Do Your Employees Know How to Succeed?
Posted on August 13, 2013 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
Most leaders desire to increase the motivation of their employees. The goal of increasing motivation is often linked with improving a plethora of outcomes such as productivity, engagement, attendance, and retention. Because we associate increased motivation with increases in many other desirable outcomes, we also tend to assume that a deficiency in an outcome is probably due to a lack of motivation. For example, if an employee keeps missing his sales quota (low productivity) we may be inclined to think that he is not motivated to succeed. What if, though, you discovered that motivation wasn’t the problem at all?
While a lack of motivation may be the cause of low productivity in this case, there could also be several other explanations. One such explanation could be that the employee has low perceived behavioral control. That is, according to the theory of planned behavior, the employee could have all of the right attitudes and intentions to perform a certain way, but without the actual knowledge or tools for how to succeed, no amount of motivation will help. The theory of planned behavior is one that helps to explain individuals’ behavioral intentions (Azjen, 1985, 1991). That is, the theory of planned behavior is composed of several pieces: attitudes, subjective norms, behavioral intention, perceived behavioral control, and the behavior. Each of these pieces work together to help predict behavior and/or explain behavior that is inconsistent with attitudes.
Our most recent global data shows that while 79% of employees report that they understand their job duties clearly, only 59% feel that they have been given the training they need to complete their duties well. So, when considering problems with productivity, attendance, retention (and many more) it may be worthwhile to take a moment to consider whether the problem may be through a lack of motivation or perhaps a lack of necessary knowledge and skills for success. While certainly gaps in training are not likely to solve every problem an organization has with outcomes, this may help to turn more employees good intentions into actions.
There are also many other reasons why an employee might have low perceived behavioral control for their performance (e.g., lack of resources to complete certain tasks) . Have you ever been in a situation in which you were highly motivated but felt that you simply did not have any control over your performance level? What was the reason?
Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action-control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 11-39). Heidelberg: Springer.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211.