A concise introduction

by Richard Pettinger

Chapter 17

There is the need to know and understand motivation theories, especially those of Herzberg, Maslow and McClelland; and you need also to know the basis of expectancy theory – the relationships between expectation, effort and reward. You need to know the differences between motivation and incentives. You need to know the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

You then need to be able to relate all of this to overall assessments of what makes people happy and productive at work; and what does not make people happy and productive at work. You need especially to be able to assess different work groups and organisations and individual activities from the perspective of:
  • why some people are very productive indeed in jobs that are neither well paid not glamorous
  • why some people who are very well paid and work in (perceived) glamorous industries and sectors are unproductive
  • why some people are willing to work for an organisation but others are not.
You then need to be able to relate all of this to the overall management effort, and to the HR and people management effort in particular.
  • Case Studies and Examples
  • Discussion Questions

Case studies and examples

Marissa Meyer, Yahoo CEO

Marissa Meyer joined Yahoo as CEO from Google in July 2012, and since then she has tried to re-engage the staff and re-energise them as one of the key means of returning Yahoo to its position of prominence in the high tech field

The former Google executive was quick to introduce free food in the canteen, to do away with compulsory gym inductions, and to offer iPhones to all employees.

But now Ms Mayer has made a change that will not be quite so popular. From June, Yahoo! executives will be banned from working from home.

In a memo addressed to “Yahoos”, the company’s term for staff, its head of human resources said they needed “to be one Yahoo!, and that starts being physically together”. 

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important," said Jackie Rees. "That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings."

Although most businesses already insist their staff to attend their place of work on a daily basis, Ms Meyer’s decision marks a radical step in the technology industry where working from home is standard in many of the most successful companies in the sector. 
Many Yahoo! staff joined the company partly because of its flexible work ethos, and some of the several hundred employees affected will need to move house in order to attend the office every day.

Critics have accused Ms Mayer of taking the company back to the 1980s but it is thought she was concerned that some Yahoo! employees who work from home were not productive enough, and that that the company is unnecessarily bloated. The move is expected to trigger a flurry of resignations among Yahoo! staff unwilling to make the change, enabling the company to reduce its headcount without expensive redundancies.

Ms Mayer joined the company in July 2012, and has helped to restore some faith in the business which had lost its way under a string of short-lived chief executives. Yahoo! was one of the most successful technology companies around in the late 90's but its search engine, which was once the mainstay of its business, has fallen far behind that of rival Google's.Clearly it is for every CEO to decide how to run their own company; and for Marissa Meyer she has some hard choices that she has to make. You do however when you take a decision like this, have to be aware of the de-motivational aspects of removing a known or perceived benefit from the staff.

Discussion questions

What is the difference between motivation and incentives? Why do so many companies concentrate on incentives rather than creating the conditions in which enduring motivation and engagement are possible?

When people say: ‘I hate my job’, in practice they nearly always mean: ‘I hate my manager’. What are the effects of bad management/staff relations on motivation, and what needs to be done to change this for the good?

What is the value of induction programmes and efforts in ensuring that new staff become as motivated and committed as quickly as possible? What must be included in induction programmes as the result? 

Under what circumstances do you attack demotivation and loss of morale through work reorganisation? How do you go about this when the need arises?

Why do so many managers dislike 360 degree appraisal (the practice of being evaluated by their own staff rather than their superiors? What conditions must be in place to ensure that 360 degree appraisal is not demotivating and troubling to all of those involved?