(These notes are adapted from J. Richard Hackman, "Designing Work for Individuals and for Groups," pp. 94-103 of Developing Managerial Skills in Organizational Behavior, 2nd ed. by LA Mainiero and CL Tr omley, Prentice-Hall, 1994)

Job Characteristics Model

Five core job dimensions are:

  1. Skill Variety -- the degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities in carrying out the work and which use different skills and talents of the person

  2. Task Identity -- the degree to which the job requires completion of a "whole" and identifiable piece of work. Doing a job from beginning to end with a visible outcome.

  3. Task Significance -- the degree to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people.

  4. Autonomy -- the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out.

  5. Feedback -- the degree to which carrying out the work activities required by the job results in the individual's obtaining direct and clear information about the effectiveness of his or her performance.

The first three job dimensions contribute to a job's meaningfulness. The degree of autonomy provides feelsing of personal responsibility for work outcomes. The amount of feedback provides knowledge of results. These three aspec ts, according to Hackman, are critical psychological states that affect a person's motivation and satisfaction on the job.

Diagnostic Use of the Model

A Job Diagnosis Survey has been developed using the model above. The kinds of questions included in it are:

Principles for Enriching Jobs

  1. Form natural work units. This gives employees ownership of the work and improves the chances theywill view it as meaningfuland important rather than as irrelevant and boring.
  2. Combine jobs. Putting jobs together increases task identity and requires the individual to use a greater variety of skills in performing the job, increasing the meaningfulness of the work.
  3. Establish relationships with clients. Direct relationships between workers and clients creates additional opportunities for feedback, increases the need to develop and exercise interpersonal skills, increases autonomy by giving individuals per sonal responsibility for deciding how to manage their relationships with people who receive the outputs of their work.
  4. Vertical loading. The intent here is to partially close the gap between 'doing' and 'managing.' When a job is vertically loaded, responsibilities and controls formerly reserve for management are given to employees as part of the job. Example s include
  5. Opening feedback channels. It usually is advantageous for workers to learn about their performance directly as they do their job rather than from management on an occasional basis.

Designing Work for Teams

Some attributes of most autonomous work groups are

  1. The group has a 'whole' task, in which the mission of the group is sufficiently identifiable and significant that members find the work of the group meaningful.

  2. Workers each have a number of the skills required for completion of the group task.

  3. The group has autonomy to make decisions about the methods by which the work is carried out, the scheduling of various activities, the assignment of different individuals to different task, and sometimes even the selection of new group members.

  4. The group's compensation is based on the performance of the group as a whole rather than on the contributions of individual group members.

Design Criteria for Interacting Work Groups

Two criteria are important in the design of interacting work teams if high productivity by the team and satisfaction of its members are to be achieved.

  1. The team should feel itself a cohesive group in which members feel committed to the goals of the gorup and in which they can experience significant personal satisfaction through their interactions with teammates.

  2. The environment of the work group, including its task, must be such that the group norms that emerge and are enforced are consistent with the two goals of high productivity and satisfying personal relationships.