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Organizational Psychology – Performance Management

Answers the Question

What is meant by job performance and what are the core elements of performance management?

How it Began

Organization Psychology focuses on assessing individual differences and developing a deeper understanding of the person, as opposed to simply the context within which an individual is operating.   Various topics that are examined in performance management are the individual skills required for a particular job and how individual differences influence an individual’s work performance. A goal of performance management is to improve organizational performance by placing the right people in the right jobs, thus enhancing the fit between the individual and the organization.  Performance Management covers such topics as selection, training, performance measurement, and evaluation.Performance management is more than an annual performance review meeting between a supervisor and employee, instead it includes ongoing coaching, feedback, and support from the supervisor.

Performance Management

Key Terminology

Performance Management – A continuous process of identifying, measuring, and developing the performance of individuals and teams and aligning performance with the strategic goals of the organization.

Job Performance - Something that People actually do and can be observed including those actions or behaviours that are relevant to the organization’s goals and that can be measured in terms of each person’s proficiency

Contextual Performance - Organizational Citizenship behaviours includes personal support, organizational support and conscientious initiative.

Task Performance - Goal-directed activities that are under that individual’s control.

Grit - a positive, non-cognitive trait, based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve the objective.

In Brief

A central premise of performance management systems is that individual (and team) goals need to be closely aligned with higher level organizational goals.  At an individual level, goal setting is also an important element of effective performance management..  Perhaps the most central tenet of goal setting theory, illustrated in hundreds of studies, is that specific, difficult goals lead to higher performance than “do your best” goals.

There has been a paradigm shift from thinking of performance appraisal as a discrete event to a continuous process of performance management in which coaching is inherent in the process.  This draws away from the traditional appraisal research focused on measurement issues towards examining how job performance can be enhanced.

The management of performance is now being related to key issues such as the physical and mental well-being of employees. A meta-analysis of selection methods found that general mental ability was the best overall predictor of job performance and training performance.

But intelligence isn’t everything.  Motivation is another key component of job performance. Achievement motivation refers to a person’s drive to accomplish, to learn skills and concepts, to be in charge, and for quickly reaching a top standard (Murray, 1938). Those who are highly motivated to achieve more are more likely to be successful in realising their goals.

Discipline and talent are important. Simon (1998) coined the concept of “The 10-year rule”—the notion that those who are top in their fields spend 10 years of full-time, highly invested practice. Top scholars, students, and athletes have all been found to be talented, but also incredibly self-disciplined (Bloom, 1985).  Research is finding that self-discipline matters more than intelligence (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005, 2006).  In a longitudinal study of eighth-grade students, self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much variance as IQ in final grades, high school selection, school attendance, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television (inversely), and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005, 2006).

Duckworth & Seligman further contend that equally talented people are separated by their grit, and the fervour and dedication they have for a long-term goal.  An individuals’ perseverance of effort develops the fortitude required to overcome obstacles or challenges that lay within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realisation.

Commonly associated concepts include “perseverance,” “hardiness,” “resilience,”ambition,” and “need for achievement.” These constructs can be conceptualized as individual differences and have been studied in psychology since 1907, when William James challenged the field to further investigate how certain individuals are capable of accessing richer trait reservoirs, enabling them to accomplish more than the average person. Duckworth and colleagues (2007) believe this dual-component of grit to be a crucial differentiator from similar constructs. Grit is conceptualized as a stable trait that does not require immediate positive feedback. Individuals high in grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods of time despite experiences with failure and adversity. Their passion and commitment toward the long-term objective is the overriding factor that provides the stamina required to “stay the course” amid challenges and setbacks. Essentially, the grittier person has the fortitude for winning the marathon, not the sprint.

What does this mean for Organization Development?

Effective performance management systems offer many potential advantages.  These include: greater clarity about organizational goals, as well as the behaviours and results required for successful employees’ understanding of their strengths and weaknesses (and hence valuable developmental activities); increasing employees’ motivation, competence, and self esteem; better distinguishing between good and poor performers and thereby increasing the fairness of remuneration and reward decisions; protecting the organization from lawsuits; and facilitating organizational change.  Ineffective performance management systems have the potential to waste time and money, damage relationships, decrease motivation and job satisfaction, increase employee turnover, create perceptions of unfairness and thereby increase the risks of litigation.

The belief that behaviour must be understood from the point of view of the individual and the context within which the individual is behaving. Kurt Lewin’s famous statement that behaviour is a function of the person and the environment is the foundation on which OD operates.

Instead of focusing solely on the individual, OD emphasises the impact that social forces have on performance and the factors that result in similar individual behaviour across situations. A goal of OD is to ultimately improve organizational performance through the creation of a suitable social environment by focusing on such topics as motivation, rewards and recognition, leadership, group processes, conflict resolution, organizational culture, organizational change, and organizational performance.

In addition to analysing behaviour from the point of view of both the individual and the environment, it is important to utilise more than one perspective when completing an OD diagnostic of an organization.  It is important that an OD consultant examines organizational issues at the individual, the group, and the organizational levels. At the individual level the diagnosis might cover such areas as individual differences, motivation, and diversity. The group level might emphasises groups and teams and the dynamics involved and the organizational level might examine elements such as leadership, organizational culture, organizational change, and organizational effectiveness.  Each of these three levels must be taken into consideration when examining an organizational problem or issue so that it is possible to plan and intervention at the level(s) which is/are the most relevant to improving the overall performance of the organization.



Organisational Psychology – Work Design

Answer the Question:

What is the psychological impact of work design?

How it Began?

Terkel (1972) described work as “a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor, in short for a sort of life rather than a Monday to Friday sort of dying.  Perhaps immorality is part of the quest.”

There exist a highly diverse body of scientific concepts and findings about work organizations and the people who operate them. This diversity reflects the many problems that modern industry and commerce present for scientific study. For both practical and scientific purposes it isoften necessary to isolate problems such as work design for human convenience, job evaluation, selection, incentive schemes, primary group organization, supervision, and management organization. At the same time, most specialists agree that these problems are interrelated – beyond a certain point the solution of one kind of problem depends upon solving some of the others.

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565

The collective act of working creates and sustains whole communities and shapes cultures on a social level.  Work activities exert a powerful influence on how people think, feel, behave, and relate to one another.  Work can have both a positive and a negative effect.

Research on Employee motivation contains considerable evidence that job design can influence satisfaction, motivation and job performance. It influences them primarily because it affects the relationship between the employee’s expectancy that increased performance will lead to rewards and the preference of different rewards for the individual.  For example, Fredrick Herzberg developed the Two Factor Theory: Hygiene Factors and Motivational Factors

Globalization and new technology continue to change what work we do and the way that we work. Characteristic content of tasks, jobs and roles performed by workers continue to evolve, not simply in regards to the shift toward knowledge work but the blurring of the lines between managerial and non-managerial work and the removal of boundaries between work and non-work activity.

Outsourcing has relocated low skilled and semi skilled manufacturing to developing economies whilst in developed economies the majority of the labour market are employed in the services sector.  Changes to the nature of work, and how work and jobs impact people, highlight the need to investigate novel approaches to the design of work.

Key Terminology

Work Design - Task, Job and Work role characteristics

Job Design - Content, Structure and organization of tasks and activities that are performed by an individual on a day-to-day basis in order to generate work products.

Role Design - Recurrent behaviours expected of a person occupying a particular position.

In Brief

The expanded focus on both job and role design has become necessary in order to adequately describe and assess the impact of changes to technology, work and patterns of working.  The characteristic content and pattern of work, as it affects workers, emerges not solely from the immediate somewhat-fixed demands of the task environment, but also from the dynamic physical, social, and organizational context in which work is performed.

Most jobs can be seen as comprising both prescribed and predetermined tasks and activities, typically those that need to be done in order to create or transform work products, and discretionary and/or emergent components.  It also recognizes that, in most work settings, matching a person to a job is a decision that involves considering not just his or her capacity to perform particular tasks, but also to occupy particular roles.

The aims of work design are to improve job satisfaction, to improve through-put, to improve quality and to reduce employee problems (e.g., grievances, absenteeism).

What does this mean to Organization Development?

Problems of task performance, supervision,etc., have the character of part problems. Thus, the analysis of the characteristics of the organisation as a holistic system has strategic significance for our understanding of many specific work related problems. The more we know about these systems, the more we can identify what is relevant to a particular problem and detect problems missed by the conventional framework of problem analysis.

Organizational Development methodology recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. Socio-technical Systems Theory recognizes both the social aspects of people and society and technical aspects of organizational structure and processes. Technical is not limited to material technology. The focus is on procedures and related knowledge,

Sociotechnical theory therefore is about joint optimization, with a shared emphasis on achievement of both excellence in technical performance and quality in people’s work lives based on designing different kinds of organisation, ones in which the relationships between socio and technical elements lead to the emergence of productivity and wellbeing.

Depending on the organisations primary agenda, sociotechnical principles can be abused as merely instruments for achieving primarily economic objectives. If Humanistic objectives have no value in themselves they may be adopted if the achievement produces a better performance from employees leading to the fulfilment of the economic objectives.

For the OD practitioner, the main task of work design is to enhance the quality of working life and the job satisfaction of the employee. In turn the achievement of these objectives will enhance productivity and yield added value to the organization.


Organizational Psychology – Personnel Selection

Answers the Question

How can personnel selection ensure sustainable organizational effectiveness through the acquisition of human capital

How it Began

There has been over 100 years of research, and there is a great deal of psychological understanding regarding how to best identify KSAO requirements for jobs, the development of methods to assess KSAOs and using the scores from assessments to make appropriate selection and recruitment decisions.  But by itself, this research does not ensure that selection delivers sustainable organizational effectiveness.  In 1998 Schmidt and Hunter summarized the relationships between different selection predictors such as cognitive ability and conscientiousness with job performance, but ignored the consideration of sustainable organizational effectiveness.

Personnel Selection

In 1964 McNemar called for ‘social usefulness’ that is how individual differences such as intelligence contributed to real world outcomes.  In the 1970s research by Schmidt, Hunter and colleagues led to validity generalization and meta-analysis, which had a profound effect on personnel selection and practice.  Validity generalization ended the situational-specificity hypothesis to the point that professional guideliness sucha s SIOP Principles (2003) now explicitly recognize the role of meta-analysis as a validation strategy.

In the 1980s the conceptualization and measurement of job performance, and research addressing a number of fundamental selection issues were major contributions.   Followed into the 1990s by the reemergence of personality and the validity-diversity dilemma.  Today the focus is on the performance domain, such as counterproductive work behaviours, types of predictor methods and constructs.

Key Terminology

  • Personnel selection – the process used to hire or promote individuals.
  • Human Capital - the aggregate of individual knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics. (KSAOs)
  • Knowledge Worker - employees whose primary contribution is based on ideas and information
  • Predictive Validity - the extent to which a score on a scale or test predicts scores on some criterion measure.
  • Recruitment - attracting applicants through advertising, word-of-mouth or other methods; it can be used to include the pre-screening phase of selection;
  • Selection - employment decisions made by responsible members of an organization, usually choosing between multiple candidates, and using one or more methods of candidate assessment. It can include the decision of the candidate whether to accept or reject an offer of employment made by an organization.
  • Distributive justice - whether the outcome is seen to be fair and appropriate
  • Procedural justice - whether candidates perceive the process followed to reach the outcome to be fair and whether the selection process is viewed as being job-related.
  • Interpersonal justice - whether candidates perceive that they are dealt with professionally and sensitively during the selection process
  • Informational justice - whether candidates perceive that good quality information and timely feedback is given during and after the process

In Brief

Unlike other forms of capital, human capital cannot be owned by an organization.  Individual employees can, and do, choose to withhold effort, switch jobs or still ideas and take them to a competitor.  With the advent of cross functional working and project teams, jobs are more fluid than at any other time, and once a project is completed the team disband. There is also a recognition that globalization and technology, such as the internet, has transformed the workplace, making the world flat and meaning that human capital no longer has to be in the same geographical area, exposing people to diverse cultures and languages.

Societal changes, such as an aging workforce, more diverse workforce and a global economy has increased the importance of human capital, popularized by Mckinsey in 1997 with the publication of the ‘War for Talent’

Selection is a two-way process; organizations choose employees, but employees also choose an employer. If selection is to be effective then both of these processes must be working effectively. At a human level, Martin et al. (2005) explore some of the issues which arise during the selection process for applicants, which could be seen as being under the umbrella of ‘psychological factors’ including self-esteem and stress. Their research suggests that, for unsuccessful applicants stress levels were higher and self-esteem levels lower than for successful applicants.

What does this mean for Organization Development?

There is a danger that best practice selection methods can be viewed as a panacea, or a way of guaranteeing an effective workforce. This is not the case. No selection method is perfect. The very best personnel selection methods can promise is that we can make use information gathered to make some reasonably accurate predictions about future performance. In this sense, personnel selection might be viewed as a risk management procedure that helps organisations to avoid recruiting unsuitable applicants.

Care must be taken to manage candidates’ perceptions of the selection process because they impact upon candidates’ views of the organization and the likelihood of accepting job offers. If a selection process that identifies the best candidates discourages them from accepting the job offer, it is of little use.  This issue can be minimised through the proper design and execution of selection processes.

Work performance is shaped by a huge number of factors. Two equally able employees might perform differently because one has a very competent manager, while the other has an ineffective manager. Employees may receive different levels of exposure to learning and development opportunities. Some may work in a well functioning team, while others find themselves working with colleagues who are dysfunctional or ineffective. Changes in processes and systems might make the job easier for some employees but not others. Over time, the job that the successful candidate is required will also change, possibly changing to something that the candidate is not suited for.

It is clear that organizations have a wide variety of selection tools to choose from, and must consider multiple criteria (i.e. technical qualities and candidate perceptions) when devising a selection process. If a selection method has good predictive validity for a particular job role, in a particular organisation it might be that this validity does not transfer to other organisations or other job roles. Therefore in order to establish whether a selection tool works well across different situations, meta-analysis should be used to draw general conclusions about the effectiveness of a selection tool. This type of analysis also helps to identify the particular features of a selection tool that seem best, and provide guidance on how to make it work better and those features that might harm its effectiveness.

An effective workforce is not just the product of effective selection. Depending on the roles required, work performance will be determined by different OD intervention.  For example an organisation may require highly skilled engineers in a particular niche area. Given that this role requires a rare set of skills, it will be very difficult to recruit people who already have those skills. Therefore, learning and development will be more important to achieving the desired outcome. Selection might focus on identifying the people with the potential to develop such skills. It might also be that there are some engineering tasks that are so difficult that the majority of the working population are not able to complete them, even after training. This might indicate that equipment re-design or task re-design is required, and selection would focus on identifying those with the aptitude to work with the re-designed equipment or task.

From an it is crucial that selection processes are not considered in isolation from the organisational context, and the constraints and opportunities it presents.

Recommended Reading

  • Cook, M. (2009). Personnel selection: Adding value through people. (5th Edition). London: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Robertson, I. T., & Smith, M. (2001). Personnel selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74, 441-472.
  • Sackett, P. R., and Lievens, F. (2008). Personnel selection. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 419-450.
  • Hough, L. M., Oswald, F. L. (2000). Personnel selection: Looking towards the future – remembering the past. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 631-664.


Organizational Psychology – Recruitment and Competitive Advantage

Answers the Question

What impact do applicant reactions to recruitment and hiring processes have on Brand Equity?


There is some evidence that employment brand equity affects job seekers’ attraction to and intentions to apply to organizations. While employment brand equity seems to be an important concept, the real effects of brands on recruitment outcomes needed to be clarified.  Researchers have clearly identified the dimensions of employment brand equity and explored how employment brand  equity is created. While there is some evidence that recruitment activities affect job seekers’ perceptions of employment brands, very little attention has been given to the potential effects of organizational brand building activities (e.g. corporate marketing and advertising), although it has been proposed that there might be spillover effects of organizational marketing on job seekers’ perceptions of the organization as an employer.

The research streams of organizational identity, corporate reputation, or- ganizational image, corporate culture, corporate branding and corporate communica- tions provide a lot of related concepts and definitions which are relevant to employer branding. Especially corporate reputation and orga- nizational image have to be considered when approaching the topics of employer branding and employer attractiveness.

The Brand equity perspective examines potential dimensions of employment brand equity, and the effects of organizational brand-building activities on employment brand equity and recruitment outcomes.

A knowledge economy emphasising the need for talented employees combined with significant demographical and sociological changes in society, poses new challenges for organisations. Within this complicated context characterising today’s labour market, organisations need to increase focus on employer brand strategies to attract the talented and highly skilled employees.

However, in the eagerness of creating a unique employer brand and attract the talents needed, the organisations risk building expectations they are not able to fulfil after the talents enter the organisations.

Brand Equity

Key Terminology

  • Recruitment - the process of attracting, screening, selecting, and onboarding a qualified person for a job. At the strategic level it may involve the development of an employer brand which includes an ‘employee offering’.
  • Employer Brand Equity - the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company
  • Person-Environment Fit - the degree to which individual and environmental characteristics match
  • Organizational Image - Mental picture that springs up at the mention of a firm’s name. It is a composite psychological impression that continually changes with the firm’s circumstances, media coverage, performance, pronouncements, etc.
  • Pre-socialization - the informal adoption of norms or behaviour appropriate to a status not yet achieved by the individuals concerned, so providing them with experience of a role they have yet to assume.
  • Employer Reputation - an opinion about that entity, typically a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria. Reputation may be considered as a component of identity as defined by others.
  • Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace.

In Brief 

An organization’s efforts to recruit job seekers are similar in many ways to the organization’s efforts to attract consumers to purchase their products or services. Specifically, job seekers and consumers both develop positive or negative perceptions about companies and jobs based on their exposure to messages communicated by an organization.

Despite various definitions and differing approaches to employer branding, there is common agreement on the fact that employer branding includes selected concepts from brand management which are transferred to HR management and recruitment.

According to Branham employer branding is “applying traditional marketing principles to achieving the status of Employer of Choice… the process of placing an image of being a great place to work in the mind of the targeted candidate pool.”

This image of being a great place to work is generally referred to as employer image. The term is often used interchangeably with the concept of employer attractiveness in scientific and practitioner literature.

When classifying HR management according to levels into strategic, tactical and operational management, employer branding can be attributed to the category of strategic HR management, since it is focused on the strategic goals of the company as a whole. In comparison, tactical elements are focused on groups of employees and jobs while operational elements are aimed at single employees and jobs.

Most of the current employer branding research is based on the instrumental-symbolic framework, which is taken from brand management literature.  Functional or so-called instru- mental brand benefits describe the objective, tangible and physical attributes of a product which are linked to people’s need to maximize rewards and minimize punishments. Symbolic benefits relate to the subjective, abstract and intangible attributes and are linked to people’s need to maintain their self-identity, to express themselves, or to enhance their self-image

In the employer branding context, instrumental attributes refer to the job or the organization in terms of objective and concrete attributes, such as salary or leave allowances, whereas symbolic attributes describe the subjective, intangible, and abstract aspects of an organization or job, and are often related to perceptions about the prestige of a firm. In the organizational context, they convey symbolic company or job information via imagery and trait inferences assigned to the organization by current or potential employees.

In order to induce positive associations and hence a favorable employer image, em- ployer branding involves the creation of a unique employer value proposition (EVP)8, which encompasses the employment advantages and benefits (instrumental attri- butes) as well as key organizational values (symbolic attributes)

What does this mean for Organization Development?

Importantly, potential employees are affected by elements such as marketing, organisational communication, organisational reputation, employer branding, word of mouth, and the media. All elements of which an organisation is able to affect in some way and thereby interact with potential employees in constructing these employer associations. By integrating the employer brand as a vital part of the organisation’s overall communication strategy and anchored in the overall organisational strategy, an organisation may be able to influence the pre-employment context.

Employer branding is a strategic process which entails incorporating employer brand communication, messages, and symbols in everything the organisation does, meaning that the company logo, advertisements, online communication, internal communication and management, employer branding etc. should reflect the desired employer brand messages.

Organisations might be able to, indirectly, increase the employer brand exposure and thereby interact with potential employees in the construction of employer associations. Further, this enables the organisations to impact what expectations are build towards the employment relationship and thereby attempt to avoid expectations they are not able to fulfil after organisational entry.

If organisations, on the contrary, choose to let the coincidental experiences described above, by not integrating the employer brand strategically, they risk potential employees building false expectations, forming untrue or negative employer associations and thereby not being able to attract the employees needed to ensure future organisational success. Therefore, a strategic integration of the employer brand process is required when building recruitment, selection, on-boarding and reward processes.

The second implication concerns managing word of mouth which is a significant factor in building employer associations, especially when it comes to company visits, career related events, and having acquaintances working at an organisation.

Organisations can apply this knowledge into the management process of the employer brand as well as into existing HRM policies and practices. At the very core lies the fact that satisfied employees will portray the organisations positively and dissatisfied employees will portray the organisation negatively. Therefore, to ensure a coherent employer brand process an organisation can benefit from examining and communicating the employee journey throughout the organisation. By offering the employee an honest and coherent employer brand experience throughout his/her journey in the organisation, an organisation can potentially impact the word of mouth communicated internally and externally.

Finally Employer brand equity affects how the organisation impacts the formation of the psychological contract surrounds the honesty or accuracy of the employer brand communication.

The employer brand and other forms of organisational communication impact the formation of the psychological contract. For example; pre-socialization beliefs are likely to affect and employees psychological contract after organisational entry. Thus, organisations must ensure that the communication offerings presented before organisational entry corresponds with the actual employment offerings.

Organisations must strive to display an accurate image of the organisation and its offering to avoid running the risk of creating unrealistic expectations, which will lead to disappointment and possible intentions to leave. Thus, acknowledging the importance of an accurate employer brand will aid organisations to avoid the possible dilemma of breached expectations as presented in the introduction.

Therefore, displaying an accurate and coherent image of the organisation in both internal and external communication is a prerequisite for impacting the formation of the psychological contract positively.


Organization Psychology – Behaviour, Performance, and Effectiveness

Answers the Question

What is the hidden structure of Performance?

How it Began

During the 1980s organizational psychology stopped complaining about the standards which organization psychology work and began thinking about occupational and work role performance as a construct which could be modelled.  Since this time there has been considerable contributions to both theory and research dealing with performance, performance dynamics and performance measurement issues.  Despite difference in methodology, terminology and emphasis there has been a remarkable convergence concerning the principal components of job performance.  Regardless of occupation, organizational level, situational context or performance dynamics the meaningful basis of individual work performance is unaffected.


Key Terminology

Effectiveness - The degree to which objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved. In contrast to efficiency, effectiveness is determined without reference to costs and, whereas efficiency means “doing the thing right,” effectiveness means “doing the right thing.”

Behaviour - A response of an individual or group to an action, environment, person, or stimulus.

Performance - The accomplishment of a given task measured against preset known standards of accuracy, completeness, cost, and speed. In a contract, performance is deemed to be the fulfillment of an obligation, in a manner that releases the performer from all liabilities under the contract.

In Brief

Human Performance is the study of limitations and capabilities in human skilled behaviour. Skill is broadly construed to include perceptual, motor, memory, and cognitive activities, and the integration of these into more complex behavior. Emphasis is on the interaction of human behavior and tools, tasks, and environments, ranging from detection and identification of simple events to problem solving, decision making, human errors, accidents, and control of complex environments. Included among the variables that affect human performance are individual differences, organismic variables, task variables, environmental variables, and training variables.

Management and leadership can be approached at different levels. The study of management and leadership at the macro level involves the influences senior level individuals have in the larger organizational context-setting strategy, directing change, influencing values. Theory and research may focus on characteristics of leaders, leader style, leader-member interactions, behaviors of leaders, and related phenomena. At a more micro level, leadership and management involves the day-to-day exchange between leaders and followers. This includes challenges faced by line managers in their relationships with subordinates in the assignment of tasks, evaluation of performance, coaching and counseling for improvement, resource planning, and related tasks. Related to many other areas, effective leadership and management involves task analysis, motivation, decision making, career planning, selection, performance appraisal, interpersonal communication, listening and related skills in a supervisor-subordinate context. Increasingly, attention is placed on team leadership and self-leadership (especially in relation to empowerment), and horizontal leadership (i.e., peer influence processes).

Work motivation refers to the conditions within the individual and his or her environment that influence the direction, strength,and persistence of relevant individual behaviours in organizations when individual abilities and organizational constraints are held constant. Increasingly, work motivation is a concern at the group level as well.

Attitudes, opinions and beliefs are extremely important in organizational settings. They are important in their own right because of humanitarian concerns for the quality of working life of those who are employed in organizations. They are also important for diagnosing problems in organizations. They are important because they relate to the behavioural intentions and the behaviours of individuals at work. Some of the job attitudes include, but are not limited to, job satisfaction(general and various facets), job involvement, organizational commitment, and perceptions of fairness.

What does this mean for Organization Development?

Organization Development encompasses theory and research relevant to changing individuals, groups, and organizations to improve their effectiveness. the body of theory and research OD draws from include related fields such as social psychology, counseling psychology, educational psychology, vocational psychology, engineering psychology, and organizational theory.

More specifically, OD concerns theory and research related, but not limited to: individual change strategies including training, socialization, attitude change, career planning, counseling, and behavior modification; interpersonal and group change strategies, including team building and group training, survey feedback, and conflict management; role or task oriented change strategies, including job redesign, role analysis, management by objectives, and temporary task forces; and organization system-directed change strategies, including survey feedback, open systems oriented change programs, human resource accounting, flexible working hours, structural changes, control system changes, and quality circles.

It is well accepted that the structure, function, processes, and other organizational-level constructs have an impact upon the behaviour of individuals in organizations. Therefore, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the nature of complex organizations. This understanding should include, but is not limited to, classical and contemporary theories of organizations, organizational structure, organizational design, technology, and the process of organizational policy formation and implementation.  Integration of organizational and individual constructs is an important area requires a knowledge of organizational theory.

Much of human activity in organizations takes place in the presence of other people. This is particularly true of work behaviour. The pervasiveness of interpersonal and task interdependence in organizations demands a good understanding of the behaviour of people in work groups. Though the labels “group” and “team” are often used interchangeably, it is also critical to have a familiarity with the growing teamwork literature. This requires an understanding that extends beyond familiarity with research and theory related to interpersonal behavior in small groups. A good background in group theory and team processes includes, but is not limited to, an understanding of leadership, motivation, interpersonal influence, group effectiveness, conformity, conflict, role behavior, and group decision making.

OD practitioners need to have a sound background in work motivation, they must have a thorough understanding of the theories of human motivation including, but not limited to, need theories, cognitive theories, and reinforcement theories. Understanding of general applications of one or more motivational perspectives, such as strategies for work motivation as goal setting, job design, incentive systems, and participative decision making are relevant here.