Workplace Exclusion: The Return of Steve
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Trading Voice for Service: The Impact of Perceived Voice on Organizational Commitment During Periods of Change
Topic: Change Management, Organizational Commitment, Potential, Trust
Publication: Human Resource Management (JAN 2011)
Article: The influence of perceived employee voice on organizational commitment: An exchange perspective
Authors: E. Farndale, J. Van Ruiten, C. Kelliher, and V. Hope-Hailey
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Everyone likes to feel important on occasion, whether through achieving a major goal or being recognized for an accomplishment. The workplace is no exception to this rule, as employees like to feel as though their decisions impact the actions their organizations take. During major corporate change, leadership and culture can be shaken up dramatically and as a result, previous levels of perceived employee impact (“I make a difference”) might not remain intact. What benefits does an organization reap if employees feel they have a voice, and how is this impacted through the change process? This article attempts to answer these questions.
The researchers found that when employees perceive themselves as having impact on organizational decisions, they show higher levels of organizational commitment. This sense of voice is inferred through relationships with line managers and, to an even stronger extent, with senior management. Employees were found to react positively to organizational change when their perception of having voice was not compromised during this often tumultuous period.
Is Bad Behavior from an Employee the Consequence of an Unfulfilled Organizational Promise?
Topic: Counter-Productive Work Behavior, Fairness, Trust, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (WINTER 2010)
Article: Psychological contracts and counterproductive work behaviors: employee responses to transactional and relational breach
Authors: J.M. Jensen, R.A. Opland, and A.M. Ryan
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are those actions undertaken by the employee that are detrimental to the overall work environment. The reasons for engaging in such behaviors and the means of expressing them differ from situation to situation, and as a result it can be difficult for organizations to pinpoint exactly what the causes of CWBs may be. This article seeks to find antecedents for CWBs in organizational breaches of the psychological contract, or the employee’s inherent expectations about how the reciprocal relationship between employer and employee ought to be. In other words, does deviant workplace behavior result from perceived organizational injustices and mistreatment?
The current study examines the possibility of numerous types of CWBs occurring as the result of a perceived breach of the psychological contract and achieved several significant findings. For example, it was found that when employees are moved to retaliate to feeling a lost sense of their employers caring about them, they are most likely to engage in abuse behaviors, which include threatening and undermining one’s co-workers.
The Dissolution of Alliances: It’s Business, But It’s Also Social
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Built to last but falling apart: Cohesion, friction, and withdrawl from interfirm alliances
Authors: H. R. Greve, J. A. C. Baum, H. Mitsuhashi, & T. J. Rowley
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman
Forming alliances between organizations is all well and good when the groups have a cohesive vision and sunny prospects, but sometimes the more interesting question is: how do alliances dissolve and why? In a study of transoceanic shipping companies, researchers assess these questions. Transoceanic shipping is an interesting situation in itself because firms often team up with others to share shipping routes. Multiple firms operate ships on the same route and single ships may carry cargo from multiple firms. Hence, there’s a lot of overlap and interdependence among allied firms.
If you’re reading this post, then you’re probably not bobbing around at sea, but bear with me because the reasons for which alliances disband is applicable in many realms.
Before talking about the factors that lead to the dissolution of alliances, let’s talk about how alliances are formed. Organizations see an opportunity to cut costs by sharing the burden of operating multiple vessels along one route. Thus, those firms can increase their presence in other markets because the ships are not all tied to a particular route.
Workplace Fairness: Crucial for Powerful Supervisors
Topic: Decision Making, Fairness, Trust
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (May, 2010)
Article: The Role of Authority Power in Explaining Procedural Fairness Effects
Authors: M. van Dijke, D. De Cremer, D.M. Mayer
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Of course it always pays to be fair to your employees, right? Not always, suggests research by van Dijke, De Cremer, and Mayer (2010). They explain that there are distinct advantages to treating people fairly, but only if the supervisor possesses a high level of power. If the supervisor possesses low power, it may not actually matter.
Here’s how it works. When a supervisor makes decisions that seem fair, they will be seen as more trustworthy. When that happens, employees will view the supervisor as more charismatic and as a more legitimate authority. The employees will also be more motivated to engage in organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs), which is when employees use extra effort to accomplish organizational goals.
But here’s the catch: this only applies to supervisors who seem powerful. Employees who feel they are treated unfairly might wonder if the supervisor could have done anything different. When the supervisor appears to be powerful, the answer is invariably yes. If that happens, they will be less likely to trust the unfair supervisor who may seem exploitive and self-serving.
But if the supervisor does not appear powerful, employees may think the supervisor is merely following orders and therefore not to blame. In that case, they may trust the supervisor regardless of whether they are fair. The authors explain several important implications of this study. First, power is not as bad as it is commonly portrayed. Power can be used to help encourage organizational citizenship behaviors, and these behaviors will only decrease in response to unfairness. Second, high power equals high stakes and high accountability. Challenging conventional wisdom, this study suggests that people in powerful positions cannot do as they please, and are held to a higher standard. On the other hand, supervisors who have relatively low power are not held to a high standard and have greater freedom.
Still, the researchers caution that low power supervisors should not take this as invitation to do as they please. Low power supervisors may not receive as much feedback on the perceived fairness of their decisions and may not realize they are being unfair. When job applicants or clients who are not familiar with the company mistake them for high power leaders, they will be ill-equipped to meet the higher standards expected of them.
The Propensity to Trust
Topic: Trust, Teams
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Why do we trust? Moving beyond individual to dyadic perceptions
Authors: M. Yakovleva, R.R., Reilly, and R. Werko
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Trust among employees is a prerequisite to good teamwork. After all, if employees don’t trust in each other, how are they ever going to work well together? Trust comes in two basic varieties: The propensity to trust people in general and relational trust, which refers to the assessment of a particular individual’s trustworthiness. In a recent study by Yakovleva, Reilly and Werko (2010), the authors studied trust between pairs of co-located and virtual coworkers. Study participants included 103 employees working for a product development team in the U.S.
Yakovleva et al. found that a person’s propensity to trust others is a stable individual difference that predicts the level of trust held by team members. Apparently, when employees are predisposed to trusting other people in general, they are perceived by others to be trustworthy.
Interestingly, the effect of propensity to trust on actual trust was stronger for employees working in virtual teams as compared to those working in co-located teams (although those more likely to trust people in general tended to develop higher levels of trust when placed on both virtual and collocated teams). Nevertheless, Yakovleva and colleagues suggest that employees with a high propensity to trust should be delegated to high-priority teams for which the stakes of teamwork are high.
Finally, trust was a better predictor of employee organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) when the employee dyads were co-located vs. virtual. Notably, the authors speculate that perceptions of a person’s ability (based on things such as level of education, experience, field of expertise, etc.) may be especially important for the formation of trust in virtual dyads.
Although there appear to be slight differences in how trust develops between co-located and virtual employee dyads, employees’ propensity to trust others is an important factor in determining whether employees will actually place trust in each other and ultimately engage in more effective teamwork. These findings are also important as they relate to virtual teams since the world of work itself is becoming more and more virtual.
Gotta’ have faith
The workplace offers an excellent example wherein the competitive nature of limited resources, promotions and firings can easily promote a sense of “healthy” distrust. However, as work has become
increasingly complex and tasks increasingly more difficult to manage, the faith we place in our coworkers to help us succeed at our jobs has likewise become paramount. So how do we reconcile
these two dilemmas?
A recent study by Lau and Liden (2008) sheds some light on the issue. In their research, the authors found that leaders were key linchpins in the development of trust relationships among coworkers. Of import, coworkers tended to place more trust in fellow employees who were more trusted by their leaders than those employees whom the leader did not trust as much. Furthermore, the relationship between leaders’ trust in their subordinates and coworkers’ trust in each other was greater when the work unit’s performance was weak, indicating that trust becomes even more salient and important during the “tough times.”
For organizations, these findings suggest three important implications. First, leaders have a strong impact on the attitudes and beliefs of their followers; thus, these important individuals must be cognizant of the message they are sending to their workplace and behave as though “someone’s always watching.”
Second, during times when performance is low, it behooves leaders to establish clear norms for
trusting capable team members. Lastly, the authors found that helping behaviors were positively related to coworker trust, suggesting that coworkers who offered a helping hand to others were generally perceived as more trustworthy by their peers. To help develop norms of coworker trust, then, leaders can therefore encourage such behaviors through informal or formal incentives.
C’mon, you can trust me!
OK, so most of the research done on trustworthiness in the workplace has focused on whether or not you think that your coworkers and leaders are trustworthy and the related implications (if you don’t trust your boss you’ll be less likely to perform well for him or her). But what about the other side of the coin?
Dirks and Skarlicki wanted to know how being perceived as trustworthy effects job performance – the idea being that if your coworkers think you are trustworthy, they’ll be more likely to offer you resources. Well, that’s exactly what they found, but they broke it down into a bit more detail. Consider the following two facets of trustworthiness:
Capability: Do you have the ability to provide resources?
Integrity: Will you be fair and honest (specifically, will you return the favor if someone helps you out)?
The authors found that the interaction of those two variables predicted job performance. That is, if your coworkers perceive you to be capable and fair, they’ll see you as being trustworthy and thus offer resources to you. Those resources, which you most likely couldn’t have gotten on your own, help you do your own job better. This relationship only held for employees who were considered to have both high integrity and high capability; the performance of employees with lower integrity scores did not change, regardless of how high their ‘capable’ ratings
So, in an organization, leaders can focus on the potential performance benefits for being trustworthy (capable and fair/honest). Training programs
would have to focus on both capability and integrity, since one or the other doesn’t have as strong of a stand-alone effect.