Motivation Theory of McClelland

There are many ways to explain motivation, many people have developed or work on their motivation theories Maslow’s Theory of motivation, Herzberg’s Two factors theory, Alderfer ERG theory. In this article, we will read about the motivation theory of McClelland.

What is Motivation?

Motivations are the boosting up or pushing towards achieving particular goals or targets. Motivation is derived from the word “Motive” towards needs, desires, goals, etc. Everyone needs motivation at some point when they lose hope or have faced many failures. Everyone seeks motivation to become what they want. Motivation is very important in everyone’s life.

In the workplace, motivation ensures employees give their best. Periodic rewards and feedbacks are very important in the organization so that the employee is motivated and always tries to learn new things and take up a new task for the betterment of themselves and the organization. Motivation is very important for the employees themselves and also for the organization so that they can get the confidence of the employee and employees always work for the growth and development of the organization and will always try to bring benefit to the organization.

Maslow’s Theory of motivation is based on psychological, love, safe, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

Herzberg’s two factors theory: This theory, on the other hand, is based on job satisfaction. He had worked on certain factors that lead to satisfaction and he has a separate set of criteria that leads to dissatisfaction.

Alderfer’s ERG theory: Lastly, this theory is based on all desires that are required to live. He has added more factors in the Maslow Theory of motivation, which is Existence, Relatedness, and growth.

Who was McClelland?

His full name was David McClelland. He was an American Psychologist. David McClelland was known for his work on motivational needs. He created his own set of theories in 1940 which is known as the motivational theory of McClelland. He worked on main 3 Aspects that explain the theory of motivation from the experienced he had for many years. Those 3 aspects are

  1. Achievement
  2. Need for Power
  3. Affiliation.

These theories are based irrespective of caste, creed, gender, or age. It is also based on the experienced he had throughout his working period. Let us go through in detail understanding his 3 aspects.

Motivation Theory of McClelland

His 3 key aspects for motivations are

Need for Achievements

Achievements are defined when you are known for your work. When people recognize you for the work you have done. It is like a reward for the person who tries to achieve something in life. When people get success and achieve what they want they get motivated automatically and their expectation increases from themselves and they work harder to achieve successes and progress. More achievements make their performances better. Such people get into the habit of achieving success and work hard to achieve more. To gain achievements people, tend to avoid low or high-risk situations. McClelland found that people with a high need for achievements perform better than the moderate and low need for achievement criteria. They take responsibility to perform better and have a strong desire for performance feedbacks.

“Don’t stop until you are proud to achieve something”

How to justify Achievement in Workplace?

McClelland justified that how keen is the person to gain achievements does not matter until and unless they obtain the opportunity. If an organization doesn’t allow any new opportunity or prevent the employees from the new task, they cannot gain achievement or they won’t be able to prove themselves. And if employees gain achievements, it is very necessary to show them the feedbacks through rewards, increments, etc. Because of high need achievement, people do always wait for feedback. Hence to gain many benefits from such person-organization should delegate them a task and enough resources and give them periodic feedbacks which they can use as constructive Feedbacks.

Need for Power

The main use of power is to create impact or change in the life of others. Power helps them gain leadership quality and also helps them to increase their influence in helping others to grow and gain success. People always like power so that they can control others and fulfil their needs. These people have the most required leadership quality and are best suited for leading positions. They love to win in any situation and always have a competitive spirit. Such people like to influence others and can be a motivation to others. They like to stay with powerful and quality people.

Management always attracts people who like the need for power, because they are most efficient while working towards organizational goals. Such people like to discipline others and like reputation and status. Such people are of two types personal power and institutional power. Those who like personal power are people who like to control others or to influence others for their benefits and growth, while those who have institutional power like to use the power to influence others for the benefit of others and the organizations.

How to Justify Need for the Power in the Workplace

People have different powers but there is always a great difference between having power or using power. For example, some managers have authority or power to reward or punish the employee. If the manager asks an employee to follow some instruction the people working with him will follow the instruction because they have an impact of the power that the manager, have, Although the manager may not require to use the power but having it is sufficient. The organization normally likes to attract people in high need of power. Such attitude inspires and motivates employees to grow and increase.


What is affiliation?

Affiliation is a close relationship with a particular people, group, or party. The need for affiliation allows a person to become extroverted and have social relations with particular sets of people. Such people are normally friendly and are fun-loving. They like to work in a group that has a friendly and happy environment. Such people are always happy to work with the people around them and feel motivated. They also like to spend time socially and main strong relationships with peers around them. Such people have the main fear that is rejection. They normally like to work in the low-risk factors and try to work in the group because they don’t like to change the norms of the workplace due to fear of rejection. Such people like to work in sectors like customer services, customer handling, etc. where a group of people is involved.

How to justify Affiliation in the workplace

Organizations do like to work with the person who is Affiliated as they have good team member quality. They like to work in a team and their presence is considered important in the organization. Such person has team spirit and they work together in the team and try to help everyone in the organization and maintain a friendly relationship with everyone. Everyone praises this type of people and they get along with everything and everyone. Such people are liked and welcome by others.

Using Motivation Theory of McClelland

If the organization uses such people correctly it will be of great use to the organization. The organization should identify and categorized the teams’ members amongst all the three needs. When the organization will know their expectation and talent they would be of great benefit to the organization. There are some steps to be followed to apply the motivation theory of McClelland.

  1. Understanding the motivation need for individual
  2. Approaching accordingly

Understand the motivation need for the individual

Understanding the three needs of a motivator for the individual is very important when we are following the motivation theory of, McClelland. Like for example the one who always likes to represent the team and would always like to represent or speak on behalf of the team. Or who delegates the responsibilities towards the members to achieve the required goals etc such people can be considered as driven by the power.

Another example of an employee who doesn’t speak much but speaks to manage the conflicts or take active participation during the team thoughts and avoid the high-risk situation and would always agree to work with a team such employee is likely to be driven by the affiliation.

Another example is of the person who always likes to perform better so that they receive rewards and achievement. They always have a focus on their work and are always ready to take up with the new responsibility and work for the growth and development of the organization. Such employees are likely to be driven by the need for achievements

Approaching accordingly

Based on the motivation needs as discussed in the above topic it is required to approach things accordingly. Divide the teams as per their talent and motivations. Delegate projects and work accordingly.

For example, assigning new work to the employee who is motivated with the power or the achievements. Delegate work to the one who likes to work in a team and enjoy working together and speak up in the meetings. Using such criteria and dividing the employed accordingly will help the organization to grow without any further conflicts in the organization. So, choosing the correct employee for the correct thing is very important for the organization, and for that, the organization should use the motivation theory of McClelland.

Conclusion: Motivation Theory of McClelland

Everyone need, motivation at some point in time, Motivation is a very important part of an individual and the organization. As it helps employees for the satisfactions and organization for the development and growth. McClelland’s theory is based on such factors that were identified by the American Phycologist David McClelland.

According to Mc Cleland’s theory some people like the power and would take challenges and work for the new project so that they can gain new power to show their importance and power to influence others. Some people like to achieve more and always prefer positive feedbacks and rewards for their achievement. Such people are always greedy for feedbacks and success. They have good lead ship quality who like to achieve and finish they’re at the given time and are very well disciplined and accept the same from others. Such people are motivated with Achievements.

People who Like powers and try to influence others according to their wants are people who can have good leadership qualities. They would always like to take up new projects and new work to be powerful enough to control everything and have a good competitive spirit. Such people are motivated by the need for Power.

People who like affiliation are the ones who like to work in a group and would maintain a good relationship with everyone and can easily manage the conflicts or the groups. They can have good managing quality and good teamwork qualities. Such people are motivated by affiliation.

Recommended books for Motivation Theory of McClelland

Article Credit

Article Credit

This article is contributed by Ms. Pragya Delhiwala. Experienced as a quality engineer after completing her education: 2nd rank BE in Electronics & Communications; 1st rank MBA in TQM. She is passionate about management, writing and painting.

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