Recruitment and Motivation

Quote of the week:

 Change does not necessarily assure progress,
 but progress implacably requires change.
Education is central to change,
or education creates both new wants
and the ability to satisfy them.
 Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998)

The goal of this week’s learning is to discuss the importance of the concepts: (a) recruitment (Chapters 6 & 7), and (2) motivation (Chapter 8).  Why is how an organization recruits or makes staffing decisions important?  We continue this quest for answers as this is indeed a fundamental focus for the I-O Psychologist.

To begin, let’s look at the concept of how staffing decisions are made.  The perspective of our authors, Landy and Conte (2011) is interesting, particularly when they offer that for new hires “the candidate pool is gradually narrowed through rejection [italics added] decisions until a selection is made and individual is placed in a position” (p. 278).  Isn’t this curious that one is not selected but chosen as a result of other ‘deselections’?  [see Cartoon on p. 282].  What do you think about this perspective?

Please also note the positive correlation with regard to the impact of staffing and positive performance (Huselid, 1995, as cited in Landy & Conte, 2011).  Even more curious is the effect that the staffing process has on the applicant themselves where “Even if they are selected, the manner by which the staffing decision is carried out will have an influence on who they perceive the culture and climate of the organization” (L&C, 2011, p. 282).  The study of this impact is indeed important for us to consider further.

Now if we continue this conversation with regard to the global perspective as we discussed during week 2, this conversation increases complexity with regard to different countries having different definitions of what diversity means and what this looks like, specifically in terms of the consideration of what is meant by majority and minority applicants.  Think of how this is a moving goal post over time.  Let’s look back to chapter 2 and Hofstede’s five dimensions.  Depending on these dimensions (Consider: individualistic vs. collectivist society), another layer of complexity is introduced with regard to ethnocentrism when multiple cultures are blended (or at least attempted).

A colleague of mine is fond of saying “Change has no conclusion” (T. Woodruff, personal communication, since 2003).  This is readily apparent here where many of these beliefs and impacts on policy are quite dynamic and fluid, underscoring that regardless of technique—even with statistical measure—we can never be 100% sure. [see Cartoon on p. 291].  Balance and purposeful analysis and consideration is crucial for success.  As offered by Landy and Conte (2011), “This does not mean we need to predict every aspect of job performance accurately, but it does mean that we should at least be trying to predict the important aspects of performance” (p. 294).  Let me invite you to spend some time with regard to clinical decision-making and statistical decision-making on p. 295 to self reflect on your preferences (both as interviewee and interviewer).  Personally, I find comfort in the multiple regression analysis because this “develops an equation for combining test scores into a composite based on the individual correlations of each test score dimension with the performance score and the intercorrelations between the test score” (L&C, 2011, p. 295).  Looking at these with regard to the overall big picture is what I find most attractive.  

Next, let’s look at the idea of selection vs. placement.  Are we simply splitting semantical hairs here? 

The challenge is to place an individual rather than simply select an individual.  We can think of choosing one individual from among many applications [or deselecting candidates-my addition here] to fill a given opening.  In contrast, placement is a process of matching multiple applicants and multiple openings. (L& C, 2011, p. 299)

This is why I prefer a more statistically based approach where “this makes it more difficult to argue that the decision was biased or inaccurate” (L&C, 2011, p. 301), particularly when considering strategic, cultural, and situational elements.

Now let’s transition our focus to one of training, learning, and performance.  What is the importance of our efforts on these delineations of terms?  “Training is the systematic acquisition of skills, concepts, or attitudes that results in improved performance . . . [where] learning [is] a relatively permanent change in behavior and human capabilities that is produced by experience and practice” (L& C, 2011, p. 317).  What we must take great care to note is that learning itself cannot be observed, only the outcome of performance.  “The point is that training increases the probability of learning and learning increased the probability of better job performance (Landy, 1989)” (as cited in L&C, 2011, p. 318).  This of course then begs the question of how.

Next, let’s briefly visit one of my favorite topics—the learning organization [which] “are companies that emphasize continuous learning, knowledge sharing, and personal mastery Jeppenesen, 2002)” (as cited in L&C, 2011, p. 328).  I am a huge fan [and probably disciple of *grins*.] Peter Senge and his (1990) masterpiece, The Fifth Discipline as well as the corollary The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (1994).  “In order to learn, you must start with a question in mind.  As you pursue the question, learning will follow” (Senge, Ross, Smith, Roberts, & Kleiner, 1994, p. 482).  Senge (1990, 1994) is a huge proponent of systems thinking focused on how something is taught and learned (and the inter relationships and connections), as opposed to simply the what.

Our purpose this week is to address this concept of performance and evaluation.  Think back to Business 101 with regard to the various cycles within business.  Depending on which cycle the organization may be in will determine their needs, and how ‘we’ as its stewards can best respond to these needs.  What is required is a shift in focus—to see position placement (or selection) as a strategic tool in your toolkit right alongside issues of communication, leadership, management, and profitability.  Since training is complex and expensive, our focus is on the importance for training to provide evidence (evaluation) that training brought about desired changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  How can the organization ensure that they have the best qualified people in the most effective positions for the most effective outcome?  We must ensure that we understand the differences in training [“focused on the tasks and aspect of an employee’s current position”] and development [“which focuses on learning that prepares an employee for future challenges, opportunities, and jobs” (L&C, 2011, p. 346].

The importance this week is the question: how do all of these elements work together cohesively?

Soon-to-be-famous  Segment: News You Can Use.

Now let’s look at the application of what we have learned this week.  How does this translate into action?  How can this translate into “News We Can Use Today?”

How do we connect the dots from the most applicable recruitment method to the roles that people play within the organization once staffing choices are made?  Ultimately the goal of those in charge of hiring selection is to be able to: (a) access the organization in terms of where they are today, and to (b) correctly access the needs of where they need to be tomorrow, and find the appropriate and most effective methods to place the tools, resources, and people to get them there.  Often the quest of an I-O Psychologist is to be the expert that evaluates how well an organization has accomplished this outcome.

The questions before us remain to ask why.  Within our readings for this week, there are some clues that I will leave for you to discover.  I look forward to including your thought provoking insights within our weekly discussions. *grins*

Now back to the ‘News You can Use’ part of this lecture segment.  How does this specifically help you within your organization that you work with?  Be sure to look above, look across, and look down to highlight the various relationships and connections that the organization offers the bonds of relationships to form between functions (Maxwell, 2008).  What can you take away from this today?  Remember my goal is to help you see—with new eyes—what is already there.

Now we can ask ourselves, how do these pieces ‘fit’ together for more effective and functional outcomes?  Remember the element of perspective.  Each person could be correct from their point of view in the organization.  Consider the view from the CEO at the top vs. the view from the line employee at the bottom?  Their perspective could be vastly different, but valuable just the same.  Each person is responding to both their role within the organization and their function within their role, as they confront day-to-day dilemmas of how to respond to the various needs of applicable stakeholders within their sphere of influence.

Now let’s return to the 30,000 foot view for a moment from that of the C-Suite (those with titles of CEO, CFO, CIO, etc, etc).  How can we view this viewpoint and that of staffing concerns as a tool?  Let’s be sure to use our outcome based thinking approach—and begin at the end of the equation—what is our organization intended to do?  What does our mission statement say—the vision or box top of the puzzle box from our friends Kouzes and Posner (1987)?  Now does the organization support this?  If not, how can we use our tools–specifically with regard to this chapter of recruitment and motivation– as a solution based approach?   

How Leaders Motivate

            The last question before us to consider is one that is often asked.  How do we get others to do what needs to be done, and dare hope that they are happy and want to do it?  This is no easy task for a leader to discover how to connect and motivate their followers to make this moment of truth happen.  Let’s see what we can do to understand a leader’s secrets to effective motivation and how this affects the quest of the I-O Psychologist.

            One definition of leadership is the ability to influence others.  The next step is then learning to use this influence to help motivate others for the intended outcome our organizations have in mind.   

Psychologist Warren Bennis and colleague Burt Nanus state that power is a leader’s currency or primary means through which the leader gets things done in the organization . . . Effective leaders do not see power as something that is competed for, but rather as something that can be created and distributed to followers without detracting from their own power. (Pierce & Newstrom, 2011, p. 75)

This of course then asks, how does a leader effectively use their power of influence to motivate others to get things done?  Harvard psychologist David McClelland offers two types of dominance theories to address this question, the personalized power motive and the socialized power motive.  Let’s dig deeper into each one.

            We may all be familiar with leaders who seem to always have a need to be the ones in charge, always barking orders.  They are highly competitive and have a drive to always be the one in a position of authority to tell others what to do, and how and when to do it.  This is as if they have this often impulsive need for collecting outward symbols of power (titles) to demonstrate their dominance over others.  Research shows that this type of power leads to submissive and dependant followers (Pearce & Newsrom, 2011).  Some may even consider this the dark side of leadership with motivating others out of manipulation, fear, or coercion.  A follower may feel they have to do something because of negative consequences or punishment, appealing to an individual’s sense of loss and desperation.  How will following this type of leader motivate you?

            By contrast, McClelland offers the positive side of a leader’s influence referred to as the socialized power motive.  This power motivates others through collaboration by investing in the social capital of network and coalitions, to gain cooperation through the power of example and role modeling, to give followers another alternative to consider.  These types of leaders motivate through the power of persuasion.  They demonstrate the benefits of genuine interest in investing in the improvements of others, ultimately benefitting the individual and the organizations that they work for.  These leaders are willing to take advice from experts and input from their followers so that everyone will have a vested interested in the outcome.

The overall goal is that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’, ‘we’re all in this together’, with a ‘one for all and all for one’s’ shared vision and overall goals.  Research shows that this type of power results in empowered, independent followers (Pearce & Newstrom, 2011).  Within the right environment, under the influence of an effective leader, individuals will be motivated with a personal investment, relevancy, and urgency to want to contribute to this shared vision with a willingness to follow their leader(s) within the organization to help them get there.

            The ultimate goal of motivation for a leader is to find this personal connection and commitment of meaning for the individual.  When a leader helps answer the questions:

  • Why is this important to me?
  • What benefits will I derive from this?
  • How does what I do matter?

then an individual can see and feel how they are connected to the leader and the overall organization.  The leader builds a bridge that connects what an individual may need and want to fulfill their personal goals (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) as well as connect to how these efforts will meet the organization’s needs and wants and organizational goalsHow will following this type of leader motivate you?  How does this further the goals and focus of the I-O Psychologist?

The goal is to motivate by building a sense of community where the leader creates an atmosphere where individuals want to truly participate, to help move themselves and the organization forward, not only motivating themselves but others around them as well.  Individuals are desperately searching for how to create meaning for what they do in the workplace.  Individuals who feel they have a voice at the table, feel motivated because what they do matters, not only to them, but to their leaders and their organizations as well.  A leader that can help an individual create a personal vision motivates an individual to not only meet their goals, but meet the goals of the organization.  As a result, a win-win is created for everyone, resulting in an effective outcome for all.  Positive motivation works.

Great points for us to ponder this week.  Let’s tug on these strings a wee bit more as we move into our discussions and see where this takes us.

Enjoy your week and happy thinking!

Dr. C

Additional Resources
Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.   
Senge, P., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Smith, B., & Kleiner, A. (1994). The Fifth discipline Fieldbook: Strategies for Building a Learning Organization.

Connors, R., Smith, T., & Hickman, C. (2004). The Oz Principle: Getting results through individual and organizational accountability. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
Jones, G. R. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (1987). The leadership challenge: How to get extraordinary things done in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2007). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Pierce, J. L., & Newstrom, J. W. (2011).  Leaders and the leadership process: Building self-assessments and applications (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday Books.
Senge, P., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Smith, B., & Kleiner, A. (1994). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies for building a learning organization. New York, NY: Currency Books.

**For more helpful tips on doctoral publishing, please join us for a free webinar (a $97 value!) by going to . Please feel free to share your comments!

June 20th, 2011 by admin

Leave a comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.