Proactive Performance Increases Customer Satisfaction (IO Psychology)
Topic: Culture, Self-Efficacy, Job Attitudes, Citizenship Behavior
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2012)
Article: Doing the right thing without being told: Joint effects of initiative climate and general self-efficacy on employee proactive customer service performance.
Authors: S. Raub, H. Liao
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
In the customer service division, men and women of the proactive service performance unit go above and beyond the call of duty. Their efforts often lead to increased customer satisfaction. These are their stories…
When customer service professionals follow established protocols and scripts during their interactions with customers, they are engaging in general service performance. Successfully meeting these standards is the mark of a good employee. Still, employees can do even better. One way to exceed expectations is to engage in proactive customer service performance. Employees who do this think about the future and have a long-term-oriented approach to anticipating and solving problems. They are also self-starters who do not wait to be told what to do. Instead, they take initiative to make decisions and do things that will help satisfy customers.
How can you get employees to engage in proactive customer service performance? Research by Raub and Liao (2012) has provided some clues. After conducting a large study involving dozens of service organizations, they found a positive relationship between initiative-climate and proactive customer service performance. What is initiative-climate? This is when an organization’s culture rewards and supports employees who show initiative. By doing so, they encourage employees to engage in behavior which is proactive.
The researchers also found that employee self-efficacy is positively related to proactive customer service performance. Why would this be? Employees with high self-efficacy, or the belief that they will be successful at work-related activities, are more likely to take a chance and be proactive. After all, they believe their actions have a high chance of leading to a successful outcome. Employees with low self-efficacy who do not believe they will be successful at work-related activities are less likely to be proactive. The researchers also found that the relationship between self-efficacy and proactive behavior is strengthened in an initiative-climate.
What happens when employees use proactive customer service performance? The authors found that this behavior is related to customer satisfaction, above and beyond general service performance. This means that it’s the extra, proactive behavior that is associated with the increase in customer satisfaction.
This study is important because it suggests a method for managers to increase customer satisfaction. It’s both the organization and the employee that make for a proactive environment. Organizations can create an initiative-climate that supports and rewards proactive behavior and recruit employees with high self-efficacy. Taking these steps can create an environment which is ripe for proactive service performance and customer satisfaction. And even if we are not in the service industry, don’t we all have customers whom we would like to satisfy?
Raub, S. & Liao, H. (2012). Doing the right thing without being told: Joint effects of
initiative climate and general self-efficacy on employee proactive customer service
performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), 651-667.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Waging WARS on Workplace Arrogance
Topic: Performance, Personality, Self Efficacy
Publication: Human Performance
Article: Acting superior but actually inferior?: Correlates and consequences of workplace arrogance
Authors: R.E. Johnson, S.B. Silverman, A. Shyamsunder, H-Y Swee, O.B. Rodopman, E. Cho, and J. Bauer
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all had to work with an arrogant coworker or supervisor at one time in our careers. It’s also probably safe to say that these run-ins have been unpleasant and disruptive to our work. Yet, while we arm-chair our theories about the effects of arrogance in the workplace, very little research is available to confirm (or disconfirm) our assumptions and anecdotal evidence. That is, surprisingly little is known about the consequences of workplace arrogance and its relationship with job performance.
In an effort to facilitate research on workplace arrogance, Johnson et al. (2010) created a scale to measure workplace arrogance (the Workplace Arrogance Scale) with a conveniently clever acronym: WARS. The authors conducted 4 independent studies to validate their newly created scale and explore the consequences of workplace arrogance. According to the authors, arrogant employees have exaggerated perceptions of their self-importance and superiority. At work, arrogant employees may manifest these inflated self-perceptions by discounting others’ ideas/contributions, belittling coworkers, asserting control even in situations beyond their area of expertise, etc.
Johnson et al.’s findings point to a fascinating trend: while arrogant employees engage in behaviors that exude superiority, they actually appear to be less intelligent and receive lower performance ratings than employees who are less arrogant.
Culture Matters When it comes to Stressors and Strains
Topic: Culture, Self Efficacy, Work Environment
Publication: Applied Psychology: An International Review (JAN 2010)
Article: A cross-national examination of self-efficacy as a moderator of autonomy/job
Authors: M.M. Nauta, C. Liu, and C. Li
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
In work settings, autonomy refers to the degree of control that employees have over their work. While research has generally shown that low levels of autonomy are stressful to employees (i.e., leads them to experience strain), this is not necessarily true for all employees. Indeed, employees who are confident in their ability to exercise control over their lives and work environments (i.e., high generalized self-efficacy) appear to be buffered from the negative effects of low autonomy. However, most of the research on this topic has been conducted in North America and it is unclear whether these findings are consistent across cultures. Recently, Nauta, Liu, and Li (2010) explored whether culture plays a role in determining how employees respond to low (vs. high) levels of autonomy and self-efficacy. The authors chose to compare American and Chinese employees because they typify individualistic and collectivistic cultures respectively.
That is, employees in the U.S. tend to be more individualistic and place a heavier focus on independence, while Chinese employees tend to be more collectivistic and place a heavier focus on the needs of the group to which they belong. Nauta, Liu, and Li collected data from a wide range of university employees working at a large university in the U.S. and three universities in China.
Much like U.S. employees, low levels of autonomy appear to make highly efficacious Chinese employees uncomfortable. In other words, for employees who feel confident that they can effectively exert control over their work environment, not being able to do so is stressful (regardless of culture).
However, Nauta et al. discovered an interesting difference in how American and Chinese employees, low in self-efficacy, react to autonomy. In other words, American employees who lack confidence in their ability to exert control over their work find low levels of autonomy stressful, while Chinese employees who lack such confidence find high levels of autonomy stressful.
These findings are particularly pertinent to organizations operating globally. If nothing else, Nauta et al.’s study is a reminder that management policies and job characteristics in one country or culture may not have the same effects in another country or for another culture.
Brains before Beauty…OR…Beauty and the Best
Topic: Self Efficacy
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2009)
Article: Does it pay to be smart, attractive, or confident (or all three)? Relationships among general mental ability, physical attractiveness, core self-evaluations, and income.
Authors: T.A. Judge, C. Hurst, L.S. Simon
Reviewed by: Larry Martinez
Who among us would be surprised to learn that those who are smart get more advanced degrees and higher paying jobs? That’s a just world, right? What if the same were true for those who are pretty? Judge, Hurst, and Simon investigated how pervasive the preference for attractiveness is.
Judge et al.’s literature review would lead you to believe that attractive individuals are given preference from their first breaths on. Teachers are more lenient and pay more attention to cute as opposed to homely kids, which can result in higher standardized test scores, better universities, more opportunities for professional degrees, and thus higher paying jobs. Not to mention that attractive individuals are positively reinforced with respect to their self-concepts, making them more confident and less likely to perceive financial strain.
The best combination, of course, is to be pretty and smart. However, the ugly ducklings among us can rest assured that the relationships were stronger between intelligence and education and income. However, being attractive was more strongly related to confidence, which had a stronger relationship to income than education and a buffering effect with perceived financial strain. Maybe those extra ten minutes in the morning are worth it…
Judge, T. A., Hurst, C., & Simon, L. S. (2009). Does is pay to be smart, attractive, or confident (or all three)? Relationships among general mental ability, physical attractiveness, core self-evaluations, and income. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 742- 755.
The Goal Revision Seesaw: What Makes it Move?
Topic: Self Efficacy, Goals
Publication: The Journal of Applied Psychology (2008)
Article: The role of feedback, causal attributions, and self-efficacy in goal revision .Author: A.P. Tolli, A.M. Schmidt
Reviewed by: Benjamin Granger
One thing that we know is that employees frequently revise their performance goals. But we know less about how and why they do so….until now. In a recent study from Journal of Applied Psychology, Tolli and Schmidt attempted to empirically answer the questions of how and why employees revise their goals over time. This should be particularly interesting to any manager or supervisor interested in understanding how employees set their goals at work and subsequently perform on the job.
The authors found self-efficacy (the extent to which individuals are confident that they can perform well on a future task) influenced how individuals revised their goals. Employees who have high levels of self-efficacy for performing a task tend to set higher goals (and the managers celebrate!), while those who aren’t very confident tend to set lower goals than before (and the managers….well, we won’t even go there).
The study found that self-efficacy is influenced by causal attribution (the extent to which individuals feel that performance is attributable to them versus the environment) and feedback (positive or negative). When employees don’t perform well and feel that their performance was attributable to themselves, their self-efficacy for the task is substantially lowered and thus following goals will be less aggressive. Self-efficacy, and therefore goals, remain higher when poor performance is attributed to external factors (but boss, it wasn’t my fault!!).
Now that we better understand how and why employees revise their goals, the next issue is figuring out the most effective ways in which organizations and supervisors can influence these motivational factors in order to help employees set aggressive, yet realistic goals.
Questions: Where in this process can a manager or organization intervene? Do these relationships change when we consider multiple goals as opposed to a single goal as was the case in the current study? Do we always want employees to have high self-efficacy for a task? What if high self-efficacy leads to lower performance?
Tolli, A. P., & Schmidt, A. M. (2008). The role of feedback, causal attributions, and self-efficacy in goal revision. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(3), 692-701.