Application of Motivation Theories at Workplace


Many businesses always try their best to motivate their employees with the aim of the need to achieve their goals and objectives. There are several motivation theories that explain various ways in which companies may motivate their employees and chief among them is the goal-setting theory, which considers that achieving success is directly linked to the ability of one setting goals. This theory is based on the fact that employees should be given specific objectives that are clear so as to avoid any misunderstanding between employees, thus the wide usage by various organizations. It was first stated by Locke in 1968 with the special emphasis on five ways of setting achievable goals. Basically, any organization should focus on motivating its employees towards achieving specific goals that can be measured and attained. Furthermore, the goals should always be relevant and time-bound.

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Research has indicated that most companies that are goal-oriented are using the goal setting theory to advance their performance. Coca Cola, for example, has applied goal motivation theory in its effort to improve productivity. It is always important to note that the simple existence of goals does not in actual fact motivate an individual since they may resemble New Year resolutions that most people formulate and afterward fail to keep. It is always the role of managers to ensure that the goals of a company are effective and are attainable. Most of them use SMART-goal method in formulating their goals and this means that the goals are Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic and Time-bound (Griffin, p. 187). If a manager for instance sets a specific goal, it would obviously be easier to attain a certain goal than any unspecified one. The managers will obviously be able to gauge that his or her company is performing best.

A manager from Coca Cola for instance may decide that he wants to increase sales of a region by 30% (Griffin, p. 189). This is a specific goal, but it would have been otherwise if for instance they decide to set their goals for example to be too general like to ‘make customers happy’. Such a goal is neither measurable nor specific and it would be fruitless for Coca Cola to spend a lot of its resources in their quest to satisfy such a goal. A specific goal for instance gives the manager an opportunity to gauge the performance of a company like Coca Cola. As is always the case in nearly all companies, goals and objectives will give a company an opportunity to determine its future prospects and assist them as they prepare for future changes. A company will always be in trouble coordinating its various activities if goals and objectives are not clear.

Further examinations of this theory have indicated that it is widely acceptable by Coca Cola Company. This also applies to other companies which are using this same approach. When a goal is set to match employee performance, then there is less ambiguity and most employees will understand them better, leading to a much greater performance. The more difficult the goal, the higher the performance expected from employees provided these goals do not appear too hard to achieve. It is also important to note that extremely high goals are bound to discourage rather than motivate them and this may result in poor performance of the company. There is need therefore for a company to set realistic goals that are easy to achieve. Coca Cola’s goal of making a 30% sales coverage is more realistic and achievable than if it had set it at a higher level of over 100% since it would ultimately drain employees, thus leading to a drop in performance (Griffin, p. 189).

In applying this theory, managers in Coca Cola Company always formulate different types of goals so as to ensure that these goals are widely acceptable among employees. Employees can be made committal to the set goals if they are set to appeal to their security. If managers do this and credibly convey the intended goals in a more understandable way, employees will feel the urge of assisting the company in achieving its goals. The company has employed continuous staff training, which boosts their confidence, as a means of enhancing goal achievement. Some of goals may either be strategic, tactical, operational or super-ordinate goals. When a company like Coca Cola set the goals that go in line with its mission statement, then such a goal is strategic; and this is what has always placed it in a position of a market leader of the beverage industry.

Tactical goals on the other hand supplement strategic goals of the Coca Cola Company since they indicate levels of achievement in various departments of the company. Employees would therefore be greatly motivated when operational goals are put in place which focuses on specific responsibilities of an individual. Cooperation among groups is enhanced, and this will ultimately enhance mutual dependency of the various groups. Consequently, it will elevate the company to accomplish its goals (Gawel, p. 3). The setting of goals with the intention of motivating employees can take various approaches, which may include top-down approach, down-up approach or the interactive approach.

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The effectiveness of this method can be measured by providing employees with feedback that is directly related to their performance to indicate if they are achieving their goals. This will always be important since employees get opportunity to adjust their efforts to a level that will lead them towards goal achievement. This process should always be consistent, taking various forms like charts or graphs that indicate performance over a certain period of time (Lindner, p. 2). By doing this, the managers are not only giving the employees opportunity to assess themselves but to also give them constant motivation to achieve more goals. Employee evaluation is always coherent with periodic evaluation of goals in the Coca Cola Company because they always face transformations in the market and at the end of a certain fiscal year (Griffin, p. 189). Moreover, goals may not be as reasonable as they were at the beginning.

The best tool of analyzing effectiveness and workability of this theory is by use of questionnaire, which contains some questions to be answered by the employees and even the management. The questions may seek to know if the attainment of the target was an easy task, challenging or effortless. Other questions may include need to specifically identify the participation of each and every employee in achieving the laid down goals and the difficulty involved. The other mode of analysis may involve self-assessment or supervisors rating of employees (Lindner 2). A high value rating will indicate the effectiveness of theory used to motivate employees. A goal-setting system must always be designed and used by an organization as this will enhance performance and provides an effective response to unforeseen changes that may have negative impact on their ambition of trying to achieve its goals.

There are however challenges that exist in using this theory, which include time-frame of assessment of the employee potential in relation to the goals of the organization. The assessment may be done in a time that the organization is doing best out of other factors besides the employee motivation. This will always give biased results and may lead to wrong decisions to be made by the organization. The mode of assessment also raises some challenges due to the fact that the mode of giving for one’s performance is left at the mercy of a supervisor who may at times be biased. It is therefore recommended that better modes of goal-achievement assessment should be used by various organizations like the Coca Cola Company. Regarding the challenge of time, assessment should be done regular and the periodic annual analysis can later be combined to obtain an average motivation index.


The setting of goals most often than not involves benefits of clarity and feedback of ideas. A very optimistic approach should always involve formulation of concrete, quantifiable, and time-oriented goals they always keep employees motivated. Ever since 1970s, this theory has always proved to be the most applied, in an effort to motivate employees. Companies have gained a lot of faith with the outcome of its application. This shows that this theory provides good results to those companies that use it.

Works Cited

  1. Gawel, Joseph. Herzberg’s theory of motivation and maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 1997, 5(11).
  2. Griffin, Ricky. Management. Chicago: Cengage Learning, 2006, p.189.
  3. Lindner, James. Understanding Employee Motivation. Journal of Extension, 1998, 3 (36).

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