Employees work harder and perform better if motivated and satisfied with their jobs (Beder, 1990; Watanabe, 1991). Motivation--the psychological process that gives purpose, direction, and intensity to behavior--is the most important determinant of effective job performance and is mainly responsible for differential work output (Lawler III, 1973; Kreitner, 1986). Staff motivation changes as time and conditions change. Motivation depends on incentives that the staff value and believe to be attainable with increased individual performance, and is high when staff frustration is minimal (Bender, 1990; Cohen, 1990; Watanabe, 1991).
Maslow (1943) indicated that people are motivated by their needs for survival, safety, love, self-esteem and self-actualization, while Herzberg (1972) stressed the need for a favorable work environment, stating that enriched jobs rather than pay, supervision, and other environmental factors were the key to motivation and job satisfaction. Herzberg believed that challenging, enriched jobs motivate employees more than dull, routine jobs. He advised managers to redesign jobs to provide opportunities for individual achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement and personal growth. For professional employees, job characteristics such as autonomy, task identity,
and perceived task significance have an important motivational value ( Kreitner, 1986; Buford & Bedeian, 1988; Perry & Wise, 1990). For example, highly educated and more experienced workers are more likely to choose the public sector, offsetting lower wages with rewards arising from the characteristics of their jobs (Perry & Wise, 1990).
If employees believe their actions lead to valuable, attainable rewards, they will work harder (Vroom, 1964). Therefore, managers should identify, support and reinforce individual perception by linking appraisal to professional and personal development. Treating employees inequitably lowers their motivation and performance (Adams & Rosenbaum, 1962). Expected outcomes should be stated as explicitly as possible. Behaviors resulting in desirable consequences are likely to recur while those that result in undesirable consequences are less likely to recur (Skinner, 1969). Managers should state which behaviors will be rewarded and which ones will not, and should tie rewards to individual performance.
It is hard for Extension to serve its clients well without adequate staff incentives (Moris, 1987). In Kenya, these incentives include housing, transportation, pay health insurance, subsistence allowances while on official duty, and working under well trained Extension supervisors with personnel management skills needed to motivate their staff.
Journal of Agricultural and Extension Education
Extension managers should know what motivates their staff to prevent motivational problems and employees' frustration (Grossnickle & Thiel, 1988; Beder, 1990; Watanabe, 1991). Current information regarding the job satisfaction and motivation of Extension agents in Kenya's Rift Valley Province was not available. This study was important because reliable information is essential for good decision making and accountability (Altschuld & Thomas, 1991); and it was in Kenya's public interest to promote agricultural production through Extension (Kenya Government, 1986 & 1990). Agents' needs should be identified regularly in order to provide meaningful, motivational, staff incentive (Kreitner, 1986). Furthermore, as times and conditions change, past motivational strategies become ineffective (Buford & Bedeian, 1988).