Managing and Leading for High Performance – Job Design and Goal Setting – Revision Notes

Job Design

Job design may be defined as the methods that management uses to develop the content of a job, including all relevant tasks, as well as processes by which jobs are constructed and revised.

Ideas about job design appeared in business and economics literature as early as the 1700s. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations pointed out that production per man of straight pins could be dramatically increased if each worker was assigned a small routine, repeated task in the process of making of pins instead of being assigned the task of doing all elements and complete one pin all by himself. Pioneering scientific management proponents like F.W. Taylor and Frank Gilbreth advocated that management should analyze the method of doing each operation in a process and identify the most economical method of doing it and standardize it or specify it to be adopted by each and every worker or operator employed by it in the operation. Task design is the most prominent single element in scientific management.  The scientific management approach evolved into a discipline called industrial engineering and it is concerned with product, process and tool design, plant layout, standard operating procedures, work measurement and standards, worker methods, and human-machine interaction. It has been the dominant form of job design analysis for over 100 years and it was adopted in various production technology improvements like automation, cybernation (use automatic feedback control systems) and use computers and sophisticated computer applications like artificial intelligence, expert systems and computer-assisted design. The job engineering produced cost savings. But there were negative effects on quality, absenteeism and turnover. So a deterioration in behavioral variables was observed. To take care of behavioral variable that were having an adverse impact on performance, certain measures were taken by managers. Job rotation and job enrichment were attempted by some companies.
Job enrichment is an exercise based on Herzberg theory on motivators related to job design. Between two jobs offering the same money income, the job that provides opportunities for achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and growth provides more motivation.One can even see preference curves with these two as two variables – money income and job related motivators independent of money.

J. Ricahrd Hackman and Greg Oldham developed the most widely recognized model of job characteristics as a further extension of Herzberg model.

The core of the model identifies the follow characteristics

1. Skill variety involved in the job.
2. Task identity
3. Task significance
4. Autonomy
5. Feedback (Recognition Reward)

Quality of Work Life and Sociotechnical Design are also movements in the area of job design.

High Performance Work Practices approach narrows down for effective practice what began as a broad area in Quality of Work Life movement.

Goal Setting

A goal is a performance target that an individual or group seeks to accomplish at work. Goal setting is the process of motivating employees by establishing effective and meaningful performance targets.

Detailed note on Goal Setting and Performance
Goal Setting and Performance

For more details please revise the full chapter in  Luthans.

Updated on 23 May 2019, 17 July 2014