Principle 1: Employees Will Be Motivated When They Perceive that Effort Leads to Performance
For employees to exert high effort, they must see that it makes a difference in their performance. Employees must sense that effort will pay off in terms of performance--that it is highly correlated with performance and that higher effort will yield better performance. The stronger the perceived correlation, the stronger the motivation.
Employee-job performance is a function of ability, job design, and motivation. If the employee has adequate ability and the job is designed well, then performance is solely dependent on the level of motivation. Assuming ability and job design are in order, high motivation becomes a necessary and sufficient condition for high performance. If employees know their ability is high and the design of their job is "top notch," then high performance is perceived as indeed possible and perceived to depend on their efforts. On the other hand, low ability and faulty job design limit the effect of effort on performance. They reduce the perceived correlation between effort and performance and, thus, the slope of the effort-reward function. When the slope of the reward curve decreases, motivation decreases.
To sense a strong effort-performance correlation, one must sense that other variables are not interfering with effort--constraining or negating the results of effort. Ability is a key determining variable of employee-job performance, as mentioned before. This moderating variable affects to what degree effort results in performance. If ability is high, the employee perceives that effort has a good