Job design can be defined as the specification of the contents, methods, and relationships of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder. It aims to satisfy the requirements of the organization for productivity, operational deficiency, and quality of product or service. It also aims to satisfy the need of the individual interest, challenge, and accomplishment thus providing for commitment to carrying out the job.
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Group design is the most key to design a job because of the following arguments: every group has got its own characteristics. Every group in any organization has norms that are common to all members. Norms are a set of rules which govern the appropriate behavior opinions and attitudes of members in any group. They, therefore, determine the behavioral responses from members. Norms may determine the way in which tasks could be set up to ensure better standards in performance in terms of quality. The main approaches of group design such as job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment are based on groups. Principles of job design almost entirely focus on group design. To influence skill variety i.e. providing opportunities for people to do several tasks and combine tasks, group design is the key to design a job. To influence task identity tasks are combined and form natural work units. To influence task significance or importance groups are formed into natural work units and people are informed of the importance of their work. Autonomy is also influenced when people in groups are given responsibility for determining their own working systems. Group homogeneity where members share similar attitudes and values, resulting in a high degree of communication and understanding hence jobs should be designed according to groups characteristics. Groups interact more often in the pursuit of promoting similar attitudes and values.
The success of group members in attaining their group goals is likely to influence group cohesion where members develop positive feelings towards the groups and facilitating together on how to achieve other individual goals. This may influence job design. If members in a group are faced with an external problem that may need sharing of positive feelings they will come together to look for a solution. This is because the need arises for members to come together and protect their common interests. Moreover, group members discuss their problems openly in a reasonable manner to learn, consult and seek assistance from other members. Group decision making is by consensus i.e. it’s reached after a logical argument and consultation with members. It avoids any secret meeting or voting which may have the minority member dissatisfied with the group decision. Effective groups will have members who will pursue common goals. The achievement of a common goal may be a motivating factor to group members who will work together on even higher goals. Groups set standards to be used in accessing or evaluating their own progress towards the achievements of their goals. Effective groups have a communication system that enables every member to at least listen to each other in the group purpose. Group members will always consult each other voluntarily in an effort to find a common solution to a specific problem. This consultation will keep the group members together by having the same direction of events.
Conflicts may occur in a group due to the freedom which members may have to contribute to toward a group course. An effective group will always encourage members towards conflict resolution should there be signs of conflicts between members or group members. Because of an established good relationship and open channels feedbacks are influenced in groups which can lead to a high degree of performance. Furthermore, individuals from groups based on interest, hobbies, etc. These groups form groups that may attract other members.
On the other hand, individual differences should be taken into consideration when designing jobs. This is because people are not the same as they have different perceptions, aspirations, interests, goals, and personalities. If individuals do not accept the norms that have been set in a group in general or in specific they are bound to be deviant. This is because they may have internalized the norms or interpreted these norms in their own way. This inability to internalize norms by individuals may be due to: personality disorders which may be either permanent or temporally depending on an individual’s ability or inability to conform to the norms. There may be conflicts with other behaviors of individual members which may not be in agreement with other groups which will result in disassociation or rejection of an individual.
Group members may feel dissatisfied with specific group goals and hence may develop a tendency to develop them. Roles should be assigned to group members based on individual characteristics or expectations. Each member, therefore, should be assigned roles based on expected forms of behavior which has been created through the social relationship in a group. Assignment tasks to group members may also be based on the degree of friendship or the common interest that members may have. Group may categorize different roles in terms of their contributions by members at work.
To avoid role conflict individual differences should be taken into account. Different roles in an organization may have different effects on individuals. A formal organization will assign roles to individuals who may lead to role underload, role overload, or ambiguity. This assignment will create tension between employees by destabilizing their work patterns. However, positions can be created to avoid the role conflict between the job and job holder. Individual differences should be emphasized within an organization to facilitate communication and encourage team spirit. Individual differences determine synergy in a group. This is because the higher the synergy in a group the more committed individuals will be towards the achievement of their objectives.
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A great understanding of individual differences promotes industrial peace in a firm. This improves the motivation of employees in their various jobs. It also leads to job satisfaction and hence high job performance. Understanding individual differences will avoid resistance to demands on task requirements which may delay the process of group development. Nevertheless, this will reduce rebellion or negative competition in groups. Group efforts will be focused on the implementation of group tasks. Each member will be determined to complete the role he has been assigned as governed by the roles or group objectives. Highly performing groups may be a result of a good working relationship between members and group effort brought by an understanding of individual differences. This is the most important stage for management to use to improve productivity. It will also help in the retention of employees who may want to leave due to dissatisfaction with the management.
Personality clashes jealousy and personal animosities associated with individual differences may be eliminated if jobs are designed with the consideration of individual differences. Individuals who pursue their personal agendas more aggressively tend to be more unacceptable by certain group members. Individuals may conflict if they develop a feeling that their rights are being violated in terms of the contract of employment, duties, and task assignments. This will lead to active resistance and opposition to delay implementation of proposed changes in an organization. Different individuals have different needs and values hence organizations attract members by offering them things they value e.g. pay benefits, on-site children facilities, greater flexibility in their work schedule, and interesting work. They encourage them to perform effectively by promising and providing an additional outcome.
In my opinion, groups face great challenges in trying to achieve their objectives. Jobs continue to change due to global and structural changes, market demands, and technological changes. Jobs may not be designed based only on group design but also the above factors should be looked into. Groups may not agree on a formula for sharing resources. Resources may also be scarce and this may result in inequitable distribution or exploitation of group resources hence resulting in a conflict. Moreover, a lack of proper and accurate flow of information may result in a misunderstanding between members. In groups, members may have conflicting goals or objectives.
There is weakness associated with group decision-making; its time consuming and some people can be forced to conform to particular decisions and this prevents the group from coming up with the best solutions. An individual can dominate the group by influencing decisions. Groups may encourage social loafing i.e. some members may rely on others to carry the load. This not only loses the contribution of the members but also angers others on the team who feel they are being treated as “suckers”. Some believe that others are not carrying their fair share so they reduce their effort to equalize. Individual and group output is crowded in that result of the group cannot be attributed to any single person and often this causes a reduction inefficiency. When managers use corrective work situations to enhance morale and teamwork, they should provide means to identify individual effort. Cultural norms have an effect on groups; there are corrective societies and individualistic societies. The culture in which an individual is bred tends to significantly influence behavior even when working in groups.
Understanding individual characteristics is a complex issue that can never be fully exhausted. It can be difficult to fully understand individual differences in order to design jobs based on individual differences.
Michael Armstrong, 2006, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice.
Gareth Morgan, 1998, Images of Organization; The Executive Edition.
Peter F. Drucker, 2008, management Tasks, responsibilities, Practices.
James L. Riggs, Lawrence L. Bethel, 1979, Industrial Organization and Management.