some determination to put the individual talents into a single force to work for change or introduce ideas that can provide further innovations, progress and success for one objective.

The purpose is somehow linked to the organizational mission and objectives. By having clusters and groups, talents and capabilities of members are maximized. This is known as the centralized kind of management. With globalization, the technique is to manage the organisation horizontally. Team working can best be enhanced with use of the internet, Information Technology, and teleconferencing. Mobile communication such as cell phones, lap tops and other similar high-technology tools can help in team building work. Communication is fast and effective.

Team formations are considered special features for improved organisational and individual performance. Introducing principles of team formations in the workplace is like implementing total quality management concepts. They present a strong foundation for global organisations in the present century, and they can be an effective way of providing work and life balance which is very much needed by the people.


There is a common thinking that successful leaders are those who respond most appropriately to the demands of the specific situation. When there are no problems, when it seems there is no conflict in the organization, leaders can relax and seek opinions from members at a leisurely pace. But when a problem comes up, the leader must know how to act and deal with the situation immediately. The leader has to be well prepared to changes which may come in anytime.

People have to change. We, as individual members of the team or the organization, have to go along with the tide and have to change. Our behaviour is affected by the changes in the world.

People who tend to like change are those who may have changed the world. Many of them are not the ones who are popular, but quite a few effected change and their inventions became more popular than their personality. They are leaders in their own right, quiet and unpopular, but effective.

Change is an internal dynamic in a person; meaning the attitude – our attitudes, our outlook in life, our motivations and objectives for the organization – should change, and we become good leaders. But first we have to become, transform, into good followers who want change. The ‘want’ is emphasized here because if we do not have the longing for change, it will not be effective. It has to be a desire and a goal.

Annotated Bibliography

1. The Third Force: The Psychology of Abraham Maslow, by Frank G. Goble (2004)

Publisher: Reinventing

Bright and intelligent ideas of Abraham Maslow are compiled and condensed in this book about motivation. These important knowledge and information were compiled by Frank G.Goble from the various data bases and from the hundreds of essays, articles and speeches which portray Maslow’s philosophy and understanding of the human nature and behaviour.

Maslow himself coined the term “third force” to distinguish his own ideas and philosophies from the others. It contains significant theories of human behaviour. It aims to explain the complexities of man’s behavior, his goals and achievements and how these are done to achieve goals and successes.

The vast sources of Maslow’s ideas and knowledge come from a gathering of materials from Maslow’s friends and supporters. Highlights of this book include the Pyramid Theory or the theory of needs which sets man’s needs like a pyramid. As one set is met, the need moves up the ladder to the next. The need for belongingness and love includes recognition, acceptance and approval of others. Self-esteem needs include how we value ourselves and our love and respect for ourselves and for others. (Maslow, 1943, p. 236)

2. Managing People: A Practical Guide for Line Managers, by Michael Armstrong (1998)

Publisher: Kogan Page Limited

This is about managing people. The book is divided into eight parts. Part 1 deals with the framework in managing people and describes how line managers and personnel work together as a team.

Part 2 is about the basic skill that line mangers should have. Part 3 is on resourcing and describes how managers can get the right people for the right job. Part 4 is about performance management. Part 5 describes how the manager and the team should be able to work together effectively as a team. Part 6 is all about managing reward and tells how the manager should recognize worthy actions of the members of the team. Part 7 is about employee relations and how the manager should deal with complaints and grievances of the employees whether or not there is a union of employees. Finally, Part 8 deals with employment relationship and describes how the manager should answer to the management’s legal obligations and other responsibilities to employees.

3. Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action, by Michael Armstrong (2000); Publisher: Kogan Page Limited

In this book, Armstrong focused on definitions and explanations of strategic management and human resource management. The objective of strategic management is to gain advantage in the competition. Strategic management also aims for strategic competitiveness which is attained when the firm successfully formulates value creation.

Some interesting subject defined in the book is the history of HRM, which was then handled by personnel management in the traditional sense. Functions and responsibilities were managed by a personnel department, until HRM evolved. Functions include recruitment, training, and managing human resource. There is some relationship to the other books of Armstrong, but this is not to say that it is a weakness. Armstrong further displays prowess in dealing with the subject of which he is an expert and very much at home in discussing about.

One concept of strategic management and HRM is that the people are the organization’s greatest asset. The present trend in organizations is to look after the welfare of its employees and see to it that they are satisfied with their work in the workplace.

4. A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, by Michael Armstrong (2003); Publisher: Kogan Page Limited

This is another important book of Michael Armstrong on the subject of human resource management (HRM). There are important chapters on the roles of the human resource function and practitioners. A significant part focuses on HRM processes, including strategies, processes and many other subjects of management. Change management is also given space and ample discussion in the book.

Organizational behaviour is another subject worthy of mention in the book. Armstrong is a renowned expert in the field of organizational behaviour and his ideas coupled with suggestions and important analysis on this subject is of great help to the students of human resource management.

The concepts of work, employer-employee relationship and other work-related topics are some of the important topics. Armstrong emphasizes job design, resourcing, performance management, etc. This is really a good read for students of management and even those actively practicing their art of dealing with people.

5. Leadership and Change, by Annabel Beerel (2009)

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd., London

The opening salvo in the introduction talks about the realities of change and leadership, but more specifically, it talks of systemic leadership approach. This kind of approach views leadership as especially linked to change. But Beerel does not delve much on the execution and implementation aspect of leadership; instead, she talks about change and why is there a need for change. In other words, the purpose of change is of paramount significance in this book. The organization should be able to recognize change, the earlier the better.

Beerel recognized the ideas and inputs made by Ronald Heifetz of the J.F. Kennedy School of Government and those of Tavistock Institute which helped shape the ideas and points of discussion for human behaviour.

Beerel explained further in the book leadership and change through exercises and case studies. She explained how the organization should maintain focused to the new realities. This may include culture and cultural differences, for instance global organizations nowadays are composed of employees of different cultures.

6. Managing Change, Changing Managers (4th edition), by Julian Randall (2004)

Publisher: Routledge, London

Julian Randall shares the knowledge he acquired through the years of actual experience as a consultant. This book has a significant layout for the postgraduate student, in fact this was how Randall could have planned it for students planning to take up postgraduate courses.

There are ideas sourced from contributions but are given due analysis and detailed accounts by the author. There also questions posed in the third section of the book, but answers are given due course. The references are composed of journals and books from experts and scholars in the field of management and change.

Randall further touches the topic of Human Resource Management, analysing and quoting some knowledgeable authors and commentators. HRM originated from the traditional personnel management during the twentieth century. This evolved and now came HRM with more additional quality and new characteristics added in our present time.

The topic of change is not something new, Randall recognizes this. He traces the history of change management during the time of the industrial revolution. In our present time, change has to be dealt with in the midst of globalization and new technology. Continuous change occurs in the workplace.

7. Performance Management: Measure and Improve the Effectiveness of Your Employees, by Richard Luecke & Brian Hall (2006)

Publisher: Harvard Business School, United States of America

Performance management is a significant aspect of human resource management. This is what Richard Luecke and Brian Hall emphasize in the book – human resource which is an important asset of the organization. The authors stressed that human resource should be competent and committed to the company’s objectives; should be skilful and motivated; and get things done at the right time for the organization.

Performance management should be done by the manager so that it can measure the effectiveness of the people. This is the purpose of this book – to measure the performance of employees. The activities involved in performance management goal setting, coaching, or motivation, among others.

Luecke and Hall explained why performance management is necessary in the organization, and described in detail how performance management system can be installed and executed in an organization.

They described the activity as a cycle that can go on and on so that performance can be a repetitive aspect. If it becomes a cycle, the employees become used to it and their performance in the organization becomes effective and worthy.

8. Making Sense of Managing Culture, by David Cray & George Mallory (1998)

Publisher: International Thomson Publishing Inc., Boston, MA.

In the new global environment, patterns of complexity in organizations have changed tremendously because of the wider scope and the unpredictability of business activities. Managers have more challenges of increasing new knowledge, knowledge that are not of the traditional ways of looking at things or managing change. Managers and employees have to go on constant training, continuing education and lifelong learning.

This is because people are now living in what Cray and Mallory (1998) called “a larger and smaller world”. With the advent of the internet and modern means of communication, more innovations have been introduced in the work place. Communication and the internet created more paradigm shifts.

In the 21st century, managers encounter more concepts and theories on organizations. What was perceived as mere ideas before have now come out a reality – the so-called climate change and global-warming. The business world has to take responsibilities for the excessive use of fossil fuels and coal gas emissions. In the cities and countryside, businesses and peoples are now to look beyond their borders and see what has been going on – pollution, the deterioration of the environment, climate change, and so forth. The manager’s focus is both internal and external environments and how to deal with them in order to triumph in the competition and acquire more profits.

9. Introducing Organizational Behaviour & Management, by David Knights and Hugh Willmott (2007); Publisher: Thomson Learning, London

This book describes organizational behaviour and management in the context of the new trends in global organizations.

A significant point here is team building and clustering in organizations. Teams should be understood as discrete units of performance and not as examples of positive organizational values such as sharing, collaborating or listening to others.

Teams are identified as a distinctive form of organizational technology. Teams are designed to attain results. Team formations cannot be underestimated. Team formations are considered special features for improved organizational performance. This is total quality management applied to organizations.

One thing remarkable in this method is that teams tend to enhance organizational flexibility and learning as they can explore and react quickly to any problem or new challenge. Motivation is also greatly enhanced as teams are ‘empowered’ by bestowing upon the members responsibility and autonomy in performing organizational tasks, in contrast to traditional organizations with their tight rules of command, short span of control and coordination.

10. Human Resource Management, by John Bratton and Jeffrey Gold (1999)

Publisher: Macmillian Press Ltd., London

Two of the most important authors in the field of human resource management are John Bratton and Jeffrey Gold who have given their masterful ideas and insights in this book, a milestone in management studies.

The first part of the book provides an in-depth definition and meaning of the term human resource management. This analysis portion dissects the term human resource management. It describes how this came into being, its origin, and its role in the present world of management and business. Given emphasis here are HRM’s history, evolution, and its present state. There are different models of HRM mentioned in the book, and these are the Harvard model, the Guest model, the Warwick, etc. These were named according to the originators of the particular models.

The second part of the book is about Strategic HRM by John Bratton. This is another very important subject which Bratton skilfully provided justice by dealing on the many aspects of strategic management, the Japanese HR strategy, and a particular case study which is about Air National. Part Three of the book deals on HR planning by Jeffrey Gold. The book is subdivided into important subjects and authored equally by Bratton and Gold.


Clegg, S., Kornberger, M. & Pitsis, T. (2008). Managing and organizations: an introduction to theory and practice. London: Sage Publications Limited.

Duxbury, C. & Higgins, W. (2001). Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go? CPRN Discussion Paper, No W/12.

Firth, D. (2002). Life and Work Express. United Kingdom: Capstone Publishing.

Fournies, F. (1999). Coaching for improved work performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kopelman, R. E., Prottas, D. J., Thompson, C. A., & Jahn, E. W. (2006). A Multilevel Examination of Work-Life Practices: Is More Always Better? Journal of Managerial Issues, 18(2), p. 232

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. In F. Goble, The third force: the psychology of Abraham Maslow, pp. 233-6. USA: Zorba Press.

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