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11.06.2007 Feature Article

Motivating The Ghanaian Worker

Motivating The Ghanaian Worker

Motivation is the will to act. An organisation's performance reaches its peak when the staffs are highly motivated. It is however often a challenge to employers to identify what motivates employees.

The subject Motivation is very complex and often what motivates one person may not motivate the other. Moreover, what an employer may think will motivate the staffs may not be the real source of motivation. This piece is therefore intended to provide practical ways in which, using Manslow's theory of motivation, Ghanaian employers like the government and the private sector can be able to find the right motivation for their staffs to increase productivity. This will also put smiles on the face of the Ghanaian worker.

Manslow's hierarchy of needs affects virtually everyone in an organization no matter your age or experience. Manslow in his theory talks about the Physiological needs, Safety or Security needs, Social/love needs, Esteem needs and Self-Actualization needs. Physiological need talks about the need for food, shelter and clothing thus satisfying the basic needs of life. Safety or Security needs talks about the need to feel safe on the job, Social/love needs talks about the need for belonging, Esteem needs talks about the need for ego boosters like promotion, awards etc.. and Self-Actualisation needs concerns the need to do something memorable.

Now let's practicalise Manslow's theory: Kofi just completes his degree and enters the organization. At this point, his source of motivation will be the Physiological. This is because for once he would want to be able to buy food, clothing and shelter on his own without having to rely on his sponsors or parents. So tipping Kofi once in a while to meet this need will be a great source of motivation to him. Now let's say after three years Kofi gets married. At this point, he would want feel safe on the job so as to be able to always be in good health and cheer for his wife.

Thus if Kofi is working in a department where he handles dangerous devices, he would want to ensure that safety measures and mechanisms have been put in place so he can always feel safe. In addition, to this he would want to be assured that he is going to be in the job for a long time so as to be able to continue to cater for his family. Thus if Kofi's employer puts in place these Safety mechanisms, Kofi will be highly motivated and work to his peak. After three years of marriage, Kofi gives birth to two kids. At this point Kofi will be motivated when the employer and/or colleagues show concern for him and his family. Thus Kofi would want his Social/Love needs (need for belonging) to be satisfied. In such a time, a simple 'how are you and the family' will be a great source of motivation for Kofi.

Then there comes the time where Kofi would want an ego booster. Having for example served in the same position for more than five years he would want to be promoted so he can be a source of pride for his family. As such, his employer should be able to work out a promotion if he deserves it. This will be Kofi's motivation at this stage. Then there comes the time when having achieved a lot, Kofi would simply want to do something that will bring honour to his name and also serve as a memoir. It could be voluntarily accepting to sponsor and work on a project or something of that equivalent.

Kofi's employer should therefore give him the opportunity since he is going to work free of charge. This will be Kofi's motivation at this stage. So using Kofi's example and taking him through some relevant stages of life, employers like the Government and the private sector can identity what every Ghanaian worker's motivation should be.

Martin Nana Baffoe Pieterson
Martin Nana Baffoe Pieterson, © 2007

This author has authored 9 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MartinNanaBaffoePieterson

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