Explain one process theory and evaluate its practical usefulness for a team?

In this essay I will provide a definition of motivation and explain one process theory. I will also be critically evaluating the practical usefulness of the theory for a team. In addition, I will provide examples where possible to link with the question and I will end it by giving a coherent conclusion.

According to Steers and Porters (1979) motivation is defined as the force that initiates, energizes, drives and directs our behaviour towards a goal or a desired outcome. Motivation is key for any business or corporation to be successful as a motivated team will be able to achieve their goals and succeed unlike an unmotivated team who will most likely not succeed in achieving their goals. Process theories, as Hellriegel,Slocum & Woodman explains, try to describe and analyse how personal factors influence the person to produce certain kinds of behaviour. An example can be when a person tries harder to obtain rewards that gratify their needs than to obtain rewards that do not. The four best known process theories are expectancy, reinforcement, equity and goal setting however for this essay I will be evaluating the Equity theory.

Equity theory focuses on an individual’s feelings of how fairly he or she is treated in comparison with others as said by Adams (1963). This theory has two assumptions: one is that the individuals make contributions and expect certain results and the second assumption is individuals compare their situation to others in order to determine their own situation. This brings me to the General Equity Model which is based on two variables: inputs and outcomes. The input represents the individual’s contribution while the outcomes are what the individual receives from the exchange an example can be an employee putting in more work so that it could get a pay increase or to gain a promotion. Individuals always will assign inputs and outcomes according to their perception. Equity exists when the person feels the outcomes and inputs of itself is not the same or similar to someone else’s outcomes to inputs. For example, an individual may feel he/she is not paid compared to others. However, sometimes inequality exists and this is when the outcomes and inputs are not correlated for example, if a person completes all the tasks on time, works harder than co workers and puts in longer hours than others then he or she may feel that their input is greater than their co workers and therefore should get a greater pay.

When it comes to teams if the Equity theory is applied and the ratio of input and outcomes of an individual is the same or similar to their team mates then the team will work harmoniously. However, if there is inequality then there will be tension within the group and tension can cause infighting between team mates in my own experience this came to be true. My experience of being in a professional football team has give me firsthand experience what inequality can lead to, as a team everyone gets paid £5 per match not including external factors such as clean sheets or the number of goals you scored. But there were different inputs by individual players yet we all got the same outcome, £5. This led to tension and eventually led to a full-blown fight between my team mates and the reason why the tension was there in the first place was because some individuals put in more input than others yet got the same outcome. This example can be used in a work place, if someone believes that their input and outcome ratio is not similar to someone else’s then tension will arise which can make intolerable and this can lead to inefficiency in the workplace which is not good for the team or the business.

The Equity theory is widely used by managers to set pay scales for jobs in most organisations. The employees expect a fair outcome from their input and if the right balance is struck then there is less chance of tension rising in teams. However, there are a number of shortcomings. The first is that the main assumption of Equity theory is that people always compare themselves but if the circumstances changes would the individual choose a different person or do individuals change comparisons if an at different points of their career.  Furthermore, Equity theory fails to take account the individual; some may not compare themselves at all. Huseman and Hatfield (1989) argue that organisations misunderstand the recipients as many managers’ value currencies but that is not what the employees are seeking. In a team environment inequality will create inevitable damage however; if the right balance is reached in terms of equity then the team will not face any trouble.