"Developing Productive Employee -
Motivating Through Meaning Making Communication"


By

Deepa Gupta
Senior Lecturer
E-mail:
deepa_mukul@yahoo.co.in / deepamukul@gmail.com
Mukul Gupta
Senior Lecturer
E-mail:
deepa_mukul@hotmail.com / mukulgupta75@gmail.com
Institute of Integrated Learning and Management
Academy of Higher Learning
Plot No. 17-18, Knowledge Park–II, Greater Noida
 


Maybe the place to begin is to say what motivation isn't. Many people incorrectly view motivation as a personal trait – that is, some have it and others don't. Motivation is an important factor which encourages persons to give their best performance and help in reaching the enterprise goals. A strong positive motivation will enable the increased output of employees but a negative motivation will reduce the same performance. Motivation originally came from the Latin root word 'Movere', which means "to move". It is derived from the word Motive. It may be defined as an inner state of our mind that activates and directs our behaviour. It can't be seen, but all that can be seen in behaviour. Some people work harder or exert more efforts than others. In other words, individuals with lesser ability can, and do, out perform their counter parts. In fact this is because of motivation. Motivation is some thing that moves a person to action, and continues him in the course of action already initiated. It is the case of management which shows that every human being earnestly seeks a secure, friendly and supportive relationship which gives him a sense of worth in face to face groups which are most important to him.

The role of Motivation is to develop and intensify the desire in every member of the organization to work effectively and efficiently in his position. We can say that motivated employees are in a state of tension and to relieve this tension, they exert efforts. The greater the tension, the higher the effort level. If this effort successfully leads to the satisfaction of the need, tension is reduced. But since, in the organizations, we are interested in the work behaviour, this tension reduction effort must also be directed towards organizational goals. Therefore what we require is the individual needs to compatible and consistent with the organizations goals.

Motivation when viewed from the perspective of one versed in the organisational communication, focuses on effective transfer of information, which in turn reduces uncertainty. This information/ message content that reduces uncertainty is crucial in the motivational process.

If employee's knowledge of specific and difficult goals is defined clearly, then they tend to do better, compared to moving without direction with nil or vague information ( Locke, 1978; Yukl & Lathm, 1978).  Apparently,  workers seek meaning making information to reduce uncertainty and they perform better if the information held by their superiors is shared effectively and truly.

Depending on the situation and the subordinate, a leader and a manager may involve their subordinates in decision making process participatively.  For this,  they may have to share information and values with their subordinates to learn their needs and then mutually decide how they can attain their aims through their organisational goals. The information sharing process and effective multi-dimensional organisational communication play a vital role in organisational goals. For this, the personality, anxiety dimensions of the individuals concerned and their satisfaction of their present,  potential needs and aspirations have to be kept in focus as much as attainment of their organisational goals.

The manager should inform the employees about the goals required to be attained by specific target dates and job description and behaviour pattern expected out of them clearly for an ideal fit to attain  the organisational goals and point out how the worker can establish balance and consistency between his role and organisational roles. Research findings reveal that creativity flourishes when the message is communicated well, it's effectiveness  measured and reviewed/ benchmarked, as is the case  with the Raymond Corporation's( HQ New York) and its quarterly meetings and info -sharing processes therein.  During the scheduled date and time of the meet,  all available information are shared in good faith and trust to create and maintain subtle boundaries to power, status, role, occupational empowerment and specialisation, thus  making up the fabric of the  work culture of the Raymond Corporation.

Manager may inform the employees  of the organisational goals and other relevant data to make sense to them, that facilitate the accomplishment of their allotted tasks and provide necessary feedback as to whether they are  on the right  tracks regarding  attitude, behaviour and performance of duties. He may also provide information on the incentives, rewards, recognition, benefits and punishment related to such desired pattern. However, that alone is not enough. The manager should try to understand the subordinates empathetically. For this, he has to develop personal and informal inter personal relationship, learn  as many relevant facts informally about the upbringing , culture, values, knowledge, skill and attitude , strength and weaknesses and try to match these  to their roles. An employee having a general notion of his job responsibilities is normally eager to establish specific goals as perceived by him to increase his understanding of what is expected of him. Employees want to find out how their needs and expectations can be fulfilled through the organisation and how they can uphold their values while carrying out their respective roles. Employers on the other hand are normally unwilling to share success. Generally the Indian employees are uncertain about how to satisfy their needs and aspirations and  restore balance while accomplishing their allotted organisational goals. In contrast, Prime Mover, a material handling manufacturer in Iowa, USA recognizes goal directed but 'unsuccessful  teamwork'  also `besides 'rewarding successful teams ' suitably.  Genuine effort in good faith is the criteria with them.

Work-a-holic superiors may , to their benefit allow their subordinates to learn and practice ' meaning making language' while developing their own acumen at it. Video communication aided by cable TV and use of  computer can be effective communication tools. Irrespective of the tools used ,  they should understand that even tea/ coffee club gossip may be meaning making as much as the informal small talk while traveling to office and back together,  Rum punches or stray thoughts / revelations emerging from get-togethers or hobby clubs have remained an effective management technique foe meaning making communication since 500 BC as  propounded by Chinese philosopher,  Sun Tzu.

Steers and Porte (1975) asserted that work is meaningful to workers:

* For obtaining extrinsic and intrinsic rewards,
* For social interaction and integration,
* As a mechanism for symbolically identifying status or rank and
* For establishing an identity in terms of their roles, value commitments and for societal purpose.

For supervisors, the major function of meaning making language is to facilitate the construction of schema and scripts in subordinates which guide work behaviour in ways that are useful to the organisation. Rarely do supervisors consciously direct their communication along these lines. Instead, they normally play their roles as their organisational boss has directed them to adopt  or as upholders of the norms embodied in the organisational culture.

Job satisfaction plays a dominant role in receiving -'meaning making language ' as it is meant. Job satisfaction is the result of the positive feelings and beliefs regarding job characteristics and job related experiences held by the employees (Locke, 1976). It is developed by  challenging work, recognition, good working conditions, high and equitable rewards , good opportunities for promotion, and advancement etc. It reduces absenteeism and turnover, although it  does not necessarily increase performance (Landy and Trumbe, 1976; Locke, 1976). Rewards and recognition contingent on performance may increase job satisfaction although,  the simple presence of reward may by itself be enough (Gupta,1980).

In meaning making communication, the employees and the management interact openly as a matter of routine through informal role playing. In this process, the manager normally develops his role as a representative of the  organisation's beliefs, values and goals over a period of time after gaining the trust of the employees. For example a manager may say to his subordinate ,." I am just so happy to tell you that your chances of promotion will be good if you do well on this project". These words reduce the worker's uncertainty about the correlation between his actions and goal attainment,  which in turn may trigger his optimum efforts  for goal accomplishment.

Japanese managers have been successfully motivating their employees by using different kinds of language appealing to their 'head and heart' alike ( Pascale and Athos, 1981). They spend a lot of time to know their employees personally and to have an insight in to their background, strengths and weaknesses through informal communication with them. They are deeply involved and committed in this process and are sincerely interested in them as 'human beings'.

A manager who excels in 'meaning making communication' with their employees is normally considerate and empathetic towards them. This in turn results in the employees a high degree of self esteem, mutual trust, and emotional bond with the manager, based or shared values. Work motivation in such cases will be a natural fall out of these shared values and beliefs.

According to the goal setting theory ( Miner, 1984;  Pinder,1984), the goals are the most important factors in an employee's intent to work hard and long. When employees encounter utility and meaning  in their work,  they are motivated to work hard. (Erez and Sidon, 1984)  found that  ' goal acceptance' mediates between goal difficulty and performance. The supervisor with his 'meaning making' communications can make significant contribution towards' goal acceptance',  on the part of his subordinates.

Meaningful communication also generates commitment among employees. Committed employees remain wedded to the organisational role and fulfill their role requirements effectively (Commings, 1983).

Meaning making indicators of the supervisor increasing the employees' information on goals and policies,  help them to develop their perceptions that their supervisor's words  and their work  have a sense and meaning.

The successful managers supply the information and the feedback needed by workers. Besides, they also exhibit a keen interest in communicating with employees as people with `head and heart'. Their 'non-purposeful' communication in the downtime also makes a significant contribution to their motivation specially if channeled properly in tune with the work culture. Thus, motivating through meaningful language is a continuous phenomenon working on the minds consciously  or subconsciously.

To conclude, successful managers have to learn three things:

a) What employees need to know
b) The importance  of role playing and  informal meaning making communication and
c) The importance of compassion and empathy.

In short, they must practice to know and develop their employees as human beings rather than as 'Cogs in the Wheel'. They have to understand that effective and consistent meaning making communication has been and will always be a challenge and one that should be on the topmost hit list 'to do' by each strata of management,  everyday.
 


Deepa Gupta
Senior Lecturer
E-mail:
deepa_mukul@yahoo.co.in / deepamukul@gmail.com
Mukul Gupta
Senior Lecturer
E-mail:
deepa_mukul@hotmail.com / mukulgupta75@gmail.com
Institute of Integrated Learning and Management
Academy of Higher Learning
Plot No. 17-18, Knowledge Park–II, Greater Noida
 

Source: E-mail December 29, 2005

   

Back to Articles 1-99 / Back to Articles 100-199 / 200 onwards / Faculty Column Main Page

 

Important Note :
Site Best Viewed in Internet
Explorer in 1024x768 pixels
Browser text size: Medium