Journal: Learning Journal for Organizational Behavior Analysis

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Learning Journal for Organizational Behavior Analysis

This learning journal focuses on organizational behavior in general and how the relevant literature can help human resource professionals better understand how and why people behave the way they do in the workplace to identify opportunities for improvement and to formulate best practices. To develop the learning journal, a series of learning episodes are described in response to various readings from peer-reviewed journal articles concerning employee motivation and its effect on organizational performance that have specific relevance to these issues. These learning episodes are followed by a description of the key inputs and outcomes that resulted and why these are regarded as important to learning as a human resource professional. A feedback and reflection section is followed by a discussion of the outcomes and new learning that took place, and how these can be used as a foundation for further personal growth and areas for additional research. Finally, a summary of the research for the learning journal and important findings are presented in a concluding comments section.

2)

Learning Episodes

The episodes used for the learning journal are based on a critical review and analysis of relevant juried and scholarly literature concerning organizational behavior and employee motivation and what best practices guidance exists concerning the use of employee satisfaction surveys to facilitate change as well as to improve employee morale and performance. Each learning episode is set forth in Table 1 below which includes the key input and corresponding outcome as well as supporting rationale with respect to their importance for learning as a human resource practitioner. This approach is congruent with the guidance provided by the American Psychological Association's Publication Manual (5th ed.), which states, "Word tables present qualitative comparisons or descriptive information. For example, a word table can enable the reader to compare characteristics of studies in an article that reviews many studies, or it can present questions and responses from a survey or shown an outline of the elements of a theory. Word tables illustrate the discussion in the text" (p. 161). Table 1 below presents the key input in the form of the author or authors and year of publication, the outcome of the learning episode in terms of a thought response and the supporting rationale for its incorporation in the learning journal with respect to its implications for practice.

Table 1

Learning Episodes: Key Inputs, Outcomes and Implications for Practice

Key Input

Outcome

Implications for Practice

Michalisin, Karau & Tangpong 2007

Organizational researchers have investigated the effects of leadership on organizational performance for more than 50 years, resulting in a "rich array of theories and empirical findings" (p. 2).

The studies to date strongly indicate that the relationship between different leadership behavior and specific performance outcomes is highly complex, and that the specific behaviors that are effective in a given situation frequently depend on a variety of factors, including situational factors and follower characteristics

Mann 2006

Employee attitudes and behaviors including their respective levels of performance will reflect their personal perceptions of how well they are being treated and compensated, as well as their expectations for the future in ways that will reciprocate the treatment and compensation that they receive from the organization.

In spite of the well established connection between employee motivation, job satisfaction and organizational performance and profitability, some efforts to increase employee motivation can backfire if care is not taken in the selection of the type of reward system that is used

Selden & Brewer 2000

Authors report that, "Scholars have devoted substantial time and effort to developing a master theory of work motivation, but such a theory has proven to be elusive. Empirical studies on various theories typically explain less than 20% of the variance in work output" (p. 531).

Despite the lack of universal best practices, organizations of all types need to motivate their employees to higher performance levels in order to achieve a competitive advantage in an increasingly globalized marketplace.

Wright 2001

Author emphasizes that, "The primary objective of work motivation research has not been to learn why employees act as they do but, instead, to learn how to motivate employees to perform the duties and responsibilities assigned by the organization" (p. 559).

Consistencies in human behavior have resulted in the vast majority of research into human motivation being from the perspective of how to motivate people to improved performance in order to satisfy organizational goals rather than individual goals.

Sims 2002

Properly implemented and administered, performance-related pay initiatives can improve employee motivation and satisfaction.

Employees readily understand when they have been treated unfairly and will become demotivated if they are not rewarded in line with their efforts.

Heiskanen & Hearn 2003

Authors report that for many people, job satisfaction is "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experiences" (p. 129).

Conversely, job dissatisfaction can result when employees are rated unfairly or perceive their peers receiving unwarranted positive human resource actions.

Fernandez 2005

Author cites the challenging aspects of understanding how managers positively influence employees in the workplace and reports that despite a growing body of knowledge, the actual process by which such influence takes place remains better described than understood.

Alas, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach available that will motivate all employees all of the time in every situation, but it is possible to learn how to be a better organizational leader even though the nature vs. nurture debate continues.

Cheverton 2007

Author compares the leadership strategies of high-performing organizations with lesser-performing counterparts to identify common successful leadership strategies and practices. Based on this analysis, author concludes that a high level of commitment to the organization's values and goals will help leaders communicate these attributes through the development and sustainment of a supportive organizational culture.

These findings indicate that effective leadership requires an organizational culture that places a high value on human resources. In return, employee morale and performance will improve and leaders will be in a better position to effect meaningful change when it becomes necessary.

Newstrom 2002

Author emphasizes the fundamental differences between employees today and just a few years ago: "Today's workers have a new hierarchy of five levels of needs that differs substantially from the needs hierarchy that Abraham Maslow introduced a half-century ago" (p. 4).

Employees in the 21st century workplace expect far more from their jobs than in years past, but they will work long and hard for leaders who understand and appreciate what their wants and needs are in the workplace.

Fey & Bjbrkman 2001

Authors maintain that the degree to which companies provide rewards that are specifically wanted by employees is the degree to which they will perform in a fashion that will bring them the desired reward. Authors add, though, that, "It is of crucial importance that the performance-based compensation system be designed to reinforce the broad HRM practices the firm is trying to encourage. For example, if teamwork is important, good teamwork and not only individual output should be rewarded" (p. 59).

Although pay and benefits remain highly important to the vast majority of 21st century employees, employee motivation exists along a complex continuum that changes over time and from time to time and person to person, a tendency that highlights the need for ongoing review of the effectiveness of HRM practices to ensure they are achieving organizational goals.

Hardy 2007

Author reports that many managers use punishment techniques more often than reward methods in their efforts to improve employee productivity.

A more balanced approach to management might produce improved employee productivity without harming employee morale in the process.

Mcdermott, Levenson & Newton 2007

Authors report that many leaders may lack the training they need to become more effective in the workplace. In response, many companies are using in-service and outsourced executive training to help these leaders identify problems with their methods and find better ways for a given situation and set of circumstances.

These findings highlight the need for companies to provide their managers with the human resource support -- including training -- they need to succeed. In this study, training was shown to help managers formulate superior leadership approaches.

Johnson 2005

Author presents the results of an analysis of the impact of different leadership styles on an organization's profitability that included important findings concerning their potential adverse impact on employee morale and productivity as well.

Different leadership styles may be called for during different periods in an organization's development history, with more authoritarian approaches being required during the formative years followed by a period in which delegative techniques can be used.

Kramer 2007

Author makes the point that effective leaders take action when it is needed, but this action can assume the form of authoritarian, participative or delegative leadership strategies depending on the requirements of the organization at any given point in time.

These observations lend further support to the notion that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach that can be used at all times in all situations.

3)

Feedback and Reflection

The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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