Jag Venugopal's Blog

May 18, 2009

Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Filed under: Management — Jag @ 6:52 pm
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When you want to motivate a team member to achieve a specific outcome, expectancy theory can help you in validating your motivational approach. A good description of expectancy theory can be found at http://www.uri.edu/research/lrc/scholl/Notes/Motivation_Expectancy.html.

Expectancy theory has three components:

  • Will the desired actions lead to good performance? (e. g. “If I work 60 hours per week for the next three weeks, will that lead to a successful completion of the project, or is it wasted effort?”)
  • Will the good performance lead to a desired outcome? (e.g. “If I work really hard and this project is successful, will I be rewarded at the end?”)
  • What is the value of the desired outcome to the individual? (e.g. “If I work really hard and make this project successful, I may get a 3% raise where otherwise I would have got a 2% raise. Is the extra effort worth the rewards to me?”)

Keeping in mind the three components of expectancy theory provides the project manager a tool to understand the right approaches to motivation of team members. Because many of the valuable desired outcomes are not under the direct control of the project manager (e.g. salary raises, bonuses, time off, etc), line managers will need to closely support the project manager in the motivation of team members.

Where project managers are not empowered to provide motivational outcomes, team motivation suffers, it is usually the poor project manager who gets blamed for it. In reality, creating the right conditions for a motivated team is a shared responsibility between the project manager and the line manager, working together.

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