Showing posts with label organizational improvement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organizational improvement. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

Higher Employee Performance through Path-Goal Theory

The Path-Goal theory helps to define methods and pathways to successful achievement of organizational objectives. The theory postulates that leadership behavior is subject to the satisfaction, motivation, and performance of their subordinates. Strong leadership implies that such leaders should engage in behaviors that enhance employee abilities and reduce deficiencies. Organizations can do this through coaching, counseling, servant leadership, and engagement. The specific style of leadership and direction are based upon two contingencies that include the environment and the employee characteristics. Through the use and application of Path-Goal Theory organizations can realize higher performance.

The path-goal theory was originally developed by Robert House in 1971 and then revised again in the mid 1990’s. The theory came into business as a strong approach of managing employees and improving upon their overall performance. The ultimate goal is to provide them a path to achieve their objectives through proper communication and encouragement.  It is seen as a method of encouraging engagement.

The success of leadership depends in part on environmental factors and follower characteristics. 1.) Environmental factors relate to culture, power dynamics, team characteristics, etc… that is outside the employees control. 2.) Employee characteristics are those individual characteristics that depend on employees themselves such as employees’ needs, locus of control, experience, perceived ability, satisfaction, willingness to leave the organization, and anxiety. Proper leadership requires the ability to adjust that leadership style based upon these two contingencies. 

A study conducted by Sikandar Hayyat explored path-goal models of leadership and found that both directive and participative leadership styles encourage higher levels of performance (2012).  The study also indicates that subordinate job expectations are influenced heavily by leader behaviors. Directive styles are more focused clarifying paths while participative styles are more beneficial in setting, clarifying, and achieving goals. Employees take cues from their leaders to determine proper courses of action.

The directive style offers paths for employees to accept or reject while the participative style tries to draw subordinates into defining and understanding these goals. It is possible to see the benefits of directive methods once employees have been acclimated into a company and trust the organization while the participative style may be more beneficial for new employees that seek direction but must willingly accept paths and goals as appropriate. The researcher Robert House actually suggested a servant leadership style as most appropriate.

Columbia Records is an excellent example of an organization that used Path-Goal Theory to realize objectives. They inspired performance, contentment, and motivation by clarifying paths on how to achieve goals, rewarding employees once they have achieved those defined goals, and removing organizational obstacles that lowered the chances of employees being successful (Vandergrift & Matusitz, 2011). The process and its defined goals were transparent and trusted by employees which lent to higher levels of engagement.

The path-goal theory is one method of viewing leadership and workplace engagement. Organizations that seek to increase employee’s abilities should think about how their leadership provides appropriate direction on expectations, reward employees who follow appropriate paths, and encourages employees to adopt those paths for themselves. Through proper management organizations can realize higher levels of performance beyond job descriptions and basic standards. 

Kinicki, A. & Kreitner, R. (2009). Organizational Behavior: Key concepts, skills & practices (fourth edition). McGraw-Hill Company.

Malik, S. (2012). A study of relationship between leader behaviors and subordinate job expectations: a path-goal approach. Pakistan Journal of Commerce & Social Sciences, 6 (2). 

Vandergrift, R. & Matusitz, J. (2011). Path-goal theory: a successful Columbia Records story. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21 (4).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Job Characteristics Model-An Internalized Experience

Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self actualization and the love for the highest values.-Abraham Maslow

According to Maslow the concept of motivation entails the idea that higher human needs should spark a productive evolution. Those who are internally motivated are more likely to accomplish more than those who rewarded only by externalized rewards. Through job characteristics model it is possible to theorize how employers can make adjustments that encourage higher levels of work effort and development.

The job characteristics model seeks to explain how jobs can be designed to encourage intrinsic motivation Organizational Behavior researchers Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham tried to create higher levels of performance through redesigning jobs (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2009). Their goal was to create higher psychologically motivating states through specific job adjustments that lend to higher levels of performance. 

Accordingly, through the job characteristics model it is believed that task identification leads to higher levels of motivation. This identification occurs when workers identify with the tasks and believe them to be both worthwhile as well as part of their identity within their work function. Higher levels of task identity lead to higher levels of intrinsic motivation. 

When employees feel their work is meaningful this encourages task-specific motivation and further encourages the attainment of work goals (Barrick, Mount, & Li, 2013). It is this sense of purpose and contribution that encourages beneficial psychological states within workers. The higher their positive psychological emotions and feelings the more motivated they will be to improve upon their effort and attainment of goals. 

Meaningfulness comes from the following concepts (Hackman & Oldham, 1980):

-Skill Variety: Variety of skills being used to complete tasks.
-Task identity: The ability to take ownership over a specific part of a task they can claim as their work.
-Task Significance: The extent to which the task influences and helps others.

These three aspects are further enhanced by Autonomy and Feedback. Autonomy helps a person to feel as though they have the freedom to determine the scheduling and manner of work being conducted. Feedback allows a person to gauge their performance through the accurate feedback of others. Employees who master certain skills eventually want to make decisions on those tasks which lead to higher levels of innovative improvement. 

Intrinsic motivation can be seen influenced by the three positive psychological traits of meaningfulness, responsibility and knowledge (Hackman & Oldham, 1980). Employees feel their work is meaningful; they experience responsibility for the outcomes; and enjoy gaining knowledge about the work and its outcomes. When these three aspects are together employees will have positive feelings that further their motivation do better work. 

Employees who are externally motivated will be dependent on financial and social benefits related to their work status. If they do not find inherent personalized value in their work they will be focused primarily on externalized results. Externally motivated employees will lack task commitment and may give up when such external rewards are not forthcoming. 

Employers have a natural benefit in encouraging employees to develop internal motivation. Sometimes it is this feeling that a job done well is the best feeling in the world. Those who are externally motivated used externalized feedback to maintain their motivation. Without that motivation they will lose much of their work steam. Most likely people have a mixture of internal and external motivational factors that keep them going each day. 

Research has shown that internally motivated people enjoy their work more often and develop further than externally motivated members. Even without the social praise and benefits coming from others they keep learning, working, improving and developing day in and day out.  These are the type of employees that will help an organization through tough times even when they have no reason to do so other than the sheer satisfaction of doing so. If employers can develop and encourage this motivation through job design and environmental adjustments they have a strong incentive to do so.

Barrick, M., Mount, M. & Li, N. (2013). The theory and purposeful work behavior: the role of personality higher-order goals, and job characteristics. Academy of Management Review, 38 (1). 

Hackman, J. & Oldham, G. (1980). Work Design. NJ. Pearson Education.

Kinicki, A. & Kreitner, R. (2009). Organizational Behavior: Key concepts, skills & practices (fourth edition). McGraw-Hill Company.