Virtually all of our reading (Chapters 6, 7, and 8) has either a formal or informal power theme associated with them because in essence power is: intangible. Popular perspective is that power is considered a personal characteristic. Frequently people refer to power as the means to how one person exhibits domination or influence over another individual. In an organization, power is purely a structural characteristic required to mass control or procedurally influence the actions of the various employees or processes. It is vital to my analysis to reflect upon the motivations and emotions of the collective mind-frame and how informal and formal power in organization manipulates these psychological aspects in order to accomplish a goal.
This comparative research paper shall initially focus on the conceptual understanding of power at an organizational level. When referring to an organization, people see organizations as bureaucratic entities created to fulfill a function using a variety of tools, hierarchical leadership, team ownership, process completion styles, and institutionalized rules or procedures. As organizations are often large and complex structures with large employee counts it is vital that a hierarchy be in place to organize tasks and indicate which employee needs to be assigned to which project.
As a hierarchy is a formal process there are individuals aligned to various positions in the leadership chain. Power along this chain typically transfers downwards in order to assure that orders are carried out as requested. This authority along the vertical chain is accepted by people through an organization. Employees accept that top executives and project managers have the legitimate right to make key decisions required for a projects completion. Employees also accept that goals must be set by leadership in order to provide direction and procedures which everyone can follow and comprehend.
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This directing of activities enables workers to see that power throughout the organizational structure helps control the decision making process itself. In addition, it clearly allows for ownership and helps manager become accountable for projects or processes. As orders can be accepted or denied in an organization there is always an underlying emotion associated with the actual outcome. In addition, as some tasks or processes are considered more important then others there is also a certain amount of access to greater tools or resources granted to individuals assigned to those organizational contributions. These individuals are usually considered Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and are crucial to the continued prosperity or success of a division, department, or process flow.
Rationally and politically, organizations must focus on enhancing people relationships in order to obtain a desired level of success in projects. Formally an organization wields power by striving to pool individual strengths to produce a result. Logically, organizations need to be considered a centralized power which lays out procedures, rules, and the foundation for which it upholds its mission, value system, and produces a product (whether it be physical or intellectual).
Informally, an organization seeks to empower workers so they can participate in decision making roles. In general, an organization prefers to have satisfied employees versus disgruntled ones. In pursuit of this goal, organizations have taken to comprehending what motivates the every-day employee. Organizations have bestowed upon their management the responsibility of determining on an individual employee level the wants and needs of an employee which can motivate the employee. As there are many process theories associated with this motivation we shall be focusing on several aspects of this emotional and psychological requirements.
Based upon Boons and Kurtz, the Motivation Theory can be categorized under 2 distinct approaches. The first approach is a holistic evaluation of factors within a person’s personality or psychology which reinforces appropriate behavior or stops inappropriate behavior. The second approach focuses on how, why, and what the actual behavior itself needs to be sustained or stopped. The second approach is consisted more analytical then the first.
Within the first approach lie’s Maslow’s 5 level need hierarchy, Alderder’s 3 level ERG Theory and Hierarchy, and Herzberg’s two factor theory known as hygiene and motivators. Included in the second approach is Vroom’s VIE Expectancy as a theory of personal choice, Adam’s Equity Theory which correlates individual choice as they compare work practices/environments, and the goal-setting theory that emphasizes that conscious goals and intentions are considered the detriments of behavior; though I will include only a few of these theories in this paper.
These two approaches informally play on motivating and emotional factors. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, psychologists have established that motivated individuals are more likely to exhibit consistent satisfactory performance. Based upon this hierarchy the first rang of the hierarchy is the importance of the basic and psychological needs such as food, shelter, exercise, social interaction, and sleep. Psychologists have determined that it is human desire to have these basic needs fulfilled in order to be motivated to do a good job.
These fulfillment needs are not true motivators though but necessities. Following this satisfaction, an employee needs to feel secure and protected from economic insecurities and protected from harm, violence, and disease exposure which enables them to be self-motivated and willing to accept self-management as the basic necessity is cared for. For instance, organizations must play a key role in securing dangerous materials which can potentially harm an employee. Often security and safety in the workforce goes hand-in hand and is considered a formal power that organization uses to control decisions. In terms of security, the most common ‘security’ is job security. If a project is nearing completion there is a level of apprehension from workers about their continued role in the company.
Following this fulfilled need, is the comfort zone of social needs or requirements. These needs are vital in the informal organization as they include belonging, approval, and group membership. For instance, it is not uncommon for individuals who have been promoted to be concerned about ‘fitting-in’ with employees who were once on their own functional level. Thus, project managers should always build upon the team spirit and any opportunity for social activities to reinforce unity and emotional ties to the organization. Organizations sometimes become lost in the hierarchy of decision-making and must consider the emotional welfare of their employees.
The last two needs based upon the Maslow’s hierarchy are esteem and self-actualization, and these two needs differ based upon personality types as well. In the capacity of these two needs, recognition and self-confidence are important to any professional whose role requires creation of a project or product. Self-actualization is acquired when employees are performing projects which interest, intrigue, or challenge their skill-set.
Managers can informally motivate by using self-actualization and esteem techniques to provide employees with opportunities for career growth, chance for promotion or raises, recognition in the team for well-done work, job security, plenty of open communication, opportunity for growth in technical expertise, challenging projects, and proper management control measures. This informal power wielded by managers incites employees to continue to produce good work while been stimulated by a good work environment.
Similarly, Alderfer’s ERG theory contains a set of 3 needs: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. Based upon this theory the existence needs are Maslow’s first and second needs combined, the relatedness is Maslow’s third and fourth needs, and growth is Maslow’s fourth and fifth levels. Unlike Maslow who believed that each hierarchy skipped leads to more motivation, Alderfer insisted that each of these needs must be fulfilled at the organizational level and focusing on simply one need at a time does not sufficiently motivate the employee.
In addition the ERG theory states that should the higher need remain fulfilled; the employee will regress to a lower level known as the frustration-regression theory. For example, if career growth or non-challenging work is provided coworkers might instead proceed to socializing with coworkers instead of working on projects. In addition, ample learning opportunities should be provided for employees to progress from one role to another if desired. Managers in this theory need to address each need separately and be aware that it differs from person to person.
Interestingly Herberg’s Two-Factor Theory, also referred to as the dissatisfiers-satisfiers, are hygiene motivators or the extrinsic-intrinsic factors. The Extrinsic factors are job security, salary, working conditions, status, company procedures, quality of technical supervision, and quality of interpersonal relation. Intrinsic are achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, the work itself, and the possibility of growth. Though the theory of hygiene does not motivate employees it does negate any opportunity for dissatisfaction in the work environment and it empowers employers to seek good leadership, control, and leadership in the organization.
These better conditions leave room for motivation for both project managers and employees to receive recognition, strive for achievement, advancement in roles, and further an interest in the project requiring completion. Project managers must adopt a positive attitude and provide each employee with the attention he or she requires. This power that managers have can be shown as they give assignments that provide challenges, provide a good working environment complete with team spirit, define performance expectations clearly and consistently, and provide honest critic as well as give credit for job well done.
In all tasks, people weigh the value of their input to what they obtain as an output. In Adam’s Equity Theory, employees have a need for evenhandedness and equality at work and they strive to ensure that this occurs. For instance, if an employee believe himself or herself underpaid then the quality of work produced goes down as does the quantity of work produced and the vice versa for overpaid feelings.
Therefore, it is up to the manager to provide market rates or ranges for a role, and empower workers to research how much they can make in particular roles. This is an incentive and motivation to pursue growth in the company. This communication of rates invites employees to take time to learn, communicate professional expectations, and grow with the company.
Formally, an organization exercises the opportunity for a great deal of power by using a variety of methods to influence behavior and promote motivation of employees. In action, organizations can motivate employees using performance driven pay increases, merit pay, team awards as an encouragement method, team recognition, goal-setting methods, continued education, and positive reinforcement.
These methods are drivers for motivation and enable growth in a company. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that an organization is run by individuals and motivations and emotions will never become completed forgotten. It is up to management to exercise power and control to help employees remain satisfied that their needs are being met and considered at all levels of management.
Robbins, Stephen P. and Judge, Timothy A. `Organizational Behavior.` 12th Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall. 2007
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