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Psychologist David McClelland studied workplace motivation extensively and theorized that workers as well as their superiors have needs that influence their performance at work. One of these needs is Achievement Motivation - which can be defined as an individual's need to meet realistic goals, receive feedback and experience a sense of accomplishment. To create a work environment that helps employees experience a sense of accomplishment, we need to understand employee aspirations and provide the means to accomplishment, through aspiration management.

According to McClelland, "understanding human motivation ought to be a good thing. It should help us to find out what we really want so that we can avoid chasing rainbows that are not for us. It should open up opportunities of self-development if we apply motivational principles to pursuing our goals in life."

Aspirations and Goals

Many people view Goals and Aspirations to be similar, but they are quite different. The origin of the word “goal” comes from the Old English word "gol"[1] which means obstacle or boundary, and is related to the world gælan which is “to hinder.” We typically use goals as a way of overcoming these barriers. Think about sports, such as American football. You push hard and struggle to move the ball past 400 pound linebackers with the ultimate objective to move past the goal line; your destination.[2]

Conversely, look up “aspiration” and you will find that its origins are similar to the words “spirit” and “inspire”. They are all derived at some level from the Latin word aspirare which means “to breathe upon.” It is believed that the connotation is “to breath life into” or “panting with desire.” Quite simply put, goals are logical and calculated. Aspirations are emotional and inspirational.[2]

So there is a difference between goals and aspirations. Goals are typically about convergence, narrowing, and focusing in on an outcome. On the other hand, aspirations are expansive. They create new possibilities. There are many paths and options for you. And you have a wide peripheral vision, sensing new opportunities as they arise.[2]

In other words, Aspirations are emotional and inspirational, panting with desire. It is the inspirationally felt need that the individual aspires to achieve. It talks about “What” to achieve. Goals provide the specific direction to achieve an aspiration. This talks about “How” to achieve. The vision of a CEO is aspiraitonal and hence it inspires the team which works towards actualizing it. It tells you “What” to achieve. It is inspirational and hence motivates the team to breath life into and make the vision a reality. Aligning people to the business vision or goal alignment in aspiration management context is about creating the right balance between organizational and individual aspirations and goals which in turn creates the synergy that helps the team panting with desire to work towards aspiration actualization of both the organization and self.

Vision outlines what the organization wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be (an "idealized" view of the world). It is a long-term view and concentrates on the future. It can be emotive and is a source of inspiration. For example, a charity working with the poor might have a vision statement which reads "A World without Poverty." In a business context, the business strategy and business plan defines the goals which talks about how to get there. Once goals are defined, it has its own boundaries with the many obstacle that needs to be overcome as we move towards actualization.

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Wiktionary: aspiration

Employee Aspirations and Self-Actualization

File:Aspiration Management.jpg

The term Self-actualization was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential. In his view, "the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive...the drive of self-actualization."[3] However, the concept was brought most fully to prominence in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory as the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are fulfilled and the "actualization" of the full personal potential takes place. As each individual progressed towards self-actualization, all of Maslow's subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. These temporal moments of peak experience happens as frequently as the aspirations and goals related to Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, and Self-Actualization needs are actualized or accomplished.

Motivation Theories and Employee Aspiration Management

Motivation plays a critical role in influencing workplace behavior and performance. At one time, employees were considered just another input into the production of goods and services.[4] It is key for organizations to understand and to structure the work environment to encourage productive behaviors and discourage unproductive behavior.[5] Carl Rogers wrote of "the curative force in psychotherapy - man's tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities...to express and activate all the capacities of the organism."[6] There are many motivation theories that contribute towards structuring the work environment that fosters individual and team Aspirations Management so that they can actualize their fullest potentialities.

Motivation concepts

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure or stimulus. For example, an employee who actualizes his or her career aspiration is intrinsically motivated to put in their best efforts as it provides the peak experience of aspirations actualization. It is important to sustain the motivation level through the appropriate employee engagement initiatives. Intrinsic motivation has been studied by social and educational psychologists since the early 1970s. Students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to engage in the task willingly as well as work to improve their skills, which will increase their capabilities.[7] Employees are likely to be intrinsically motivated if they:

  • attribute their employment results to factors under their own control, also known as autonomy, that the employee is fully in control of all dependencies with other roles through the performance workflow environment.
  • believe they have the skill that will allow them to be effective agents in reaching desired goals (i.e. the results are not determined by luck),
  • are ambitious, self-motivated, exercise self-control and are interested in mastering their role and performing, rather than performing just for the incentives. (Douglas McGregor theory Y)

Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome. Motives can be divided into two types: external and internal. Internal motives are considered as the needs that every human being experience, while external indicate the presence of specific situations where these needs arise.[8] Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and grades, coercion and threat of punishment. Competition is in general extrinsic because it encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A crowd cheering on the individual and trophies are also extrinsic incentives.

Social psychological research has indicated that extrinsic rewards can lead to overjustification and a subsequent reduction in intrinsic motivation. In one study demonstrating this effect, children who expected to be (and were) rewarded with a ribbon and a gold star for drawing pictures spent less time playing with the drawing materials in subsequent observations than children who were assigned to an unexpected reward condition.[9] For those children who received no extrinsic reward, self-determination theory proposes that extrinsic motivation can be internalized by the individual if the task fits with their values and beliefs and therefore helps to fulfill their basic psychological needs.

Theories of motivation and Aspiration Actualization

There are many theories of motivation which include, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's two-factor theory. Alderfer's ERG theory, Goal-setting theory, Models of behavior change, Organismic theory, theory X and theory Y. These are some of the motivation theories that has an influence on employee aspirations actualization and work motivation.

Kurt Goldstein's theory

Kurt Goldstein's book The Organism: A Holistic Approach to Biology Derived from Pathological Data in Man (1939), presented self-actualization as "the tendency to actualize, as much as possible, [the organism's] individual capacities" in the world. The tendency toward self-actualization is "the only drive by which the life of an organism is determined".[10] However, for Goldstein self-actualization cannot be understood as a kind of goal to be reached sometime in the future. At any moment the organism has the fundamental tendency to actualize all its capacities, its whole potential, as it is present in exactly that moment in exactly that situation in contact with the world under the given circumstances.[11] From Goldstein's theory, if an individual has an aspiration, he or she has "the tendency to actualize, as much as possible, to the individual capacities."

Behavioral approach to motivation

The behavioral approach to workplace motivation is known as Organizational Behavioral Modification. This approach applies the tenets of behaviorism developed by B.F. Skinner to promote employee behaviors that an employer deems beneficial and discourage those that are not. Any stimulus that increases the likelihood of a behavior increasing is a reinforcer. An effective use of positive reinforcement would be frequent praise while an employee is learning a new task. An employee's behavior can also be shaped during the learning process if approximations of the ideal behavior are praised or rewarded. The frequency of reinforcement is an important consideration. While frequent praise during the learning process can be beneficial, it can be hard to sustain indefinitely.[5]

A variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement, where the frequency of reinforcement varies unpredictably, can be also be highly effective if used in instances where it is ethical to do so. Providing praise on a variable-ratio schedule would be appropriate, whereas paying an employee on an unpredictable variable-ratio schedule would not be. Compensation and other reward programs provide behavioral reinforcement, and if carefully crafted, can provide powerful incentives to employees. Behavioral principles can also be used to address undesirable behaviors in the workplace, but punishment should be used judiciously. If overused, punishment can negatively impact employee's perception of fairness in the workplace.[5] In general, the less time that elapses between a behavior and its consequence, the more impactful a consequence is likely to be. This theory highlights the importance of various reinforcers that can help improve performance and optimize productivity.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

File:Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.svg
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation."[13] Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow use the terms Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, and Self-Actualization needs to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

The term Self-actualization was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential. In his view, "the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive...the drive of self-actualization."[3] Carl Rogers similarly wrote of "the curative force in psychotherapy - man's tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities...to express and activate all the capacities of the organism."[6] However, the concept was brought most fully to prominence in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory as the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are fulfilled and the "actualization" of the full personal potential takes place.

The term was later used by Abraham Maslow in his article, A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow explicitly defines self-actualization to be "the desire for self-fulfillment, to become actualized in what he is potentially. Maslow used the term self-actualization to describe a desire, not a driving force, that could lead to realizing one's capabilities. Maslow did not feel that self-actualization determined one's life; rather, he felt that it gave the individual a desire, or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.[14] Each individual is motivated to work towards actualizing their aspiration or ambitions. All of Maslow's subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning.

Goal-setting Theory

See also: Goal setting

Employers and Managers need to designing task-related goals for their employees that are:

  • attainable
  • specific
  • appropriately difficult,
  • feedback providing

in hopes of rousing tunnel vision focus in the employees.[15] Following S.M.A.R.T criteria is also suggested.

Letter Major Term Minor Terms
S Specific Significant, Stretching, Simple
M Measurable Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable
A Attainable Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Ambitious, Aligned, Aspirational, Acceptable, Action-focused
R Relevant Results-oriented, Realistic, Resourced, Resonant
T Timely Time-oriented, Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Timeboxed, Time-bound, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time limited, Trackable, Tangible

Studies have shown both feedback from the employer and self-efficacy (belief in one's capabilities to achieve a goal) within the employee must be present for goal-setting to be effective.[16] However, because of the tunnel vision focus created by goal-setting theory, several studies have shown this motivational theory may not be applicable in all situations. In fact, in tasks that require creative on-the-spot improvising, goal-setting can even be counterproductive.[17] Furthermore, because clear goal specificity is essential to a properly designed goal-setting task, multiple goals can create confusion for the employee and the end result is a muted overall drive.[18] Despite its flaws, Goal-setting Theory is arguably the most dominant theory in the field of I–O psychology; over one thousand articles and reviews published in just over thirty years.[19]

Locke suggested several reasons why goals are motivating: they direct attention, lead to task persistence and the development of task strategies for accomplishing the goal. In order for a goal to be motivating, the employee or work group must first accept the goal. While difficult goals can be more motivating, a goal still needs to appear achievable, which in turn will lead to greater goal acceptance. The person or group should have the necessary skills and resources to achieve the goal, or goal acceptance could be negatively impacted. Specific goals that set a performance expectation are more motivating than those that are vague. Similarly, more proximal goals have greater motivation impact than those that are very long range or distal goals.[5] Hence if an employee has a personal or organizational goal which is proximal and that leads to actualizing an aspiration, they will be motivated to work towards actualizing those goals. It can be a personal goal based task of getting a credit card, to an organization goal of based task of filling a timesheet. Since the organization attaches a performance indicator value for encouraging employees towards accomplishing organizational goals through the performance management and rewards system, the employee is motivated to take up those rewarding proximal goals on priority. Feedback while the employee or group is striving for the goal is seen as crucial. Feedback keeps employees on track and reinforces the importance of the goal as well as supporting the employees in adjusting their task strategies.

Goal-setting Theory has strong empirical support dating back thirty years. However, there are some boundary conditions that indicate in some situations, goal-setting can be detrimental to performance on certain types of tasks. Goals require a narrowing of one's focus, so for more complex or creative tasks, goals can actually inhibit performance because they demand cognitive resources. Finally, too many goals can become distracting and counterproductive, especially if they conflict with one another and hence a day to day performance management strategy is needed to ensure that too many long terms goals don’t distract and become counterproductive.

Holistic Work Motivation and Aspiration Management

For general motivation, see Motivation.
File:Aspiration Management - Holistic Motivation Framework.jpg

Work motivation "is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual's being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration".[20] A holistic work motivation environment fosters both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. The external stimulus comes from peers, organization and managers. The internal stimulus is driven by the inner drive to work towards each individuals aspiration. Employee aspiration management driven work environment provides a holistic motivation work environment by providing both Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation stimulus for motivating employees so that excess extrinsic rewards does not lead to overjustification and subsequent reduction in intrinsic motivation.

Aspiration’s management is based on the assumption that each individual is motivated to work towards actualizing their aspiration and that productivity can be optimized by providing an organizational infrastructure or work culture that fosters employee aspirations actualization. Aspiration’s management is a people management methodology and is built on a framework that focuses on the need and urge of individual’s to actualize their aspirations and considers an employee as a whole (part of society with multiple roles) and not just as a resource or capital which is part of an organization or corporate who will perform, if remunerated. It tries to built in the theories of motivation and provides a system which enriches the core people management systems of an organization by linking to many peripheral interfaces that fosters aspirations actualization.

Work life balance and Employee Engagement

File:Employee Aspiration Management Cycle.jpg

Based on the multiple roles that an individual has in life, an Employee has multiple role based aspirations. The organization through its recruitment, career planning or the succession planning process identifies the right fit (career aspiration fitment) from within the organization or from the potential talent pool to help actualize the organizations aspirations (vision). Managing these helps aligns organizational vision to individual needs by providing an organizational environment or infrastructure that helps employees actualize their goals as they contributing to the success of the organization. This alignment is deployed through the aspirations management system, which supports implementation of Aspirations management. The integration of the core people management infrastructure and the multiple peripheral interfaces collectively form the Aspirations Management System that generates opportunities within the system for employees to actualize their goals.

Every level in the hierarchy of employee needs has an aspiration and goal actualization cycle, which leads to employee satisfaction, productivity maximization, and ultimately creating a work culture that improves the emotional connect between organization (role, peers, managers, work environment) and employees, and hence creating engaged employees who contribute towards the business vision. This integration needs to provide maximum opportunities for the employees to actualize their needs, which can be provided for any of the level in the hierarchy of employee needs. The objective is to strike the right balance between the organizational growth opportunities (career aspirations) and social opportunities (personal aspirations) that the organization intents to provides through the system.

Personnel Management – Human Resource Management – Human Capital Management – Aspiration Management

File:Transition from Personnel Management, Human Resource Management, Human Capital Management to Aspiration Management.jpg

The transition from personnel management, Human Resources Management, Human Capital Management to Aspiration Management needs to be viewed through the prism of people management in changing times and in context of the industry that is being studied. Personnel Management was seen as being administrative in nature and the Personnel Administration team was expected to ensure that the needs of the workforce as they pertain to their immediate concerns are taken care of. Personnel Management was also seen as a predominantly mediatory function and it typically played the role of mediators between the management and the employees and hence there was always the feeling that personnel management was not in tune to meet the objectives set by the management. Some of the personnel management functions included, employee record keeping, adherence to the policies related to recruitment, training and wage administration, administering welfare measures like medical care, housing etc., attempting to increase productivity through salary increases and training, enforcement of standards derived from work studies, dealing with trade unions, trying to solve industrial disputes through collective bargaining and other industrial relations approaches, conducting performance appraisals or report card of past performance to determine salary fitment and promotions.

With the advent of resource centric organizations, it became imperative to put “people first” at the same time secure the management’s objectives of maximizing the ROI (Return on Investment) on resources. This has led to the development of the modern HRM function which aimed at the fulfillment of management objectives. In the process of transition from Human Resources Management to Human Capital Management, the work force considered as “resources” now became “assets” or “capital” and a valuable source of competitive advantage. The thrust of people management shifted focus to aligning employees to the business vision and ensuring goal alignment to maximize productivity. People Management processes at this stage is optimized through the use of technology providing detailed analytics and metrics required for decision making. With social networking becoming popular, many people management functions like Recruitment, Learning and Development and performance management has taken the social route. The transition to aspiration management is marked by the need to actualize human potential, since process optimization using technology, managing people as Resources or as a capital that has an economic value did not have the requisite motivational framework to optimize productivity. Aspiration’s management is based on the assumption that each individual is motivated to work towards actualizing their aspirations and that productivity can be optimized and human potential can be actualized through the deployment of the holistic motivational framework that creates the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation based employee engagement initiatives by extending maximum opportunities for employee aspiration actualization.

Integrating the Motivational Framework to HRM and HCM

Succession Planning in Aspiration Management

Organizations have highly qualified people who may be performing well in the current role. Expecting them to do well in which ever role the organization wants the Employee to work in is what works against the theory of self-determination. Career aspiration fitment built in through the appropriate Motivational framework is the key. The self-determination theory is based on the work of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. They believed that self-determination is achieved by intrinsic motivation which can provide the person satisfaction without any reward.[21] The challenge for Aspiration Management practitioners is to built in the right balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, so as to provide a work environment that helps actualize human potential. This intrinsic motivation is achieved by a feeling of autonomy, by not feeling controlled, feelings of competence through training and positive performance feedback. Expectancy theory, hierarchy of needs, and goal setting also have relevance in the succession planning process. There are many factors to be considered in order to built in the right motivational framework to help optimize productivity and actualize human potential

  • Interest: Ensure that career aspiration fitment is integral to your succession planning process.
  • Autonomy: Has the organization created a work environment that ensures performance work flow. Are they provided with the right tools and support to accomplish their tasks and goals without being dependent?
  • Enjoyment: Do you love what you are currently doing? What is challenging about the next role that the individual is going to take-up?
  • Competence: Is the person ready or is there a competency development plan to ensure smooth transition to the higher role.
  • Job Satisfaction: Design jobs that are meaningful and foster a sense of contribution to the organization. Can the employee expect balance between work and lifestyle.

The self determination theory is concerned with the motivation behind the choices that people make without any external influence and interference. Self-determination theory focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.[21] Passion follows ownership, which is important to achieve the end objective "To Create a work environment that helps in Actualizing Human Potential."

Corrective Analytics

Corrective analytics is the integrated business intelligence technology that is designed to mitigate risks by executing strategic objectives and goals that reflects in the corrected scorecard for organizational functions through multiple peripheral interfaces that enables execution of risk mitigation using inbuilt and scalable corrective modules. Corrective analytics optimizes HR Strategic Initiatives by integrating the strategic objectives based corrective modules to predictive and actionable analytics. The deployment and analysis of corrective modules reflected in the HR scorecard. Corrective analytics is integral to aspiration management as it aims to mitigate or reduce the risks that are potential hindrance to optimizing or actualizing human potential.

Integrating Work Ethics to Work Culture

An Organizational culture determines ethical behavior of the workforce and it determines how they go about doing their work with honesty and integrity. Employers are expected to implement appropriate work ethics management processes, policies and systems that help reflect an authentic track record of managing internal and external customers. The policies of a company should have good ethical foundation to promote morality in the employer, employee and customer relationship. This behavior becomes part of the work culture. Authentic Track Record (ATR), a peripheral aspiration management system, provides the power of the source of truth or source data that can contribute towards building a value driven organization and contribute towards productivity optimization. It delivers productivity optimization through its integration with the multiple source data which are updated at the various points of authorized origin. As part of the integration process, the organization defines its benchmark work ethics policy that will determine the level of compliance delivered through the compliance connector with the various external and internal entities and includes, equal opportunities for career growth, ethical employee joining process, ethical exist process, workplace infrastructure safety compliance, customer support compliance, statutory compliance connectors, authentication connectors, and other such benchmarks required to ensure that a process driven system is deployed to ensure organizational value compliance.

See also

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References

  1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/goal
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Shapiro, Steve. Goal free living
  3. 3.0 3.1 Goldstein, quoted in Arnold H. Modell, The Private Self (Harvard 1993) p. 44
  4. James L (1998). Understanding Employee Motivation. N/A June 1998, Vol. 36
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Jex, S.M. & Britt, T.W. (2008). Organizational Psychology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rogers, Carl. On Becoming a Person (1961) p. 350-1
  7. Wigfield, A., Guthrie, J. T., Tonks, S., & Perencevich, K. C. (2004). Children's motivation for reading: Domain specificity and instructional influences. The Journal of Educational Research, 97, 299-309
  8. Ryan, M. R., & Deci, L. E. "Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being". American Psychologist, 2000.
  9. Mark R. Lepper, David Greene and Richard Nisbet, "Undermining Children’s Intrinsic Interest with Extrinsic Reward; A Test of ‘Overjustification’ Hypothesis", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 28, 1973, 129‐37.
  10. Goldstein 1995
  11. Goldstein, M.: (1971): Selected Papers/Ausgewählte Schriften, The Hague (Nijhoff), p. 471
  12. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
  13. Maslow, A.H. (1943). "A Theory of Human Motivation," Psychological Review 50(4): 370-96.
  14. Gleitman and Reisberg
  15. Locke, E.A. & Latham, G.P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  16. Wright, P.M. (1992). "An examination of the relationships among monetary incentives, goal level, goal commitment, and performance". Journal of Management, 18, 677–93.
  17. Staw, B.M. & Boettger, R.D. (1990). Task revision: A neglected form of work performance. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 534–59.
  18. Gilliland, S.W. & Landis, R.S. (1992). "Quality and quantity goals in a complex decision task: Strategies and outcomes". Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 672–81.
  19. Latham, G. & Pinder, C. (2005). "Work motivation theory and research at the dawn of the twenty-first century". Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 485–516.
  20. Pinder, C. C.(2008)
  21. 21.0 21.1 Deci, E., & Ryan, R. (Eds.), (2002). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press

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