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Motivation and job designing

A job design can be defined as "the process of linking specific tasks to specific jobs and deciding what techniques, equipment and procedures should be used to perform those tasks.

It's the design content of a job to increase motivation and encourage workers to perform well, enjoy their work so that the worker derives a sense of achievement, worthwhile accomplishment or other intrinsic rewards" (Job Design Defined, 2008).

Traditionally, jobs have been designed on the basis of the scientific management approach with a high level of specialisation and strict control.

However nowadays managers are more concerned about a variety of factors when designing a job as firms have understood that the correct job design can help a company to become successful and competitive in the market.


By reflecting on personality and motivation, managers can produce superior job designs.

A job must be designed in order to yield maximum job satisfaction, motivation and performance from the employees. In order to do so, the personalities of the employees who undertake the job should be taken into consideration.

"Understanding someone's personality gives us clues about how that person is likely to act and feel in a variety of situations. In order to effectively manage organizational behaviour, an understanding of different employees' personalities is helpful" (Individual Differences: Values and Personality, 2009).

According to McGregor's theory X and Y there are "assumptions managers hold about basic nature of their employees. Theory X: dislike work and attempt to avoid it, must be coerced, threatened and punished, will shirk responsibilities and seek direction, place security first and display little ambition and Theory Y: view work as natural, will exercise control if committed to objectives, can learn to accept and seek responsibility, creativity is widely dispersed throughout workforce" (McGregor and Theory X and Y, 2010). Such an understanding would enable managers to design jobs which will be able to satisfy and motivate subordinates, which will in turn increase their performance.

For an employee who is in accordance with Theory Y, the manager should seek to design a job with responsibility and self direction elements. For the other type, the job should be designed with routine, unchallenging tasks. If the job is designed without taking the personality into concern, it's very unlikely that the individual would be able to perform his/her best. A good job design should accommodate employees' mental and physical characteristics.

In order to make the best use of employees, managers should have an understanding of what motivates them.

According to Herzberg's two factor theory, "recognition, achievement, possibility of growth, advancement, responsibility are motivators while status, pay, interpersonal relationships, supervision, job security, working conditions are considered to be hygiene factors" (Perry, 2009).

A job should be designed in such a way that employees are motivated to do the job with enthusiasm. Life would be simple for managers if all employees valued all the job motivation factors equally but some employees are driven by money while others value recognition above anything else. Managers should "favour interest, over skills in assigning work. It's much easier to teach skills than to generate interest.

A highly skilled disinterested worker typically does not perform as well as an interested less skilled worker" (Managing human resources, 2003).

Hackman and Oldham propose that high motivation is related to experiencing three psychological states whilst working, namely: meaningfulness of work, responsibility and knowledge of outcomes.

"Knowing these critical job characteristics, it is then possible to derive the key components of the design of a job: varying work to enable skill variety, assigning work to groups to increase the wholeness of the product produced and give a group to enhance significance, delegate tasks to their lowest possible level to create autonomy and hence responsibility (Job design and motivation, 2010).

Such job designs would give employees a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm in completing their tasks to perfection.

By understanding the differences of personalities and motivating factors jobs can be designed to satisfy the employees. When employees are satisfied, the sense of belongingness to the organization grows in leaps and bounds.

Staff will be willing to go the extra mile without complaint. Since it is the managers who knows their subordinates well, not only the HR manager but also the line managers should be involved in job designing. Job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment can be carried out through job design, after understanding the personalities and the motivators of the employees. Individuals bring a number of differences to work, such as unique personalities, values, emotions, and moods.

These differences could be used to the advantage of a business entity, if taken into account when a job is designed.

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