Organizational success is largely dependent on the ability of the organization to create and maintain a diverse workforce that can recognize and respond to changes in the external environment. Two major components, hiring practices and workplace satisfaction, contribute greatly to organizational success. An effective leadership style is integral to building and maintaining a healthy organization. Transformational leadership is proposed as the leadership theory that is most capable of establishing a healthy organization that is receptive to changes in the external environment.
Keywords Autonomy; Behaviorism; Culture; Eclectic; Employee Turnover; External Workplace Factors; Healthy Organizations; Homogeneous; Internal Workplace Factors; Job Satisfaction; Self-Actualization; Status Quo; Supervisor Employee Interaction; Transformational Leadership
The Organization-Worker Relationship
The success of an organization can be measured in its ability to get those things done that cannot be accomplished by one individual (Scott, 1987). Each organization is composed of groups of individuals who possess the ability to support the organization, to change the organization and its stated goals, and/or to leave the organization. Most people work in formal organizations but are also members of informal workgroup organizations that can affect how jobs get done within the workplace. How does an organization establish a culture for its employees that creates and maintains support for its own goals and aspirations? Two major components contribute greatly to organizational success. They are hiring practices and workplace satisfaction. Both of these components are largely driven by the leadership style adopted by management.
The first task at hand is always to hire the right people for the right job. This seems like an easy task; however, it is more complex than it seems. To keep an organization healthy, employers need to hire people who are homogeneous enough to support organizational goals and yet diverse enough to force people to continue to innovate and to critically analyze what everyone is doing and why. Critical analysis by employees is what aids an organization in remaining responsive to its environment and able to meet its customers' needs (Hanges, Aiken, & Chen, 2007). Employers recruiting new employees hire the candidates they view as the best fit for the position. Who is seen as the best fit? It is most often it the candidate who looks, dresses, and speaks just like all of the other employees who are currently succeeding within the organization. And who is succeeding in the organization? The people who look, dress, and speak just like the boss! As long as the external organizational needs (i.e., what the customer wants and needs) remain stable, this strategy works well for the organization and its employees (Yukl, 2002).
However, the world is quickly changing and the needs of the organizational customers are following suit. For example, companies supporting the use of landline telephones needed to respond to a public that increasingly chooses to use cellular phones. Companies producing CD players needed to respond to a public that prefers to save and maintain its music as digital files, and newspaper agencies are currently losing their readership to a public that prefers to listen to the news or read it online. Without a diverse workforce, no one notices when change begins to occur and no one is ready to create ideas and products tailored to meet the changing needs of the customers. When the needs of the customers are no longer met, the company is doomed to fail.
Hiring and maintaining a diverse workforce is tricky. People who differ in their beliefs and values will experience a higher degree of conflict as the status quo is challenged and people compete for positions within the organizational structure. In hiring a diverse workforce, management must learn to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities they are seeking in ways that differ from their current practice. They often have to learn to phrase questions differently, ask different questions, and really understand what skills they need for a particular position. Once the workforce has been diversified, management must learn to manage conflict while maintaining a respectful climate and to value and provide due consideration to the people who question current philosophies and practices. Again, a homogeneous group is easier to manage but may, in the long term, cause the demise of the organization if it fails to identify and adapt to changes to the external environment. Employers need to remember that a key factor in organizational success is grounded in the satisfaction of individual staff members.
Employees have individual needs that must be met if the organization is to keep them. These people share their knowledge, skills, and abilities with the organization for which they work. However, they expect to get something back for this effort (Graen & Cashman, 1975). It is difficult to know exactly what each person wants to attain from their work experience. Yet, individuals need to find satisfaction in the workplace if they are to be successfully retained as productive, long-term employees (Matier, 1990). Employees who do not find satisfaction will eventually leave or, if unable to relocate, may disassociate themselves from the workplace community and their productivity will suffer. While some amount of turnover is inevitable (and considered healthy), too much turnover becomes an expensive use of limited time and financial resources. New employees must be recruited, hired, socialized to the organizational norms, and encouraged to maintain the extant organizational culture (Bluedorn, 1982). When management tries to decrease turnover, they often assume they are not paying their employees enough money and give all of the employees a raise. However, they will seldom realize the hoped-for reduction in turnover as a result. Although it is important to pay employees adequately, there are other factors making contributions to workplace satisfaction and rates of turnover.
But it gets complicated. First, employees may experience workplace satisfaction simply because of the economy. When the economy is good, an employee may perceive better opportunities outside the organization, develop dissatisfaction with the current job, and leave the company to explore the perceived opportunities. However, when the economy is bad, an employee who is feeling job dissatisfaction may take note of the lack of available job opportunities, quickly shift perceptions to a higher level of satisfaction, and decide to stay (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978). Second, different workers have different needs and it is difficult to consider and evaluate the weight of each need. For example, a student working in the bowling alley will have different needs and job expectations than a college professor.
Researchers have spent decades trying to identify (and agree on) which satisfaction variables really matter and to whom they matter. They have generally agreed there are two types: internal workplace factors and external workplace factors. Internal factors are generally within the control of management, while external factors cannot be controlled by management but might be mitigated by increasing the internal workplace factors (Matier, 1990). For example, mail carriers are subjected to rain and biting dogs (i.e., negative external workplace factors) but have made friends along their mail routes (i.e., positive external workplace factors). Management cannot control the weather, dogs, or established friendships on an assigned route. However, they can manipulate internal workplace factors by providing a mail truck, good insurance, pepper spray, shorter routes, and other support to try to make the mail carriers' job more satisfying.
Some of the workplace factors are tangible, while others are intangible. In the above example, all of the internal and external workplace factors mentioned are tangible. What is present can be measured, touched, and seen. Intangible factors are more difficult to measure. They include friendships, high morale, a sense of belonging, and pride in one's work. When problems with satisfaction are noted, management often works to increase tangible benefits in an effort to keep employees happy. Surprisingly, research suggests that for most jobs the intangible factors are the ones most likely to increase workplace satisfaction. Although an exiting employee may cite more pay or better opportunities as the primary reason for leaving, deeper questions often reveal what the employee is reluctant to express. Researchers found that, when employees were probed regarding which types of dissatisfaction lead to their voluntarily leaving a job, the tangible factor of wages was listed lower than all of the intangible factors. However, the variable of wage inequities (e.g., people doing the same job but getting paid...
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