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Chapter 2

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Administrative Studies
ADMS 2400
Hernan Humana

Chapter 2: Job Performance Understanding one's own performance is a critical concern for any employee, and understanding the performance of one unit is a concern for any manager. Exp football coach, design of plays, winning, effective, students graduate, good media skills etc. This example illustrates one dilemma when examining job performance. Is performance a set of behaviours that a person does (or does not) perform, or is job performance the end result of those behaviours? You might be tempted to believe that it is more appropriate to define performance in terms of results rather than behaviours, because results seem more “objective” and are more connected to the central concern of managers or football coaches—“the bottom line.” For example, the job performance of salespeople is often measured by the amount of sales revenue generated by each person over some time span (e.g., a month, a quarter, a year). For the most part, this logic makes perfect sense: Salespeople are hired by organizations to generate sales, and therefore, those who meet or exceed sales goals are worth more to the organization and should be considered higher performers. However, as sensible as this logic seems, using results to indicate job performance creates a problem because results are often influenced by factors that are beyond the employee's control— product quality, competition, equipment, technology, budget constraints, co-workers, and supervisors, just to name a few. Even if these uncontrollable factors are less relevant in a given situation, there is another problem with a results-based view of job performance, in that results don't indicate how to reverse a “bad year.” That is, performance feedback based on results does not generally provide people with enough information to learn what they need to change in their behaviour to improve. Given that OB as a field of study aims to understand, predict, and improve behaviour, we will refer to job performance as behaviour. The outcomes associated with those behaviours will therefore be termed “job performance results.” So what types of employee behaviours constitute job performance? To understand this question, consider that job performance is formally defined as the value of the set of employee behaviours that contribute, either positively or negatively, to organizational goal accomplishment.13 Our definition of job performance raises a number of important questions. Specifically, you might be wondering which employee behaviours fall under the umbrella heading of “job performance.” In other words, from an employee's perspective, what exactly does it mean to be a “good performer”? We could probably spend an entire chapter just listing various behaviours that are relevant to job performance. However, those behaviours generally fit into three broad categories.14 Two categories are task performance and citizenship behaviour, both of which contribute positively to the organization. The third category is counterproductive behaviour, which contributes negatively to the organization. In our OB on Screen feature, you'll find an example of employees who demonstrate various levels of all three aspects of job performance. The sections that follow describe these broad categories of job performance in greater detail. TASK PERFORMANCE Task performance includes employee behaviours that are directly involved in the transformation of organizational resources into the goods or services that the organization produces. If you read a description of a job in an employment ad online, that description will focus on task performance behaviours—the tasks, duties, and responsibilities that are a core part of the job. Put differently, task performance is the set of explicit obligations that an employee must fulfill to receive compensation and continued employment. For a flight attendant, task performance includes explaining and demonstrating safety procedures and checking the general condition of the aircraft cabin. For a firefighter, task performance includes controlling and extinguishing fires using manual and power equipment and rescuing victims from burning buildings and accident sites. Although the specific activities that constitute task performance differ widely from one job to another, task performance also can be understood in terms of more general categories. One way of categorizing task performance is to consider the extent to which the context of the job is routine or changing. Routine task performance involves well-known responses to demands that occur in a normal, routine, or otherwise predictable way. In these cases, employees tend to act in more or less habitual or programmed ways that vary little from one instance to another. As an example of a routine task activity, flight attendant robotically demonstrate how to insert the seatbelt tongue into the seatbelt buckle before your flight takes off. In contrast, adaptive task performance, or more commonly, adaptability, involves employee responses to task demands that are novel, unusual, or at the very least, unpredictable. From this example, you can see that flight attendants' task performance shifted from activities such as providing safety demonstrations and handing out beverages to performing emergency procedures to save passengers' lives. Citizenship Behaviour The first category of citizenship behaviour is the one with which you're most likely to be familiar: interpersonal citizenship behaviour. Such behaviours benefit co-workers and colleagues and involve assisting, supporting, and developing other organizational members in a way that goes beyond normal job expectations. For example, helping involves assisting co-workers who have heavy workloads, aiding them with personal matters, and showing new employees the ropes when they first arrive on the job. Courtesy refers to keeping co-workers informed about matters that are relevant to them. Some employees have a tendency to keep relevant facts and events secret. Good citizens do the opposite; they keep others in the loop because they never know what information might be useful to someone else. Sportsmanship involves maintaining a good attitude with co-workers, even when they've done something annoying or when the unit is going through tough times. Whining and complaining are contagious; good citizens avoid being the squeaky wheel who frequently makes mountains out of molehills. Although interpersonal citizenship behaviour is important in many different job contexts, it may be even more important in contexts in which employees work in small groups or teams. A team with members who tend to be helpful, respectful, and courteous is also likely to have a positive team atmosphere in which members trust one another. This type of situation is essential to foster the willingness of team members to work toward a common team goal rather than goals that may be more self-serving.28 In fact, if you think about the behaviours that commonly fall under the “teamwork” heading, you'll probably agree that most are examples of interpersonal citizenship behaviour.29 The second category of citizenship behaviour is organizational citizenship behaviour. These behaviours benefit the larger organization by supporting and defending the company, working to improve its operations, and being especially loyal to it. For example, voice involves speaking up and offering constructive suggestions for change. Good citizens react to bad rules or policies by constructively trying to change them as opposed to passively complaining about them (we return to the subject of voice in Chapter 3 on organizational commitment).31 Civic virtue refers to participating in the company's operations at a deeper-than-normal level by attending voluntary meetings and functions, reading and keeping up with organizational announcements, and keeping abreast of business news that affects the company. Boosterism means representing the organization in a positive way when out in public, away from the office, and away from work. Think of friends you've had who worked for a restaurant. Did they always say good things about the restaurant when talking to you and keep any “kitchen horror stories” to themselves? If so, they were being good citizens by engaging in high levels of boosterism. Two important points should be emphasized about citizenship behaviours. First, as you've probably realized, citizenship behaviours are relevant in virtually any job, regardless of the particular nature of its tasks,32 and there are clear benefits of these behaviours in terms of the effectiveness of work units and organizations.33 As examples, research conducted in a paper mill found that the quantity and quality of crew output was higher in crews that included more good citizens.34 Research of 30 restaurants also showed that higher levels of citizenship behaviour promoted higher revenue, better operating efficiency, higher customer satisfaction, higher performance quality, less food waste, and fewer customer complaints.35 Thus, it seems clear that citizenship behaviours have a significant influence on the bottom line. From an employee's perspective, it may be tempting to discount the importance of citizenship behaviours—to just focus on your own job tasks and leave aside any “extra” stuff. After all, citizenship behaviours appear to be voluntary and optional, whereas task duties are not. However, discounting citizenship behaviours is a bad idea, because supervisors do not always view such actions as optional. In fact, research on computer salespeople, insurance agents, petrochemical salespeople, pharmaceutical sales managers, office furniture makers, and sewing machine operators has shown that citizenship behaviours relate strongly to supervisor evaluations of job performance, even when differences in task performance are also considered.36 As we discuss in our OB Internationally feature, the tendency of supervisors to consider citizenship behaviours in evaluating overall job performance appears to hold even across countries with vastly different cultures.37 Of course, this issue has a lot of relevance to you, given that in most organizations, supervisors' evaluations of job performance play significant roles in determining pay and promotions. Indeed, employee citizenship behaviour has been found to influence the salary and promotion recommendations people receive, over and above their task performance.38 Put simply, it pays to be a good citizen! COUNTERPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR Now we move from the “good soldiers” to the “bad apples.” Whereas task performance and citizenship behaviour refer to employee activities that help the organization achieve its goals and objectives, other activities in which employees engage do just the opposite. The third broad category of job performance is counterproductive behaviour, defined as employee behaviours that intentionally hinder organizational goal accomplishment. Property deviance refers to behaviours that harm the organization's assets and possessions. For example, sabotage represents the purposeful destruction of physical equipment, organizational processes, or company products. Theft represents another form of property deviance and can be just as expensive as sabotage (if not more). Research has shown that up to three-quarters of all employees have engaged in counterproductive behaviours such as theft, and the cost of these behaviours is staggering.45 For example, one study estimated that 47 percent of store inventory shrinkage was due to employee theft and that this type of theft costs organizations approximately $14.6 billion per year.46 Maybe you've had friends who worked at a restaurant or bar and been lucky enough to get discounted (or even free) food and drinks whenever you wanted. Clearly that circumstance is productive for you, but it's quite counterproductive from the perspective of the organization. Production deviance is also directed against the organization but focuses specifically on reducing the efficiency of work output. Wasting resources is the most common form of
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