Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Job autonomy, trust in leadership keys to improvement initiatives

15.11.2012
Frontline employees will commit to improving their organization if they perceive a high degree of autonomy in their jobs and trust their leaders, says research from University of Illinois business professors.

According to a soon-to-be-published study by Gopesh Anand and Dilip Chhajed, professors of business administration at Illinois, a flexible work environment plays a significant role in increasing employee commitment to continuous improvement initiatives.

“Continuous improvement initiatives are typically bundled with employee empowerment techniques,” Anand said. “We always hear, ‘If you empower employees, they will take care of the improvements.’ But what happens repeatedly is that this employee empowerment is management-driven, and it does not work.”

“It’s a paradox – employee empowerment being forced upon employees by management,” said Chhajed, who also is the director of the technology management program in the College of Business. “What usually ends up happening is that employees feel they are being forced into doing something that they may not even see as being very useful.”

The research, co-written with Luis Delfin, a former graduate student, advances three arguments on how employees’ commitment to continuous improvement in the workplace can be enhanced:

The day-to-day work environment needs to be perceived by employees as autonomous.

As continuous improvement involves making changes to the very practices that frontline employees use in their day-to-day work, trust in leadership is critical.

A higher degree of trust in leadership further leads to proactive behaviors by frontline employees, encouraging them to use the autonomy in their day-to-day jobs to seek out and make systematic improvements to work practices.

The researchers tested their hypotheses on data collected from individual employees working for Christie Clinic, an outpatient health care organization based in Champaign, Ill., that has actively engaged in continuous improvement based on lean management principles over the last six years.

While previous research on continuous improvement initiatives focuses on constituent elements such as rewards, leadership and training opportunities that are explicitly tied to generating employee participation, this study focuses on the association of commitment to continuous improvement with the context of every employee’s day-to-day work.

“Many times, employees end up working on continuous improvement projects simply because the CEO is telling them to participate in the initiative,” Anand said. “But they aren’t really sold on this idea of making an effort to improve their workplace and work practices.”

“Workers need to have a sense of control over their work environment,” Delfin said. “They need to be able to decide how and what to do in their day-to-day work. And that’s actually what motivates them to improve. Their buy-in becomes even stronger when leadership provides them the support to do this.”

Employees shouldn’t end up thinking of improvement initiatives as extra work as such an attitude ultimately leads to “change fatigue,” the researchers say.

“Employees can’t think of it as, ‘This is something being brought down upon us by upper management,’ ” Anand said. “If they do, it becomes extra work that they’re not compensated for.”

“The big one for employees is, ‘What’s in it for me?’ ” Chhajed said. “Management is trying to make things more efficient, so what does that mean for my job, my work hours? That’s why employees need to trust that management is looking out for their best interests. If they don’t have that trust, then even autonomy is not going to help as much. Trust is huge, because you don’t want the perception that management is coercing employees to do this.”

Management shouldn’t be the sole driver of change in an organization, and the process for implementing a continuous improvement initiative likewise shouldn’t be a top-down mandate.

“There should be some top-down direction in terms of where the initiative should go and what are we in business for,” Anand said. “But there needs to be balance between the top-down goals and the bottom-up improvements.

“It’s like building a bridge from both sides,” Delfin said. “Upper management usually has the vision, but at the same time they’re not the experts on how things get done on the ground. So you need to have frontline employees who have some freedom because you are trying to get all of this to meet in the middle. That means that the leaders in management need to act more like coaches, and less like dictators. You need a cooperative environment where leaders are guiding and coaching, and employees are participating.”

Although their empirical context is a health care organization, the researchers say that their results are applicable to most organizations that are deploying continuous improvement initiatives.

“The problems that we look at in this paper are prevalent across industries,” Chhajed said.

“If you talk to people in any industry who are deploying continuous improvement initiatives, they are facing these issues,” Anand said. “That’s why you see new iterations of these types of initiatives over and over, because organizations often fail at sustaining them over long periods of time.”

The paper will appear in the journal Operations Management Research.

Phil Ciciora | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht How Strong Brands Translate into Money
15.11.2016 | Kühne Logistics University - Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Logistik und Unternehmensführung

nachricht Demographic change depresses tax revenues
04.11.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Forscher spinnen künstliche Seide aus Kuhmolke

Ein schwedisch-deutsches Forscherteam hat bei DESY einen zentralen Prozess für die künstliche Produktion von Seide entschlüsselt. Mit Hilfe von intensivem Röntgenlicht konnten die Wissenschaftler beobachten, wie sich kleine Proteinstückchen – sogenannte Fibrillen – zu einem Faden verhaken. Dabei zeigte sich, dass die längsten Proteinfibrillen überraschenderweise als Ausgangsmaterial schlechter geeignet sind als Proteinfibrillen minderer Qualität. Das Team um Dr. Christofer Lendel und Dr. Fredrik Lundell von der Königlich-Technischen Hochschule (KTH) Stockholm stellt seine Ergebnisse in den „Proceedings“ der US-Akademie der Wissenschaften vor.

Seide ist ein begehrtes Material mit vielen erstaunlichen Eigenschaften: Sie ist ultraleicht, belastbarer als manches Metall und kann extrem elastisch sein....

Im Focus: Erstmalig quantenoptischer Sensor im Weltraum getestet – mit einem Lasersystem aus Berlin

An Bord einer Höhenforschungsrakete wurde erstmals im Weltraum eine Wolke ultrakalter Atome erzeugt. Damit gelang der MAIUS-Mission der Nachweis, dass quantenoptische Sensoren auch in rauen Umgebungen wie dem Weltraum eingesetzt werden können – eine Voraussetzung, um fundamentale Fragen der Wissenschaft beantworten zu können und ein Innovationstreiber für alltägliche Anwendungen.

Gemäß dem Einstein’schen Äquivalenzprinzip werden alle Körper, unabhängig von ihren sonstigen Eigenschaften, gleich stark durch die Gravitationskraft...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Mikrobe des Jahres 2017: Halobacterium salinarum - einzellige Urform des Sehens

Am 24. Januar 1917 stach Heinrich Klebahn mit einer Nadel in den verfärbten Belag eines gesalzenen Seefischs, übertrug ihn auf festen Nährboden – und entdeckte einige Wochen später rote Kolonien eines "Salzbakteriums". Heute heißt es Halobacterium salinarum und ist genau 100 Jahre später Mikrobe des Jahres 2017, gekürt von der Vereinigung für Allgemeine und Angewandte Mikrobiologie (VAAM). Halobacterium salinarum zählt zu den Archaeen, dem Reich von Mikroben, die zwar Bakterien ähneln, aber tatsächlich enger verwandt mit Pflanzen und Tieren sind.

Rot und salzig
Archaeen sind häufig an außergewöhnliche Lebensräume angepasst, beispielsweise heiße Quellen, extrem saure Gewässer oder – wie H. salinarum – an...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Neuer Algorithmus in der Künstlichen Intelligenz

24.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Gehirn und Immunsystem beim Schlaganfall – Neueste Erkenntnisse zur Interaktion zweier Supersysteme

24.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Hybride Eisschutzsysteme – Lösungen für eine sichere und nachhaltige Luftfahrt

23.01.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Im Interview mit Harald Holzer, Geschäftsführer der vitaliberty GmbH

24.01.2017 | Unternehmensmeldung

MAIUS-1 – erste Experimente mit ultrakalten Atomen im All

24.01.2017 | Physik Astronomie

European XFEL: Forscher können erste Vorschläge für Experimente einreichen

24.01.2017 | Physik Astronomie