Motivating for optimum performance – The Manila Times


A MANAGER’S job is to get things done through other people. A manager must therefore motivate his/her people to do their job well. In a changing work environment like the Covid-19 pandemic, several factors can affect motivation, and this makes a manager’s job more interesting and challenging.

Sometimes, a manager may encounter a situation where a highly-skilled employee is not performing well. The problem may not be lack of skills or training — it is often lack of motivation.

When this happens, the manager must take the following remedial steps: 1) talk to the employee privately; 2) check if the employee has problems — personal or work-related; 3) understand the employee’s needs (and wants); 4) check if the employee’s interest or passion lies elsewhere and not on the job; and 5) plan to motivate the employee.


Different people have differing notions about motivation. Behavioral scientists believe that it is something that cannot be injected into employees. It has to come from within, perhaps with some form of stimulus. While motivating employees is a major function of every manager, the best that managers can do is guide their employees to develop their own motivation.

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Motivation is a process by which a person’s efforts are energized, directed, and sustained toward the achievement of a goal or objective. Notice that the definition looks at what happens in a person when he/she is motivated — not what a manager should do to motivate employees. There is a presence of motivation if three things are observable: 1) energy, as a measure of the intensity or drive of a person; 2) direction, which should be toward achieving organizational goals; and 3) persistence or sustained effort to achieve goals.

In my 47 years in human resources practice and consulting, I have noticed the unique congruence and compatibility between individual needs and organizational goals. Managers must make their people understand that helping achieve organizational goals will help them address their personal needs.

Bain & Company (UK) ran a recent survey on what employees want most in their employment in 12 countries (excluding the Philippines), covering 20,000 employees across 800 occupations. Compensation (22 percent) edged out interesting work (15 percent), job security (13 percent) and flexible work arrangement (12 percent), among the top considerations. If true, this could indicate the changing priorities among a changing demographic.

Theories of motivation

The Bain & Company survey results, however, do not necessarily negate the three traditional theories of motivation that were popular since some 60 years ago: 1) McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, 2) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, and 3) Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory.

Douglas McGregor, while …….


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