The J. K. Roberts Company Case Study:
Motivation & Work Behavior (BUS454-01), Spring 2013
The case presented by the company JK Roberts is about employee motivation, performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, needs and wants, use and abuse of power, and other organizational development issues. This case looks into an already impaired organization in JK Roberts, who is faced by stiff competition and must evolve to be able to retain relevance and long-term viability. Unfortunately, change has not been managed effectively as managers failed to recognize the needs of the employees and the pitfalls that happen when power is wielded incorrectly. The answers below examine the case from different organizational development aspects.
Answer to Questions
- Discuss the case in terms of the attitudes and beliefs of the managers and workers. Pay particular attention to issues related to satisfaction and organizational commitment.
According to Anderson & De Silva (2009), a belief is an internal feeling often believed by a person to be true. The belief is not necessarily correct or wrong (i.e. it is largely unproven) but is taken by the person owning the belief to be true. Values are the things that are important to a person whether they be tangible or not. Finally, attitudes are the manifestation and expression of these values and beliefs. A person expresses his values and beliefs through how he talks and behaves which is generally what is called as a person’s “attitude”.
There are two parties in this case, the employees (workers) and management. Managers include Bob Green, Peter Roberts, Evelyn Brown and the foremen which include Lela Pims. The employees are the rank-and-file workers, both men and women that are directly involved in factory production. Managers are mandated to carry out an organization’s objectives, whether these be short-term or long-term in nature. When implementing these objectives, it is important that managers are mindful of their personal attitudes and the how they deliver the messages. In addition, it is important that managers do so without affecting the organization negatively. The case details indicate that the managers implemented programs on waste reduction and efficiency improvement only to be met negatively by employees. To make it worse, managers were not able to educate the employees on the basic reasons why such programs were pursued.
On the other hand, the employees are exhibiting their attitude towards work. According to the case files, they have poor work-attitude in the sense that they do not value their employment and have even been abusing the company’s policies by committing pilferage, working less hours, claiming undue overtime pay, tardiness, among others. These negative attitudes indicate that there are a lot of issues regarding job satisfaction and organizational commitment in the company. Many experts say that the attitude of a person towards his job is reflective of the level of job satisfaction he has. If a particular worker does not life his job very much, he has very little satisfaction working in that organization and thus exhibit attitudes to compensate his “dis-satisfied” state. These compensative actions include the negative actions highlighted above and may be caused by poor pay, stagnant progression by way of non-existent promotions or continuing education, or poor overall management. If an employee has little job satisfaction, his commitment to the organization may be weak as well. This would result in more employee-management issues clearly because their goals are misaligned. There is strong evidence supporting the correlation of job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
According to Tella, Ayeni and Popoola (2007), research supports findings that state that organizational commitment is the main determinant for job satisfaction. According to Locke and Lathan (1976), job satisfaction is an emotional state that a person receives from his job and this emotional state is normally positive and pleasurable. While job satisfaction is an important aspect to be studied, it is not tangible and can only be inferred and is determined based on the person’s output and how that output meets or exceeds expectations. Clearly in the case of JK Roberts, job satisfaction is low based on the output of the employees.
In summary, the issues faced by JK Roberts is clearly an issue relating to attitudes, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Managers have failed to provide any way of managing the employees attitudes and turn them productive. Employees do not have any satisfaction over their jobs. The confluence of both factors has caused poor organizational commitment from employees making the company less efficient and competitive in the long-run.
- Using theories of needs, discuss the differing needs of the male and female workers, the foremen, Mr. Peter Roberts, Bob Green, and J. K. Roberts.
Managers are entrusted to create a working environment that will enable his or her subordinates to work and become the best possible employees. As managers are tasked, they must plan, organize, control and motivate their employees. The last task that of motivating individuals involves dynamic challenges because different people react differently to various stimuli. The core concept however is that they act because their personal motives are the most important aspect of themselves, that is, what they seek or want is their highest motivation. It is imperative that managers should learn human behaviour and all its complexities to unleash the potential within his or her subordinate. By learning what the personal needs and wants are, the manager can develop motivational strategies that will lead to the fulfilment of corporate goals.
The first clear step in the motivational process is the understanding of what deficiencies lay in a person and what actions are needed by that person to fulfil that deficiency. If a person can identify his needs, what these needs are driven by and what actions he can take to address those needs, the first step in the entire process of motivating the individual is found. At this point, the theoretical framework proposed by Abraham Maslow is important because it outlines the human needs. According to Maslow (1943), there are five categories of human. Physiological needs are defined as the requirements for basic human survival such as food, shelter, water, air and others that if are missing will not enable men to live and function normally. Safety needs are those that are driven by a man’s desire for stability and predictability in the world. While this is attributed to actual safety requirements such as personal and material safety, this could be related to the corporate world as a person’s desire for job security which affects a person’s individual, financial, health and mental stability among others. Social needs are those that provide the individual with belongingness for example, with a particular group or community. Esteem needs are those that require the achievement of self-respect and recognition. Examples of esteem need are those that give an individual the sense of value such as that coming from his profession, education and socio-economic background (i.e. students that achieve honorary status in college have higher self-esteem than mediocre students and a student wanting to achieve a higher level of self-esteem would study more). While Maslow recognizes the duplicity of self-esteem, which means that there are two types – the low self-esteem and a high self-esteem, the motivation to achieve recognition and value is common to both and an important driver of human behaviour. Finally there are self-actualization needs. These needs focus on what the person’s potentials are and his desire to express and achieve the recognition of his potentials. One other equally important principle described by Maslow is the order of which these needs are satisfied. A man must be motivated to achieve these needs in this order and can never be interchanged, skipped or otherwise ignored. A different approach is suggested by Douglas McGregor (1960) of the MIT Sloan School of Management. McGregor describes two different attributes that influence how employees are motivated. These two attributes have been used widely since 1960 in the fields of human resource management, organizational development, communications and human behaviour. The Theory X and Theory Y essentially points out that self-actualization in the workplace is a function of managerial trust over his or her employees. In Theory X, a manger assumes that his employees are naturally unproductive (i.e. lazy, no ambition) leading to a manager closely supervising his employees. Using an organizational structure, managers control the people one level down from them through systems of managerial control. Only a good incentive program will motivate employees but they will still try to avoid whatever responsibilities come their way whenever the opportunity arises for them. On the other hand, Theory Y says that people are normally motivated by personal goals and ambitions and therefore are naturally productive. These people however, may not have the proper conditions that would allow them to contribute to an organization at their top most potential. Thus it is theorized that if a management system is available to them that will allow them to do so, these personnel will do their tasks effectively and efficiently and will remain committed to their work. These personnel have integrity and are willing, by them, to exercise self-control such that they are charting their own course. It is up to management to remove the hindrances to them reaching their objectives and therefore the objective of management becomes providing the necessary requirements for to aid these people.
Another theory of need is the one proposed by psychologist David McClelland called the “Need Theory”. This motivational model explains how people are affected by their needs to achieve, to have power and to find affiliation. The need to achieve means a person wants to be the master of a particular task, therefore is a need found in particular motivated individuals. People who seek affiliation are those that want social relationships and the general desire of acceptability. A person who needs affiliation worries more about people’s perceptions and therefore does not make a good manager. Lastly, a person who seeks to influence or teach others have a need for power. People who need power in this sense are highly disciplined and enjoy working. Based on this theory of needs the following key characters are described as:
- Employees – high need for affiliation due to the fraternal atmosphere in the company and the satisfaction of only the basic requirements as shown in Maslow’s hierarchy.
- Foremen – high need for achievement since they specialize in one particular task.
- Peter Roberts – high need for power and achievement and very low need for affiliation.
- Bob Green – has high need for power and achievement and moderate need for affiliation. Bob Green is more of the moderator-manager than a leader and thus simply wants to manage issues.
- J. K. Roberts – has low need for power and a high need for affiliation based on the way the company has been running, which is characteristically poor on efficiencies but high on self-centred (as opposed to corporate centric) morale.
- Discuss the case in terms of the uses and abuses of power.
Clearly there is abuse of power in the case of JK Roberts. The fundamental concept that governs power is respect. Every person in the organization of JK Roberts must be respected and to be respected means that they are given the appropriate type of positive attention, either through their recognition or through their acknowledgement as important components of the organization. In this regard, the employees of JK Roberts are abused because their importance to the organization has not been communicated to them in a way that they would understand and appreciate their jobs. The fact that Peter Roberts took lightly the reaction of his employees showed that he abused his power and did not give them their rightful level of respect.
The employees themselves abused the power given to them by management to perform their tasks unsupervised. Because of this lax attitude towards work, the employees abused the corporate system and failed to contribute positively to the organization, in many cases contributing negatively to its long-term viability. There is abuse of power, that which relates to respecting polies as well. Employees staged a work slowdown and in many cases caused grievances to managers. In summary the issues faced by JK Roberts is a clear sign of misused power and abuse of authority, respect and order from both the managers and the employees.
- Knowing what you know about work motivation, what would you do if you were confronted with the situation outlined in this case? Be as specific as possible in responding to this question.
An organization’s objectives are achieved when management uses its resources, financial, physical and human effectively. Of these resources, human resources are the most complex to manage because it takes a lot of inputs from management to develop human resources in a way that will be useful for the organization. It is very difficult to manage human resources such that they become productive to the fullest extent possible. To make human resources productive, they must be motivated. Motivation is defined as the reason why one person acts in a certain manner, usually having the general desire to do something willingly. In an organization, motivation means that the manager will ensure that an employee acts accordingly, to enable that particular employee to do what the organization asks him to do. It also means that the manager will enable the particular employee to do these tasks and achieve his personal and professional goals.
The issue in the case of JK Roberts is generally about how the corporate goals and the personal goals of the workers can be made to be aligned with each other. To do so, the company’s managers must ensure that their employees perform the required tasks willingly. If I were in the position of Bob Green, I would do the following key steps:
- Inform the entire organization of the corporation’s goals and its mission and vision. This should be highlighted with key information regarding competition and the fact that the company is facing challenges that if not addressed, may lead to the company’s ultimate downfall and the employees losing their jobs.
- Engage the human resource department to institute programs that would influence the attitudes of the personnel towards the company’s welfare as it relates to their own welfare. Continue the family atmosphere and camaraderie but phrase this as it relates to the survival of the company. This could be done through instituted team-building sessions, surveys and interviews, formal discussions with managers, etc.
Anderson, M. and De Silva, S. (2009). “Beliefs, Values and Attitudes”. ISBN 978-1-905801-09-1 Series editor Hilary Dixon.28pp. A4. Retrieved from http://www.me-and-us.co.uk/psheskills/bva.html
Locke, E.A. & Lathan, G.P. (1990). “Theory of goal setting and task performance”. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Pp 248-250.
Maslow, A. (1943). A Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs
Net MBA (n.d.) “Mclelland’s Theory of Need”. Retrieved from http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/mcclelland/
Tella, A., Ayeni, C.O., and Popoola, S.O (2007). “Work Motivation, Job Satisfaction, and Organisational Commitment of Library Personnel in Academic and Research Libraries in Oyo State, Nigeria”. Library Philosophy and Practice 2007. ISSN 1522-0222. Retrieved from http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/tella2.htm