Organisational Change Management Volume 2

More on Performance

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. Why staff have good days and bad days is based upon complex interplay of their perceptions, emotions and motivation levels, ie

- perceptions (ranging from immediate impression to more fully developed theories about what is happening and what it means). It involves "sense-making" about workday events and involves understanding

i) work (its meaning and value; what needs to be done)

ii) self (role in team/project/organisation; capability/confidence; value)

iii) team

iv) organisation

- emotions (includes sharply defined reactions, such as elation over a particular success or anger about a particular problem as well as more general feeling states, like good and bad moods). Reactions to workday events involve a range of responses, such as

i) happiness

ii) pride/warmth/love

iii) sadness

iv) anger/frustration

v) fear

- motivation levels (intrinsic workings of knowing what has to be done and your keenness to do it). It involves

i) what to do

ii) whether to do it

iii) how to do it

iv) when to do it

. These are linked with various dimensions, such as creativity, work quality, commitment to work and contributions to team's cohesiveness.

. Emotions and cognition (which includes perceptions of events) are tightly intertwined, ie

"...Areas of the brain associated with rational thought and decision-making have direct connections to areas associated with feeling. They do not exist in separate physiological compartments, and they interact in complex ways. Like any system, the brain cannot be understood simply by looking at each individual is crucial to consider all components and their interactions..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. Everyday events immediately trigger cognitive, emotional and motivational processes, ie

"...People's minds start 'sense making'. They try to figure out when the event happened and what its implications are. These perceptions feed the emotions invoked by the event, and the emotions......Depending on what happens with cognitive and emotional processes, motivation can shift, which, in turn, affects how people perform their work..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. People will perform better when their workday experiences include more positive emotions, they are drawn to intrinsic motivation (passion for work) and possess a more favourable perception of their work, their teams, their managers and their organisations.

"...If people are sad or angry about their work, they won't care about doing well. If they are a happy and excited about it, they will leap to the task and put great efforts behind it The same goes for perception. If people perceive the work, and themselves, as having high-value, then motivation will be high..."Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. It is important to note that management's behaviour towards their staff dramatically impact on the performance of their staff by the reaction of the staff as displayed by interplay of their staff's' perceptions, emotions and motivation. Most managers are not aware of the importance of this factor on staff performance.

. There is a general debate about how work performances is influenced by people's subjective experiences at work. One position states that people perform better when they are happier and internally motivated by the desire for work; others claim that people do their best work when under pressure and when externally motivated by deadlines and competition.

Recent research suggests that the 2 are linked.

"...people perform better when their workday experiences include more positive emotions, stronger intrinsic motivation (passion for the work), and favourable perceptions of their work, their team, their leaders, and their organisations. Moreover, these efforts cannot be explained by people's different personalities or backgrounds......performance as it relates specifically to the knowledge worker......people must work collaboratively to solve vexing problems, high-performance depends on four elements: creativity, productivity, commitment, and collegiality..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

i) creativity is defined as the ability to come up with novel and useful ideas. It was found

- creativity and emotions are linked, ie positive emotions are tied to higher creativity and negative emotions are tied to lower creativity

- there was a carryover impact, ie

"... the more positive a person's mood on a given day, the more creative thinking he or she did the next day - and, to some extent, the day after that..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

- people were more creative when they perceived the organisation in a positive light, eg

"...organisations and leaders collaborative, cooperative, open to new ideas, able to evaluate and develop new ideas......clearly focused on an innovative vision and willing to reward creative work. They are less creative when they perceived political infighting and internal competition or an aversion to new ideas or to risk-taking..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

- intrinsic motivation concept, ie

"...people are more creative when they are motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and challenge of the work itself - not by external pressures or rewards......when intrinsic motivation is lowered, creativity dips as well..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

ii) productivity, commitment to work and collegiality (contribution to team cohesiveness)

"...people performed better on all fronts when they were in a good mood and worse when they were in a bad mood. Productivity, commitment and collegiality also increased when people held positive perceptions about their work content......perceiving that they were supported by their team leaders and colleagues, creatively challenged by their tasks, trusted to make decisions with reasonable autonomy, and given sufficient resources and time to complete assignments.......they perceived the organisational contexts as collaborative and open, not rife with political game playing or crippling conservatism. Finally, intrinsic motivation predicted performance levels across the board. People were more productive, committed, and collegial when they were more motivated - especially by satisfactions of the work itself..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. Managers can directly or indirectly influence their staff on

" creatively people will think, how productive they will be, how much commitment they will show to their work, how collegial they will be..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. Interpersonal contact between management and staff will have a real impact on people's perceptions, and notions and motivation, such as person-to-person encounters (praising or criticizing a staff member); working collaboratively or otherwise with staff; making work fun or stressful; providing emotional support or not, etc

. When comparing the good days to bad days, the most important differentiator was their sense of being able to make progress in their work with a perceived clear path forward with little ambiguity, ie

"... achieving a goal, accomplishing a task, or solving a problem often invokes great pleasure and sometimes elation. Even making good progress toward such goals can elicit the same reactions..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

On the other hand, bad days are characterized by setbacks. The magnitude of the event is not important.

. Again managerial behaviour, especially setting clear goals (clarified with where the work is heading and why it matters), has an important impact. For example,

"... providing direct help (vs. hindrance), providing adequate resources and time (vs. inadequate resources or unnecessary time pressure), and reacting to successes and failures with a learning orientation (vs. a purely evaluation orientation)..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. Managerial style can have multiple direct and indirect impact on staff members' performance, ie

" effects......when goals are not articulated clearly, work proceeds in wrong directions and performance suffers. Less directly, the frustration of spinning one's wheels......leading to lower motivation; people facing seemingly random choices will be less inspired to act on any of them..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007


"...when a manager's action impeded progress, that behaviour sent a strong signal. People trying to make sense of why higher-ups would not do more to facilitate progress draw their own conclusions - perhaps their work is unimportant or that their bosses are either wilfully undermining them or hopelessly incompetent..."

Teresa Amabile et al, 2007

. Furthermore, interpersonal events (between manager and staff) work in tandem with progress events. For example, praise without real work progress, or at least solid efforts toward progress, had little positive impact; similarly, good work progress with little recognition had little positive impact. However, the combination of good work progress and managerial recognition resulted in good staff performance.

(source: Teresa Amabile et al, 2007)


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