7 Top Motivation Models

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As a leader motivating others is a key part of your role, however it isn’t the easiest part! Here are some of the top motivation models which may help you:


1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s theory explains employee motivation based on a five step order starting with their most basic needs, finishing with their most advanced need – Self-actualization. Once an employee passes one level, it is suggested they become more motivated to reach the next level of the model.

The first level of the hierarchy is your employees Physiological Needs. These are classed as basic needs that are expected from an individual to be able to carry out their work, or as Maslow says ‘survive’. If

this basic level is not passed, no other levels will become achievable.

The next level is your employee’s safety needs. This level can consist of safety, security and the need to feel safe in the workplace, or as Maslow says ‘secure in their life and surroundings’. This can include employment security, financial security and physical security.

Next on the Hierarchy of Needs is social needs. Maslow says this is the most important motivator for employees to be satisfied with their role and progress higher on the model as we are programmed to be in social settings. This can include positive workplace friendships and supportive employers. Without these needs, employees can become dissatisfied with their work and have a huge decrease in motivation.

Esteem needs are the next level on Maslow’s Hierarchy mode. This is to do with recognition and status in the workplace and being respected by others for their work, as well gaining confidence and independence within themselves to go on to achieve the highest level of self-actualization needs.

Once the first 4 stages of the Hierarchy of Needs are achieved, employees will be at the final step in which they will be at their full potential. This is the Self-Actualization Needs. This will be where an individual has come to realisation to continue growth by obtaining new skills, continuing education or pursuing new goals.

It is common to go back to level one if they start a new role or project etc and start the climb again.


2. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

Victor Vroom created the expectancy theory of motivation which highlights employee behaviour in the workplace and how it connects to motivation, leadership and decision making. This theory highlights the idea that if an employee values the overall outcome, they will become more motivated to achieve it.

Vroom then connected staff motivation, effort and performance with three main factors which are Expectancy, Instrumentality and Valence. If one of these factors are not being progressed, then staff will not be motivated.

The first factor is Expectancy. This is where staff members expect a certain outcome or result when putting in effort. If they find they don’t receive that outcome, they will become demotivated and will not have the motivation to do it again in the future.

The second factor is Instrumentality. If an employee makes the effort and gain the outcome they expected, they expect a reward. Should they not receive this reward, they could be dissatisfied and unmotivated.

The final factor is Valence. This is how much the overall outcome is valued or not valued by your employee. If a staff member highly values the achievement, they will be more likely to be satisfied and motivated to learn more and carry out further efforts and goals. However, if the valence is not met and they do not feel the final achievement was worth the effort, they will become demotivated.

A reward doesn’t necessarily mean a prize or big gesture, it could possibly be for example, a promotion, bonus or recognition in the workplace.


3. Douglas McGregor’s X and Y Theory

 This model consists of 2 theories, the X theory (authoritarian) and Y theory ( participative) which compares different approaches of managers beliefs and behaviours towards employee motivation and management style.

Theory X employers tend to use a more controlled approach towards their employees as they assume they need constant supervision, have no ambition and dislike their role. These kinds of organisations tend to have multiple managers and supervisors to micromanage their employees without giving them much freedom to think on their feet. This type of management will happen at some point, especially if there are deadlines that are due. However, if this type of management is used too often, it most likely demotivates employees in the long run as they are not aiming to reach any particular goal.

On the other hand, theory Y employers tend to use a more trusted approach towards their team by giving employees the chance to participate and take responsibility. This type of management assumes that their employees are self-motivated, view their work as fulfilling and enjoy solving problems and use their own initiative.  This type of management increases motivation and desire to grow and excel in their career by encouraging them to develop their skills and really be a part of the company itself.


4. ERG Theory of Motivation

Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy, the ERG Theory of Motivation outlines the three groups of employee needs. Existence, relatedness and growth. This model shows that these needs can be worked on together or separately depending on what the overall goal is.

Existence needs are the basic needs that are important and expected in the workplace. These include reasonable working hours, suitable working environment and at least a living wage.

The next need is relatedness which focuses on how employees relate to their environment. This includes good working relationships with co-workers, supervisors and managers. This relates to Maslow’s social needs in his motivation theory.

The last need in the ERG theory is growth. This is something that employees will use to produce more effort into their work and think outside the box to ensure personal development and become more creative with their tasks.


5. Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Framework

 Pink’s framework suggests that being motivated is based on three key factors which are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

First, we have autonomy, which is the need to be in control of your own life and role. To be fully motivated, individuals must be able to think creatively and for themselves without having to conform to rigid rules in the workplace. For example, working from home gives employee’s autonomy as it challenges them to use their own initiative, manage productivity and their motivation towards set tasks and deadlines.

Next, we have Mastery which is a key factor to being motivated by fully focusing on improving skills and continuous learning. Employees will see their full potential by undertaking any extra lessons or practises that could help them improve their overall performance.

The third factor to ensure motivation is Purpose. If employees can’t see how their work will contribute to the organisation they may become demotivated. However, if they see that they are working towards the bigger picture, their levels of commitment and productivity will heighten. This can be done by connecting their goals to the company targets.



6. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory helps employers understand employee motivation and satisfaction. Herzberg created two groups: factors of satisfaction (motivators) and factors of dissatisfaction (hygiene factors.)

The Hygiene factors need to be in place to ensure employees do not become dissatisfied. These include working conditions, co-worker relationships, policies/rules, security or salary. Herzberg found that hygiene factors are able to satisfy employees and stop them from becoming demotivated but unfortunately will not increase their motivation. If they are missing they will be a cause of de motivation. The Motivating factors are elements that increase overall motivation and achieve higher performance. These include achievements, personal growth, recognition, the role itself or leadership style. Motivating factors are needed in conjunction with hygiene factors to encourage high performance and motivation.



7. McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory

If you are leading or managing a team, you should know each individual has a different personality and approach to how they respond to feedback and praise and what will motivate each person. David McClelland’s motivation theory helps you, as a leader, to identify your staffs motivating drivers and gives you direction on how to effectively assign suitable tasks and give feedback with the correct approach to keep them motivated.

McClelland learned that no matter what our personality is, each person has three main motivating factors, and one will be our dominant driver out of the three.

The first motivating factor is achievement. If this is your dominant driver you will have a strong need to challenge yourself and accomplish set goals as well as taking risks. You may also prefer to use your own initiative when working alone and ask for feedback throughout the process.

The second motivating factor is affiliation. If this is your dominant driver you will prefer to work as a team. You may also dislike taking high risks and being uncertain of your goals.

The final motivating factor is power. If this is your dominant driver you will hold the power and lead others rather than being led yourself. You love competition and winning in general!

This theory is to help you understand each team members dominant driver to guide you on how to set goals and provide feedback as well as motivate each individual. To be able to use McClelland’s method effectively you must first identify your employees drivers, this could be through their personality or past experiences with set tasks. Then you must structure your approach and assign your next moves correctly to ensure they are engaged and motivated.

Click here for more FREE resources on motivating others

Watch our YouTube video on Leading a team using 10 top motivation models below:


If you are interested in Motivation Training contact Sales Training International on +44 (0) 1704 889325 or email info@salestrainingint.com for more information.

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