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Project on Employee Motivation at Workplace


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              Managerial Interview:

Motivation, Leadership and Ethics in the Workplace

                    Nicole O’Keefe
              Organizational Behavior 300
                  November 20, 2008
                   Christian Resick
                     Susan Epstein
                                                                                     O’Keefe 2

        Easily one of the most crucial, yet challenging, occupations to ho ld, management

positions require a plethora of skills and capabilities. Successfully performing the duty of

manager is not an easy task, but if managers are able to motivate their employees, then

the entire organization can reap the benefits. Because management positions encompass

such a wide variety of responsibilities, it is oftentimes difficult to excel in all aspects of

the job. As stated in Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model, “Getting people to do

their best work, even in trying circumstances, is one of managers’ most enduring and

slippery challenges (Groysberg 1).”

        Necessity demands that managers be able to lead and motivate employees from all

different backgrounds and mindsets. For this reason, no two people can be approached in

exactly the same manner and this becomes the inherent obstacle managers need to

overcome. The rewards greatly outnumber the costs, however, because e ffective

management can lead to such desired results as increased output and profitability, high

employee satisfaction, low employee turnover, and an overall better working

environment, in addition to many others. It is no wonder that managers are so vital to the

success of organizations because of the key roles they play.

        A relatively new asset to the mid-sized Philadelphia law firm of Stradley Ronon

Stevens & Young, LLP, Beth Dainoff has truly been making her mark within the

company. Dainoff, the Public Relations Coordinator, is responsible for a number of

significant tasks. She joined the company a little over a year ago and still claims to be
                                                                                  O’Keefe 3

learning new things and tackling unique challenges on a daily basis. “The work is never-

ending,” she admits with a sly smile on her face, which obviously shows that she enjoys

the pandemonium. Not only is she accountable for her own mile- long list of assignments,

but she is also in charge of managing the firm’s marketing and public relations interns.

She relishes the added pressure of having subordinates in this, her first management

position, but states that she faces her share of ups and downs when it comes to being a


       Within the Marketing Department at Stradley Ronon, there is the Chief Marketing

Officer who heads the small department of eight employees with his second- in-command,

the Marketing Manager. Dainoff works closely with both of her supervisors to

accomplish the assignments and projects she is given. Some of these responsibilities

include discovering new opportunities for business development, increasing firm and

attorney publicity, engaging attorneys to actively participate in gaining relevant press,

acknowledgements and awards, and maintaining a consistent and prestigious firm image.

With such critical duties to fulfill, Dainoff does receive some extra help in the form of

three Drexel interns. She not only delegates tasks to the co-ops but manages their

progress in performing them, as well.

       Possessing little to no prior experience as a manager, Beth Dainoff has faced

many challenges and learning experiences that have helped to improve her managerial

skills. She will be the first to admit that the job comes loaded with pros and cons but that

the challenge makes her position more rewarding. One such reward comes in the form of

the strong relationships Beth is able to develop with the interns. As an employee-oriented

leader, she believes that establishing a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect is the
                                                                                  O’Keefe 4

best way to reach her employees. This also leads to the satisfaction she feels of having

the ability to act as a mentor for other young professionals. Because o f the individual

bonds made with each intern, she feels not only obligated but privileged to have the

opportunity to help shape and direct the co-ops. Other benefits of being a manager

include witnessing the sense of accomplishment the employees feel when overcoming a

particularly difficult task and also helping each intern see how his or her work adds value

to the company and fits into the big picture. Her employees most likely feel this type of

satisfaction because they possess a learning- goal orientation. When people enjoy learning

new things and gaining knowledge, succeeding in the face of adversity can be extremely


       In a perfect world, there would be no disadvantages to mention, but in the

management world, some inevitably arise. For Beth, the main problem with being a

manager is the added pressure of having employees constantly looking to her for advice

and to set an example to follow. Because she does hope to act as a mentor and role model

for the employees, she sometimes worries that during times when she is swamped with

work she will not be able to devote enough time and energy to the interns. Her employee-

oriented leadership style, in which she holds the mentality of “lead by example,” forces

her to constantly strive to stay on top of her game. Other negative aspects of the

management position are dealing with conflicts and employee complaints or

dissatisfactions, and finding ways to handle unmotivated or unfocused employees.

       Motivating workers can prove to be extremely complicated and difficult because

of individual differences among people which include both surface level and deep level

differences. Surface level differences such as race, gender and age can only tell so much
                                                                                  O’Keefe 5

about a person. On the other hand, deep level differences such as personality and values

take much more time to learn but are indefinitely more valuable to know. Successful

managers understand the necessity of discovering these differences and adapting their

motivational techniques to each individual. Marcus Buckingham, author of What Great

Managers Do, states that, “there is one quality that sets truly great managers apart from

the rest: They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it

(Buckingham 2).” Being able to analyze employees and then apply a distinct strategy to

motivate them is an important skill to possess as a manager.

       It may have been the case in the past that money was the singular and most

powerful motivator available to employers, but in today’s workplace this no longer the

case. Gardiner Morse, author of Why We Misread Motives, sums this point up beautifully:

        To be sure, money still counts. But today’s enlightened managers appreciate that

       employees seek meaning and satisfaction from their jobs—that it’s not just about

       the paycheck. These managers understand what motivates employees and fine-

       tune incentives accordingly (Morse 1).

Creating a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators can be the most effective

way to motivate employees who are seeking a well-rounded and rewarding work

experience. The extrinsic motivators of money and job security are not the sole means for

promoting employee satisfaction. Intrinsic motivators such as recognition and rewards,

personal development, and the ability to truly contribute value to an organization are

increasingly becoming key factors in employee motivation and satisfaction (Morse 1).

Beth Dainoff embodies this idea by informing her employees of how their work

contributes to the overall success of the project and ultimately the firm. This can be
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extremely useful for managers who lack the ability to grant monetary bonuses or

promotions, as is the case for Dainoff.

       When faced with unmotivated employees, different tactics may need to be applied

since traditional strategies do not seem to be effective. The author of How to Motivate

Your Problem People, Nigel Nicholson, claims:

       You can’t motivate these problem people: Only they themselves can. Your job is

       to create the circumstances in which their inherent motivation—the natural

       commitment and drive that most people have—is freed and channeled toward

       achievable goals (Nicholson 2).

Although this may be a difficult feat, the results of tweaking the motivational approach

used could be quite beneficial. According to McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y,

Theory X managers would feel that the unmotivated employees need to be forced into

doing work by using punishment, such as pay cuts or loss of privileges. On the other

hand, however, Theory Y managers would be more likely to directly communicate with

the employee to devise a plan that would provide the missing motivation. Dainoff

certainly falls into the category of Theory Y managers because of her belief that her

employees enjoy challenges and appreciate the ability to really make a difference within

the company through their hard work. She also values direct communication as a means

to increase employee motivation.

        Behaving ethically is sometimes a difficult feat to accomplish, especially

considering the many viewpoints that can be applied when analyzing ethics. People

develop their morals and values as they grow up in and learn from society. Since all

people experience and view the world around them in a different light, it is not surprising
                                                                                  O’Keefe 7

that so many varied perspectives on what constitutes ethical behavior have been formed.

Ethical guidelines help to establish a common ground among individuals so that the same

rules can be applied to everyone. This also helps to eliminate some of the controversies

that can occur in the business environment.

        Within organizations, ethical perspectives can take many different forms and can

vary from business to business. One viewpoint used in the business environment is the

Teleological approach, also known as the goal-oriented approach. When used alone, this

perspective, which focuses on the outcome instead of the means used to achieve it, can

lead to less-than-ethical behavior. This idea that the ends justifies the means can make

people believe that any actions, whether ethical or not, may be taken to accomplish a

goal. By coupling this with other ethical viewpoints, such as the Theory of Rights or

Utilitarianism, the Teleological approach can become more e ffective in promoting ethical

behavior. The Theory of Rights places the ethical responsibility on the individual by

saying that all people must value and uphold the rights of others, including the right to

privacy, free speech, and freedom of conscience, among others. Utilitarianism can be

described as acting to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The

last two theories, Theory of Rights and Utilitarianism, seem to take peoples’ best interests

into account more so than the Teleological perspective and for this reason, add more

value to the Teleological view.

        A manager’s role in promoting and upholding ethical behavior in the workplace is

extremely vital in order to obtain high moral values among workers in their daily

business activities. According to Lynn Paine, author of Managing for Organizational

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       Ethics has everything to do with management. Rarely do the character flaws of a

       lone actor fully explain corporate misconduct. More typically, unethical business

       practice involves the tacit, if not explicit, cooperation of others and reflects the

       values, attitudes, beliefs, language, and behavioral patterns that define an

       organization’s operating culture (Paine 1).

This goes to show that ethical standards need to be clearly defined and abided by the

organization and its leaders. The Values Ethics perspective seeks to fulfill the common

need for a set of guidelines to base ethical decisions upon. These guidelines represent the

company’s shared values and principles and also act as a point of reference for all

employees to use if faced with an ethical dilemma.

       Values Ethics plays an important role in Beth Dainoff’s management role. She

uses the principles regarding ethics set up by the company when dealing with any

problems. Client privacy and case confidentiality are two of the major ethical issues Beth

faces while working in public relations. She and her subordinates must follow the rules

and guidelines established by Stradley Ronon in order to keep up with the ethical

standards of the company. The Values Ethics perspective is the most useful viewpoint in

the workplace because when moral principles are, “integrated into the day-to-day

operations of an organization, such strategies can help prevent damaging ethical lapses

while tapping into powerful human impulses for moral thought and action,” (Paine 1).

       A manager’s role is an all-encompassing position that is both challenging and

rewarding at the same time. The responsibilities and duties placed upon managers may

seem daunting to some, but managers, truly successful managers, are able to thrive under

the pressure and act as a leader and role model within an organization. Managers are held
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accountable for motivating employees to be productive and efficient, promoting

employees satisfaction, acting as a leader, and enforcing ethical standards in addition to

innumerable other responsibilities. After speaking with Beth, it is clear that although the

tasks may be demanding, the benefits greatly outweigh any negative aspects of holding a

management position.
                                                                               O’Keefe 10

Manager Interview Questions

   1. How long have you been with the company? How long have you held your
      current position?

   2. What are the three most important tasks or duties that you are responsible for
      accomplishing in this job?

   3. What do you like most about being a manager? What do you like least about
      being a manager?

   4. What are the best tactics/incentives you use to motivate your employees to give
      their all on the job?

   5. How do you combat lack of motivation (bad attitudes, laziness, deviant behavior,
      tardiness, absenteeism) in your employees?

   6. Do you ever find it challenging to know what will motivate different people or do
      you use about the same motivational techniques for all your employees?

   7. What is the ideal employee attitude and how do you help your employees achieve
      it if they don’t already possess it?

   8. In what ways do you create value for your employees?

   9. As a manager, how important do you feel it is to be a leader for your employees?

   10. How do you set an example for your employees to follow?

   11. What do you admire most in your employees in terms of taking leadership roles in
       the workplace?

   12. What are some common ethical issues you face in your day-to-day business?

   13. How do you address/prevent unethical behavior from occurring? Are there
       company policies regarding ethics?

   14. Do you find it difficult to address ethical issues with your employees since
       everyone has their own view on what constitutes ethical behavior?
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                                              Works Cited

Banaji, Mah zarin, Max Bazerman, Do lly Chugh (December, 2003). How (Un )ethical A re You?. Harvard

Business Review, Retrieved 11/10/2008, fro m <

articles/article.jsp?ml_action=get-art icle&articleID=R0312D&ml_page=1&ml_subscriber=true>.

Buckingham, Marcus (March 2005). What Great Managers Do. Harvard Business Review, Retrieved

11/ 10/ 2008, fro m <


Groysberg, Borism Nitin Nohria, Linda-Eling Lee (July-August, 2008). Employee Motivation: A Po werful

New Model. Harvard Business Review, Retrieved 11/10/2008, fro m <http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp. icleID=R0807G&ml_page


Morse, Gardiner (January, 2003). Why We Mis read Motives. Harvard Business Review, Retrieved

11/ 10/ 2008, fro m <


Nicholson, Nigel (January, 2003). How to Motivate Your Problem People. Harvard Business Review,

Retrieved 11/10/2008, fro m <


Sharp Paine, Lynn (March-April, 1994). Managing for Organizational Integrity. Harvard Business Review,

Retrieved 11/10/2008, fro m <

article.jsp?ml_action=get-art icle&articleID=94207&ml_page=1&ml_subscriber=true>.

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