Management Gurus: Frederick Herzberg
Frederick Herzberg has been described as "one of the most influential management gurus of the post-war era". This influence relies on two concepts that he introduced into the world of management. The first was "job enrichment" and the second was his "motivation-hygiene" theory, more of which later. Herzberg was born in 1923 in Massachussets and took degrees at the University of Pittsburg before moving to City College New York which he left part-way through his studies to become a patrol sergeant in the army. He was a firsthand witness at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, an experience that led Herzberg to take a deeper interest in motivation. After the war, Herzberg completed his studies, became professor of pyschology at Case Western in Cleveland before moving to the University of Utah where he became professor of management in the college of business. He died in Salt Lake City in 2000.
Herzberg and his Motivation Theories
Herzberg published his first book on workplace motivation with "The Motivation to Work" in 1959. This book broke new ground in both its depth of study and its method of research. Unlike earlier surveys which asked closed questions of its subjects, Herzberg and his team put a series of open questions to a group of 200 Pittsburgh engineers and accountants and then listened carefully to their answers and recorded them. The questions focused on how the respondents felt about key critical incidents in their work such as meetings with their supervisors, how they felt about their working conditions, and what things really motivated them. The findings created a depth of material which led to a range of conclusions on motivation, many of which are still valid and unchallenged today.
Herzberg and His Motivation Findings
Here are the main conclusions of Herzberg's work:
1. employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work are not caused by the same things
2. employee satisfaction arises from "true" motivators which are feelings of achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement or growth
3. employee disatisfaction arises from what Herzberg termed "hygiene", or maintenance, factors which include company policy, work conditions, pay, status, security, and relations with supervisors.
4. improving the "hygiene" factors does not automatically lead to satisfaction and an employee can be both dissatisfied with the work environment while motivated in their work.
5. improving the "hygiene" factors has only a short-term effect in removing dissatisfaction after which people get dissatisfied again and expect further improvement. This is most notable in pay awards. This means that you can never hope to satisfy employees through only addressing "hygiene" factors.
6. the "hygiene" factors represent people's physiological needs. Herzberg called these the Adam factors after the Biblical character where Adam is animal and needs to avoid pain.
7. the "motivational" factors represent people's psychological needs. Herzberg called these the Abraham factors after the Biblical character whose needs went beyond the purely physical and encompassed personal growth too.
8. the "hygiene" factors are usually not applicable to the job whereas the motivators always are.
9. jobs should use people's full abilities and be designed to offer challenge. Where people grow in their jobs, they should be offered more demanding work.
10. management must work on both the "hygiene" factors in order to remove dissatisfaction and on the motivators to build job enrichment.
Herzberg and the Application of his Motivation Theories
Many successful businesses today still use Herberg's motivation theories to plan their employee strategies. Tesco, one of the leading supermarket retailers in the UK, invest several million pounds each year in improving conditions and developing staff. Directors and senior managers spend time each year on the shop floor listening to staff. They aim to spot individual talent and fast-track people up the promotional ladder. As a result, Tesco have delivered record growth and sales and been awarded "Employer of the Year" by the National Business Awards.
More Links on Frederick Herzberg
Here is one of Herzberg's most popular writings from Harvard Business Review titled, "One More Time: How do you motivate employees?"
Fredrick Herzberg's Two Factory Theory of motivation and Job Enrichment. Explained by the man himself in a very atmospheric smoke-filled 1970s lecture theatre, here on youtube.
Here is a slideshow in which Herzberg's theory is compared to Maslow's and McGregor's.