People spend a great deal of time on the job, and it is therefore important to design jobs so that individuals feel good about their work. This requires an appropriate job structure in terms of content, function and relationships.
Design of jobs for individuals and work teams
The focus of job design can be on the individual position or on work groups. First, individual jobs can be enriched by grouping tasks into natural work units. This means putting tasks, which are related, into one category and assigning an individual to carry out those tasks.
A second related approach is to combine several tasks into one job. For example, rather than having the tasks of assembling a water pump carried out by several persons on the assembly line, workstations can be established with individuals doing the whose task of putting the unit together and even testing it.
A third way of enriching the job is to establish direct relationships with the customer or client. A system analyst may present findings and recommendations directly to the managers involved in the systems change rather than reporting to his or her superior, who would then make the recommendations to the top management. Fourth, prompt and specific feedback should be built into the system whenever appropriate. In one retail store, for example – salespersons received the sales figures for each day and summary figures for each month. Fifth, individual jobs can be enriched through vertical job loading, which is increasing individuals’ responsibility for planning, doing and controlling their job.
Similar arguments can be made for improving the design of jobs for work teams. Jobs should be designed so that groups have a complete task to perform. Moreover, teams may be given authority and freedom to decide how well the jobs shall be performed; thus the groups are given a great deal of autonomy. Within the team, individuals can often be trained so that they can rotate to different jobs within the group. Finally, rewards may be administered on the basis of group performance, which tends to induce cooperation rather than competition among team members.
Factors influencing job design
In designing jobs, the requirements of the enterprise have to be taken into account. But other factors must be considered in order to realize maximum benefits; they include individual differences, the technology involved, the costs associated with restructuring the jobs, the organization structure and the internal climate.
People have different needs. Those with unused capabilities and a need for growth and development usually want to have their job enriched and to assume a greater responsibility. While some people prefer to work by themselves, others with social needs usually work well in groups. The nature of the task and the technology related to the job must also be considered. While it may be possible for work teams to assemble automobiles, as it was done at a Volvo plant in Sweden, it may not be efficient to use the same work design for the high production runs at General Motors in the United States. The costs of changing to new job designs must also be considered. It makes a great deal of difference whether a plant is newly designed or an old plant has to be redesigned and changed to accommodate new job design concepts.
The organization structure must be taken into account. Individual jobs must fit the overall structure. Autonomous work groups, for example, may work well in a decentralized organization, but they may be inappropriate in a centralized structure. Similarly, the organizational climate influences the job design. Groups may function well in an atmosphere that encourages participation, job enrichment, and autonomous work, while they may not fit into an enterprise with an autocratic, top down approach to managerial leadership.
To be effective, managers need various skills ranging from technical to design. The relative importance of these skills varies according to the level in the organization, as discussed. In addition, analytical and problem solving abilities and certain personal characteristics are sought in managers.
One of the frequently mentioned skills desired of managers is analytical and problem solving ability.
In other words, managers must be able to identify problems, analyse complex situation and, be solving the problems encountered, exploit the opportunities presented. They must scan the environment and identify, through a rational process, those factors that stand in the way of opportunities. Thus, analytical skills should be used to find needs of present customers or potential ones and then to satisfy those needs with a product or service. It has been amply demonstrated that this opportunity seeking approach can mean corporate success.
But problem identification and analysis are not enough. Managers also need the will to implement the solutions; they must recognize the emotions, needs and motivations of the people involved in initiating the required change as well as of those who resist change.