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Motivation Overview
Performance Diagnosis

Contact information:

Dr. Richard W. Scholl
36 Upper College Road
Kingston, RI 02881

p. 401.874.4347
f. 401.874.2954

We touched on the variable of individual performance in discussing the difference between Adequate Role Behavior (ARB) and Extra Role Behavior (ERB).  There are a number of other important points to consider with respect to employee performance.  Here's a summary of these important points.  

In most cases, performance is not one-dimensional, that is, performance cannot be measured a long a simple continuum from low performance to high performance.  Most jobs have multiple performance dimensions.  For example, my job (as a professor) has three major performance dimensions: Teaching, research, and service.  While one might be able to measure performance on any one of these dimensions using a single continuum, total performance is a combination of performance in each of these three areas.  Furthermore, in most cases all performance dimensions are not of equal weight in the eyes of your superiors.  To complicate the issue even further, different stakeholders most likely place different importance (weight) on each of these performance dimensions.  For example, my dean might place the greatest weight on the research dimension; students in my classes are likely to view the teaching dimension as the most important, while community members might think of performance to the community (service) as the most important performance dimension. 
    There is another issue that adds complexity to the conceptualization and measurement of employee performance.  Within performance dimensions there are often multiple outcomes desired.  These outcomes are often expressed in terms of evaluative criteria.  For example, returning to my job, what is more important: High quality research publications or a large number of research publications; High levels of student satisfaction measured in terms of SET scores or high levels of student learning?  Is it more important that a sales clerk be accurate, fast, or friendly?  Is your grade on essay questions based more on length or content; Your ability to regurgitate theories from the textbook or to demonstrate your analytical skills to apply these theories?  Now I can hear you saying that all these things are important.  Sales clerks should be fast, accurate, and friendly.  Professors should have highly satisfied students that meet all the learning objectives.  However, in many cases, employees are faced with trade-offs and it is often the case that individuals cannot achieve perfection on all performance dimensions and/or evaluative criteria. 
    Ultimately, the choice of which performance dimension should carry the greatest weight, or which evaluative criteria should be viewed as the most important should be made on the basis of the competitive strategy of the company.  However, people (as you will see throughout this course) do not always make their decisions in the best interests of their company or its customers and clients, but rather can be driven by social, ego, and political factors.  This is what makes the study of organizational behavior interesting.

Performance can be measured in terms of processes/behaviors or goals/outcomes.  When measuring performance in terms of processes/behaviors, role expectations are presented in terms of procedures to be followed, methods to be used, and plans of how to get work done.  Individuals are not held accountable for results as long as they follow standard operating procedures.  When performance is measured in terms of goals/outcomes, the methods and procedures to be used are left up to the employees, but the employees are held accountable for meeting expected timetables, sales quotas, budget targets, or student learning objectives.

Performance Determinants

There are four fundamental independent variables affecting the level of employee performance.  Another way to look at this is that there are four variables affecting your performance in this class.  This model is also referred to as the First Level Diagnosis Model.


The four determinants of performance are:

Effort (Motivation)

All other things being equal, the more effort one puts into his or her job (or this class), the higher the level of performance.

Ability, Skills, & Competencies

The next important ingredient to achieving high performance is the acquisition of appropriate skills.  Even though individuals might exert a lot of effort into a task, they will not be successful in attaining desired goals if they don't have the skills necessary to perform these tasks.  Likewise, your effort in this class is unlikely to yield high performance (measured in terms of high grades on the various assignments) if you don't have the requisite set of computer, analytical, writing, and conceptual skills required to complete the assignments successfully.

Role Perception

In order to meet someone else's (e.g., your boss, your professor) performance expectations, you have to have a clear idea of what these expectations are.  All the effort and ability in the world that is applied in the wrong direction will not yield high performance.


The final ingredient to high performance is access to the tools, information, equipment, and people necessary to get the job done correctly.  For example, those of you that are highly motivated, have the requisite skills, and have a clear idea of what is expected, still will not perform well if you do not have access to a an adequate computer.

Employee Membership

Attracting and retaining high-quality employees is another important managerial objective.  This is especially true for organizations that require highly skilled and motivated employees.  The cost of turnover can be high for companies that have high recruiting costs and long and complex training programs.  Some of the less obvious costs of employee turnover are:

Since employee absenteeism and turnover often have a negative affect on the performance of organizations and work groups, we will developing a diagnostic model for employee membership in the Motivation & Behavioral Change Topics.  It should be noted that not all turnover is negative.  Many organizations develop strategies to create turnover among poor performing employees.  Here are some of the potential benefits of employee turnover:

Obviously, all of these potential benefits are dependent on who is leaving.  For example, URI is encouraging senior faculty to retire early by providing incentives to retire.  While this strategy has been effective, in some cases it is more expensive to hire a newcomer (salaries have escalated in Business) and in other cases highly respected and valued professors have retired.

Employee Satisfaction

There is probably no other organizational variable that is used more and understood less than job satisfaction or morale.  To many, high morale or satisfaction is an appropriate goal for managers.  While it is clear why employees would seek highly satisfying jobs, it is less clear why managers should be concerned with the morale of their employees.  Satisfaction is a positive evaluation of the organization or work facet resulting from met expectations and validation of one's identity (traits, values and competencies).  Dissatisfaction generally manifests itself in low membership motivation (absenteeism, turnover), and may result in the reducing of Extra Role Behavior (ERB) and sometimes reducing Adequate Role Behavior (ARB) originally motivated by one of the inducement systems.  For diagnosis purposes, dissatisfaction with any of the four inducements may lead to undesirable behavioral consequences.  However, eliminating sources of dissatisfaction does not generally lead to an increase in performance (ERB). 
    Job dissatisfaction is an important variable mainly because of its potential influence on employee membership and performance decisions.  Therefore, we generally look at satisfaction/dissatisfaction as an independent variable, causing behavioral problems (performance or membership) rather than a problem itself.  This is why it is important to always identify the behavioral gap when beginning a behavioral problem solving process.  For a more complete discussion of employee satisfaction, its determinants and consequences, see the Employee Satisfaction Model.

Employee Commitment

Employee or Organizational commitment is one of those concepts that is used in a number of different ways.  In most cases, we use the term to refer to a type of employee, that is, an employee with high organizational commitment.  In this case, we generally refer to three observable patterns of behavior.  When we see an employee exhibiting these patterns of behavior, we attribute these patterns to something we call commitment and we say that individual is committed.  More recently, these behaviors have been termed Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB).  The three components of commitment are:

  1. Identification with the organization's goals and/or mission manifested in pride in and defense of the organization
  2. Long-term membership in the organization and intention to remain with the organization, often termed loyalty
  3. High levels of extra role behavior, that is, behavior beyond required performance

It is important to note that each of these behaviors can be explained from a traditional motivational perspective.  For example, many people might work hard to ensure that the organization's mission is realized, not because of any dedication to the organization itself, but because they have identified with that particular social mission.  In this case, we must distinguish between commitment to organization (local orientation) and commitment to a profession (cosmopolitan orientation).  Likewise, long-term membership can be explained in terms of a continued positive exchange with the organization.  In other words, the individual remains satisfied with his or her job and the inducements/contributions balance.  It is what happens when individuals become less than satisfied, or potentially better opportunities come along, but the individual continues to remain with the organization that is not easily explained by traditional motivational theories.  Loyalty is more than simply maintaining a relationship over time.  It is maintaining a relationship despite some degree of dissatisfaction with one's benefits from that relationship and/or the existence of better opportunities.  High levels of extra role behavior can be explained simply by the desire to succeed (success being anything that the individual values).  As explained by the expectancy theory of motivation, we would expect extra role behavior to be exhibited when the individual perceives high expectancy (the belief that his or her efforts will lead to high performance), high instrumentality (the belief that his or her high performance is linked to to valued outcomes such as pay raises, promotions, or recognition, and a high valence or value for these outcomes.  However, commitment exists when an individual maintains high levels of extra role behavior in spite of low expectancy, low instrumentality, and/or low valence.  We will attempt to uncover the determinants of high commitment in the Intrinsic Motivation and Commitment Topic.