The following study guide is meant to help you prepare for the final exam. This material is for your practice and review only. You will not be asked to turn in your responses to the questions and activities below. As you work through these study guides, take note of your confidence level with the material. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your grasp of these topics, and take the suggestions for resources to re-watch or re-read seriously before proceeding to the final exam.
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2a.1. Imagine your career. You get a job where you work 40 hours a week, and you 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 how you feel about your work and how you perform the tasks assigned to you.
A. Think back to a place that you worked or a school that 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.
B. Review the list you developed, and write one sentence on how you could have eliminated the negatives.
C. 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 that you developed contains some of the things that have an impact on your attitude, and can be either good or bad. In Chapter 4, attitudes are defined as: “…our opinions, beliefs, and feelings about aspects of our environment.”
2a.2. We care about the attitudes as they can influence the relationship we have with others. In the workplace, we care about how attitudes can affect the relationships between and among employees, is seen by our customers, and/or their impact on job performance. One measure of the attitude of employees is the level of job satisfaction.
A. In two or three sentences, provide your definition of job satisfaction.
B. In your experience, have you ever participated in a survey that was intended to measure your employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, or student satisfaction? In a paragraph, explain why you think the organization was interested in this information.
Organizational commitment is one way to describe what emotional commitment employees have towards the company that they work for. Higher levels of organizational commitment are associated with greater employee satisfaction. The following chart from the text (Chapter 4), lists some of the factors that contribute to satisfaction:
2b.1. An individual’s behavior toward a task or in 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.
A. Please define each of these behaviors in two or three sentences. You can refer to the text, or do some research online.
B. With these definitions in mind, make a chart that lists each of these behaviors. Now, identify one or two specific actions that you could take that could result in increasing an employee’s positive attitude towards each one.
C. 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 to you to create a work environment that supports taking 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 that occur from lost work time, expense to recruit new employees, training, and overall employee morale.
2c.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 our experiences, real or imagined. We might perceive a situation to be positive or negative, and perceptions can influence our behavior.
A. 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 that you like. Now, in a sentence, describe why you have a positive impression of each one?
B. Repeat the above exercise making a list that includes a person, place, and thing that you have a negative perception of. Explain why?
C. When thinking about perceptions that employees nay have about their supervisor, job, or colleagues, we recognize that these perceptions may benefit the firm, or work to its’ disadvantage. Write a paragraph that explains what you could do to influence a person’s perception in a positive way.
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.
2d.1. 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 that emotions can have (Chapter 7.4, What Are Emotions).
A. 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.
B. 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, or 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 will make sure to not allow them to have a negative influence on those around you?
The NOBA Project (2.4: Emotional and Social Intelligence) notes that, “From an EI perspective, emotions are active mental processes that can be managed, so long as individuals develop the knowledge and skills to do so.”
Imagine the owner of a company who 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 to encourage the employees to try and improve the company’s financial performance. The emotional state of this owner can either be a help or hindrance.
2 e.1. Think about times that you have felt motivated to take on some task. Perhaps you were motivated to start on a research paper early, or to volunteer for a project at work. In those times when we are motivated, our performance improves and we feel better about what we have achieved. Employees that are motivated experience higher levels of job satisfaction, and produce better outcomes for the company. The text (Chapter 5, Theories of Motivation) begins by describing how motivation, ability, and the work environment are contributing factors to performance:
A. Think of a time that you felt motivated to take on a specific task. Write a short paragraph describing the task, and explain what it was that motivated you to take this task on.
B. Now, think about a time when you were not motivated at all, but still had to get something done. Describe any differences between when you were motivated and when you were not.
C. Sometimes, it will be necessary for you to provide motivation to 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 that address attempts to better understand what motivates people, and how we can create a work environment that fosters motivation. Review each of these theories: Acquired-Needs Theory, Equity Theory, ERG Theory, Goal-Setting Theory, Need-Based Theory, Reinforcement Theory, and Two-Factor Theory.
2f.1. Once we understand the importance of motivation to improving employee performance, or our own personal performance, we need to start thinking about ways that we can go about motivating people. There is an old saying that says that you can motivate others by using either 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.
A. 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.
B. There are any number of things which 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.
C. Here’s a challenge for you. You are an employer with 30 employees. The employees are a diverse group 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 provides real benefits to an organization by introducing different points of views, life experiences, skill sets, and personalities that can improve the overall performance of a company. However, this same diversity means that different individuals may be motivated by different incentives. One employee may be motivated by time off, while another employee is motivated by a cash bonus. This presents a challenge for the organization.
2g.1. Chapter 6 introduces the topic of increasing motivation by specifically considering the design of each job, and the work environment. This requires an evaluation of a job that goes beyond just describing what must be done, but that also considers the different ways that it could be done.
A. The job characteristic model to provide a high Motivating Potential Score (Equation 6.1) is:
(MPS) = skill variety + task identity + task significance / 3 + autonomy + feedback. In one or two sentences, explain what is meant by each of the terms in this equation.
B. There are many other ways to design jobs to improve motivation, including job sharing, job rotations, making tasks more meaningful, providing for frequent feedback, and telecommuting to name a few. Identify one technique that appeals to you, and see if you can research a company online that is effectively using this technique.
C. Performance appraisals are often used by companies 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.
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.