1. The term "motivation"
The word "motivation" comes from the Latin "motivus", meaning to trigger movement. Motivation refers to internal processes (driving forces, needs, attitudes, interests, will) which cause a person to display certain behaviours more often, for longer, more intensively or in a more targeted way (according to Fröhlich & Drever, 1983). Human behaviour is always targeted and is largely determined by the needs of that person.
Motivation can mean both that someone is being motivated (motivation by others) or that someone is motivated (self-motivation). A person cannot “not be motivated”, but only motivated too little for a particular action.
A person is "animated" by a wide range of external influencing factors. Within a company, staff are integrated into a certain working group or department. In turn, the company is integrated into the latest social and economic developments. In their private lives, the staff is part of a family, members of clubs and groups etc. All this influences their motives.
The role of a superior – as simply an external influencing factor on the staff member’s motivation – is an aid to development, who allows his members of staff to motivate (i.e. animate) himself. This superior sees the members of staff as a responsible people and tries to arrange working conditions in such a way that existing potential abilities and enthusiasm are exploited and further potential developed (according to the "Besser führen" project, 1989).
2. Analysis grid for motivation problems
When motivation problems occur, the superior asks himself: What is causing this? What are the reasons for this lack of motivation among staff?
Are these reasons coming from the situation or the staff themselves? Are the causes long-term (stable) or short-term (variable)?
e.g. abilities, needs, values
e.g. mood
e.g. machinery, organisation, incentives
e.g. coincidence, crisis
Analysis grid from "Besser führen" (1989)
The superior will then adapt his behaviour according to the results of this analysis of the causes of motivation problems. The superior can (usually) respond to variable situational causes immediately and if necessary, change them. In the case of stable causes which lie within the person, the superior has little opportunity for influence.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1954) will now be presented as a possible explanatory approach for stable personal causes. Herzberg’s two-factor theory (1959) is an example of a stable situational approach. These approaches are not entirely uncontentious within research into working and organisational psychology, but their high heuristic value makes them very widespread in practice.
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