EMBA Learning Exercise 2
Motivation, Leadership and Job Performance
Incident: Motivating and Managing Employees in a Luxury Apparel Firm
The Adonis Company makes and distributes fashion clothing for men. You are the sales manager for the New York City Metropolitan Area. You face two problems. First, you must determine which of two employees will have the highest motivation to complete a special assignment and which of the two is most likely to end up performing best. Second, you have several low performing fashion pattern makers. Management has asked that you implement corrective actions and you need to decide which leadership style to use in managing each. Descriptions of the two employees and the response of the fashion pattern makers to their performance problems are provided in the following sections.
The special assignment requires that someone collect data on customer tastes in clothing at retail outlets selling Adonis clothing. Since the information is needed in time for the spring selling season, the data collection must take place during the summer months of July and August. The person collecting the data must be sociable and personable so that the necessary responses can be obtained. The total number of responses needed is 500 in equal amounts from 10 different stores located throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area. In one store, it is expected that no one will respond unless they are asked the questions in Spanish.
Your work with the Human Resources Department has pinpointed three abilities relevant to success: Sociability (S), Charisma (C), and Spanish Fluency (F). Scores on these can range from 1 to 10 with a high score meaning more ability. For nine of the ten stores, Sociability and Charisma have been determined to be equally important abilities. Spanish Fluency is important in only one of the ten stores with the number of responses needed from each store the same (i.e., 50). While it is possible that the three characteristics impact each other in a multiplicative way, the HR department has recommended a simple additive model for creating an ability estimate for each employee. They have suggested that ability for each employee be calculated as follows:
A = (.9 * (S+ C)/2) + (.1 * (S + C + F)/3). This weighted ability score ranges from 1 to 10.
But, ability is not enough for estimating job performance. Employee motivation must also be estimated and expectancy theory has been determined to be the best motivation theory for factoring in both motivation and ability. In this theory, the value of a reward, the expectation that it will be delivered upon good performance (referred to as instrumentality), and the expectation that one can do the work are relevant to motivation. Few employees work in a situation where there is only one reward. So, this theory creates an overall value (or valence) for the rewards offered by considering how much the employee values them and their perception of the likelihood the reward will be delivered.
Again the HR department has assisted you. They have recommended that the value for each reward range from -5 to 5 in whole number increments. A score of 5 means the reward is highly liked; a score of -5 means the reward is highly disliked; and a score of 0 means that the employee can take or leave the reward. A score of 4 means the reward is valued a good bit but just not at the maximum of 5, and so on. Expectancy can range from 0 to 1 reflecting the employee’s estimate that they can complete the assignment (e.g., 1 means that they feel certain they can accomplish the task, .70 would mean they believe they have a 70% chance of accomplishing the task, and a 0 would mean they believe they have no chance of accomplishing the task.)
Instrumentality or the belief that one will receive the reward acts like a correlation coefficient. When a reward is delivered consistent with positive performance, a positive correlation of varying degrees can be expected. When performance is likely to make a given reward or outcome less likely or even impossible, a negative correlation of varying degrees can be expected. In this case, accepting a job and being successful in it would make it difficult to receive the reward. This is especially important if the reward is highly valued. Thus, instrumentality for each reward can range from – 1 to +1.
Chris has been working at Adonis for five years. He is fully aware of Adonis’s bonus program and believes employees always get a bonus if they perform well and never if they perform poorly. He also recognizes that it will be impossible to take a vacation in the summer if he takes the assignment although such a vacation is certain if he doesn’t take the assignment. Regarding compliments, he believes managers are somewhat inconsistent in giving compliments for good performance with a correlation between the two of about .20. Fortunately, Chris is a workaholic and highly dislikes vacations. On the other hand, Chris highly values management attention. As for money, Chris claims that he can take or leave money. When asked what he thought of his ability to do the job, Chris felt he would be able to obtain all 500 responses. When hired, Chris was given several tests by the human resources department. His scores are 8 for Sociability, 8 for Charisma, and 8 for Spanish Fluency.
Ruth began work at Adonis just one month before you took your job. Thus, she is not very familiar with the Adonis bonus program. She believes that Adonis is typical and that promised bonuses will be delivered almost all of the time for good performance with a correlation between the two of about .92. She understands that a summer vacation will not be possible if she takes the assignment but it will be possible if she doesn’t take the assignment. Regarding compliments, she believes that they are generally delivered consistently by managers for good performance with a correlation of about .80 between the two. Ruth can take or leave vacations. She values money a lot claiming that money is about the only reason she works. Ruth also values compliments but just a bit less than she values money. When asked to estimate her ability to get 500 answers to a survey about the firm’s clothing, Ruth was a bit unsure but felt she could definitely obtain 400 of the 500 responses needed. As a very recent hire, Ruth was also given a number of tests. Her scores are 7 for Sociability, 7 for Charisma, and 4 for Spanish Fluency.
This is not the only employee issue on your plate. Three poor performers have come to your attention; each with different explanations. All are in the position of Fashion Pattern Maker. They have the task of creating pattern designs for sewn design manufacturers including multi-colors orders so they can be mass produced. These sewing patterns are provided to Li and Fung, a major supply management firm in fashion located in Hong Kong, which oversees the selection of vendors in China. The task is repetitive in that a design is needed for all and the same development process is used to develop each pattern. The industry has moved from the era when one master designer with substantial experience sketched the patterns by hand and created the designs out of special paper for pattern pieces for each design and range of sizes.
Adonis now uses a CAD software program to develop the design for each pattern which can then be converted to a sewing design out of paper or fed into a manufacturer’s computer which can automate weaving for many designs. The CAD software can be complex to use. Its results must be precise and reflect the designer’s vision. The steps to create a pattern are clear and must be followed in the same step-by step approach for each pattern. In following these steps, a fair number of intricate decisions must be made to create the patterns.
None of these employees has been able to complete the task of pattern design without significant error. The errors are critical and impact costs due to waste and production that must be halted. Their reactions to the problems are shown below:
“I just can’t do it. I have problems with the new software for design. I know it’s my fault but I can’t seem to figure a way to get my entries to create the appropriate designs. Often, my entries create patterns which are smaller sizes than intended. For example, after spending hours to create a given waste size, my design often ends up with a smaller waste size. Sometimes the resulting sizes, even if relabeled with a more accurate size, would not be sizes purchased by our traditional customers. I know it is my fault but I can’t seem to get it done. I’d like to overcome these difficulties and move on to even more interesting and challenging work.”
“You have to understand this task isn’t easy. I’m new to this task in our firm and I can’t seem to sort out what is needed. It seems to be a problem with the software. It often results in my entries for size and shape using more fabric than needed thereby increasing manufacturing cost. I’d like to feel more comfortable about doing this job. However, when you have to deal with so many changes in a year, it is quite easy to make mistakes. I’d like to succeed in this work. I know I have fellow employees who would like to move on to “bigger and better” positions but I’m fine in this position as long as I can be successful in it. I believe my success in it will provide me with the opportunity to stay with this company which is very important to me and my family.”
“Prior to coming to Adonis, I often worked with my supervisor on tasks when I had difficulty completing them. I like working with my fellow employees and our time together. I would like to understand this task and do the best I can but, so far, I’ve not been able to pull it off. I know that the best performers in pattern development get a bonus each year and I’d very much like to start getting bonuses. In the long run, I’d like to move on to an even more important position where I believe I can make a higher salary which is very important to me.
Per lecture, performance can be predicted by multiplying one’s motivation by one’s ability. Plugging in values into the expectancy formula will lead to the most accurate predictions.
Questions: For these questions, focus on chapter 6 and chapter 8 of your text. Base all your answers on lecture material and the text. Do not change facts as stated.
1. Estimating Employee Motivation/Performance: Will Chris or Ruth have the greater motivation in this situation? Which will have the greater performance? Explain your selections using concepts of the expectancy theory of motivation and its formula for predicting motivation on page 220 of the text. Per this theory, what motivational problem could management easily encounter for different employees, given the reward situation, which it has not encountered for Chris or Ruth?
2. Increasing Employee Motivation: As the manager of Chris and Ruth, you’ve been asked to improve their motivation and performance without changing the three rewards provided or abilities required. Suggest one thing you might do to increase the motivation of Chris. For Ruth, suggest an approach that might improve her ability AND motivation. Explain why your approach will work for each in the context of the theory.
3. Situational Leadership in Managing Poor Performers: The path-goal theory is one of many situational theories of leadership and like all of these theories it is instructive in that it makes it clear that employees can rarely be managed in the same way even in the same unit. Using the path-goal theory of leadership, which leadership style would best suit Employee A, Employee B, and Employee C? Why?
4. Leadership Style: Take the self-assessment of leadership on pages 318-319 of the text by being very honest about what you have done or might do in the future so you can better understand the three leadership styles considered. When necessary change the wording from “your” to “subordinate” (e.g. Q23 becomes recognized subordinate achievements). Suggest two behaviors you might change to increase your transformational score, two you might change to increase your transactional score, and one you might change to decrease your laissez-fair score explaining why the changes would improve your scores per theory.
5. Applying to Your Experience: Pick ONE personal experience that either conformed to what theory/research predicted or did not conform for the issue of motivation; be sure to note what the theory predicted and what did or did not occur. (16) [Write answer as if you will have a few minutes with your supervisor to explain, describing the experience briefly and getting your major points out quickly.]
ANSWER SHEET – Exercise 2 –
Use this answer sheet to structure your answer in Word; copy it and follow structure; it will help.
Your Name: _____________________________ Date: _________
Q1: Who will have greatest motivation: Per expectancy theory, why: Formula outcome:
Who will have greatest performance: Per expectancy theory, why: Formula outcome:
Per expectancy theory, what stands out most as a potential demotivator for employees with different needs than Chris and Ruth: Why?
Q2. Suggest one thing you might do to increase the motivation of Chris keeping all rewards and ability requirements the same: Why this change will help:
Suggest one thing you might do to increase the ability/motivation of Ruth keeping all rewards and ability requirements the same: Why this change will help:
Q3. Specify optimal path-goal leadership style for Employee A: Why optimal?
Specify optimal path-goal leadership style for Employee B: Why optimal?
Specify optimal path-goal leadership style for Employee C: Why optimal?
Q4: Specify two behavioral changes for increasing your transformational score: Why will they increase your score?
Specify two behavioral changes for increasing your transactional score: Why will they increase your score?
Specify one behavioral change for decreasing your laissez-faire score: Why will it decrease your score?
Q5: Describe the experience and what theory/research predicted that did or did not occur regarding motivation.