Discussion Questions for Week 5
What is Taylor’s view of motivation?
Fredrick Winslow Taylor was of the opinion that motivation would only succeed if the management trained and instructed their staff on the proper way to do their jobs. The management should also distribute the profits and benefits of the job with the rest of the staff. In his opinion, these two practices would ensure higher motivation levels in the workplace.
Why do you think that few if any managers use Taylor’s view of motivation?
The success of Taylor’s Theory of Motivation has been minimal especially among managers. This is because of two main reasons. One, the fear that introducing such changes will hike the wage benchmark for the staff has deterred many managers. Increasing the training and instruction of employees will result in the increased awareness of their value and consequently, a demand for increased compensation. Two, companies also fail to train their employees and improve their remuneration terms because they deem such actions are too expensive. Managers see the training experience as an expense rather than as an investment in the future of the firm.
How is Taylor’s view of motivation different from the cognitive evaluation Theory?
The Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) was formulated to give explanation to the impacts of external factors on internal motivation (Ritti 123). CET is based on three main propositions that are constant for all situations. One, the external factors that influence a person’s behavior, competence and self-determination (Ritti 120). Two, the events concerned with the instigation and control of behavior and lastly, the personal actions that have different functional importance. One of the major differences in the two theories was the focus on the object of motivation. While Taylor focused on improving the reward systems and knowledge among staff, the Cognitive Evaluation Theory focused on eliminating external factors that stood in the way of employees realizing their true potential. Therefore, the Cognitive Evaluation Theory is focused on external elements within the work environment while Taylor’s perspective focuses on the internal factors. Another difference between the two approaches was the role played by the individual in influencing their own motivation. While Taylor’s approach assumed that once the internal factors were made suitable to the employees, motivation would increase, the Cognitive Evaluation Theory assumed that external factors were mere hindrances and that the individual would still determine their own motivation levels (Ritti 128).
What are bounded rationality and satisficing?
Bounded rationality refers to the notion that rationality and decision-making are controlled by the amount of information possessed, the mental limitations and the time to decide. Proposed by Herbert Simon, bounded rationality served as an option for decision-making that included mathematical approaches. The approach analyses decision-making as a wholly rational procedure of reaching the best possible choice with the information present. Consequently, satisficing refers to a decision-making approach that endeavors to meet an acceptability benchmark. Satisficing strategies were first developed by Herbert Simon to explain the inability among human beings to optimize their cognitive resources.
According to this part, do managers typically make decisions that are best for the ENTIRE organization?
When people need to make a decision, and they are short of the capacity and assets to arrive at the best possible solution, they depend on their rationality only after having vastly simplified the choices available. In relation to decision-making by managers, sometimes their choices are not the best. This is because they may have little time and information with which to work.
Positive reinforcement entails the introduction of a reinforcing incentive that follows behavior. In this way, the behavior is encouraged to continue in the future. Positive reinforcement is used to strengthen certain behavior by providing a favorable result and reward. Common examples include receiving bonuses for working extra hours and receiving higher grades for including more in-depth material on a term paper.
Negative reinforcement involves strengthening a behavior by removing the negative outcome from a situation, for example, getting used to the behavior of waking up early to avoid traffic jams.
Punishment refers to administering an undesirable action to get a positive response from the subject.
Can you think of any examples from your previous experience of each of the following: Rewarding A and Hoping for B and Punishing A and hoping for B?
Employers sometime engage in rewarding employees for the work done by increasing salaries in the hope that it will serve to increase the motivational levels while in reality it does not. Employers can also punish employees for being late by denying them leave from work. They intend to reduce such behavior that does not work effectively.
What is meant by “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”?
The term ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ is an American Labor chant that referred to the movement for increased wages congruent to the working conditions and hours. The behavior by employees toward the management is determined by their level of satisfaction with the status quo.
Why do employees engage in the kind of behavior Ginny Szekely advocates?
When employees feel disgruntled and unsatisfied, they tend rebel, and this leads to strikes. In the tale, the mill hands already understood the concept of working smart and strongly supported the idea. Traditionally, the management expected that the staff would put in their optimal effort into the work with normally resulted in exponential growth. Modern approaches by labor have focused on receiving proper rewards for the amount and type of work done.
Why does Ted feel that the phrase “work smarter not harder” will motivate the mill hands? Why will the phrase probably just make the mill hands angry?
In the story, the mill hands understood the term ‘work smarter, not harder’ better than Ted, the manager. They were able to limit their efforts in the plant to the minimum because they were not being rewarded for any extra effort they contributed.
How do the traditional/rational and the cultural/interpretive perspectives clash with one another in this tale?
Traditional approaches in the story have the assumption that increasing the amount of rewards will result in increased productivity. However, employees subscribe to newer rational models that focus on being paid for the time spent at the workplace.
When trying to increase productivity, what are some strategies that managers can use to get mill hands or the like to buy in?
One common strategy among managers is to prevent counterproductive conduct by introducing employee appraisals. These assessments can assist a manager in determining what areas employees should develop to increase productivity. Managers also find it beneficial to inquire about the capability and practices among employees before hiring them. Managers can also assess the techniques being applied in a company to determine if they are counterproductive. Changing these techniques will encourage productive behavior. Increasing accountability and security measures such as CCTV and regular drug tests are other strategies that decrease counterproductive behavior (Robbins 34).
Can you think of examples of similar programs that management has introduced in your previous experience? Were they successful? Why not?
A good example was the introduction of salary and bonus brackets that applied to each employee depending on how much work they did. This venture failed mainly because the employees realized they were being requested to overwork themselves and were not being appropriately paid for it.
What does this tale have to say about the limits of incentive systems per se in motivating human beings?
Incentive systems force many employees to resort to unorthodox and unconventional means of achieving the company’s targets and getting the rewards. They can create friction and aggression in the workplace. These incentive plans can also demotivated employees when they raise hopes that will be ultimately dashed.
How does the view of compensation stressed in this tail fit into theories of motivation in general?
On an annual basis, incentive plans are largely ineffective because they cannot motivate an employee throughout the years leading up to the end of the year. Compensation in the mill hands’ story can therefore offer much insight into the theories of motivation especially elements such as type of incentives and nature of the problem in a workplace.
Why do many performance appraisal sessions turn out this way? Do you think most managers intend to bring up negative things in a performance appraisal?
The real intention of performance appraisals as tools of motivation have been eroded and replaced as instruments of elimination and victimizing employees’ weaknesses.
Examples of diffused, displaced, or deferred responsibility in your own work experience
An example of diffused responsibility includes ignoring an equipment malfunction because many people are aware of the same issue. Displaced behavior within the office includes instances of cyber loafing, production deviance and employee silence. Deferred behavior occurs when employees in an organization become slower in production because they constantly defer their jobs. A manager can stress on the importance of individual decision-making and responsibility within the workplace. Managers can also improve the relations with the staff to reduce instances of displaced behavior. Lastly, managers can also find ways to award employees for the extra work done to avoid deferment.
R. Richard Ritti & Steve Levy (2009). The Ropes to Skip and the Ropes to Know: Studies in Organizational Behavior. 8th Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Stephen P. Robbins & Timothy A. Judge (2009). Essentials of Organizational BEHAVIOR, 10th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458