Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Organisational change motivation
How can leaders build a culture of agility, adaptability, and resilience to deal with a constantly changing workplace?
Overview[edit | edit source]
Work is a major component of life (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Modern organisations face constant change, fierce competition, and increasing complexity requiring more creativity and rapid learning and problem solving from employees (Choi, 2007; Stone, Deci, & Ryan, 2009). Greek Philosopher Heraclitus is credited with writing 'change is the only constant in life' and this notion largely underpins organisational development research, the leading approach to organisational change (Burnes, 2015; Shani, 2017; Shaw, 2019). Interpretations of Heraclitus also suggest organisations limit intrinsic human nature; people seek growth, creativity and renewal, however organisations tend to constrain these, and given traditional organisational changes fail 40-70% of the time, new research focusing on employee adaptive change is necessarily overtaking structural change research (Antoni, 2004; Shaw, 2019; Shani, 2017; Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005). Alongside technology, a motivated, flexible and adaptable workforce is critical to company success and their ability to compete and thrive in the modern world (Choi, 2007; Steers, et al., 2004). This chapter explores work motivation theory pertaining to organisational change.
The following fictional case study aims to assist readers with theory-in-action.
Amanda owns ‘The Gourmet Company’ which makes and sells organic food and coffee. The company employs 100 people across 5 stores, one factory and a head office. Amanda noticed company profit was falling and there were fewer customers in store. Amanda discovered the industry was changing. There were more online customers and regulations were constantly changing. Amanda realised she had to adapt to remain competitive and compliant. Amanda read that many organisational changes failed due to poor organisational culture, thus she sought to discover how to maintain employee motivation through change, and build a culture of agility, adaptability and resilience.
Motivation theories within organisational change[edit | edit source]
Major organisational change motivation theories[edit | edit source]
Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]
Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests humans are intrinsically motivated toward psychological growth, to internalising the external sources which contribute to growth, and to balance psychological well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2017; Van den Broeck, et al., 2016). SDT is based on satisfying innate psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness, within the social context. Summarised from research by Van den Broeck, et al. (2016) and Ryan & Deci (2017) these psychological needs pertain to organisational change as follows:
- Autonomy: a sense of choice, not acting independently of organisational outcomes but of being able to govern one’s own behaviour and contribution;
- Competence: the exploration of ideas, gaining a sense of mastery, confidence in ability to develop new skills and reaching optimal challenge goals at work; and
- Relatedness: a sense of connectedness, of team membership, and identification with the organisation.
Essentially, SDT posits that supporting these needs may facilitate employee motivation during change initiatives, but frustrating these needs would negatively impact employee motivation, such that: forcing employees toward an imposed organisational goal would thwart autonomy; not providing conditions to explore, upskill and master their work would thwart competence; and isolation or lack of vision would thwart relatedness; and in all may lead to resistance (Gagne, et al., 2000; Van den Broeck, et al., 2016).
Two-factor theory[edit | edit source]
Herzberg's two-factor theory explicitly applies to work motivation. The theory states that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not two ends of one continuum, they are two separate constructs with a range of optimal conditions which reduce dissatisfaction, and separately, increase satisfaction and motivation (Cote, 2019; Lazariou, 2015). These constructs are facilitated via two factors of motivation as described by Lazariou (2015) and Cote (2019):
- Hygiene factors: includes pay, incentives and conditions, which provide short-term motivation through pain avoidance, for example pay alleviates financial difficulties. Consideration of hygiene factors are primarily to counter dissatisfaction rather than improve performance; and
- Motivating factors: recognition, achievement and growth opportunities, which provide long-term motivation through job satisfaction and accomplishments within the work itself. These factors provide the increase in motivation and performance.
The theory posits that hygiene factors may be attractive, but alone are not enough to ensure employee contentment, and some hygiene factors might actually constrain employees (Cote: 2019; Lazariou, 2015). During change this theory would suggest leaders focus effort into providing hygiene factors which alleviate dissatisfaction, and motivate their employees through purposeful tasking, meaningful contribution, and regular appraisal (Cote, 2019; Lazaroiu, 2015).
Self-efficacy theory[edit | edit source]
Self-efficacy theory was developed by renowned social psychologist Albert Bandura, with well tested effectiveness in work motivation (Bandura, 1998; Vardaman, et al., 2012). It is described as a cognitive judgement effecting motivation and posits that high self-efficacy for performing a task reduces the perception of task difficulty and increases goal-directed persistence; and that low self-efficacy can void motivation (Bandura, 1998; Parker, Bindl & Strauss, 2010; Vardaman, et al., 2012). Self-efficacy judgement is sourced through the following constructs, as described by Bandura (1998) and Vardaman, et al. (2012):
- Past Performance: when employees succeed at a task, they are more likely to attempt and complete a similar task (and vice-versa failure may reduce confidence);
- Vicarious Experience: when observing someone succeeding at a difficult task, employees are likely to attempt the task with additional confidence;
- Verbal Persuasion: when leaders or co-workers encourage each other, and convince others of their abilities; and
- Emotional Cues: relates to physical symptoms, for example anxiety, in anticipation of succeeding or failing a task.
With application to organisational change, the constructs of self-efficacy theory underpin the need for employee choice in the goals they pursue, for supporting the pursuit of learning new skills, and the persistence by which an employee may approach new tasks during organisational change (Parker, et al., 2010; Vardaman, et al., 2012).
Expectancy-value theory[edit | edit source]
Expectancy theory and the work of Victor Vroom has direct relevance to the workplace, and in contrast to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Vroom believes monetary reward can be motivating (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Parker, et al., 2010). Expectancy theory posits (Lazariou, 2015; Parker, et al., 2010) that motivation is driven by a personal judgement of:
- A person’s expectation of their competence;
- The value or compensation from the task; and
- Valence, the intrinsic and emotional satisfaction level.
Within the organisational change context, employees may consciously decide to pursue an outcome and its relevance to them and their goals (Lazaroiu, 2015; Parker, et al., 2010). In addition, successful change outcomes would require a positive judgement from an employees perception of competence in their new tasks, as well as a low level of the fear and uncertainty which accompanies change (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005).
Psychological capital (positive psychology)[edit | edit source]
New to the discipline, positive psychology focuses on human strength, and psychological capital (PsyCap) is the application of positive psychology to behaviour and performance. PsyCap applies hope, efficacy, optimism and resilience to organisational environments and outcomes (Avey, Wernsing & Luthans, 2008; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013).
Summarised from the research of Avey, Wernsing & Luthans (2008) and de Waal & Pienaar (2013), the motivation psychology perspective on PsyCap comprises:
- Hope: personal agency and ability to yield multiple avenues of goal-directed energy during times of change;
- Efficacy: draws Bandura’s self-efficacy theory to organisational change describing persistance through to task completion, and repeating successful tasks in changing contexts;
- Optimism: draws from expectancy theory and applies an individual attribution, with positive expectations from change activities, ability to remain optimistic, and externalise failure; and
- Resilience: the capacity to bounce back following adversity and thrive during the challenge; iderived through being high in mindfulness and achievement-orientation.
It is suggested employees high in PsyCap have positive emotions, are more engaged, and likely to be approach-oriented in times of organisational change (Avey, et al., 2008; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013).
Emerging themes[edit | edit source]
Several themes run through the organisational change motivation research.
Table 1. Themes arising from motivation theory
|Participation||Meaningful contribution throughout change, including pre-change planning through to implementation. Effective, meaningful and regular communication between leaders and employees.|
|Autonomy||Providing some measure of personal agency, allowing employees some choice in shaping their job roles, role clarity and responsibility allowing employees to create and achieve goals.|
|Persistence||Timely informational feedback to build confidence, resilience and successfully accomplish and repeat successes. Appraisal which builds intrinsic competence and supports growth|
|Support||Build social networks among employees to share information and encourage one another. Provide mentoring for employees to gain personal meaning of organisational goals.|
|Creativity||Encourage creativity, explore ideas, and unleash problem-solving capability. Provide a culture which supports learning from mistakes without feeling constantly disillusioned.|
Motivation research and application[edit | edit source]
Motivation inhibitors to successful change[edit | edit source]
Considerable research has been devoted to change resistance and stress. To summarise what is described across the theories (Bandura, 1998; Burne, 2015; Basset-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Day, Crown, & Ivany, 2017; Gravells, 2006; Parker, et al., 2010; Ryan & Deci, 2017; Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005; Vardaman, et al., 2012) the tendency to resist change includes:
- Uncertainty and fear of the unknown, which impacts SDT 's intrinsic motivations and the positive emotions required by the expectancy-value, self-efficacy judgments, and PsyCap;
- A perceived loss of control, constraining the sense of autonomy underpinning PsyCap, self-determination, and satisfaction motivation, and impacting the potential for positive engagement during change;
- Inability to understand and internally attribute benefits, likely due to lack of support, participation and contribution which all the theories outlined above suggest is imperative for successful change;
- Finding comfort in the status quo, likely due to lack of communicating the value, constraining of creativity and learning opportunities, and an intolerance for failure.
- Distress, employees who perceive the organisational goal is unattainable, even when within their capability, and unable to cope with difficult situation often experience stress and loss of performance .
Stress is considered a significantly inhibiting factor to successful organisation change and may burn out even the most motivated employee; and thus likely to require significant effort in protecting employees (Day, Crown, & Ivany, 2017; Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005).
Recent research indicates while an individual might appear distressed, amotive or resistant, it is more likely a reaction to environmental conditions rather than personality (Burnes, 2015). Moreover, research indicates uncertainty and the change resistance it manifests, is both an employee and leadership issue, and a symptom of the system, not individuals (Burne, 2015; Gavells, 2006). Significant research suggests the more participation the less resistance to change (Bandura, 1998; Basset-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Burnes, 2015). However, rather than control for change resistance, it is worth noting it can provide opportunities to uncover and address unworkable changes, or employees whom require further engagement (Gavells, 2006).
A quick word on rewards[edit | edit source]
Caution regarding rewards is coming from the fields of positive psychology, work motivation, neuropsychology and behavioural ecomonics: Neuropsychology research suggests offering extrinsic rewards activates the dopaminergic network and prefrontal cortex, which learn to anticipate the external reward, and thus undermines intrinsic motivation though activation of the striatum and basal ganglia (Murayama, et al., 2010; Rybnicek, et al. 2019); behavioural economics research suggests task-purpose and task-meaning exceeds task-rewards in the workplace (Ariely, et al., 2008), and similarly positive psychology suggests constructive feedback and positive appraisal can build PsyCap (Avey, at al., 2008); and, research using Herzberg's Two-factor theory suggests rewards and incentives, being hygiene factors, may only provide short-term gains (Lazaroiu, 2015).
This challenges current management practice where monetary rewards and bonuses feature regularly and are thought to enhance motivation (Ariely, 2008; Himmelstein, et al., 2014; Murayama, et al, 2010).
However, Rybnicek, et al. (2019) extended attribution theory by measuring neural activity in association with rewards, finding rewards closely matched to psychological needs may provide motivation without the undermining effects. In addition, while hygiene factors may not explicitly motivate employees, they may successfully counteract the dissatisfaction often emerging from organisational change (Lazariou, 2015). Therefore, carefully considered rewards may be useful, although psychological research would recommend appraisal, recognition and informational feedback over monetary rewards (Ariely, et al., 2008; Avey, at al., 2008; Bandura, 1988; Himmelstein, et al., 2014; Lazariou, 2015; Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Emerging research[edit | edit source]
During the most rapid change in work environments, organisational psychological research remained focused on changes aggregating at the organisational level, not the individual impacts (Armenakis & Harris, 2009; Oreg, Vakola & Armenakis, 2011). Moreover, previous research attempted to assert control over change, rather than the creativity which underpins successful change (Choi, 2007; Gravells, 2006; Shani, 2017). However, theory extension to update and adapt to contemporary workplaces has emerged, focusing on conscious personal agency; new team and social impacts; and neurobiological affects applied to work motivation theory such as the above on rewards (Murayama, et al., 2010; Parker, et al., 2010; Ryan & Deci, 2017; Steers, et al., 2004). The last decade has seen a shift toward the individual and the likely success of organisational change when it accounts for and motivates employees (Armenakis & Harris, 2009; Oreg, et al., 2011).
A significant theoretical advancement is the application of SDT to organisations, overseeing a shift from extrinsic 'carrot-and-stick' motivation to intrinsic psychological needs; and applied at the individual and environmental levels (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Contemporary SDT in organisational psychology suggests autonomous motivation encompassing intrinsic and internalised motivation is essential to increasing employee satisfaction while alleviating stress and burnout (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Further, Parker, et al. (2010) developed a model for proactive motivation bringing autonomy, competence and relatedness together with self-efficacy and intrinsic, integrated and identified motivation, and asserts an individual employee in the organisation can effect change.
Originally developed for education, goal-achievement theory is emerging in organisational psychology research (Lu, Lin, & Leung, 2012; Steers, et al., 2004). Lu, Lin & Lueng (2012) found when learning goals and knowledge sharing is provided, intrinsic motivation increases and enhances creativity. Choi (2007) researched goal-orientation theory focusing on change-oriented behaviour, finding well developed and well communicated vision and innovative culture may influence successful change at individual and organisational levels. Both studies, while requiring further research, highlighted motivational states underpinning goal-orientation, self-efficacy, and self-determination as mediators for positive change behaviour (Choi, 2007; Lu, et al., 2012).
What does this mean for todays leaders?[edit | edit source]
Given the theoretical concepts, recent research, and the themes outlined in Table 1., the question becomes how can leaders effectively motivate their employees prior to and during organisational change, and beyond?
Participation[edit | edit source]
Participation is found across the organisational change research, and the subject of research since the inception of work motivation (Steers, et al. 2004). Particularly, early involvement is purported to provide employees with personal agency, competence, acceptance of change, and therefore appears to be fundamental to successful change (Antoni, 2004; Burnes, 2015; Oreg, et al., 2011; Ryan & Deci, 2017). Participation becomes even more important when considering the level of psychological harm perceived by the individual, with more potential for harm requiring greater participation (Burne, 2015). Participation is a key component of PsyCap and increasing employee engagement (Avey, et al., 2008). Moreover, research suggests leaders who provide meaningful participation opportunities transform employees into active participants, even instigators of change (Antoni, 2004; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013 Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Communication[edit | edit source]
Meaningful and regular communication provides employees with knowledge to participate effectively (Avey, et al., 2008; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013; Stone, Deci & Ryan, 2009; Gagne, et al., 2004). During change, communicating effectively in a timely and individually meaningful way may clarify role purpose, and may ameliorate the feeling of uncertainty and loss of control (Ariely, et al., 2008; Cote, 2019; Lazaroiu, 2015; Vakola & Nikoloau, 2005). It is not the quantity but the quality and meaningfulness of information which reduces anxiety and increases uncertainty-oriented behaviour (Ariely, et al., 2008; Oreg, et al., 2011). Effective communication may assist the internalisation of externally derived organisational goals, and strong and well communicated vision may reassure employees of their performance and alignment with the change (Stone, et al, 2009; Choi, 2007; Parker, et al., 2010).
Autonomy[edit | edit source]
From a motivation perspective, a significant contributor to change resistance and stifled creativity is lack of autonomy (Burnes, 2015; Ryan & Deci, 2017; Vardaman, et al., 2012) and forcing top-down organisational change is likely to thwart autonomy (Gagne, et al., 2000; Van den Broeck, et al., 2016). Leaders may consider providing opportunities for employees to apply their skills widely to build confidence and autonomy prior to change (Avey, et al., 2008; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013). Then, consider providing some decision autonomy when introducing new job demands to help alleviate stress (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Additionally, reducing workplace conflict, and balancing old and new task well may ensure additional workload does not lead to stress (Vakola & Nikoloau, 2005). Allowing employees some automony and responsibility during organisational change may provide them a sense of purpose and job enrichment, which in-turn may lead to successful engagement with the change (Lazariou, 2015).
Support[edit | edit source]
In terms of fostering relatedness in the workplace, leadership support, mentoring and supportive working relationships appears to be vital for navigating organisational change (Antoni, 2004; Choi, 2007; Day et al., 2017; Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005; Vardaman, et al., 2012). Research shows, when faced with job stressors and job insecurity such as those evoked by organisational change, support significant mediates stress and exhaustion (Day et al., 2017; Gavells, 2006; Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005). Supportive leadership includes communicating, listening, and providing purpose and meaning to reduce uncertainty and fear (Ariely, et al., 2008; Vakola & Nikoloau, 2005; Vardaman, et al., 2012). Building multiple workplace relationships and networks within organisations prior to change provides a safety net during periods of uncertainty in the early stages of change (Vardaman, et al., 2012).
Appraisal[edit | edit source]
SDT and self-efficacy posit feedback is a critical element to autonomy support and competence (Bandura, 1998; Ryan & Deci, 2017). Self-efficacy theory also suggests encouragement requires realistic and authentic appraisal (Bandura, 1998). The research suggests leaders develop sub-goals to aspire to, along with informational and meaningful feedback, to increase employee self-belief (Bandura, 1998). Leaders looking to build PsyCap may provide constructive and timely feedback and be a positive role model for the change (Avey, et al., 2008; de Waal & Pienaar, 2013). As stated above, psychological motivation theories challenge current management and economic theory regarding reward and recognition schemes, however, if leaders wish to pursue such a scheme as one of a suite of motivation tools, they may find rewards more motivating if they align rewards with an individual focus, requiring effort and careful consideration (Ariely, 2008;Himmelstein, et al., 2014; Lazariou, 2015; Murayama, et al, 2010; Ryan & Deci, 2017; Rybnicek, et al., 2019).
Creativity[edit | edit source]
Creativity during change may build an agile organisation of learners, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers (Shani, 2017). Small wins and sub-goals can motivate change recipients through to self-efficacy, and meaningful involvement may be powerful in facilitating goal-achievement motivation (Ariely, etal., 2008; Armenakis & Harris, 2009; Bandura, 1998). Experiencing success with moderately difficult tasks, employees are likely to build their sense of efficacy, as well as learning from failure if framed as a learning experience (Bandura, 1998). A fail tolerant and supportive workplace may require leaders to be comfortable with ambiguity themselves to better support employees through uncertainty (Burne, 2015; Gagne, et al., 2004; Parker, et al., 2010). Acknowledging employees may need to trial several new processes and may not succeed the first time, but encouraged to persist and try again, is a critical success factor (Bandura, 1998; Choi, 2007; Moran, & Blauth, 2008). In all, creativity may enable employees to build a sense of optimism and self-efficacy and may enhance change motivation (Avey, et al., 2008; Bandura, 1998; Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Gagne, et al., 2000).
Amanda brought the company employees together to communicate the new vision and why the company needed to change. She invited the factory team to review the new regulations, to provide options for how best to change the manufacturing processes, and set aside testing days for trial and error. She invited the store employees together to provide input to new customer service models, encouraging those willing to move into online service by providing reskilling opportunities. Across the company fostering an environment to learn from mistakes, and ensured social networks were built for support. Amanda's leadership team mentored staff, listened intently, and addressed employee concerns and resistance quickly and effectively. Sub-goals were created and completed throughout the change with consistent feedback and appraisal provided. Amanda provided a suggestion box, regularly met with employees about the change and what it meant for them. She encouraged ongoing new ideas, and with this creativity and autonomy-support other efficiencies Amanda had not considered where discovered. The Gourmet Company began thriving once again.
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
The drivers behind organisational change manifest as extrinsic motivation, and for leaders to find success in organisational change, they need to find ways to help employees internalise the meaning and value of the change as it pertains to them personally (Ryan & Deci, 2017). To facilitate this, motivation theories would suggest leaders provide meaningful context to the change through high quality communication, acknowledge and address employee concerns by providing a supportive and fail tolerant culture, and providing a level of choice within the change context, including meaningful participation and autonomy (Bandura, 1998; Stone, et al., 2009; Gagne, et al., 2004; Ryan & Deci, 2017). The overall message derived from work motivation theory would suggest meaningful participation, contribution and communication through the change journey may contribute to change-readiness, build agility and thus energise motivation in favour of the change (Avey, et al., 2008; Armenakis & Harris, 2009; de Waal &Pienaar, 2013; Oreg, et al., 2011; Ryan & Deci, 2017).
See also[edit | edit source]
- Change management (Wikipedia)
- Industrial and Organisational Psychology (Wikipedia)
- Organisational change and emotion (Book chapter, 2013)
- Positive Psychology in the workplace (Wikipedia)
- Psychological resilience (Book chapter, 2011)
- Psychological capital (Book chapter, 2018)
- Self-determination Theory (Book chapter, 2011)
- Self-efficacy and achievement (Book Chapter, 2011)
- Self-efficacy and motivation (Book Chapter, 2014)
- Workplace Motivation and Autonomy (Book chapter, 2015)
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[edit | edit source]
- Motivation at work, Dan Ariely (TedX Rio dela Plata, 2015)
- Stop trying to motivate your employees, Kerry Goyette (TedX Cosmo Park, 2016)