Understanding and Providing Motivational Needs for Work Team Members
Man, has been categorized as a social animal of the highest order. One prominent feature that bestows on man this social status is his ability to bring together a number of his kinds and make them perform different tasks that invariably achieve the same end. Of course, man has no option than to be social. This is simply because most of his accomplishments manifest as a result of the cumulative efforts of himself and others. Had he worked alone, his effort will only bring forth insignificant outcome. This implies therefore, that people must work together as a team.
That people work together as work team members raises the pertinent question of why people work at all? Many authorities (Soleye 1989; Argyle, 1973; Lawler, 1971, Vrooms, 1964; and Adams, 1963) avail us the knowledge that work is a means to an end and not an end itself Work therefore is a means to need satisfaction or fulfillment. Perhaps this prompted Maslows 1954 to submit that human beings are motivated by their needs. Aligning these submissions with the present paper, it can be categorically stated that work team members are also motivated by their needs.
Conceptually, motivation has no universal definition. Some conceptualise it from the perspective of goal attainment, some from the prospective of human resources maintenance and development and still others from the perspective of reward and need satisfaction. For this article, I am adopting Fagbohungbe and Longe (1994) definition which construes motivation as immediate inner forces that act to energise, direct, sustain and move people either eagerly or reluctantly toward a goal, until the goal is reached or the action is blocked. In order words, it is the study of all those pushes and prods (Biological, social, economic, political or psychological) that defeat our laziness and move us to action.
From the definition of motivation above, it is not difficult to appreciate the fact that work team members need to be motivated. This brings out the fact that there are two categories of work team members. These are:
1) Work team members that receive motivational needs
2) The person who applies the motivational needs to the members, that is, the team leader.
For the effectiveness of motivation therefore, there is the need to understand two sets of theories here. These are motivation and leadership theories.
Understanding Work Team
If the goal of this article is to come up with how to motivate work team members, it becomes logical to, therefore understand the characteristics of the set of people to be motivated. We should also understand what their needs and values are Maslows (1954) submitted that human beings are motivated by their needs and that such needs are many and they vary. This implies that if we are to motivate work team members) we must know what their needs are.
Characteristics of Work Team
Characteristically, a work team has the following properties:
- It is a corporative small group
- The members are experts in their own rights and by extension leaders of some sort (estate surveyors, architect, civil engineer, electrical engineer e.t.c.)
- It is an operating team whose task or project is not of permanent nature, that is, they are disbanded at the completion of the project.
- Members are always eager to protect their professional ego.
- Members are knowledgeable enough to know what the project will fetch the team and so are always hitching for equitable reward.
- Members are aware that the project is incomplete if anyone member fails to do his beats or complete his part. Thus, time-schedule slippages become a weapon in the hand of members.
- Members are in regular contact for the period the project last.
Above are the characteristics of work team. Let us move further to examine what motivates them, that is, understanding their needs.
Needs of Work Team Members
We have been told above that we are motivated by our needs. Therefore what are the needs of work team members? What is it that they want from work or from a project?
Below are some of the paramount needs of work team members;
1) Recognition; since work team members are experts in their own rights, the first need they want satisfied by the team leader is recognition. I am a civil engineer, I am an architect e.t.c.
i) Status; Recognition will not be complete if it is not accompanied by status. It is not enough to just recognise members, it must be manifestly paired with a feeling of acceptance and respect
ii) Power; work team member’s want a sphere of influence within the team. They want to be in position to influence situation and perhaps others.
iii) Participation; work team members are eager to know what is going on. They abhor a situation akin to shaving their heads in absentia
iv) Assertive role; work team members have the desire to behave in active and assertive manner, involving activities which are often viewed as ego boosting.
v) Competition; work team members have the desire to engage in competition with peers involving occupational or work related activities.
vi) Monetary reward; work is a means to an end and not an end. Work team members, just like any other group of workers, work in order to be able to satisfy other needs. Money becomes the means to satisfying those other needs. Therefore, work team members seek equitable monetary reward from participating in a project.
The needs of work team members are indeed in exhaustive. Maslow (1954) did say that human needs are many and vary. Therefore the needs enumerated above would have covered the paramount ones among the various needs of work team members. This brings us to a very important segment of the paper and this bothers on obstacles that can disturb effective motivation of work team members.
Understanding Factors that can De-Team Work Team Members
For a work team leader to be able to effectively motivate team members, there are some pitfalls that must be identified and avoided. These are factors that can de-team a team. A team in its natural sense connotes cooperation cohesion and effectiveness. Below are some of the factors.
i) Bring Down syndrome: This is the desire of work team members to project other members as incompetent. This is the concept of denigration.
ii) Personal aggradancement: This is excessive promotion of ones status or competence. This behaviour is capable of evoking repulsion in other members and may lead to passive resistance.
iii) Alienation: This is characterized by feelings of powerlessness, disorientation and lack of attachment to job and others. Aloofness of a particular member of a work team can de-team the team.
iv) Obstructive Attitude: This is a deliberate action of a member or members to block or to slow down the performance of other members. A common example of obstructive behaviour is time-schedule shifts.
v) Wastage: This is a deliberate action of work team members that result in wastages of resources. This could happen in a situation whereby the member perceives inequity and therefore result to wastages to balance or restore equity.
vi) Preferential Treatment: In a situation where the team leader accords a member of the work team special treatment over others, this could provoke uncooperative behaviour and thus the team is de-teamed
With the obstacles to effective motivation of work team members discussed, we can now focus on specific activities that can really motivate the members.
How to Motivating Work Team Members
The question to be answered here is, how best can work team members be motivated? There are two angles to motivating this group of workers. The first thing that those involved in the motivational process (especially the team leader) is to avoid or prevent the obstacle enumerated above. The second approach is to endeavour to satisfy the needs of the work team members.
Akinson, et al (1974) found out that all healthy adults have a reservoir of potential energy, discharged on the basis of individual motivational derives, the situation and opportunities present. With the above submission at the back of our mind; we can now proceed to the specifics of motivating work team members.
1) Recognition should be accorded work team members. Their membership, their presence and role must be recognized.
2) The status of members should be enhanced through respect and acceptance.
3) A sphere of influence must be allocated to members in certain areas (e.g. supervision of a section).
4) Members should be given opportunities to participate through consultation. This has a way of making members to develop what Herzberg (1966) refers to as “we” sense or sense of belongingness.
5) In conjunction with members, specific goal performance must be identified and set in order to direct member’s behaviour and maintain motivation.
6) Setting the goal must be at a challenging but realistic level
7) Complete, accurate and timely feedback and knowledge of result can motivate work team members to perform at higher levels
8) Use rewards appropriate in terms of individual needs and performance. Collective incentive system may be rendered ineffective due to individual differences in needs. A member may want challenging functions while another may seek recognition. Remember that human beings are motivated by their needs.
9) Established clear procedure for the evaluation of individual member’s level of performance.
10) Visibility with work team members is essential. Instead of sending for them all the time, go to them some of the time. This has tremendous impact on the ego of the members.
11) Sponsoring of social events after work hours. This will not only create room for effective interpersonal relationship but also a forum for confirming or disconfirming information.
12) Technical competence on the part of the leader makes work team members to accord him respect and provoke the willingness on their part to submit themselves for direction and general leadership control.
13) Finally provision of working tool will go a long way to motivate work team members.