The motivation of human beings

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Abraham Maslow’s framework for studying human needs is especially prototypical to human resources writers that are aware of its implications in organizations since fulfillment of basic needs is fundamental to the motivation of human beings. Maslow believes that basic needs are arranged in a hierarchy according to their strength (Goleman, 2001). The physiological needs are at the top of the hierarchy because they tend to have the highest strength until satisfied. These are the needs that must be met to sustain human life, for food and water, clothing, and shelter (Daft, 2002).

As soon as the physiological needs are satisfied, which varies from person to person, the next level of needs, security, becomes predominant. This need represents man’s desire to be free from danger in the present and in the future, or the need for self-preservation (Daft, 2002). As these two groups of needs become satisfied, affiliation or acceptance becomes the dominant need in the hierarchy. This need represents the need of human beings to belong, to be accepted, to be liked, and to be respected by their friends (Daft, 2002).

Perhaps the next level of needs, esteem or recognition, explains why some Hawthorne studies became rate busters. It may be that after individuals achieve acceptance from their peers they feel the need to excel in the group to gain the esteem of their fellows (Daft, 2002). Self-actualization, the last need in Maslow’s hierarchy, is the most difficult need to satisfy. Self-actualized personas have achieved their potential; that is, they have realized their full capability. Managers who enjoy managing satisfy this need by managing (Ewing and Meissner, 2004).

A democratic, reward-giving leader employs the following assumptions: (1) work is a natural phenomenon and if the conditions are favorable, people will not only accept responsibility, but they will seek it; (2) if people are committed to organizational objectives, they will exercise self-direction and self-control; (3) commitment is a function of the rewards associated wit goal attainment; and (4) the capacity for creativity in problem solving is widely distributed in the team and the intellectual potentialities of the average team member are only partially utilized (Levine, 2003).

Because of these assumptions, Daft explains that the leader prefers influence mechanisms that appeal to higher-level needs for belongingness, challenge, autonomy, and self-actualization. In all cases as a democratic leader, he or she avoids imposing his or her will on subordinates (Daft, 2002). Since this kind of leader assumes that people are motivated by higher-level needs for social interaction, achievement, and self-actualization, he tries to make subordinates’ duties challenging. In a sense, he tries to create a situation in which people motivate themselves to some degree because their work is intrinsically rewarding.

As a highly democratic leader, he also makes subordinates understand that they are to solve most problems without seeking approval or assistance (Daft, 2002). But he is careful to create a climate of openness and trust so that if subordinates do need help, they will not be afraid to approach him. To accomplish this, he practices two-way communication and play a developmental and guidance role. He tries to give subordinates insight into organizational problems, provide them with adequate information, and show them how to seek and evaluate alternative courses of action (Levine, 2003).

Probably a reward style may only lower satisfaction in situations where followers operate on a low need level. Participation does, however, tend to have a positive effect on the satisfaction of most people above the blue-collar level. There are also instances where it has proven successful with even relatively unskilled team members. High satisfaction seems to reduce turnover, absenteeism, and accidents. This usually, but not always, increases productivity. However, low turnover does not necessarily indicate high satisfaction. Higher morale and greater job satisfaction improve productivity (Levine, 2003).

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