52 / MANAGING A TEAM
Designing work
Job design refers to the way tasks are combined to form complete jobs.
It involves trying to shape the right jobs to conform to the right people,
taking into account both the organization’s goals and the employees’
satisfaction. Well-designed jobs lead to high motivation, high-quality
performance, high satisfaction, and low absenteeism and turnover.
CREATE NATURAL
WORK UNITS
Design tasks to form an
identifiable whole to
increase employee
“ownership” and to
encourage workers
to view their jobs
as important.
Defining jobs
Jobs vary considerably: a lifeguard,
for example, will have very different
day-to-day responsibilities than an
accountant or a builder. However, any
job can be described in terms of five
core job dimensions:
Skill variety: the degree to which
a job requires a variety of different
activities so that the worker can
employ a number of different skills
and talents.
Task identity: the degree to which
a job requires completion of a whole
and identifiable piece of work.
Task significance: the degree to which
a job has an impact on the lives of
other people.
Autonomy: the degree to which a job
provides freedom and discretion to
the worker in scheduling tasks and
in determining how the work will
be carried out.
Feedback: the degree to which
the worker gets direct and clear
information about the effectiveness
of his or her performance.
As a manager, you can maximize
your team’s performance by enhancing
these five dimensions. Skill variety, task
identity, and task significance combine
to create meaningful work. Jobs with
these characteristics will be perceived
as important, valuable, and worthwhile.
Jobs that possess autonomy give
workers a sense of responsibility for
their results. Jobs that provide feedback
indicate to the employee how effectively
he or she is performing.
Skill variety, task identity,
and task significance
combine to create jobs
that are seen as important,
valuable, and worthwhile
DESIGNING WORK / 53
GET THE RIGHT PERSON
FOR THE JOB
It is very difficult to
completely change how a
person performs, so try to
match people to jobs that
they are good at. This will
make them most likely to
achieve good results.
Tip
COMBINE TASKS
Put existing fragmented
tasks together to form
larger modules of work.
This can help increase
skill variety and
task identity.
ESTABLISH CLIENT
RELATIONSHIPS
Building direct
relationships between
the worker and the client—
the user of the product
or the service that the
employee works on
increases skill
variety, autonomy,
and feedback.
EXPAND JOBS
VERTICALLY
Giving employees
responsibilities formerly
reserved for managers
closes the gap between the
“doing” andcontrolling
aspects of the job, and
increases autonomy.
IMPROVE FEEDBACK
CHANNELS
Feedback tells employees
how well they are
performing, and whether
their performance is
improving, deteriorating,
or remaining constant.
Employees should receive
feedback directly as they
do their jobs.
Ways to
design work
by enhancing
the five
dimensions

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