Communication comes through as a major factor in the success of empowerment. In theory, those at the top of an organisation tell the rest of the company their view of the strategy, their vision for the future and the position of the company relative to its customers and competitors. This must be followed by those at the top listening to the views of the rest of the organisation. Many companies talk about shared vision which usually means that the top people have published there views but rarely taken into account those of others.
Communication also means that managers/directors listen to and act upon the views on operational issues of those in the font line, particularly ideas for performance improvement. Communication is the aspect which takes up most of the time and the one thing that often suffers when time is in short supply. To encourage group teamworking, research carried out by Bavelas and Leavitt resulted in a series of communication networks consisting of five main types of communication networks; The Wheel, The Circle, The all-Channel and a ‘Y’ chain, these are identified as followed:
The Wheel is the most centralised network, and more efficient for simple tasks with problems being solved more quickly, fewer mistakes are made with fewer information flows. The link person is at the centre of the wheel (network) and acts as the focus for activities and information flows. This person is perceived to be the leader and experiences high levels of satisfaction. For employees outside the wheel, this is the least satisfying network. The Circle is a more decentralised network, and overall is less efficient.
Groups, departments are unorganised with low leadership skills resulting in poor performance. The circle is quicker than the wheel in solving complex problems, and is the most satisfying for all employees. The all channel network this is also a decentralised network which involves full discussion and participation. This network works best where there is a high level of interaction among all employees to solve complex problems, although may not stand well under pressure which may disintegrate and reform into a wheel.
A ‘Y’ chain network is more centralised with information flows along a predetermined channel. This network is more appropriate for simple problem solving, requiring little interaction, with low to moderate satisfaction of employees. Effective group communication results in all of the above networks being used. The findings of the survey revealed that staff felt “Jobs needed to promote variety, identity and autonomy”, some jobs were perceived to be too easy or too monotonous, and staff felt that more experience of other departments would aid job satisfaction.
As well as “Jobs needed to be redesigned so that employees were challenged”, employees seemed to have a high need for challenging work, and not everyone felt they had the opportunity to satisfy this need. Employees also identified the need for essential “Feedback and recognition of performance” Implementation of the above will encourage openness, trust and sharing of information, which will be structured to obtain objective and truthful information. Information systems would need to be put in place (if not done so already) to facilitate feedback to management.
Managers and supervisors may need training in adopting a management style to carry out job analysis/appraisals, in order to maintain strong leadership skills. Job Rotation – involves moving a person from one job or task to another, to add variety and help remove boredom. Job rotation may lead to the job-holder acquiring additional skills but not necessarily developing them. Job Enlargement – involves increasing the scope and range of tasks of the job, it makes a job structurally bigger. However, this is not always very popular as it increases the individuals workload without necessarily allowing them to learn more skills or have variety.
Job Enrichment – involves increased responsibility and involvement of the job, allowing for opportunities for advancement and sense of achievement. It aims to give the person greater autonomy and authority of their work and provide the person with a more meaningful and challenging job. Job Characteristics Theory contends that a person’s intrinsic motivation is affected by his/her psychological state, the characteristics of the job and how he/she responds to complex and challenging tasks. This consists of five ‘core’ job dimensions which prompts three psychological states, which in turn lead to a range of beneficial personal and work outcomes.
These are as Hackman and Oldham 1976 describe: Skill Variety – ‘the degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities in carrying out the work, which involve the use of different skills and talents of the person’. Task Identity – ‘the degree to which the job requires completion of a “whole” and identifiable piece of work – that is doing a job from beginning to end with a visible outcome’. Task significance – ‘the degree to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people, whether in the immediate organisation or in the external environment’.
Autonomy – ‘the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion for the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out’. Feedback – ‘the degree to which carrying out the work activities required by the job results in the individual obtaining direct and clear information about the effectiveness of his or her performance’. From these five core job dimensions, Hackman and Oldman developed an equation the ‘Motivating Potential Score (MPS)’ which is a measure of the degree to which job dimensions are met, motivation is at its highest when the job has a high MPS.
If the above job dimensions are experienced positively, a person in their work will be motivated to try and perform well in the future to gain positive achievements. Job Characteristics Theory is one of the few motivation theories specific to an organisational setting, as it relies on the perceptions of the job-holder. Organisations cannot be expected to please everyone if jobs are enriched in the same way.