There are many different theories as to what motivation is and what motivates each of us. These theories have developed over time and had three main influencers on the evolution of our understanding of motivation and motivating the workforce. Over the next few blog entries I am going to quickly review the basic principles of motivation believed by each of the three fathers of early motivational beliefs.
1. Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1917) believed that people did not intrinsically enjoy working and would only be motivated by pay. Taylor suggested that workers would need very close supervision and that production should be broken down into small but measurable tasks. A company needed to provide the right tools and training in order to insure the highest possible output from workers. Workers were then paid in accordance to their output, the more widgets you made, the more you got paid and there is your motivation to turn up, work hard and work fast. Of course with the promise of increased productivity levels and lower widget unit costs companies quickly embraced and implemented Taylor’s theories. Henry Ford took Taylor’s theories as literally as one could and created the world’s first production lines. A well trained, well paid and motivated workforce had arrived. As with the never ending ascending stairs of human needs, once one need is taken care of, we are quickly looking to take care of the next.
Over time workers got bored with the mundane nature of their repetitive tasks and started to feel like they were being treated like machines. Workers wanted something more than just pay. Frederick Taylor was right at the point he started but wrong on where he believed the need for motivation stopped.