The Expectancy Theory proposed by Victor Vroom in 1964 explains human behaviors in the workplace setting with a simple equation. The theory states that an individual's behaviors or performance of a certain task is directly associated to what the person expects the outcome to be. If an individual has reason to believe that their expectations will be realized, then this will have a positive effect on their behavior and performance.

The entire theory is summarized in a simple equation:

Motivation Force= Expectancy × Instrumentality × Valence

Expectancy refers to an employee's belief that their performance of a task will lead to certain desired and expected results. This is, usually, based on past experiences- whether the employees expectations were met or not met under similar circumstances in the past. The employee must also be given reason to believe that they have some control over the outcome of the work. If an individual has no influence over the outcome, he/she would be less motivated to perform well. Similarly, if the goal set is too difficult, expectation levels will be low and so will the motivation to perform well.

Instrumentality refers to the belief and certainty that the employee will receive a reward for performing a task well. The reward could be a promotion a pay hike or simply recognition and appreciation for doing a job well or the opportunity for better assignments and tasks. If employees are not rewarded for performing well, the motivation for doing so will undoubtedly be extremely low. Instrumentality is based heavily on trust between the employer and employee. The employee should be able to trust the organization to reward him/her as promised after completing a task successfully. Again, past experiences and a certain degree of control over the outcome play important roles in maintaining a high level of Instrumentality.

Valence refers to an individual's personal goals and the value that they place on the rewards that are promised and given to them. If an individual is rewarded with a raise that is too little for them, or a promotion that is not good enough for them, then this has a negative impact on the 'valence'.

The Expectancy Theory clearly states that performance in a professional setting is directly related to the expected outcome of the task. If managers wish to raise the performance levels, they can do so by creating a reward system that is appealing and fair. Employees must be encouraged to aim higher and grab every opportunity they can learn and better themselves. The levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction among employees can be determined by frequently communication with them, either through meetings and personal interviews or questionnaires and self-reports. The reward system and the types of goals and opportunities that are provided to employees should regularly be assessed and tweaked if required.

It is clear from the Expectancy Theory Equation that if the value of any one of the three factors (Expectancy, Instrumentality of Valency) is zero, then the Motivation Factor will be zero. All three-factors should, therefore, be kept in mind and regularly evaluated in order to keep employees motivated.

Author's Bio: 

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education, abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental Disabilities.