JOB DESIGN AND REDESIGN
(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:
- Skill Variety -- the degree to which a job requires a variety
different activities in carrying out the work and which use different
skills and talents of the person
- 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.
- Task Significance -- the degree to which the job has a
substantial impact on the lives or work of other people.
- 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.
- 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:
- Are motivation and satisfaction really a problem? This can
documented through turnover, absenteeism, problems in work performance
- Is the job low in motivating potential? If scores on
measurements of the five job dimensions are low, it suggests the
motivating potential may be low or absent.
- What specific aspects of the job are causing the difficulty?
To target the points where change in job design may be necessary
- How ready are the employees for change? Some employees may
not have strong needs for growth; if so, introduce change with caution
- What special problems and opportunities are present in the
work system? If job dissatisfaction lies outside the job itself, e.g., with hygiene factors of pay, job security, co-workers, work condition,
then these may need to be addressed first.
Principles for Enriching Jobs
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- responsibility for deciding on work methods and advising or
training less experienced workers,
- providing increased freedom in time management, including decisions on
when to start and stop work, when to take a break, how
to assign work priorities.
- encouraging workers to do their own trouble-shooting and to manage
their work crises themselves
- providing workers with increased knowledge of the financial aspects of
the job and organization and giving them increased control over budgetary matters that affect their own work.
Designing Work for Teams
Some attributes of most autonomous work groups are
- 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.
- Workers each have a number of the skills required for completion of
the group task.
- The group has autonomy to make decisions about the methods by which
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.