Communication and Motivation

By Shawn P. Quigley and Jon M. Quigley

Communication and Motivation

We have discussed some of the different theories of motivation and the role that the organization plays in motivation.  Now we will discuss how the employee is responsible to the organization in the realm of motivation.  At first glance one would say that it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure its employees are motivated, but how are they to achieve this goal without the individual communicating their physiological needs, social needs, and individual development and growth needs that comprise their motivational factors?

Communication, Motivation and the Individual

Communication: as we have previously discussed, is a two way street. It is not uncommon for direction to be confused with communication.  Direction is one way – I direct you to do a task and little or no discussion is held.  One cannot be directed to be motivated, as in the manager does not go to the employee and say “be motivated”.  Thus motivation factors must be discerned via communication between the two or more parties. You tell me what your goals and motivational factors are and I tell you what can be met or cannot be met and why.  This is how communication pertains to motivation. While an organization has an interest in having motivated people, it is also incumbent upon the individual to express what drives them to their organization.  All too often assumptions are made; by both parties, on what motivates the other party with little or no actual facts being provided by the other party.  An example of this type of miscommunication or misassumption could be: when you see someone eating, assuming that they are hungry? It could be that they are sad, frustrated, bored, or it could be they are hungry. You do not know the truth without further information and the best manner to gain this information is communication. Or consider the employee that assumes hard work and successfully delivering on the company’s behalf will garner into steady progress through the organizational hierarchy, without articulating their goals associated with their level of performance.  From the employees standpoint this would be an example of Vroom’s expectancy theory[1] of motivation and from the employers standpoint it would be the example of a lost opportunity.

Open Communications and Mental Model

An open discussion between the two parties is another example of the open mental model. This aspect of the mental model is often overlooked because it is viewed as a motivational issue and not necessarily related to the mental model. If a mental model is one’s view point on a topic or situation: how can it not be related to motivation considering that motivation is driven by the perception of the situation and possible outcomes? Employing this train of thought then an organization that promotes the open mental model will have a better chance of having a motivated workforce.

Communication and Motivation Theories

As we continue our discussion of motivational theories, learning organization, and organizational development we will move more toward the application of these items as related to each other.  An organization cannot develop without learning.  Learning best occurs in an environment where people are motivated to better themselves and their organization. This is a prime example of how all of these factors are intertwined.

Symbiotic relationship between development, learning, and motivation.

Symbiotic relationship between development, learning, and motivation.

[1] Vroom, V. H. (2015, January 29). Expectancy Theory of Motivation. Retrieved from Leadership –

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