Discussion Questions – Week #1: Foundations, Legal Requirements and Individual Differences
Perception and Attribution:
1) What is the difference between internal and external attribution? Give an example of
behaviour and how a manager decides to attribute that behaviour to internal or
Internal attribution is when a person is responsible for their own behaviour and their behaviour
is believed to be under their own control. External attribution is when something other than
the individual caused their behaviour and it’s believed that the person was forced into this
behaviour because of the situation they are in.
For example, if a student got a bad grade on a midterm they could make both internal and
external attributions about why they received that grade. If the student blames their grade on
that fact that they have a bad professor, the textbook they were given is lousy and the midterm
wasn’t fairly written, then the student would be making external attributions about their
behaviour. On the other hand, if the student realizes that they didn’t put enough study time in,
they didn’t pay enough attention in class and they didn’t read enough of the textbook, then
they are making internal attributions about their behaviour.
2) Explain the three biases that can occur with attribution, and give an example of each
(that was not presented in the lecture on perception and attribution).
The fundamental attribution error is when people don’t give external attribution enough
consideration and therefore underestimate its influence on a person’s behaviour. An example
of the fundamental attribution error would be if a manager attributes the poor performance of
a sales representative to their ability to bring in customers, rather than acknowledging the
impact store advertising has on the number of customers that enter the store.
Self-serving bias is used when a person judges themselves. When a person succeeds at
something, they are more likely to believe that it was because of internal factors like their
ability to do something or the effort they put into it. But, if a person does not succeed at
something they are more likely to blame it on external factors like bad luck or the situation they
were put in. An example of self-serving bias would be if an employee was given a task by a
manager and it was completed successfully, that employee would believe that it was internal
factors like their effort that got the task done successfully. If that task hadn’t been completed
by the employee then they would believe that external factors like a time frame or their
working conditions were the reason it wasn’t successfully completed.
Actor-Observer bias is the difference between how people explain their own behaviour in a
certain situation in comparison to how they would explain somebody else’s behaviour in the
same situation. An example of actor-observer bias would I did poorly on a midterm I would
make external attributions on why I failed (ex: the test wasn’t relevant to the study material), but if another student failed that same test and I had done well, I would make internal
attributions as to why that student failed (ex: lack of studying)
3) Suppose an employee performs poorly on an assigned project. Discuss the attribution
process that this person’s manager will use to form judgments about this poor
When an employer wants to determine if an employee’s behaviour was internally or externally
caused they use three rules including, distinctiveness, consensus, and consistency.
Distinctiveness is used to decide if a person acts the same way in different situations. A
manager would decide if the employee’s behaviour is usually this way or if it is unlike the
employee to behave this way in other situations. If the employee’s behaviour is usually this was
then the employer is likely to make an internal attribution, but if the behaviour is
uncharacteristic of the employee then the employer is likely to make an external attribution.
Consensus is used to consider how on person’s behaviour is compared to the rest of the people
in the same situation. Consensus is high when everyone in the same situation responds the
same way, resulting in an employer to make an external attribution. If an employee is in the
same situation as everyone else and their behaviour isn’t the same then an employer would
make internal attributions.
Consistency is used to see if the actions of a person are repeated over time. If an employee’s
poor behaviour is repeatedly the same over time then an employer is likely to make internal
attributions. In comparison, if an employee’s behaviour is different than it is on a regular basis
then the employer is likely to make external attributions.
4) Assume you need to give Dave his performance review this week. His job performance
has been low on the job in the last three months.
a- Explain how you would decide to attribute his behaviour to internal or
If I wanted to decide to attribute Dave’s behaviour to internal or external factors I would go
through the attribution process. I would consider the three rules about behaviour including,
distinctiveness, consensus, and consistency.
b- Do you think Dave is more likely to attribute his behaviour to internal or
external factors? Give examples of the types of internal or external factors
that he may attribute his low performance to
Dave is more likely to attribute his behaviour to external factors because he wouldn’t want to
blame himself for his behaviour. This would be an example of self-serving bias because he is
judging himself. Some of the external factors that Dave might attribute his low performance to could be his working environment isn’t good enough, he doesn’t have the required tools to
perform well, or he isn’t given the proper instructions in order to perform well.
c- Since Dave is not performing highly on the job, would you assume that he is
not satisfied in his job as well?
No, I wouldn’t assume that he is not satisfied with his job, because there is a low correlation
between job performance and job satisfaction. His job performance would be more dependent
on his personality because personality shows patterns of behaviour. His low job performance
could be related to external factors.
d- Do you think that having a high level of emotional intelligence would help
you in being more effective in this type of performance appraisal (where
negative feedback will be given)
Emotional is a person’s assortment of skills that helps be self aware, know others emotions, and
manage emotional cues and information. These skills influence a person’s success in coping
with pressures and demands. Having a high level of emotional intelligence would help you in
being more effective in this type of performance appraisal because if there was negative
feedback, this person would be self-aware. This means that even if they were extremely upset
at the appraisal results they would be able to keep composure and not express themselves in
an unprofessional manner.
e- What errors should you keep in mind when conducting his performance
appraisal (i.e. what are some of the errors managers typically make when
conducting performance appraisals?)
Some of the errors that managers typically make when conducting performance appraisals
include, the halo effect, selective perception, projection and stereotyping.
The halo effect is demonstrated when a manager draws an impression of an individual based on
one characteristic that the person demonstrates. These characteristics can include their
intelligence, their looks, or their likeability, etc.
Selective perception occurs when a manager doesn’t take everything that they observe.
Primacy and recency are examples of selective perception, where a manager relies on early first
impressions and the most recent information they have observed. In these cases the
information observed first and last dominates the manager’s perception.
Projection occurs when a manager believes that an individual is similar to themselves. In this
case, managers attribute their own characteristics to themselves, including their personality
traits and their wants/needs. Stereotyping occurs when a manager judges an individual based on the group that they belong
to. If a manager has a perception of a certain group or organization, then their perception of an
individual that belongs to that group/organization will automatically be the same.
Attribution errors – internal or external causes. Actor observer effect.
f- How you handle this performance issue is critical in determining whether or
not Dave will improve his performance. As a manager, how could you use
operant learning theory to try to improve his performance?
As a manager I could use the operant learning theory to improve Dave’s motivation by
responding to his behaviours with a reward or by preventing him from punishment. By
implementing the operant learning theory, Dave would learn how to behave to get a reward he
wants or to avoid something he doesn’t want. If Dave can understand which behaviours he gets
rewarded for then it would increase the likelihood of him demonstrating that behaviour again.
This theory would be most effective if the rewards or punishments were delivered right after
Dave demonstrated this behaviour. He will also realize which behaviours he demonstrates that
aren’t rewarded and will most likely not continue to behave that way. This would be a
constructive way to ensure Dave is aware of good behaviours and bad behaviours at work and a
good way to improve his performance.
g- As his manager, how could you use social cognitive theory to try to improve
As a manager I could use social cognitive theory to try to improve Dave’s performance on the
job by improving his self efficacy and outcome expectancies. Self-efficacy and outcome
expectancies work together to improve an employee’s performance on the job. Self-efficacy is
the level that somebody believes they are able to complete a task; if an employee has a high
level of self-efficacy they are confident that they can complete tasks that are given to them. If
they have a low self-efficacy, they are more likely to give up or lower their performance. When
an individual has a higher level of self-efficacy they are more likely to set higher goals and by
setting higher goals they are increasing their performance on the job. This theory would be
effective to improve Dave’s performance because I could give him a difficult specific task for his
job, and by giving him a more challenging job he will believe that I think he can complete it. In
turn, his self-efficacy goes up because he feels confident that he can perform at that level if I
gave him this task. Along with higher levels of self-efficacy he will set higher future goals for
himself which will improve his performance on the job.
If the cognitive theory s effective, Dave will realize that his good performance may result in
rewards that satisfy his personal goals. Recognizing Dave for his good performance (behaviour)
will help in motivating him to keep his high self-efficacy levels and to continue setting high goals
with strong outcome expectations. h- Is there anything about Dave’s personality you would take into
consideration when conducting his performance appraisal and deciding
how to manage his performance?
There are three of the five big personality traits that effect job performance, including
extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness. I would consider these personality traits
when conducting Dave’s performance appraisal and deciding how to manage his performance.
Interactional. Low levels of steam can cause negative feedback to have a
Personality Dimensions that effect job performance.
1) If you were hiring for a position within your department, would you hire a certain type
of personality? Would you give them a test during the hiring process? Legally, can you
If I were hiring for a position within my department I would hire an individual with
agreeableness and conscientiousness personality dimensions. A person who demonstrates
agreeableness is cooperative, warm, empathetic, and trusting. Along with agreeableness, a
conscientious employee demonstrates that they are responsible, organized, dependable and
persistent. The qualities that an individual who demonstrates the agreeableness and
conscientiousness personality dimensions would be great qualities for an employee to have.
I would give them a test during the hiring process, as long as it was valid and directly related to
the job, because otherwise it would be illegal to do so. Giving them a test would help reinforce
any perceptions that I may have made and help determine their validity.
2) What would the personality of an ideal employee look like?
The personality of an ideal employee would depend completely on the job. The culture of the
organization and organizational structure are two examples of factors that would influence
what the ideal personality of an employee would be for an individual organization. Different
personalities are ideal for different jobs.
3) What behaviours/outcomes in the workplace has personality been shown to be linked
The five main personality traits have been shown to be linked to several different behaviours
An individual with strong emotional stability demonstrates less negative thinking, fewer
negative emotions and is less hyper-vigilant. In the workplace this would result in higher job
and life satisfaction and lower stress levels. When an individual is strongly extraverted they demonstrate better intrapersonal skills, greater
social dominance, and are more emotionally expressive. These skills would result in higher
performance, enhanced leadership and higher job/life satisfaction in the workplace.
If an individual demonstrates openness they are likely to be more creative, more flexible and
autonomous and display abilities for increased learning. The qualities that result from openness
can result in enhanced leadership, higher training performance and in individuals being more
adaptable to change.
An individual that demonstrates agreeableness tends to be better liked and more
compliant/conforming. These qualities can result in higher performance and lower levels of
If an individual has a high level of conscientiousness tends to demonstrate greater effort and
persistence, is more driven and disciplined, and tends to be better organized. These qualities
can result in a higher performance, enhanced leadership and greater longevity.
4) What types of personalities are typically high performers?
The types of personalities that typically result in high performance from employees include
extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness. People with high levels of extraversion
5) What other dynamics/outcomes within a team would be affected by personality
6) What is EQ? Is it important for a manager to have a high level EQ? Why or why not?
7) Why is it important for you as a manager to be aware that different employees have
It is important as a manager to be aware that different employees have different personalities
because OB is a function of both disposition and the situation. This means that it’s very
important to put the right individual in the right group, job or organization. It is also important
to know because individuals with different personalities need to be exposed to different
leadership styles from the manager. Not all personalities adapt to the same leadership styles or
situations, therefore it’s very important for a manager to recognize the different personalities
of their employees.
Values, Attitudes and Behaviours 1) What is the difference between values and attitudes?
Values are what a person considers to be good or bad; they are broad beliefs that don’t change
in different situations. Attitudes are more job specific; they are positive or negative feelings
about certain people, objects or events that an individual tends to respond consistently
2) How have changes in the workplace affected an employee’s commitment?***
Research has developed measures for three types of commitment. These three types of
commitment include normative, continuance and affective commitment.
Affective commitment refers to an individual’s relationship to an organization. They feel an
emotional attachment to the organization and stay with the organization because they want to.
Affective commitment is associated with positive work behaviours including performance,
attendance, and citizenship.
Normative commitment is an obligation that an individual feels to staying with an organization.
The individual feels like they “should” be with an organization. Normative commitment is less
strongly associated with positive work behaviours, but still has a slight correlation.
Continuance commitment occurs when an individual feels it’s in their best interest to stay with
the organization. They remain with the organization because they have to, due to the perceived
costs of leaving the organization. Continuance commitment is associated with negative work
behaviour because if reflects an individual’s calculation of their best interest to stay with the
3) Is job satisfaction related to job performance? Is it more related to certain dimensions
Job satisfaction and job performance are not really related. However, if you are more
productive it could increase you recognition, your pay level, and your chances of getting
promoted. With these rewards your level of satisfaction with the job may be increased. It is
difficult to determine whether job satisfaction would lead to high performance or is high
performance would lead to job satisfaction.
4) How would you as a manager instil feelings of distributive, procedural and interactional
It is important for a manager to instil feelings of distributive, procedural and interactional
justice to their employees. I would do so by ensuring that the process used to determine work
outcomes seems reasonable to all employees. For example, I would ensure that all employees
recognize that there is a procedure to the way the organization distributes rewards and that it
is done fairly. I would also make sure that employees are aware of how the distribution of work
rewards and resources is done; helping them realize it is done fairly without bias. The
employees would also receive respectful and informative communication about work outcomes. For example, I wouldn’t give them a piece of paper just stating the reward, each
employee would be fully aware as to why they received what they did and how the reward was
5) Given what we know, is it important for your employees to be satisfied with their jobs?
What can you do to improve the likelihood of your employees being satisfied with their
It is important for employees to be satisfied with their jobs, except when looking at
performance because the two are not strongly related. Job satisfaction has many factors,
including pay, the work itself, advancement opportunities, supervision and co-workers.
Enjoying the work an employee does is usually the strongest factor in job satisfaction, therefore
I would attempt to keep their work challenging and stimulating rather than having the
employees fallow a strict routine.
6) What type of commitment is most important for your employees to have and why?
Affective commitment would be most important for employees to have because it means that
they want to do their job. The employees wouldn’t stay with the organization because they felt
they had to but because they enjoy it and want to be there. It would reflect that the employees
feel involved with the organization and that they are identified with it.
Introduction to HR
1) Do you think HRM is an important function within an organization? Why or why not?
2) What is strategic HRM? Why is it important to link HRM with strategy of the
Strategic HR -
1) Assume you are a supervisor in your organization. How would the legislation that
pertains to HRM affect how you do your job? (With regards to supervising employees)
Charter of Human Rights – federally regulated.
2) Why is it important for an organization to ensure their HRM practices have a high level
of legal compliance?
3) What is the difference between the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human
4) If you are an employee who works for Air Canada, under which human rights act would
you be covered? 5) Under which act would you be covered if you worked for a Tim Horton’s in Hamilton,
7) What is the purpose of Human Rights Legislation?
8) What is the difference between intentional (direct) discrimination and systemic
9) What is a bonafide occupational requirement?
10)What is “Duty to accommodate”?
11)What are employment standards? Do they vary by province or are they federally
12)What is employment equity? Why should an organization have it?
13)What is the difference between “equal pay for equal work” and “equal pay for work of
Discussion Questions – Week #2: Organizational Culture, Structure, Decision Making and
Culture, Structure and Decision Making
1) Find an example of the following and explain how they would impact HR within an
a) a weak culture
b) a strong culture
c) a “good” culture
d) a “bad” culture
2) Find examples of both an organic and a mechanistic organization and explain how you
think the HRM practices would differ within each organization.
3) How would decision-making differ within an organic and a mechanistic organization?
Decision making differs within organic and mechanistic organizational structures because of
how their structures are laid out and how they function.
An organic structure is flat that uses cross-functional and cross-hierarchical teams with a wide
span of control. This involves high participation in decision making and had low formalization.
Because of the str