Expectancy Theory of Motivation three components and relationships

The prominent motivation theory that will be examined and applied in our scenario is the expectancy theory. What is expectancy theory and how we can use this theory in our scenario will be the main two areas of our discussion.

Expectancy is what employers expect from their employees, but this expectancy goes even deeper than that. Victor Vroom expectancy theory explanation is widely used, he states, “Expectancy theory argues that the strength of a tendency to act in a certain way depends on the strength of an expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual.”1 This theory is more than what is expected of the employee but also why employees are not motivated to perform and just getting by doing the minimum, then giving us tools to improve this expectancy by using motivation.

There are three components and relationships in the expectancy theory of motivation. The first component is effect-performance relationship; this is where an employee perceives that by exerting the effort will lead to performance. Second component is performance-reward relationship; were the employee believes by performing at a certain level would lead to a good outcome. Finally the third component is reward-personal goal relationship; here is where the employer rewards the employee for doing a great job.

Some reasons that an employee might be discouraged and not motivated are because their jobs are getting boring. The employee starts to feel like, “why bother, there is nothing in it for me”. There are ways to improve this by using, effect-performance relationship, and by implementing things as job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment. Job rotation is great when a job becomes no longer challenging; it allows an employee to be moved to another job usually at the same level of skill requirements. This also allows the employee to see how their work on each of the jobs is linked and the importance of them and how they themselves contributed to the organization. Job enlargement is where the employer increases the number and variety of tasks that an employee might perform. This gives the employee more responsibility and less boredom with the job. Job enrichment gives the employee more freedom in planning, execution, and evaluation of the work they are doing. These give the employee more independence, increases responsibility, a sense of achievement, growth, and causing a much satisfaction with the job, motivating them to perform.

When an employee works hard and believes there will be some kind of attainable outcome and does not receive one, can easily take away the motivation of wanting to perform their duty. Performance-reward relationship is important due that it gives the employee a feel of involvement. There are three things that can be used to help with this area, participative management, representative participation and quality circle. Participative management is where decision-making power can be shared by both employees and their superiors. Representative participation gives employees an opportunity to sit on work councils or board of representatives. This gives the employees a feel of being a part of the organization and not just another body working there. The last one is quality circle, were a group of employees meet regularly to discuss quality problems, recommend solutions and take corrective actions. This gives the employees the feel that again they are not just a body there working, but part of the organization.

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Employees need to feel needed and appreciated. The reward-personal goal relationship is a reward system that organizations need to put in motion if they do not already have one. There are many ways to implement these rewards to employees, one being a variable-pay program. A variable-pay program can be piece-rate pay, merit-based pay, bonuses, profit-sharing plans, gainsharing and employee stock ownership plans. These types of programs are measured on performance of an employee. Another program is skilled-based pay; this sets levels on the basis of how many skills employees have and how many jobs they can do. These are great because they encourage employees to learn, expand their skills, and grow. This also helps develop the employees to want to cross-train, and to be more generalists rather than specialists. It is also important because it encourages the employee to work cooperatively with others in the organization. One of my favorites is the employee recognition program; this can be a simple, “thank you” to a widely publicized recognition. These are inexpensive, and they go a long way. Most employees just want to be appreciated, and a little kindness from the employer can make a big difference.

When reading the given scenario, there are seven areas that should be worked on to improve the motivation of the employees. Supervisor A noticed that his employees are not putting forth any effort to master the process, and those that have are not putting forth enough effort. Then there are those that are often top producers that are not concerned about achieving the goals. Supervisor B had than spoke to the Supervisor A’s employees and found that some employees cannot do the process because it requires more hand dexterity than they can do. Other employees felt that it is not worth putting in the extra work, sense the company has to be very slow before performance affects salary. Many show concern with the bonus that is given, that after withholdings are taken out, it is not worth the extra effort. Employees feel that overtime pay for a few extra hours offsets the benefit of a bonus also.

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Things that were discussed above about expectancy theory can be used to improve the motivation of the employees. Using effect-performance relationship, we can use job enlargement, and job enrichment to improve the motivation by giving the employee more to do and to keep the jobs from getting boring. By using performance-reward relationship, we can us participative management, representative participation, quality circle. This gives the employee a sense of belonging and part of the organization. Then by using reward-personal goal relationship, you could use variable-pay programs, skilled-based pay, and employee recognition programs. These are great because they usually don’t cost a lot, and it gives the employee a sense of pride.

When reviewing the scenario, I would apply the following to help improve the motivation among the employees. First, when the Supervisor B had taken the time to speak to Supervisor A’s employees was a great step in getting to the bottom of what is causing this lack of motivation. Communication is very important to help solve any problem within an organization.

I would use all three of the expectancy theory components in improving the motivation within the organization. First using the effect-performance relationship, I would like to have the employees not feel bored with their jobs. So by adding job rotation would be great for employees to move to different post during the day, or every other day so that they are not always working on the same job day in and day out. This will help the employee to see also how each of the jobs relates to each other and the importance of them, and to show how importance they are to make each of these jobs work smoothly. Also adding job enlargement where each job can be increased and giving a more variety to the job, again preventing boredom. Job enrichment would be included so that employees would have more freedom in planning, executing, and evaluation the work they do. By doing this, it gives the employees more responsibility, sense of achievement, and much more satisfaction with their job.

The second part of the expectancy theory component that would be used is performance-reward relationship. This is very important so that the employee has a feel of involvement. This would be done by allowing employees to participate in management, in the decision-making power. This could be accomplish by using representative participation, which would allow an employee to sit on work councils or board of representatives. This would give the employees a feel of being a part of the organization, than just another body. Also adding a quality circle, which is great to have so that employees can meet regularly to discuss quality problems, and recommend solutions, and even take corrective actions. By doing this gives the employee a since of being a part of the organization.

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The third part of the expectancy theory component that would be used is reward-personal goal relationship. To me this is one of the most important thing and it does not cost the organization that much. I would implement merit-base pay, bonuses, and profit-sharing plans. This would help to motive those that can do the work, and for the other workers what areas they would need to improve to gain these extra bonuses. The variable-pay would work great for those employees that can do the job, and other tasks as well, to be paid accordingly, and those that don’t would know that they would need to improve and to take on more task to receive this extra pay. I also like to add skilled-based pay, because it allows employees to be paid according to their skills. This would motivate others to improve their skills to be paid more, and those that are skill, would feel that they are being recognized for their talents. My favorite is the employee recognition programs, it does not have to cost much for an organization, but it is like giving a person a million dollars. I feel that it is important to give the employee private and public recognition for their hard work. This gives the employee a sense of pride and wants to work harder because it puts them in a higher level of respect. When it comes down to it, everyone wants to be recognized more than even receiving bonuses. Kindness does go a long way if it shown in respect to the employee.

Using expectancy theory components will help improve the motivation among the employees and give them the power within to want to improve and work. Managers should look at each employee as individuals and each has their own differences. Each should be treated different, but with these programs they can fit for all kinds of differences. The key is communication, and to allow the employees to have a sense of pride. The more you include the employee, the more they will feel a belonging and would want to work. Using expectancy theory components will help to motivate your employees if you they are implemented.


1 Stephen P. R. & Timothy A. J. (2007). Motivation Concepts. Organizational Behavior (12th Ed.)(p. 208). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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