Principle 4: Employees Will Be Motivated When They Perceive Little "Pull" from Alternative Goal Systems
Employees must sense that goal systems in which they might participate, other than the priority work assignment goal system, hold little promise for providing much satisfaction (or for minimizing dissatisfaction) at significant effort levels in those systems. If a large portion of an employee's limited effort capacity is to be allocated to priority work assignments, other goal systems must not siphon off significant amounts of effort. One must not be drawn in too many directions to get the job done. There is only so much effort to go around!
The issue discussed in this chapter is one of direction, or the distribution, of motivation. Motivation is a vector quantity having both magnitude and direction. Motivation problems of direction are perhaps more widespread in practice than problems of effort magnitude. The real motivation problem is often one of effort distribution--not one of eliciting high effort from the employee but rather one of allocating the effort elicited. Workers frequently exert high aggregate effort but not all in a highly relevant direction. They tend to divert much of their energy from priority tasks because of strong incentive to do so. Much of this effort is organizationally irrelevant or even antirelevant.
The reader should appreciate that the discussion in this chapter is, conceptually, an alternative to discussion of the same material as an opportunity cost experienced in the on-the-job goal system. That is, one reason workers do not exert higher on-the-job effort is because to do so they must give up something. That something is the satisfaction gained (or dissatisfaction avoided) by participating in alternative goal systems.
Total effort exerted in some goal system equals effort per time period multiplied by the number of time periods spent striving for the goal. Job motivation can be increased by getting the worker to exert less time pursuing alternative systems and by getting the worker to exert less energy per time period