The key to effective management is the ability to get results
from other people, through other people and in conjunction with
other people. If the underlying psychology is wrong, the most
carefully constructed system and techniques will fail.
An efficient school head may not necessarily be an effective
school head if his or her relationship with the staff is poor.
But if relationships are good and the staff are motivated,
some administrative or environmental flaws will readily be
Individual study time: 3 hours
At the end of this unit you should be able to:
define the meaning of motivation
understand the principles of motivation and its application
identify factors which can enhance or weaken levels
What is motivation?
Motivation is concerned with the cause of behaviour: why
people act, speak or think in a particular way. School heads
need to know how to motivate. They need to 'get results through
people' or 'get the best out of people'.
This is most likely to be achieved if the school head helps
the staff experience job satisfaction. This is known as intrinsic
motivation, which comes from within, and not extrinsic motivation
which is too often based on fear. Results will then be the
best that the teacher can produce and be more likely to be
in line with the overall goals and ethos of the school.
Principles of motivation
The staff should be involved in decision-making and in
matters which affect them directly. The more the staff become
involved, the more they will have a sense of ownership in
decisions and be prompted to help in achieving the objectives.
Involving the staff in decision-making does not alter the
fact that the school head remains accountable for taking the
final decisions and for their results.
If the staff are informed about the objectives and the
results achieved, they are inclined to co-operate more and
feel that they are part (members) of the staff (group). The
opposite is also true: if staff do not know what they are
supposed to be achieving, they will show little interest and
have little motivation. Staff should not only be informed
about results, but also about changes and progress.
If staff members receive the necessary recognition for
work done, they will be inclined to work harder. Recognition
should be given to the staff member as a person and not just
as a human resource.
A school head should be prepared to delegate authority
to capable people. In this way a person's post is enhanced,
and this serves as a means of personnel development. Delegated
authority also means that more people will be allowed to make
decisions themselves in connection with their work, within
set guidelines. See Unit
5, Module 2 Principles of Educational Management, for
more details on delegation.
(1) Reflecting on your own school situation, list the human
needs of your staff.
(2) How are these needs met now?
(3) How can they be better met in the future?
The principles of motivation outlined above indicate that
there are a variety of factors which influence an individual's
level of motivation at work. The school head therefore should
not only have some knowledge of the staff but should bear
in mind all the different factors which can enhance or weaken
motivation. These factors can be divided into four groups:
the personal needs of all human beings, factors inherent in
the work situation, management methods and the social system
as reflected in the community.
The needs of every person should be taken into account, such
as the need for recognition, the need to achieve, the need
to be a valued person in the community, the need for self-respect
and for friendship. If a teacher occupies a temporary post,
there is a need for work security. Merit awards and promotion
can give the necessary recognition of teachers' achievements.
Non-recognition of achievements has a demotivating effect
on teachers and can lead to high staff turnover. A sense of
responsibility should be cultivated as well as pride in the
quality of work done.
Factors related to the work itself may also affect levels
of motivation, for instance, the nature and type of work,
the opportunities for group identity, the chances of promotion,
the work environment, the opportunities and challenges of
the work, that is, the opportunities for creativity and renewal.
Monotony and routine can be demotivating. Routine work leads
to frustration and boredom and to a lack of motivation. One
solution can be to rotate some routine activities so that
boring chores do not always have to be done by the same person.
The quality of management affects behaviour, attitudes and
effort. Positive interpersonal relationships are regarded
as strengthening motivation. In this respect, communication
is of great importance. Teachers like to know and should know
what is expected of them and how their tasks form part of
a total plan. This should be coupled with competent and just
leadership which sets out acceptable tasks together with clear
The school head is responsible for planning, guiding and
leading the school. Tasks are delegated to teachers, and if
a participatory management style is used, with teachers' efforts
valued, motivation to work hard is likely to be strong.
If the community's values (whether religious, moral, economic,
cultural, political or social) differ from those of the teacher,
these community factors will have a demotivating effect on
the teacher. The personal lives of teachers, such as their
relationships with their families, will also influence their
behaviour. The head has little control over such motivating
factors, but he or she has to deal with the situation should
it have a negative effect on a teacher's work.
Therefore it would seem that to motivate staff effectively,
a school head should have knowledge of their personal needs,
their work circumstances, the requirements of the community,
and have an effective management style.
Think of a situation in your school where you have encountered
a teacher whose pupils'academic results were poor, who was unable
to create a positive classroom atmosphere, who had problems
with class discipline and who had very little interest in extra-mural
activities of the school.
(1) How did you seek to improve this teacher's performance?
(2) What other methods could you have used to make the teacher
Motivation and the school head
We should remember to use the 'motivators', that is, people's
need for achievement, recognition, responsibility, job interest,
personal growth and advancement potential. We tend to underestimate
the needs of other people in these areas. Involving others
in decisions which affect them is one way of meeting all or
most of these needs. School heads should avoid window-dressing.
The relative intensity of psychological needs will vary greatly
from person to person and from time to time. There are people
whose motivation is not work related. If a teacher's spouse
loses his or her job, security needs may well be the most
important. If there is a marriage break-up, both security
and social needs may surface, though these may be followed
later by a need to find renewed interest and achievement in
These are predictable and often recognisable behavioural
phenomena. However, when symptoms and causes are less obvious,
the risk is that we misjudge the needs of colleagues or friends.
Some of us have a tendency to assume that the needs of others
are the same as our own; others tend to assume the opposite.
We should try to suit our management behaviour to both the
personalities and the needs of the situation. Our automatic
behavioural reaction may not be the right one. Think about
Despite every effort there will remain individuals who have
no wish to be 'motivated' and who view with suspicion any
attempt to increase their responsibilities, job interest or
involvement. Such attitudes may typically be found in teachers
who are frustrated. However, the danger is always that we
give up too easily. The right approach may prompt a surprisingly
Above all, it is necessary for a school head to establish
by means of honest self-evaluation what the true nature is
of his or her attitude towards staff. It is important that
this introspection is honest and open, because experience
has shown that it will determine the way the heads leads and
motivates the staff. It is indubitably true that the way in
which heads treat their staff will, to a great extent, be
determined by their outlook on life, their attitudes to motivation
as the basis of human behaviour, and the judgement they make
of people's behaviour in a specific working situation.
As the recognised leader of the school community the head
has the responsibility for helping staff members get satisfaction
from their profession and move towards the fulfilment of their
needs and objectives. It is through improving levels of motivation
that these needs and objectives can be met.