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Improving job attitude

This week a young supervisor complained that she no longer experienced job satisfaction because her boss was very inefficient, which meant that she has to do all the work in order to make the boss look good.

Added to that, the boss does not give her credit for her dedication, as a result she felt like resigning and was actively looking for a job.

Another individual complained of something similar but added that her boss lacked planning skills and is reluctant to communicate important activities until the deadline is near. After which, she fully expects everyone to work late (puffing and panting) in order to get things done correctly.

She felt that if the boss would include others in the decision making and planning of these projects then they would have more time to organise the activities with less pressure.

This situation is quite common in organisations and impacts on what researchers call the relationship between job attitudes and performance (Riketta, 2008). The article this week is about these two variables.

Let me provide a description of job attitude as suggested by some researchers, it is “the evaluation of personal importance of job related targets”. In other words our assessment of our job determines our attitude towards it. It is not surprising then that our job attitude refers to our level of job satisfaction. This may seem very simple prima facie but job satisfaction underpins several other variables that can have a profound effect on an employee’s performance. One good example of this can be found in the level of organisational commitment the employee shows to the organisation.

You see when JS is being eroded, it takes with it other feelings about one’s job and like the employee in the opening vignette employees will no longer feel committed to the organisation (Riketta, 2008).

Managers must realise that the erosion of JS can be a double edged sword which speaks to the cognitive and the affective components of an individual’s overall job attitude. Moreover, actively looking for work is not the only component (cognitive) that will be affected but also the “relative strength of the individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organisation” which constitutes the affective components (Riketta, 2008).

So to put it more simply if an employee is experiencing negative JS they will not want to be associated with the organisation neither will they willingly become involved in any of its activities.

This brings us to the other variable of job performance. You see organisational psychology specialists have looked at JP from a dyadic perspective. This includes “in-role performance” (also referred to as the assigned duties) and “extra-role performance” (also referred to as organisational citizenship behaviour) (Riketta, 2008).

In other words JP does not only comprise of the duties that are outlined on the employee’s job description, it speaks to other activities that extend outside of the normal realm of work. For instance, management expects employees to be conscientious and perform activities like turn off lights when not in use, reduce wastage of supplies and not misuse the equipment.

Furthermore, they expect that they would lend a helping hand to other employees. Take for instance, if an employee falls ill on the job, management would expect that fellow colleagues would either call for help from health care providers or take the person to the emergency room. JP can also extend to explaining the culture of the organisation to new employees.

Telling a new employee stories about artefacts and expectations will go a long way towards helping them to adjust to the new organisation and would ensure JS. This behaviour would encourage job dedication and commitment since it could enhance not only the social context of performance but also the political context as well (Dierdorff, Rubin and Bachrach, 2012).

There are some managers who do not understand the importance of attitudes to performance and so they continue to focus only on the duties as outlined in the job description although there are several symptoms of a deeper problem. You see research by management specialists have found that job attitude does affect performance in more ways than one and this could be the reason why so many people are receiving very good performance evaluations but yet the organisation is showing signs of septic behaviour where employees are very unhappy with the job.

Let us consider the problem mentioned in the opening vignette, it appears as if the employee is unhappy with the style of management which from all accounts appears to be disorganised. You see the perception of the role played by management is very important, since the way employees view a manager can have a negative impact on their behaviour towards their work performance and the organisation as a whole.

Some managers make the mistake of focusing on punishment as a method of forcing employees to conform while they set bad examples with shoddy standards and performances. However, this is not effective because if employees believe that management is not performing its role with very high standards and its behaviour is less than equitable, they quickly lose respect and citizenship behaviour will disappear along with job commitment.

In other words, employees will not perform roles that fall outside the normal work function (what is on their job description). Generally, this behaviour is a function of their overall work performance.

In closing, given the complaints in the opening vignette, management must be more self-aware which means that they must realise that their actions are being observed by employees who focus on them to emulate their behaviour. It would be advisable if managers would inculcate the old adage of “to whom much is given much is expected” into their behaviour and try at all costs to perform their job with a high level of transparency and efficiency and not neglect their responsibilities. Until next time…

* Daren Greaves is a Management & Organisational Psychology Consultant at Dwensa Incorporated. e-mail:, Phone: (246) 436-4215

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