Motivation primarily means the willingness or enthusiam one needs to reach the set goals. When we talk in the context of Organisations, we call work motivation as motivation that employees need to reach the organisational goals.
The various factors that effect of work motivation can be seen as what the individual needs for himself, what the individual needs in terms of the job itself and what the individual needs from the work environment (which includes his superiors, his colleagues, his sub ordinates)
For an employee to reach the goals, it is important to identify what needs have to be fulfilled for him to reach the organisational goal. The Maslows hierarchy of needs identify the levels of needs in no particular order that are necessary to be addressed in order the reach the ultimate goal. While going through each of the concepts a reference to motivating a 55 year old tenured professor is being made.
Maslows hierarchy of needs
1. Physiological : These are basic needs of the body like hunger and thirst or any physical ailment or any such need that have to be addressed. For a 55 year old profession (assuming his health condition is not at its best) his health condition could be bad due to which his performance is weak. By discussing with the professor about his health condition we could identify if his health condition is having an impact on his performance or not and we could see if the policies can help the professor in minimising the stress and motivate him (such as a monetary compensation, or a medical leave if he needs break from work to cope from his illness)
2. Safety : This needs talks about the psychological or emotional or physical harm one would expect and the need to be safe from such a situation. Assuming the professor has concerns over the fear of getting terminationed he could be motivated citing the situation that inspite of weak performance for the last few years he is being retained because of the potential he has got with which he has served for the past many years.
3. Social : This need talks about the need of social acceptance. Man is social animal and would need acceptance in some form or the other from his surrounding people, Assuming the professor needs such acceptance from his peers. For him to feel motivated organising programs at work place which involves stimulating subject conversations with peers such as conferences etc
4. Esteem : These needs are about the need for self respect, appreciation, achievement, autonomy etc. Assuming the professor has not been appreciated for the good work he has done earlier, taking corrective measures such as sending notes of appreciation for the achievement he has made and inculcating a feeling that he is valuable resource to the organisation can help him feel important and can make efforts to be better at his work.
5. Self Actualization : These needs talk about the need to reach one’s full potential which makes them feel satisfied for what they are doing and would do more to get the feeling of accomplishment.
This is one of the various theories that talk about the needs and how to address them for employee motivation. Basically we need to identify the needs, prioritise the satisfy the lower levels needs and move further, appreciating and rewarding for the progress made and realigning the mutual expectations for mutual benefit of the organisation and the employee. Industrial psychology can address these issues but with sound indepth scietific knowledge of human behaviour.