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Motivational Problems at Workplace

Managers have the responsibility to make workers motivated since lack of it can be a source of many problems in the workplace. Motivation is the reason why people want to work. There is a gap that exists between an individual’s desired state and the actual state. Motivation, therefore, is a means to reduce and manipulate this gap, the motivator influences others in a special way towards specifically stated objectives oriented or in line with the corporate policy of the organization. Research shows that well-motivated employees are more productive and creative and the opposite is true (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). Moreover; it is a moral value to treat human beings with dignity in all of its kinds. In places of work where motivation lacks problems such as absenteeism, resentment, failure to meet deadlines, and work that fall below quality are common.

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According to Locke & Latham, (1990), a multinational company is experiencing problems with its 2500 client’s service technicians in all branches in various parts of the world. Technicians are responsible for service repair contracts on many types of electronic devices after which they make service reports. The problem was they were delaying making these reports and submitting them with simple but expensive mistakes to the company resulting in huge inventory float because repair devices were not given until accurate service reports were submitted and logged electronically. The delays averaged a week even during very busy times and errors were found in 60% of the reports submitted even after being asked to submit accurate reports in time.

In this case, the first attempts to solve the problem, regional service managers were asked to inform the technician to eliminate errors in reports and forward them in time. This brought only a short-lived improvement and performance declined again. A computer-based service reporting system was installed to replace paperwork and job aids for the new system introduced to the technicians. Errors in reporting were reduced and submission was on time but not perfect for another brief period then the problem haunted them again. At this point, the technicians became very angry with these changes, skeptical, and opposed any attempt to rectify the problem. The management became aware the problem was not in lack of knowledge on what to do or what was expected of them.

It was clear that the technicians understood that making timely and accurate reports was imperative, were well trained, and had all the necessary equipment and materials. However, they complained constantly that the problem was with telephone operators who took calls from customers yet their main complaint was why they were made to make reports. This was a motivation-related issue. The model that could be used to solve this was the CANE model as described by Clark, (1998) because it can be used in any situation on performance motivation.

The CANE (Commitment and Necessary Effort) model was developed by Richard Clark, a motivation expert, and a fellow of the Association of Applied Psychology. The model merges the most current research and practice in the modern world developed to provide an accurate explanation of the drive of people to do work based on knowledge. This is done by unraveling motivation and knowledge in performance which work together to result in invaluable work. The model assumes that the knowledge system makes it likely for the technicians to understand goals, employ plans to gain goals, keep a tab of advancement towards goals and adjust and develop plans for reaching those goals. The motivation structure enables them to make a tough dedication to goals, stick with plans no matter the situation, keep progress reports of goal value, and poise invest psychological endeavor in plans. These technicians lacked enough commitment to performance and the adequate amount and quality of mental effort to invest their knowledge in meeting company goals even during critical periods.

Intervention action focuses on three problems: lack of value report filling task; anger and skepticism as report filling were seen as someone else job, and barriers as of volume service calls became large. The technicians report to line managers who they respect and are loyal to them because they protect them. To create value for timely and accurate reports, line managers can be directed to inform the technicians that the managers’ performance evaluation will be based on submission in time of accurate reports. This way the managers will be responsible for delays and errors in reports. Another solution is to instruct line managers to give shoddy reports back to the technicians who made them for correction with specific instructions individually. They were unlikely to repeat the mistakes many times as they were jeopardizing their manager’s job security. Improvements reports on each technician report on timeliness in response and accuracy can be posted to a public place for all service technicians and since human beings love competition they are bound to improve if only to be on top.

Motivation problems in the workplace discourage innovation and productivity. In order to motivate employees, managers should be able to identify where the problem lies so as to apply the best approach to solve them. The CANE model is an improved approach as it combines the best modern theories and incorporates them with practice to solve motivation problems in knowledge-based work performance.

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Clark, R. E. (1998), The CANE Model of Motivation to Learn and to Work: a Two-stage Process of Goal Commitment and Effort. International Journal of Educational Research.

Pintrich, P. R. & Schunk, D. H. (1996). Motivation in Education: Theory, research and applications. Prentice Hall.

Locke, E.A. & Latham, G. P. (1990). A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance. Prentice Hall.

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