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Culture Bites 015 - How Culture Works Pt4 - Job Design

Published on 31 Jul 2018

How Culture Works Jigsaw PT 4

We talk about how jobs are designed and the messages they send about how people are expected to behave. This episode is hosted by David Byrum and Dominic Gourley.

This is part 4 of a 5 part series on How Culture Works. Make sure you check out the whole series to get an holistic view of how all the factors work together to shape culture: Pt1: OverviewPt2: Mission, Philosophy, Structures, Pt3: HR Systems.




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Below are the key takeaways from this episode. Make sure to listen in to the full episode to get all the surrounding commentary and examples.

Microphone Key Takeaways and Ideas

How Culture Works and Job Design:
There are 31 Cultural Causal Factors that we measure across Mission and Philosophy, Structures, Systems, Technology, and Skills/Qualities. This is podcast we look at the 6 factors that sit under Technology (job design) section.
How Culture Works Model Pt4

This area of what the researchers refer to as technology and what I refer to as job design. It allows us to understand how we take the inputs of an organization and translate it into the outputs. What we're doing here is looking at what do people actually do on their job: what decisions can they make, how much variety do they have, do they know if they have a done a good job, do they get to relate with others in their jobs, and how important is their job from their perspective?

It’s one of the most interesting aspects for some organizations… and it can be one of the most challenging aspects to work on because some jobs don't allow themselves to a new design the way.

For example, a teller in a financial institution: their job is pretty bounded. They are processing the request of the customer – withdrawals, deposits, inquiries -  that's the job. But what additional variety and flexibility can we create around that job, what decisions can we create that individual to make within the role, how do I give them different skills and expand their role and then show the impact of their role across broader aspects of the business? It might be a relative thing.

 

Autonomy
Autonomy is the degree to which I have the discretion the freedom to make decisions about how my role is carried out. Can I decide the order in which I do activities and things around scheduling or processing. Can I decide on the practices and procedures that I'm going to follow and how I do that? To what degree do I have decision-making in my role? It’s an indication of trust. We can tell you what we are trying to achieve and then we trust you to make the best call about getting it done.

If people instead have no decision-making authority about how to do their job and just follow step 1-2-3 that's going to drive conventional thinking. If the order is critical and needs to be 1-2-3 then we want people to have the autonomy to know WHY. When are we talking about autonomy to make decisions they know why they make decisions in the order they make them not just following rules. If someone truly knows why, then they will do it to the best of their ability.

 

Skill Variety
The degree to which I get to use different skills and competencies in my job, rather than doing the same thing over and over like a robot. Do I get to use a lot of different skills are some of my skills involved in problem solving or decision making, are other around interaction with people? I get to experience different things. Without variety you won’t drive curiousness or creativity. You know check your brain out and do the same thing over and over. A lack of variety will drive Conventional and Avoidance type behaviors.  

Some jobs you do need to do something over and over. Some options for companies are to look at what additional experiences they can give, how to make roles a little bit broader, how to broaden the scope of your role?

 

Feedback
How do you know you've had a good day? When anyone leaves or when they come into work how do you know you're going to have a good day and what does a good day for you look like for you? One of the key components of job design is providing feedback from the job itself - so when someone does the job do they know they've had a good day or not.

inherently the individual themselves - through whatever mechanism we've created - knows when they walk out the door that they’ve had a great day. ‘Feedback’ in Job Design isn’t about other people telling us that we've done a great job but the job itself telling us we’ve done a great job. We’re creating something tangible or getting feedback from interactions. Are people clear when they stand back at the end of the day that they’ve performed well or not?

If we're not getting that feedback from the job, then we don’t know if we’re performing or not. If we’re not sure what difference our effort makes - we’re unlikely to have Achievement motivation.

There can be a challenge in a lot of office-based jobs are designed in a way where it’s not so obvious what you’ve achieved. Start by asking individuals to identify how they know if they you've had a good day.

 

Task Identity
As an individual, can I see the whole task from beginning to end so what I'm doing is complete, tangible, and identifiable piece of work? That still might be a subcomponent of tasks, but I can see the tangible bit that I'm doing and how it all links together. The ideal would be that I'm responsible for a tangible service or product - that's my contribution. The broader the task identity the bigger the impact to be constructive particularly an Achievement mindset. If we just do little pieces instead, we don't know what it's for or what's the purpose. This kind of role will drive passive behaviours.

 

Significance
What I'm doing is important to others, it's tangible and I understand the importance. I do have significant impact on the lives of others? How are people affected by what I do? What I do has a significant contribution to others. It doesn’t just need to be the impact on customers but also whether we have a significant impact on teammates and other people around us.

How do we get that tangible link between the mission and philosophy and the organisation’s purpose all the way down to me as the individual contributor - and why is their piece of the puzzle important to the broader good?

Ultimately, it’s about ‘my if it makes a difference’ – the achievement style.  

 

Interdependence
The degree to which we cooperate and work with others. Interdependence is about how much does our job link with others’ and to what degree do I cooperate versus to what degree I don't need anybody else to do my role.  From a Circumplex lens we're talking about the humanistic and affiliative side.

The opposite side of that - if we've got a lack of interdependence - is driving security style particularly around power, oppositional, competitive… or maybe even down into the avoidance place - I just keep my head down do my own thing. It really depends the context in which you see a low interdependence score.

To what degree does the job design encourage and support facilitate working with others do we promote that or do we constrain and inhibit that through the design of the role? Do we use a hub-and-spoke you always come back to the middle or do we have it more collective and collaborative amongst group?
  

Learn More:

Organisational culture is influenced by a variety of factors, not least the behavior of the organization's leaders. To help organizations effectively measure their culture, Human Synergistics International CEO and distinguished academic Robert A. Cooke, Ph.D. developed the How Culture Works model in 1997. This identifies a total of 31 causal factors (organized into five categories) that are responsible for shaping culture and helping an organization move from its Current Culture to its preferred or Ideal Culture.


To learn more about the job characteristics discussed in this podcast, refer to the writings of Gregg Oldham and Richard Hackman—including their original book on job design.  To read more about the way the job characteristics shape cultural norms, see Robert Cooke and Janet Szumal’s chapter on the Organizational Culture Inventory in the Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate.

 



Next Episode:
 
In the next episode in this series, we look at Leadership: What messages do leaders send through what and how they communicate, how they facilitate tasks and interactions, and where they get their power from?

All Episodes in this Series:
012 – How Culture Works Pt1 – Overview
013 – How Culture Works Pt2 – Mission, Philosophy, Structures
014 – How Culture Works Pt3 – HR Systems
015 – How Culture Works Pt4 – Job Design
016 – How Culture Works Pt5 – Leadership

Got a Question you’d like us to cover on Culture Bites?
Email podcast@human-synergistics.com.au

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