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 long do firms live? Research finds patterns of company mortality in market data
02.04.2015 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Innovation among SMEs continues to fade
25.02.2015 | KfW

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: Neue Schaltelemente basierend auf elektronischer Selbstorganisation: Orbitronics

Ein internationales Team von Wissenschaftlern aus Dresden, Hamburg, Lausanne und Urbana-Champaign hat, geleitet von einer Gruppe des IFW Dresden, ein neues Konzept für ultra-schnelle elektronische Schaltelemente entwickelt.

Wie die Forscher in der jüngsten Ausgabe von Nature Physics berichten, tritt in dem Material Tantaldisulfid spontan eine bisher unbekannte Texturierung...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

Im Focus: Get flexible – get lighter – get smarter – Innovative Materialien für Zukunftsprodukte

Das Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC aus Würzburg stellt auf der IDTechEx in Berlin vom 28. bis 29. April 2015 neue, multifunktionale Materialien vor, mit denen sich innovative Anwendungen und Produkte realisieren lassen. Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind Barrierematerialien, gedruckte Elektronik, elektrochrome Folien sowie Smart Materials. Sie bedienen die Trends in Industrie und Design zu immer flexibleren, leichteren und intelligenteren Produkten. Das Fraunhofer ISC ist am Stand F17 im Convention Center und Hotel Estrel zu finden.

Präsentiert werden beispielsweise innovative Verkapselungsfolien, die das Fraunhofer ISC zusammen mit dem Fraunhofer IVV entwickelt hat. Die kostengünstig im...

Im Focus: Advances in Molecular Electronics: Lights On – Molecule On

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.

Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also...

Im Focus: Fortschritt für die molekulare Elektronik: Licht an – Molekül an

Mit einzelnen Molekülen Informationen zu speichern und verarbeiten, um daraus kleinstmögliche Bausteine zu entwickeln, die sich selbstständig zu einem Schaltkreis zusammensetzen – daran arbeiten Wissenschaftler des Helmholtz-Zentrums Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) und der Universität Konstanz. Wie sie nun in der Fachzeitschrift „Advanced Science“ berichten, konnten sie erstmalig den Stromfluss durch ein einzelnes Molekül mit Hilfe von Licht einschalten.

Die molekulare Elektronik wird zukünftig ein Fenster hin zu neuartigen und immer noch kleineren und zugleich energieeffizienten Bauelementen oder Sensoren...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

Digitale Revolution in der Wissenschaft

21.04.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Zurück zu den Wurzeln – größte nationale Tagung für Nuklearmedizin in Hannover

20.04.2015 | Veranstaltungen

DFG-UNU-Konferenz in New York: Wie kann Wissenschaft zur globalen Nachhaltigkeit beitragen?

20.04.2015 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Warum manche Nervenzellen den Zellkörper „auslagern“

21.04.2015 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Wie entstehen Metastasen?

21.04.2015 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Nomadenleben schützt Artenvielfalt - Studie zur Auswirkung des nomadischen Lebens in der Mongolei

21.04.2015 | Studien Analysen