This involves providing leadership for subordinates, and also requires the ability to inspire them to put in their best efforts in achieving the organization’s objectives, by creating good morale or working spirit among all employees. The objectives of an organization can be achieved only through the efforts of people. And people need to be motivated in an understanding way to put in their best. However, what motivates one person might not motivate another, and therefore for the best results any manager should be understanding and, as far as feasible, get to know something about each of his/her subordinates. Any manager must endeavour to get the best from each individual member of his/her team or work group, and that might require motivating different members in different ways, while still motivating the team or group as a whole. It requires the building of a good “work environment” based on the spirit of trust and cooperation between management and other personnel. The HR manager – along with other managers – has an important role to play in developing and maintaining a good work environment.
In order to motivate employees it is necessary to develop and maintain a ‘style of management’ which is appropriate to a good work environment.
Certain managerial and leadership styles are more appropriate and motivational than other styles. For example, a particular style might be needed to manage a large workplace of manual operators. But a very different style might be needed for a small team of multi-skilled office staff, such as in the HR department.
The needs of management fall within two main groups – task needs and relationship needs. Task needs are related to the exercise of individual technical skills. Relationship needs are concerned with “getting things done through the efforts of other people.” These relationships need to be given priority in order to generate a “motivational environment.”
In the early to mid-20th century, there was a theory of scientific management advocated by F.W. Taylor. It was based on the following principles:
Contemporary attitudes were developed in the mid-1970s and are continuing till date. Most important of these attitudes is the “Human Relations Movement” attributed to Elton Mayo. These attributes are based on the following principles:
Some theorists have significantly contributed to the development of modern-day management attitudes.
By following the principles of scientific management, managers realized that this system did not achieve optimum efficiency. They found that people did not conform to predicted patterns of behaviour. That led to an increase in interest in the ‘people’ aspect of organizations. Several theorists tried to understand the workplace psychology. Among them, Professor Elton Mayo conducted experiments to ascertain and record human behaviour within organizations. The study conducted by him and his colleagues at Western Electric Hawthorne plant in the USA –also known as Hawthorne Experiment – revealed that the most significant factors in optimizing productivity were related to:
Though this study was production-based research, the findings and conclusions of this study can be related to other departments. For example, the HR manager can:
Abraham Maslow proposed that there is a ‘hierarchy’ or scales of human needs which must be satisfied. Some of these needs are more powerful than others. Maslow argues that until these most powerful needs are satisfied, other needs have little effect on an individual’s behaviour. In other words, we satisfy the most powerful needs first and then progress to the less powerful ones. As one need is satisfied, and is therefore less important to us, other needs come up and become motivators of our behaviour.
Maslow represents hierarchy of needs in the shape of a pyramid. The most powerful needs are shown at the bottom, with powerful ones decreasing as people progress upwards.
An important aspect of Maslow’s theory is that it provides for constant growth of the individual. There is no point at which everything has been achieved. Having satisfied the lower needs, one is always striving to do things to the best of one’s ability, and best is always defined as being slightly better than before.
Frederick Hertzberg argued that certain factors lead to job satisfaction while others lead to dissatisfaction. He identified these as “motivator” and “hygiene” factors respectively.
Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory is generally well-received by practising managers because of its relatively simple distinction between factors inducing positive job satisfaction or those causing reduced job satisfaction.
Douglas McGregor advocated that there are two extremes of management attitude towards employees in the workplace, and these have a strong influence on the level of employee motivation.
McGregor states that this style of management is no longer suitable in the modern organizational setting.
In a way, Theory Y is related to what we nowadays call ‘participative management.’ Theory Y principles are now generally recognized as being more likely to achieve optimal employee performance.
To a large extent, a high level of employee motivation is derived from effective management practices. To develop motivated employees, HR manager should ensure that HR personnel as well as other departmental managers must do the following:
An “open” management style is likely to be successful in the HR department. Team working would enhance performance levels. The HR manager needs to involve the staff in the departmental decision-making process.
The concept of ‘responsibility sharing’ would involve consultation, involvement, and participation. In a team-oriented HR department, responsibility can be shared in the following areas:
Managers and supervisors of various departments always try to motivate, guide, advise, and control their subordinates. In spite of this, occasions will arise when there is no alternative but to take disciplinary action. Before committing to any proposed disciplinary action, a manager/supervisor might consult the HR manager and brief him/her fully on the situation that has arisen and seek guidance. After having the full backing of the HR manager he/she must act firmly and confidently.
Depending on the severity of the offence, disciplinary action takes different forms. The following procedure may be adopted:
Situations which can lead to disciplinary action may be avoided by taking certain steps. This involves having a talk with the employee concerned, trying to find a solution to the problem which is creating such a situation. This process of settling problems without resorting to disciplinary action is referred to as employee counseling.
Some problems are related to work while others are of personal nature. Generally a manager or supervisor is concerned with the employee’s work-related problems, but sometimes he may have to deal with an employee’s personal problem also because that may have been the cause of starting a work-related problem.
A counseling session is likely to be successful if the following points are considered:
After the problem has been ascertained, an effort has to be made by both the parties to find a solution acceptable to both. When this happens, it is possible to have a high level of employee motivation. This is also very effective in controlling employee behaviour.
Equality in the workplace means that there is fair treatment for each individual. Everyone is supposed to have equal access to job opportunities, promotion and other benefits. It also means that there should be a system of equal pay for similar work in the organization.
There should be no discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion or physical disability. Today a large number of organizations have a policy referring to discrimination on the above-mentioned grounds. A good equal opportunity policy includes age, marital status, gender, HIV and AIDS. The policy should state clearly a commitment to equality in the areas of recruitment, promotion, training, performance appraisal and pay, transfers, terms and conditions, disciplinary procedures and dismissal, rules against harassment etc.
Policies alone are not enough. There must be a commitment to put them into practice by specific measures, and this should be the responsibility of HR management. The policy should be publicized to all staff and job applicants.
An important part of implementing equal opportunity policy is monitoring its effectiveness. In the case of gender, race or disability, there are usually arrangements to collect statistics to ensure that these people are represented in the workforce.
Resignation occurs when an employee decides to terminate his/her employment with an organization. Whatever a manager may do to retain experienced staff, resignations will occur. When this happens, it is useful if the HR manager conducts an ‘exit interview’ with the employee concerned, to try to ascertain the real reason why he/she is leaving.
In many cases resignation is unavoidable on account of certain circumstances, for example, illness, accident, marriage, pregnancy, death in the family, or intention of self or spouse to move to another city, etc.
In such circumstances the HR manager has no option but to accept the resignation. However, the loss of a good employee is cause for concern to the HR department.
On the other hand, there might be a situation when an employee has committed a serious offence. In such a case, the employee may be given the option of resigning ‘voluntarily’ in order to avoid possible serious consequences.
Sometimes resignations may occur on account of lack of motivation, terms and conditions of employment, difficult relationships with co-workers or manager/supervisor, denial of promotion or salary increase etc.
In such situations it is the HR manager’s responsibility to find out the real reason for resignation through an ‘exit interview.’ He/she might not be able to do anything for a particular employee, but he/she can definitely analyse the situation and make a report to the higher management and give his/her recommendations for future.
Some resignations are given in the “heat of the moment.” In such a situation, the HR manager can arrange a counseling session with the employee concerned, and prevail upon him/her to continue in the job.
An employee ‘retires’ from the job when he/she has reached a certain age, and not because of any other reason.
Ages at which people retire vary from country to country and from one organization to another. There might also be age differences for retirement between men and women in certain jobs e.g. air hostesses.
At the time of retirement, employees are generally eligible for certain retirement benefits. These differ as per the laws of the country, and rules of different organizations. They are usually of the following type:
It can be a great shock for an employee who has worked for an organization for many years to suddenly realize that his/her services are no longer required because he/she has reached a certain age.
It is desirable for HR department to arrange for counseling related to retirement well before an employee is to retire. This way the employee can be gradually prepared to accept psychologically the fact of the forthcoming retirement, and plan accordingly.