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Question one An employee does an unsatisfactory job on an assigned project. Explain the attributionprocess that this person’s manager will use to form judgments about this employee’s jobperformance. Attribution theory is concerned with how individuals interpret events and how this relates totheir thinking and behavior. Attribution theory assumes that people try to determine why people dowhat they do. A person seeking to understand why another person did something may attribute oneor more causes to that behavior. According to Heider a person can make two attributions: internal attribution, the inferencethat a person is behaving in a certain way because of something about the person, such as attitude,character or personality. Internally caused behaviors are those that are believed to be under thepersonal control of the individual and also external attribution, the inference that a person isbehaving a certain way because of something about the situation he or she is in. Externally causedbehavior is seen as resulting from outside causes; that is, the person is seen as having been forcedinto the behavior by the situation. Attribution theory assumes that people try to determine why people do what they do, thatis, interpret causes to an event or behavior. A three-stage process underlies an attribution: behaviormust be observed or perceived; behavior must be determined to be intentional, behavior attributedto internal or external causes Using the attribution process, the manager has to observe on this employee’s behavior andalso their problems. This could be useful in determining whether the employee is intent ally orextent ally caused to be unsatisfactory on his/her assigned project. The Manager’s perception inusing the attribution process could use the three guidelines on judging the employee’s jobperformance which are: their distinctiveness, consensus and consistency in doing their project. Distinctiveness refers to whether an individual displays different behaviors in differentsituations. What we want to know is whether the observed behavior is unusual. If it is, the observeris likely to give the behavior an external attribution. If this action is not unusual, it will probably bejudged as internal. Consensus occurs if everyone who is faced with a similar situation responds in the same way.If consensus were high, you would be expected to give an external attribution to the employeetardiness, whereas if other employees who took the same route made it to work on time, yourconclusion as to causation would be internal that is consistency in person actions. Does the personrespond the same way over time? The more consistent the behavior, the more the observer isinclined to attribute it to internal causes.
Our attributions are also significantly driven by our emotional and motivational drives.Blaming other people and avoiding personal recrimination are very real self-serving attributions. Wewill also make attributions to defend what we perceive as attacks. We will point to injustice in anunfair world. We will even tend to blame victims (of us and of others) for their fate as we seek todistance ourselves from thoughts of suffering the same plight. We will also tend to ascribe lessvariability to other people than ourselves, seeing ourselves as more multifaceted and lesspredictable than others. This may well because we can see more of what is inside ourselves (andspend more time doing this). Individuals behave in a given manner based not on the way their external environmentactually is but, rather, on what they see or believe it to be. An organization may spend millions ofdollars to create a pleasant work environment for its employees. However, in spite of theseexpenditures, if an employee believes that his or her job is lousy, that employee will behaveaccordingly. It is the employee’s perception of a situation that becomes the basis for his or herbehavior. The evidence suggests that what individuals perceive from their work situation will influencetheir productivity more than will the situation itself. Whether or not a job is actually interesting orchallenging is irrelevant. Whether or not a manager successfully plans and organizes the work of hisor her employees and actually helps them to structure their work more efficiently and effectively isfar less important than how employees perceive the manager’s efforts. Similarly, issues like fair payfor work performed, the validity of performance appraisals, and the adequacy of working conditionsare not judged by employees in a way that assures common perceptions, nor can we be assuredthat individuals will interpret conditions about their jobs in a favorable light. Therefore, to be able toinfluence productivity, it is necessary to assess how workers perceive their jobs. Absenteeism, turnover, and job satisfaction are also reactions to the individual’sperceptions. Dissatisfaction with working conditions or the belief that there is a lack of promotionopportunities in the organization are judgments based on attempts to make some meaning out ofone’s job. The employee’s conclusion that a job is good or bad is an interpretation. Managers mustspend time understanding how each individual interprets reality and, where there is a significantdifference between what is seen and what exists, try to eliminate the distortions. Failure to dealwith the differences when individuals perceive the job in negative terms will result in increasedabsenteeism and turnover and lower job satisfaction.
Question 2 How might managers use the grapevine for their benefit? The formal network, made up of memos, reports, staff meetings, department meetings,conferences, company newsletters and official notices is highly documented and as such has verylittle chance for change. However, nearly all of the information within the grapevine isundocumented and is thereby open to change and interpretation as it moves through the network.It often travels faster than formal channels. The grapevine is very useful in supplementing formal channels. It provides people with anoutlet for their imaginations and apprehensions as well. It also helps satisfy a natural desire to knowwhat is really going on. The grapevine is flexible and personal and can spread information fasterthan the formal communication channels. It is also capable of penetrating even the tightest securitybecause it cuts across organizational lines and deals directly with people in the know. Bosses whochose not to pay attention to the grapevine have 50% less credible information than those who doand it exists because of excessive structuring of formal work flows and the excessive channeling ofinformation flows. It is fed by personal apprehension, wish fulfillment, retaliation, and gossip.Surprisingly, most researchers have found that most grapevine information is either true or haswithin it a root of truth. Since the grapevine arises from social interactions, it is as unpredictable, full of life, andvaried as people are. It is the expression of their natural motivation to communicate. It is theexercise of their freedom of speech and is a natural, normal activity. The grapevine starts early inthe morning in the car pools. Once everyone has arrived at work, grapevine activity takes placenearly all day long down hallways, around corners, in meetings, and especially by the coffeemachine. The peak time of the days are breaks and lunch hour during which management has littleor no control over the topics of conversation. In the late afternoon the work day has finished but thegrapevine has not. After a short time interval, some employees meet again. They are on company softballteams, golf leagues, and bowling teams. The grapevine at that time goes into full swing again andremains active with one final activity peak at a local bar. The following day, the cycle is repeated. Itis the wide range of locations where the grapevine takes place in mixture with the fact thatgrapevine participants come from informal social groups within the organization which points out itsdifference from formal management communication. Structured management uses verbal messages to communicate through the chain ofcommand, while grapevine communication jumps from one department to another and from anylevel of management to another. It moves up, down, horizontally, vertically and diagonally all withina short span of time. The grapevine, as communication, can be compared to the organizationsformal information network.
The management can use grapevine to supplement the formal channels of communication.Though it carries some degree of error and distortion, efforts can be made to correct it. Ignoring thegrapevine is nothing but to ignore a valuable source of communication and also information, thoughgrapevine is sort of feedback from employee themselves. The management can eliminate itsnegative consequences and, at the same time, it can promote its positive benefits. The managershave to learn to manage and control it by listening to the grapevine very carefully to find out whatcurrent concerns are. Managers cannot kill the grapevine, but they can prevent it from spreading. The rumors spread when the situations are unpredictable, unstructured, unplanned and arebeyond the control of a person or the persons who are involved in them. The management can openup all the channels of organizational communication to present the facts positively before theemployees and thereby can fight the negative messages with the positive weapons of facts andfigures. Therefore, the best way to manage and control it is to provide accurate and substantialinformation of the situations to the employees. The managers should pick up the false rumors anddispel them by providing correct information Other solution is communicating face to face with employees equally and across the board;always tell the truth; if you (as a manager) do not know just say so and find out what the problemsreally are. Never try to use the grapevine yourself especially when the grapevine carries a lie, correctit immediately with the facts; make no public comments about race, religion, politics, or personalmatters unrelated to work because you can de-motivate your employee as they take your words toheart. The negative consequences of the grapevine can be easily eliminated if the management issuccessful in creating trust-relationship with the employees. It also prevents the boredom, idlenessand suspicions among the employees. Better job design and better quality of work life can easilybring the grapevine under the control of the management. Before taking any decision or action, the managers must consider its possible effects on theinformal groups and systems in the organization. The management can use the grapevine as abarometer of the public opinions in the organization or to feel the pulse of the employees in aparticular situation. This will surely help them to take right policy decisions. In the formal activities of the organization, the management should avoid threatening theinformal groups, which are responsible in spreading the grapevine effectively. The managementshould find out the people in the informal groups who are more active on grapevine. These peopleshould be accurately and adequately informed so that the false rumors causing excitement andinsecurity do not spread among the employees. The management should remember that theworkplace community is maintained not only by the work itself but also by the informal humanrelationships. Therefore, the manager should honestly try to integrate their interests with those ofthe informal groups.
In conclusion, the grapevine in many ways helps keep people honest; it can dissuade peoplefrom engaging on behavior that they don’t want others to know about. This is a two edge sword. Onone hand, people will think twice about taking what they know is a wrong course of action. On theother hand, they may also think twice about taking a necessary risk and doing the right thing, fearfulthose appearances that may give rise to rumors. So the managers should decide whether to be agood listener, be honest and communicate directly to their employees needs’ to continue tofunction efficiently or to ignore others feedback and be the arrogant manager.