Expectancy Theory of Motivation – A Guide to Motivate, Encourage and Prosper.

Work won’t feel like a burden when you are motivated enough to achieve something special in life.

People make choices in their daily life including their workplace. Are the decisions that you make influenced due to some factors? In 1964, Victor Vroom proposed a theory to answer this question.

Vroom was a Canadian professor at Yale. He developed a concept called the expectancy theory of motivation while he was teaching at Yale. How this concept has helped people across the world is a thing to note.

Use of Expectancy theory of motivation at work.
Use of the expectancy theory of motivation at work

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What is the Expectancy Theory Of Motivation?

The expectancy theory of motivation is a helpful tool. It explains why a person prefers to act out of certain behavior. On top of that, the theory is about the mental process you go through for a choice.

Vroom’s theory describes that a person’s behavior is based on the outcome of the chosen behavior. So, people are much more motivated when they believe that their current actions will achieve the desired goal.

People who know the use of Expectancy Theory of Motivation are happier.
People who know the use of the expectancy theory of motivation are happier.

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3 variables of Expectancy Theory of Motivation

There are three variables for the expectancy theory of motivation. The three variables include Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence.

Expectancy

Expectancy is the first variable of the theory. It is one’s belief that an increase in the amount of effort will increase their performance. It is like saying if I work harder, then I will be able to perform better.

There are mainly three factors that act as a measure for the expectancy of a person. They are Past experience, perceived difficulty, and self-confidence. These three factors form the basis of one’s expectancy. On top of that, there is some driving factor acting when you see the expectancy theory of motivation.

Woman putting in her effort as per Expectancy Theory of Motivation.
Woman putting in her effort as per the expectancy theory of motivation.

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  • Competency: Competency is about the application of an individual. It is about how you apply your set of skills, knowledge, and abilities. 
  • Difficulty: If your goals are set too high or complex, then it leads to low expectancy. Usually, it occurs when you believe your expected results are not achievable.
  • Support: You need to know where to get the support from or whom to get it. To get the job done, you need the necessary support from peers or seniors. Thus, expectancy increases.
  • Perceived Control: You should have a certain degree of control over the expected results. Moreover, the higher expectancy is directly related to the degree of perceived control. Besides, if one thinks that the outcome is out of their influence, the motivation is low.

Instrumentality

Instrumentality is another variable in the expectancy theory of motivation. It refers to a person’s belief that you will achieve the desired results if you perform well. It’s like if I perform well, I will reach my desired goal.

For instance, the company uses it to increase the motivation level of an employee by rewarding. A company announces incentives and promotions as rewards. Take, for example; the company uses it to increase the motivation level of an employee. They do this by rewarding them.

Expectancy Theory of Motivation says one have to perform well if they want reward.
The Expectancy Theory of Motivation says one have to perform well if they want reward.

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A company announces incentives and promotions in the form of rewards. On the other hand, it is a way to reward good employee performance. So, it helps the employee to achieve their desired goal.

At the same time, certain factors are associated with this variable.

  • Trust: One must trust the system or the people who decide on who gets what. The trust that the outcome will be based on performance.
  • Transparency: Having a transparent system of rewarding should be a priority for any company. If the process of rewarding lacks transparency, then instrumentality will lower down.
  • Control: There should be control over how a decision is made. Also, it helps to determine who gets what outcome.
  • Clear Policies: Policies for rewarding should be laid out in clear terms. One should know the relationship between performance and rewards. Besides, it increases the motivation level as everyone knows the terms and conditions for achieving the rewards. 

Valence

The third on the list of the expectancy theory of motivation is Valence. As a matter of fact, Valence refers to the unique value that one places on outcomes. It is based on an individual’s needs, values, goals. It also depends on motivation sources. At the same time, the strength of one’s preference for a particular outcome is also a deciding factor in Valence.

Rewards have special palace in Expectancy Theory of Motivation.
Rewards have special palace in the expectancy theory of motivation.

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For instance, a bonus or a raise in salary may motivate and be desirable for one employee. But it may not be for others. Others may prefer recognition and flexible work hours as a more motivating factor. Thus, an outcome desired by one may not be desirable for others.

How To Apply The Expectancy Theory Of Motivation?

The expectancy theory of motivation has its usage both in the workplace and also in our life. At the same time, it is a principle that acts as a tool to improve your team’s motivation.

Application of The Expectancy Theory of Motivation in Workplace

The expectancy theory of motivation of Vroom’s works on perceptions. On top of that, you want to motivate them to fulfill the company goals. To achieve this, one must address the factors associated with the theory.

More often than not, you can motivate people by appreciating their work. It can be in the form of rewards, incentives, and promotions. Thus, you motivate your employees to put in more effort to achieve the company’s goals.

One can apply Expectancy Theory of Motivation at work.
One can apply the expectancy theory of motivation at work.

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Managers can use these steps further to improve the motivation of your team by:

Make Promises which align with company policies.

Promises which you make should be viable according to the company’s policy. If you don’t fulfill your promises, then it becomes difficult to establish trust.

Challenge your team with achievable goals

It is important to challenge your team to help them reach their full potential. At the same time, the expected outcomes should be achievable considering the skill set and available resources. It helps to keep the team motivated.

Assign work seeing the skill they have.

Not everyone is equal, so the potential and skills levels also vary. You must assign work that is part of their domain and skill set. The idea should be to use their skills to achieve the goals. Thus, you motivate your team to perform better next time.

Fair and logical reward distribution

In the end, when you achieve the results, then the rewards distribution should be fair. Also, there should not be a sense of partiality among the team. On the other hand, if you distribute rewards fairly and with a certain logic, you motivate employees to perform next time to get the reward. 

How to Apply The Expectancy Theory of Motivation in Life

You can apply the expectancy theory of motivation to your life too. Before you start, you should make sure you have the following three things. Firstly, a goal you want to achieve, secondly a clear plan to upskill and increase your domain knowledge. Lastly, the belief that if you execute well, you will reach the desired outcome.

Expectancy Theory of Motivation works in the normal life too.
The Expectancy Theory of Motivation works in the normal life too.

Assuming that you have found the goal that excites you, devise a plan to increase your performance. If you succeed and your hard work shows results, it’s a great sign. It means your instrumentality is high. On the other hand, if you fail, check your desire to achieve the goal and valence. If that is also high, then expectancy needs to be balanced. Lastly, if nothing is working, then it’s time to go to the drawing board again.

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Expectancy Theory of Motivation Examples

The expectancy theory of motivation has many examples that define its usage in life. For instance, you start a business when you that your idea is disruptive. Also, it can change people’s lives for good; then, it’s valence.

You perform better to achieve the goal you have set for your company. The success can be monetary or in brand value. It is Instrumentality. If you succeed, it means your expectancy was good. Otherwise, you’ll learn, grow and widen your network for the next time.

Effort-Performance Tie

Managers use this method in the workplace to reward people. When you achieve a positive outcome, you want to decide whom to reward. Also, the rewards that are given for the desired performance should be of value to the recipient.

Otherwise, the motivation level will drop if the rewards are just for the sake and not valued. Another aspect of it is that the recipient should be well deserving. To ensure this company must spell out the performance expected from them for a reward if the outcome is achieved.

One should know how to use Expectancy Theory of Motivation.
One should know how to use the expectancy theory of motivation.

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Conclusion 

People expect a reward for their work. More often than not, their decision is based on the rewards they expect from their work. That’s why the concept of the expectancy theory of motivation helps you to gain insights. It also helps to understand different ways to motivate your team. 

On top of that, if you know what inspires others to work harder, goal setting becomes easier. Also, you can assign work better. Thus, the expectancy theory of motivation is helpful in the modern world.