Leadership and Organization Performance

A company's ability to motivate its employees at work often makes the difference between success and failure. It's a universal urge for workers to feel valued and wanted. Motivation is defined as "the willingness of people and groups, as impacted by various needs and perceptions, to work toward a goal" by Mosley, Mosley, and Pietri (203). Therefore, effective organizational leaders and managers analyze employee demands and incorporate them with company needs and goals. It will be simpler to define and work toward an organization's goal if the workforce is motivated. The case study of Nucor Corporation gives an insight into the positive correlation between employee motivation and sustainable corporate success. An analysis of the company's policies and practices will, therefore, illustrate the applicability of various theories that explain motivation at the workplace.

Motivational Theories

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

This theory is based on the principle that our needs as individuals can be prioritized and arranged hierarchically and that once a need has been sufficiently satisfied, one seeks to meet a need of a higher hierarchy. This holds until we have satisfied the five levels of needs which as follows: "physiological or biological, safety or security, social or belonging, ego or esteem, and self-fulfillment or self-actualization" (Mosley, Mosley and Pietri 207). From a workplace perspective, individuals in the early stages of their career of blue collar workers as in the case of a steel factory such as Nucor will first seek lower order needs, i.e., physiological and safety or security. As such, adequate wages or salaries and a stable income are paramount. This is because every individual must first cater to their basic needs which requires money. The second order is concerned with safety or security which translates to a safe work environment, job security, and employee benefits. If these lower level needs are not met, an employee will base their job decisions based on these factors. The social/belongingness needs are concerned with social interaction while the ego needs are all about individual recognition and praise for one's actions. The highest level of needs, self-actualization, is all about career development in the workplace.

The first feature of the motivation system at Nucor is the performance-based salary system. Despite a base salary lower than the industry average, the company has an impressive incentive package based on the overall performance of the company's factories. In years when the company reports good financial figures, an employee could earn up to $99,000. This sufficiently satisfies the lowest level of needs - physiological. The safety/security needs of employees at Nucor are catered to by the organization's comprehensive benefits plan which includes 401(k), profit sharing, and a medical and dental plan. The company also offers academic scholarships for employees' children at accredited institutions to a tune of up to $3,000 each year (Long and Yufei 269). The fact that collective efforts rather than individual efforts are prioritized in the allotment of yearly bonuses emphasizes the need for collective responsibility. The result is a "strong family bond throughout its employee ranks." This satisfies the third level with regard to the fulfillment of social needs. Nucor is also renowned for its decentralized management philosophy. This motivates employees by empowering them to carry out activities at the factories without necessarily waiting for instructions from higher-ranked individuals. Giving common workers the ability to make decisions in the workplace makes them feel valued and respected by the organization. This, therefore, fulfills their ego/esteem needs. The highest level of needs is self-actualization where an individual seeks to develop themselves and realize their potential. Nucor encourages self-actualization by reimbursing individuals for tuition fees spent furthering their education which would give them a better chance of promotion at the organization (Byrnes and Arndt).

Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory

This theory considers the work environment as a significant determinant of employee motivation with factors leading to satisfaction being referred to as motivators while those that result in dissatisfaction being hygiene factors. "The former include achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth. The latter include company policy, supervision, relationship with supervisors, work conditions, salary, and relationship with peers" (Malik and Naeem 1032). The workplace environment at Nucor Corporation exemplifies how employees are always motivated. The performance payment system ensures that employees are recognized and rewarded for their efforts at the steel factories. The decentralized management model gives the common workers responsibility and the ability to make decisions at the workplace which is very fulfilling for those involved. An employee at the corporation would not have any issue with the often-highlighted hygiene factors since they enjoy a great incentive scheme with comprehensive employee benefits and a conducive work environment.

Expectancy Theory

This theory depends on the "consideration of three variables: expectancy that effort leads to a given performance result; the probability of rewards associated with the performance result; and the value of the reward to the individual" (Mosley, Mosley, and Pietri 213). In light of the Nucor case study, motivation based on the performance-based salary system can also be explained by the expectancy theory. Employees at Nucor are aware that their effort can make a significant difference in the steel production process. Employees can track their weekly performance and rate where they rank regarding good or bad performance. If they work hard enough and the company registers good performance, each of them will get pay benefits. This is a "positive valence outcome that will reinforce the good behavior of staffs in the company, which will keep them devoted and make stable contributions to the organization" (Long and Yufei 270).

Equity Theory

The equity theory views employee motivation as the direct result of the employee's perception of how fairly they are being rewarded in relation to others at the organization. Nucor Corporation has an egalitarian culture where equity is part of virtually all activities at the organization. Factory managers and company executives do not have special parking places and have to find parking space like any other employee at the organization. The CEO of the company flies in commercial jets rather than having a private company jet as is the case with many CEOs in corporate America. The case study also alludes to him making coffee for his co-workers when it is his turn. "The pay structure also illustrates this egalitarian culture with the company's CEO earning only 24 times the common worker's salary which is unlike the average ratio for CEO of large enterprises which is 400 times that of the hourly employee" (Mosley, Mosley, and Pietri 234). All staff at the organization, despite their hierarchy, are paid based on performance. The lack of special treatment for certain individuals at Nucor Corporation helps maintain good morale at the workplace with no individual trying to fight the status quo.

Goal-Setting Theory

The goal-setting theory insists on the use of performance goals as a motivating factor for employees since they "clarify workplace expectations, establish a frame of reference for task feedback, and provide a foundation for self-management" (Mosley, Mosley, and Pietri 217). At Nucor, the goal-setting theory is exemplified by the organization's performance pay system. Despite employees receiving a smaller base pay, they are awarded bonuses for each ton of steel that they produce collectively. Such a performance goal is specific and concrete, and employees will always be motivated to perform better due to the potential reward that awaits.

Personal Management Philosophy

I believe in the power of employee motivation at the workplace. Disengaged employees could negatively impact the financial performance of a business. Regular employee motivation leads to "increased employee commitment, improved employee satisfaction, ongoing employee development, and improved employee efficiency" (Achim, Dragolea, and Balan 685). The corporate culture at Nucor Corporation mirrors what I have always envisioned as the perfect motivation strategy. By engaging all stakeholders at the organization, Nucor Corporation has been able to keep its workforce motivated even during tough financial times. The fact that the company did not lay off any employees during the Recession is a testament to ensuring its employees have job security and are always motivated. It is hard to keep everyone happy, but the insistence of the organization on an egalitarian culture has been successful. Equity at the workplace is always a tough ask, and achieving it is a dream I have always held. The Nucor case study is a template as to what works and what doesn't regarding employee motivation. I am positive that this would definitely work in my workplace. Individuals are paid a basic hourly pay with virtually no incentives. As such, complacency usually creeps up since individuals know that they will not be rewarded even if they put in some extra effort. Implementing a performance pay system such as the one at Nucor would get rid of complacency. Managers and junior workers alike would strive to work harder to receive incentives associated with high-quality work. Integrating an egalitarian culture at my work site would enhance cooperation and hence a good work environment for everyone.

Works Cited

Achim, Ioan Moise, Larisa Dragolea, and George Balan. "The importance of employee motivation to increase organizational performance." Annales universitatis apulensis: Series oeconomica 15.2 (2013): 685.

Byrnes, Nanette, and Michael Arndt. “The Art of Motivation.” Bloomberg. 1 May 2006. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.

Long, Bai and Zhao Yufei. “Motivation of Nocur.” Orient Academic Forum, 2008.

Malik, Muhammad Ehsan, and Basharat Naeem. "Towards understanding controversy on Herzberg theory of motivation." World Applied Sciences Journal 24.8 (2013): 1031-1036.

Mosley, Donald C., Donald C. Mosley Jr., and Paul H. Pietri. Supervisory Management. 9th ed. South- Western College Pub, 2014.

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