Discuss how the principles of job design and reinforcement theory apply to the performance problems at the Hovey and Beard Company. According to Ivancevich “Job Design is the process by which managers decide individual job tasks and authority” (p.150), furthermore managers decide about the content, responsibility and duties of the job. Managers have the power to determine the method of doing the job; additionally they are able to expect a certain level of relationships between all co-workers, subordinates etc. The advantage of designing a job is that interest people get the information about the qualifications which are required as well as the reward for doing the job. The most important part of designing a job is to design it properly and in detail in order to find the right person, therefore an increase of productivity or profitability can be one of the benefits.
Beyond the job design theory Ivancevich describes in his book “Organizational behavior and management” the reinforcement theory (p.286). Regarding Thomson Gale “Reinforcement theory is the process of shaping behavior by controlling the consequences of the behavior” (Encyclopedia of Management). At this the desired or unwanted behavior will be influenced by either reinforcment or punishment. Reading case 6.1 “The Hovey and Beard Company” apparently the workers get a learning bonus to keep the learning process effective, but within six months the bonus will decrease and finally not exist anymore. This method motivates the employees to learn the new system faster in short term, and in long-term respectively after six months it is predictable that the employees need a new bonus method to keep their speed, therefore a group bonus is organized when the production standard is exceeded. That method to influence the behavior of the employees through the use of reinforcement or punishment that are consequences of the behavior is called reinforcement theory, but it is to consider that the reinforcement or punishment method has to be sufficient in order to influence the employees.
Unfortunately within the six months many problems occurred in the Hoves and Beard Company, since the working conditions and the reward system was not fairly calculated. Unfortunately the employees didn’t meet the desired goal of the organization, consequently the reinforcement method failed at the beginning. After adapting changes for the employees to work under better conditions a higher production is observed. These changes are also a part of reinforcing the desired behavior. The positive reinforces are the changes made by the supervisor and consultant and hence the behavioral response of the employees is strengthened. These changes had a high value by the painters but not by the managers, but the new consultant did her job and conveyed the issues. A typical behavior of the managers which is shown in this example is that they tell their subordinates what is wrong or right and how they should improve performance, instead of being the direct contact person for the employees which have big issues because of the working conditions. In part 5 of the case (p.178) a new issue is accrued.
The earnings were discussed by supervisors, engineers etc. As a result the learning bonus was revoked and consequently the desired behavior changed in a negative way. It is clear that the reward for the employees was not sufficient to be motivated for a great job performance. The managers hired a person with the job design to increase productivity, to arrange better working conditions as well as to support to deal with internal issues. Unfortunately the managers didn’t make it clear which responsibility, duties and content the job of the supervisor and consultant had. Furthermore after proving higher and better productivity and profitability by the supervisor and consultant, there were no rewards for the consultant and supervisor. As a consequence the supervisor left his job.