The Mechanics of Motivation: Expectancy Theory
We can facilitate motivation in a number of ways, but, as I said earlier, aspirations come from within the individual. Therefore, as an organizational leader, our goals are to 1) facilitate motivation (the intent and commitment to act) and 2) align those motives with the individuals existing aspirations. The question then becomes “how do we do this”?
The very first step is to understand the basic mechanics of motivation. Scholars’ opinions may differ as to what framework they would introduce as the most powerful and explanatory theory. In my own experience, Expectancy Theory is the most fundamental, the most clearly understandable and the most useful motivation theory for this purpose. What it teaches is ESSENTIAL to our understanding of motivation.
In his 1964 book “Work and Motivation” Victor Vroom presented a framework that has been widely accepted in academics and that has strong appeal to practitioners. Though it is not difficult to understand, it takes more than an intellectual understanding of this model to make use of it. One must almost empathize with the perceptions of others as they work through this motivational framework. The reason I say empathize here is that each component of this model depends on the perceptions of the person who is being motivated, not the objective assessment of the person who is trying to lay the foundations for a motivational environment. Perhaps this will become clearer as I unfold the theory for you. There is, in my mind, no better way to introduce this than to jump head-long into the model. So here we go!
Each link; 1-expectancy, 2-instrumentality, 3-valence are necessary but not sufficient conditions for motivation. The next three posts will elaborate on each of these elements of motivation in some detail.