Industrial-Organizational psychologists are concerned with the study of behavior in work settings, as both scientist and practitioners, their interest lies in developing theories, designing research, and applying those theories to help solve problems faced by organizations (PSU WC, L10, 2016). In work settings, Industrial-Organizational psychologist, also known as I/O psychologists, perform a wide range of tasks to help organizations provide a better quality work environment. I/O psychologists have discovered that the content of people's jobs influence how motivated they can be at work, this also known as the job-design approach (PSU WC, L10, 2016). Motivation has been researched at length to gain a greater understanding of it's characteristics and the variables which affect the motivational process. Three variables that have been identified as an important contributors of motivation include, individual characteristics, job characteristics, and environmental characteristics (PSU WC, L10, 2016). By designing a job appropriately, people will discover their is job interesting and carries more meaning. They will be able to enjoy their job more when their input they bring to their job will influence the outcome and benefits they receive from the job. Giving an employee a balance of equity in their position, by how the job is designed, they then be more motivated and satisfied in their position with the company (PSU WC, L5, 2016). Job-design approach mentions that motivation is determined by the effects of both individual’s personality and the job characteristics. One of the most motivating factors for employees is interesting work and feeling of belonging. If they already feel uninterested in the job characteristics, they will probably feel like they don’t belong. Job-designed approach has influenced organizations. Frederick W Taylor collaborated principles of scientific management to develop a more mechanistic job-design approach (PSU WC, L10, 2016). This design approach was more streamlined. It provided the industry a cost effective solution to motivation. The mechanistic job design required very little training and reduced errors while being efficient (PSU WC, L10, 2016). The development of these two approaches lead to the discovery that the actual content of the job can impact motivation as well. People can be motivated by a jobs description or content and change jobs to achieve more meaning and satisfaction (PSU WC, L10, 2016).
This case study takes these concepts, in addition to Campion and Thayer's multidisciplinary job approach and analyzes two theories that highlight the nature of Susan's new job, Two-Factor Theory and Job Characteristics Theory. Campion and Thayer developed a multidisciplinary approach to job design. They proposed a four dimensional approach, mechanical, motivational, biological, and perceptual/motor, to help guide the design and redesign of jobs (PSU WC, L10, 2016). With specific outcomes in mind, organizations will be able to identify which approach is most beneficial to achieve desired outcomes for both employees and the organization as a whole, while keeping in mind that each job design method has costs and benefits that require trade offs be made (PSU WC, L10, 2016). Frederick Herzberg's was the first to propose Two-Factor job-based theory. This Theory states that, "motivation is derived from the nature of the job itself, not from the external rewards associated with the job" (PSU WC, L10, 2016). The nature of a job's context and extrinsic job characteristics; also referred to as hygiene factors, are what keep people satisfied. The actual job content and intrinsic characteristics, or motivators keep people focused and motivated. Hackman and Oldham proposed I/O psychology's most well known and influential job-based approach; Job Characteristics Theory. It states that job characteristics, or the content and nature of tasks associated with a specific job, are interesting and enjoyable, employees will be highly motivated and perform well (PSU WC, L10, 2016). This theory addressed a weakness from the Two-factor theory, that all people desired the same things from their jobs. Job Characteristics Theory consists of three primary parts. The first one is, core job dimensions, that include skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and job feedback to create the Job Characteristic Model of Work Motivation. For each of these dimensions there is a psychological state of being, known as psychological state, which is the second key component. This leads to the last part called outcomes. This is what is expected if the other two parts are met. This theory uses two form of measurement to ensure appropriate design, one being the job diagnotic survey or JDS. The JDS measures the point that leads to resignation. Motivation Potential Score or MPS, is the second form of measure, this measures outcomes. Through application of these job design theories, identified organizational issues can be addressed, and subsequently improved, through increased motivation and performance resulting from creating new job designs and redesigning ineffective ones. Job design theories suggests that the primary source of work motivation is the content of the employee's job, inferring that by designing jobs to be more meaningful, interesting, enjoyable, and appealing, motivation will in turn improve (PSU WC, L10, 2016). This case study utilizes the job design approaches and theories to help organization not lose great employees like Susan. This will identify the key problems and issues in the ineffective job design of an quality control coordinator. Solutions will be developed to redesign this position. By developing an effective design that would ultimately increase motivation, performance and decrease resignation of employees like Susan.
After more than five years working in the field, Susan accepted a new position within an emergency call center as a quality improvement coordinator. Her experience left her extremely comfortable with and eager to carry out her new responsibilities. She worked within a group of 3 others, with one lead person (the director) as her boss heading the final decision-making and the other sharing much of her same responsibilities. Upon accepting the position, her defined role was to listen to and review calls coming in and out of the center, assist call takers and supervisors with necessary improvements and/or remedial training recommendations, and to ensure that all calls comply with mandated guidelines.
Before she could proceed with her designated duties, she had to be trained on this particular organization's procedures and equipped to do the role just as those that she was reviewing. This process took more than 3 months to begin, and in the interim she was told to "find work." Being only one of three people, the other two with the ability to take on projects as they pleased, it was very hard to come up with things to do that were productive. Much of her day was spent sitting in her quiet office fielding nonsense phone calls and emails that no one else felt like handling. One of the few positives being that whenever she needed to leave early or take a day off, she was free to do so because so few people seemed to know she was there.
When the training finally began, knowing the job well already, Susan was aware that it was not being carried out in a way that would ever give her the skills she needed. Her trainers were not equipped with appropriate knowledge and were unable to answer questions that she had regarding the job. She sought out assistance from her boss and the training coordinator, however, no effort was made to solve the issue and eventually the training ceased altogether. They instead granted Susan the ability to perform her role based on her prior knowledge and capabilities and negated the training requirement.
She eventually began to do what she was hired to do, and started documenting and working towards the improvements she was told she was responsible for, but any time she tried to address them with the director, she was told not to worry about it and just to keep the review numbers up. Day by day, she carried out the same job with the same results. Any time she tried to pursue improvements or training, it fell upon deaf ears. When she tried to take on new responsibilities, she was not able to successfully fulfill them because she was trained so poorly. When it came time for semi-annual feedback, she would receive mediocre scores based on all of the things that she did not do, but the director failed to acknowledge that they were not done because of the lack in training. No matter how much effort she applied towards being really great, she consistently lacked the resources needed.
This job was what Susan had worked towards her entire career, and she loved the idea of what she did; but it became simply that, an idea. Her role was defined, on paper, but she was not able to carry out the duties designated to her because there was no support or encouragement for her to do so. As she progressed, her love of the job was out-shadowed by the fact that she wasn't able to perform in the way that she believed she was capable. After two years, she had become a face behind a desk.
Ultimately, Susan had to make the choice to give up her career. The design of this job was flawed, in the sense that it simply did not exist. The pay was great, the fringe benefits were above and beyond what any company could offer, and her passion for the job was unrivaled; but none of this was worth the feeling of not being able to a job that was so important to her.
Self Empowered Week
Job Characteristics Theory
Greg Oldham and Richard Hackman first introduced us to Job Characteristics Theory in 1976, essentially laying out five dimensions of a job that are necessary to create an appropriate amount of motivation towards task achievement (1976). Comparatively looking at Susan's role and these five dimensions, we can see how her position may have been flawed from the start, according to Oldman and Hackman.
Skill Variety - Much like it sounds, this refers to the idea of being able to utilize various skills within a role. We see here that Susan was never afforded the opportunity to learn the given skills that she needed to move forward with her responsibilities. Without learning the skills, she would not have been able to apply them thus limiting the abilities that she is able to develop.
Task Identity - This aspect is attributed to the ability to carry out a specific task and see it through a given process. One of Susan's primary responsibilities was to "assist call takers and supervisors with necessary improvements." When Susan attempted to make such improvements, they were not able to be carried out. Halting the process at that point prevented each one of these tasks from being seen through to the end. Had Susan been given the opportunity to express concerns, and carry out measures to implement her suggestions and they were founded to be unnecessary, one could say that it would have been completed. In this case, we see that each task was seemingly unidentifiable.
Task Significance - Simply put, this dimension is attributed to the importance of the job. While we don't know much about Susan's place of employment, seeing that she worked in an "emergency" call center tells us that there has to be some significance to what she did. The study also states that she was responsible for ensuring compliance with "mandated guidelines." Thus, it is safe for us to assume that she played a potentially crucial role within a very important organization, creating a high level of task significance.
Autonomy - Freedom and independence, that is what we see from autonomy. On one hand, we see that Susan also experience a high level of this, as she was able to take time off seemingly at her discretion. She also had only one boss, and one other coworker, both of whom were clearly busier, so there was very much independence in her role. On the contrary, give that she didn't have the necessary skills to perform as many responsibilities as she may have wanted to, it could also be argued that she was very much dependent on others and was not capable of being as free with her workflow as the company would have allowed.
Job Feedback - Our final dimension from Oldham and Hackman is relating to the ultimate achievement of job performance. Susan was given feedback semi-annually, but it appears that it may not have adequately reflected her performance based on the resources that she was given. When looking at feedback, it is important to factor in all circumstances surrounding the performance of a task. Feedback ultimately goes into calculating one's Motivational Potential Score (PSU 2016), so negative feedback that is inconsistent with the actual performance may significantly diminish motivation.
While Susan's role definitely falls into some of these categories, it is clear that there is a significant amount of necessary resources that were lacking from her job to create an atmosphere for success. According to the lesson, three of these core dimensions play the most crucial role in creating "meaningfulness"; skill variety, task identity, and task significance (PSU WC, L10, 2016). Susan saw her role as being significant, but the fact that she was not able to fulfill the needs heavily took away from those intrinsic rewards she so deeply valued. Had any one of the other factors involved played out differently, Susan may have been able to find enough reason to continue on her path.
Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory
The case of Susan in the call center can also be readily illustrated using Herzberg's two-factor theory. This theory shows how a combination of the extrinsic hygiene factors and intrinsic motivational factors contribute to a job being either motivational or not based off the presence of both leading to a positive feeling of satisfaction and motivation in the ideal situation (PSU WC, L10, 2016). On paper, this job seemed to Susan like she had found what she had been looking for and in an field in which she was very passionate. However, in practice we see it was in fact not.
The first we will look at are the extrinsic factors of hygiene. Some of these are pay and benefits, personal life, quality of supervision, and relations with others (PSU WC, L10, 2016). In this case, the hygiene factors would seem to be satisfied due to the pay and benefits being above and beyond what she could have expected and the ability to have a personal life from the ease with which she could have time off. However when taking into account the rest of the hygiene factors we can see that the job at the call center was still lacking in quality of supervision, relations with others, and her working conditions. The quality of supervision was very low. When she would propose improvements, she was constantly rebuffed and told to just keep review numbers up. She received little to no feedback from the director and when the time for performance reviews came around she was given mediocre scores because she was not doing what she had been hired to do. However, this was of no fault of her own as the training was severely lacking. She had little to no relations with others as illustrated by the fact she could take time off really whenever she wanted because so few people even seemed to know that she was there. In any job all the positive factors being completely fulfilled can't only motivate the worker, and in Susan's case these weren't being completely fulfilled. Taken as a whole, we can see that the hygiene factors of this job design can be considered low to medium at best. The lack of hygiene in this case would then lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction or moderate satisfaction.
The other aspect of Herzberg's two-factor theory is motivation. Some of these motivational factors are achievement, career advancement, personal growth, responsibility, autonomy, and discretion in carrying out the job roles (PSU WC, L10, 2016). While on paper, these motivational factors seem to be able to be fulfilled by Susan's job description, in practice they very much were not. The lack of training and ability to actually effect change severely hamper the ability of achievement and personal growth to be realized. Her lack of a proper training plan contributed to her mediocre performance evaluations because the aspects she was being rated on by her boss were never properly taught to her and instead she was told to just get by on what she already knew. When she tried to take on new responsibility, she was unable to again due to the fact her training was severely lacking. As far as discretion, she again seemingly had it, but still anytime she would pursue new training or try to make improvements, it would consistently fall on deaf ears. The absence of each of these factors alone could contribute to a low motivational factor for the job, but as we looked at all of them, nothing but being able to do her job autonomously was remotely present. The design of this job in practice clearly illustrates a lack of motivation and in turn a lack of satisfaction with the job for Susan.
This seemingly was Susan's dream job. She was finally in a position to utilize her passion in this industry. However, she ultimately left the job because the lack of hygiene and motivational factors created a situation where no matter how well the job paid, the lack of worth she felt on a day to day basis in a job that was so important to her created the worst case scneario where she was neither satisfied nor motivated. The job design on paper was adequate, but in real life was simply not up to par.
The Motivational Job-Design Approach
Champion and Thayer strongly recommend using the combination of the approaches to measuring existing jobs or help managers design new ones. The Motivational Job-Design Approach questioner is applied to Susan's case to detect problem areas and indirectly lead to the possible solution. This is the only approach that considers the social aspect of the job; that is crucial in the current study (Campion and Thayer, 1987).
1. Autonomy - Susan had a great level of freedom in her new position. This job allowed her to have a better life-work balance. The position gives a flexible schedule, and she finds this enrichment valuable. At the same time, autonomy is not applied to her decision-making. The management approach was to "find a job," however, this advice reveals that many procedures are not in place. There is no job description. Consequently, quality is not objectively measured and controlled.
2. Intrinsic job feedback - She did not get a satisfying "job well down" experience, perception because work activities did not provide direct, clear information on her effectiveness.
3. Extrinsic job feedback - Although Susan received annual performance report, her quality of work, on the areas that she was not trained on, measured mediocre. However, her manager did not give an opportunity for improvements.
4. Social interaction - Susan worked well with her immediate co-workers and team work meet her needs.
5. Task/goal clarity - Duties and requirement were not clearly determined.
6. Task variety - Tasks and duties were not offered a wide range of activities.
7. Task identity - Susan's task identity did not develop to personalized pieces.
8. Ability/ skill-level requirements - The job demanded job specific knowledge and skill, at the same time her training was overlooked.
9. Ability/skill variety - Although she had a personal ability to improve her job knowledge, management neglected coaching and training. Consequently, Susan's job knowledge did not reach the level that she aimed for, or that she was evaluated by.
10. Task significance - Susan did not see her job is important in the organization and, as she defined, became a ‘face behind a desk.'
11. Growth/Learning - The organization falls to provide training and learning opportunities. Also, they did not promote professional growth, nor did Susan feel progression in her job knowledge.
12. Promotion - There was no clearly defined opportunity for higher-level job advancement.
13. Achievement - Susan left her job because it is not fulfilled her need for achievement and accomplishment.
14. Participation - She was not included in the decision-making process, and her ideas were consistently met with negative perceptions.
15. Communication - It seems communication was one-sided, Susan felt her remarks fell on deaf ears.
16. Pay adequacy - She received a competitive salary.
17. Recognition - The job did not provide acknowledgment or recognition accurately based on the work that she was able to provide.
18. Job security - Susan had a stable job.
OUTCOMES / RECOMMENDATIONS
In order to ensure the redesign is still effective for the position of a quality control coordinator, the company can use the JDS, Job diagnostic survey every six months. The JDS will ensure that a through evaluation of task significance, feedback, variety, autonomy and identity. Continued evaluation of job enrichment will help bring up the low autonomy score discovered by the JDS. Utilizing the MPS, Motivation Potential Score can identity the jobs' motivational factor. Providing vertical loading will help build greater skill variety, autonomy and feedback. Utilizing all aspects of the the job design approach and the job design theories will ensure that people that work motivation is improved and people are more satisfied with their jobs. It will also ensure that the jobs characteristics will fit individuals for the correlating positions. This will help reduce turnover due to not being satisfied, like in Susan's case.
A3M Consulting. (1980). Core Jobe Dimensions. [Job characteristic model ]. Retrieved from http://www.a3mconsulting.com/obblog/2015/10/21/job-characteristics-model
Campion, M., & Thayer, P. (1987). Job design: Approaches, outcomes, and trade-offs. Organizational Dynamics, 15, 66–79.
Hackman, J., & Oldham, G. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of the theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16,25-279.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2016). PSYCH 484 Lesson 5: Expectancy Theory: Is what I get for my work fair compared to others? Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1803780/modules/items/21267630
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2016). Psych 484 Lesson 10: Job Design: Do I find my work interesting and challenging? Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp16/psych484/001/content/lesson10/lesson10_02.html
Tapper J.(2016). Self Empowered Week. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from http://dilbert.com/strip/2016-05-23