Companies are striving to answer many questions in efforts to benefit from positive employee behavior in the workplace. The goal of most companies is to foster a win-win situation for both the company and associate. What is the difference between a happy satisfied employee and a disgruntled unmotivated employee? Is it how much money he or she makes, or the amount of time they spend on the job? Is it the work environment? Does the position meet the needs of the employee? Can the employee successfully perform? Does the employee know the role they play in their organization? Has the manager provided their employees with the required tools to be successful? In fact, there is a model of individual behavior that answers these questions quite well. The MARS model of Individual Behavior and Results introduced in chapter two of Organizational Behavior, 4th edition (McShane & Von Glinow) is an excellent medium for creating the win-win relationship between the employer and associate.
This model identifies four interrelated elements that have an affect on employee performance; Motivation, Ability, Role perception and Situational factors. These factors are highly interrelated; for example, a data analyst is skilled in running reports (ability), self taught on how to use the latest tools to extrapolate data (motivation), and understands how this information will help management make decisions (role perception), but does not have the required access to the data files (situational factors). Unless all of the elements of the MARS model are satisfied, employee behavior and performance will be negatively impacted.
A successful manager will possess a clear understanding of the abovementioned elements and be able to apply them. Motivation is the internal influence affecting employees' actions. Employers must meet the intrinsic needs of associates to fully capitalize on the motivation element of this model. In order to accomplish the job, employees must have the necessary abilities. Managers are responsible for ensuring their employees receive the required training and skills to be successful. Another critical function of the ability element is to place employees in positions that will effectively utilize their talents. The third element of the MARS model is role-perception. Staff members must have a clear understanding of where they fit in the organization and how they contribute to the overall mission. Comprehensive job descriptions with clear expectations will aid the associate in understanding the role-perception element. The final element is Situational factors. Employees must have all of the required tools, equipment and work space to accomplish the job.
How does a manager adopt the MARS model? Starting with motivation, employers must have a good relationship with employees and discover the driving force behind their actions. One well known theory of motivation organizations must consider is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In the workplace Maslow's hierarchy levels are satisfied as follows:
Level 1 – Physiological & Body – Good salary and safe working conditions.
Level 2 – Safety and Security – Job training programs and enrichment.
Level 3 – Social & Friends – Team building seminars and workplace camaraderie.
Level 4 – Esteem – Employee recognition program for performance and promotion.
Level 5 – Self-Actualization – Autonomy, selecting own assignments.
According to Maslow, when a need is met, continuing to offer the motivator has little or no effect. In the information technology (IT) field, managers will soon realize IT employees are motivated by the higher levels; Esteem and Self-Actualization and not necessarily by increasing salary or perceived punishment.
The highest motivated worker will not be successful if they do not posses the abilities required for the position. Managers will need to understand the key tasks, the required skill set to accomplish the job and effectively hire the best candidate. Providing necessary training will ensure associates will be given the best chance for success.
The third element of the MARS model is role-perception. As previously mentioned a comprehensive job description and continuous feedback are essential in ensuring employees understand how they play a part in the company. In the IT discipline, the support staff are typically broken down by technical and non-technical. Examples of technical staff would be the server administrators, network technicians, programmers and database administrators to name a few. The non-technical staff would be the software trainers, implementation staff and data analysts. When working IT issues it is vital to route the customer to the proper staff member for support. In order to adopt this model, managers must ensure employees understand what role they play in accomplishing the mission of the organization
The final component of the MARS model is Situational Factors. To be successful, staff members must have the tools to perform the job. A safe work environment, adequate time and the right people are aspects of the workplace governed by the organization, not the employee. In the IT arena, one way the above is met is to ensure the staff is given the proper level of access based on their position. This policy mutually protects the integrity of the system as well as the employee.
In conclusion, The MARS model of Motivation, Ability, Role perceptions and Situational Factors will assist managers in understanding the how and why employees succeed or fail. In order to successfully implement this model and reap the benefits, companies must strive to fulfill all of the four components.
The MARS model is identified in chapter 2 of Organizational Behavior, McShane, S. & Von Glinow, MA (2008). (4th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.