Whether intentionally or unintentionally, all organizations use patterns of motivation. A pattern of motivation is defined as the strongest motivator for an individual or group. In the work context, a pattern of motivation leads employees to perform at their best, which leads to particular rewards that further motivate the employee. In other words, the pattern of motivation has a cyclical effect, increasing its motivating power as the employee associates it with the desired reward.

Gaining Individual Rewards

Some cultures, such as the American culture, place great emphasis on individual success, which tends to strongly motivate members of the culture. Compensation provides one form of individual reward. Intangible rewards also motivate employees. For example, praise, increased responsibilities or a new job title can also raise an employee's sense of self worth and confidence. These successes encourage her to continue increasing her performance. The most effective individual rewards vary widely. Having power motivates some individuals, while receiving guidance motivates others. In either case, the employee remains most motivated when she is in the type of role that fits her best.

Working Toward Societal Good

Helping society also motivates employees to achieve more. Employees must believe their organization has a positive effect on society for this type of motivation to occur. Employees must understand and agree with the company's mission statement, and understand their role in fulfilling this mission. As employees' motivation increases, the company's performance will likely increase, helping to fulfill the mission. In turn, this boosts employee motivation.

Fulfilling Team Goals

Employees may take great pride in being part of a successful team and fulfilling its goals. Such employees enjoy seeing their team succeed, savoring the positive publicity the organization receives, regardless of whether they receive personal recognition. They feel pleased to work with other successful employees, rather than feeling hostile or anxious around competitors. These employees promote team spirit in others, enhancing the workplace culture. In turn, the improved workplace atmosphere makes these employees enjoy being part of the team even more.


Strong managers evaluate which patterns of motivation work best in their organization. They observe different staff members to learn what motivates them. Assigning a ranking scale of motivators to each individual helps managers to focus on the most effective motivators for each employee. Managers also frequently subscribe to a motivational philosophy that they implement throughout the organization. The human resources approach emphasizes creativity, self-direction and participation in decision making. The human relations approach helps each employee to feel needed while allowing for some self-direction. Finally, the traditional approach focuses on financial incentives and close supervision.