BUS209 Study Guide

Unit 2: Managing Individuals, Personalities, and Motivation

2a. Discuss how work environment affects workplace behavior, such as an employee's attitudes and perceptions

1. Imagine your career. You get a job where you work 40 hours a week and continue to work for 25 years, after which you decide to retire. This job will represent 50,000 hours or 1,250 weeks of your life. In that work environment, things like the friendliness of the people you work with, how you get along with your supervisor, the physical aspects of the workplace, and many other factors will have a direct influence on how you feel about your work and how you perform the tasks assigned to you.

  • Think back to where you worked or a school you attended. Make a list of three things that you felt positive about that environment. Now list three things that left you with a negative feeling.
  • Review the list you developed, and write one sentence on how you could have eliminated the negatives.
  • Keeping with your list, write one sentence on how you could have increased those things that gave you a positive feeling about the location.

The list you developed contains some things that affect your attitude and can be either good or bad. Attitudes are defined as: "…our opinions, beliefs, and feelings about aspects of our environment".

2. We care about attitudes as they can influence our relationship with others. In the workplace, we care about how attitudes can affect the relationships between and among employees, our customers, and/or their impact on job performance. One measure of the attitude of employees is the level of job satisfaction.

  • In two or three sentences, provide your definition of job satisfaction.
  • In your experience, have you ever participated in a survey intended to measure employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, or student satisfaction? Explain why you think the organization was interested in this information in a paragraph.

Organizational commitment is one way to describe employees' emotional commitment toward the company they work for. Higher levels of organizational commitment are associated with greater employee satisfaction. This chart lists some of the factors that contribute to satisfaction:


2b. Assess your own personality characteristics and motivation through a series of surveys

An individual's behavior toward a task or their interactions with others can result in either positive or negative environments in the workplace. The text highlights four key behaviors for you to consider: a) job performance, b) citizenship, c) absenteeism, and d) turnover.

  • Define each of these behaviors in two or three sentences.
  • With these definitions in mind, make a chart that lists these behaviors. Now, identify one or two specific actions you could take to increase an employee's positive attitude towards each one.
  • Let's assume that this is your company. In two or three paragraphs, write a memo to your management team explaining why it is important for you to create a work environment supporting actions to improve employee attitudes towards the company.

The text notes that "work attitudes are our feelings toward our company and job. Job satisfaction and organizational commitment are related to many outcomes of interest, such as absenteeism, performance, and turnover. Therefore, companies track feelings toward work and try to create more positive attitudes".

Absenteeism and employee turnover have several negative impacts on a business. These include higher costs resulting from lost work time, the expense of recruiting new employees, training, and overall employee morale.


2c. Correlate the effects of motivation on performance and apply motivational theories to increase an employee's motivation

1. A discussion of perceptions may require us to 'step back' for a minute and think about what this term means. We all have perceptions of people, places, and things. Perceptions are not right or wrong but represent how we feel about something or someone based on real or imagined experiences. We might perceive a situation as positive or negative, and perceptions can influence our behavior.

  • To explore this concept a bit more, make a list that includes the name of your best friend, one of your favorite restaurants, and a clothing brand you like. Now, describe why you have a positive impression of each one in a sentence.
  • Repeat the above exercise, making a list that includes a person, place, and thing you negatively perceive. Explain why.
  • When considering employees' perceptions of their supervisor, job, or colleagues, we recognize that these perceptions may benefit the firm or work to its disadvantage. Write a paragraph explaining what you could do to positively influence a person's perception.

Remember that perceptions are developed from what we see and experience, but what we see can be influenced by whether we truly understand what is happening or what is being said. Sometimes, we may form perceptions based on erroneous information.

2. To a greater or lesser degree, we are all subject to emotions. Positive emotions (happiness, joy, love, excitement, etc.) can result in a more positive attitude, while negative emotions (fear, hate, unhappiness, jealousy, etc.) can have the opposite effect. Any efforts to improve employee satisfaction and increase job performance must recognize the influence of emotions.

  • Negative emotions tend to affect more people and last longer than positive emotions. In one or two paragraphs, explain why this is true. Feel free to draw on your own personal experiences.
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to step back and recognize that our emotional state, at any given time, can influence those around us. It is an ability to control our emotions in certain settings for the benefit of the department, team, or company. In two or three sentences, can you describe what you might do to ensure that you are aware of your emotions and not allow them to negatively influence those around you?

Imagine the owner of a company sees that the profitability of the company is declining. This owner may feel angry, frustrated, or even afraid of what is happening. Recognizing the value of communication, this owner gets everyone together to discuss the state of the business and encourages the employees to try and improve the company's financial performance. The emotional state of this owner can either be a help or a hindrance.

3. Think about times you have felt motivated to take on a task. Perhaps you were motivated to start on a research paper early or volunteer for a project at work. When we are motivated, our performance improves, and we feel better about what we have achieved. Motivated employees experience higher levels of job satisfaction and produce better outcomes for the company. This is how motivation, ability, and the work environment are contributing factors to performance:

  • Think of a time when you felt motivated to take on a specific task. Write a short paragraph describing the task, and explain what motivated you to take this task on.
  • Now, think about a time when you were not motivated but still had to get something done. Describe any differences between when you were motivated and when you were not.
  • Sometimes, it will be necessary for you to motivate someone else. In a paragraph or two, can you think about a time when you could motivate a friend or an employee? What did you do?

As an employee, there are times that you need to find the motivation that is needed for you to take on an assignment or complete some task. An employer must also be aware that employee motivation results in improved outcomes and must design ways to motivate them.

This unit discusses several theories to better understand what motivates people and how we can create a work environment that fosters motivation. Review these theories: Acquired-Needs Theory, Equity Theory, ERG Theory, Goal-Setting Theory, Need-Based Theory, Reinforcement Theory, and Two-Factor Theory.

4. Once we understand the importance of motivation to improve employee performance or our own personal performance, we need to start thinking about motivating people. An old saying says you can motivate others by using a 'stick or a carrot'. The stick might be a threat that you complete this job, or you are fired! A carrot could be a bonus for getting this job done on time.

  • In thinking about your own experience, can you remember a teacher, coach, or employer that motivated you to do your best? Write one or two sentences describing what they did and why that motivated you.
  • Any number of things can motivate employees. Raises, promotions, days off, bonuses, recognition, awards, etc. In order of importance, with the most important item being number one, list the top five things that would motivate you to do your absolute best on an assignment at your place of work.
  • Here's a challenge for you. You are an employer with 30 employees. The employees are diverse in age, gender, race, experience, marital status, and education. Write a paragraph on how you will determine what will motivate this team to improve their performance.

Diversity benefits an organization by introducing different points of view, life experiences, skill sets, and personalities that can improve a company's overall performance. However, this same diversity means that different individuals may be motivated by different incentives. One employee may be motivated by time off, while another is motivated by a cash bonus. This presents a challenge for the organization.


2d. Interpret and explain the various components of job design

Motivation can be increased by specifically considering the design of each job and the work environment. This requires evaluating a job that goes beyond just describing what must be done but also considering the different ways it could be done.

  • The job characteristic model to provide a high Motivating Potential Score is: (MPS) = skill variety + task identity + task significance / 3 + autonomy + feedback. In one or two sentences, explain each of the terms in this equation.
  • There are many other ways to design jobs to improve motivation, including job sharing, job rotations, making tasks more meaningful, providing frequent feedback, and telecommuting, to name a few. Identify one technique that appeals to you, and see if you can research a company that effectively uses this technique online.
  • Companies often use performance appraisals to evaluate an employee's performance during the year. They may be the basis for promotions and/or salary increases. Consider a performance review that you have had, or interview a friend or family member who has had a review, and write a paragraph about the experience. Include your thoughts on how accurate the appraisal was, its fairness, and if you were motivated to improve your efforts.


Unit 2 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • Acquired-Needs Theory
  • attitude
  • autonomy
  • emotions
  • Equity Theory
  • ERG Theory
  • feedback
  • Goal-Setting Theory
  • job design
  • job rotation
  • job satisfaction
  • motivation
  • Need-Based Theory
  • organizational citizenship
  • organizational commitment
  • perceptions
  • performance appraisals
  • personality
  • Reinforcement Theory
  • Two-Factor Theory