work design

Designing work in a way that it is intrinsically rewarding will increase overall job satisfaction in your office. Extrinsic compensation such as transactional rewards make people feel less autonomous. Extrinsic motivation alters employees’ perceived locus of causality (PLOC) from internal to external, and they no longer believe they are making a free choice. The perception of compulsion eats away at their intrinsic motivation. Within the workplace there are certain tasks that an employee is required to complete and it takes a special set of skills for managers to shift the an employee’s perceived locus of causality so that they complete necessary tasks willingly. For instance, providing employees with choices within a set of tasks increases feelings of autonomy, shifting their PLOC from external to internal, thereby increasing intrinsic motivation.

Employees must feel competent and autonomous to be intrinsically motivated. Positive feedback is foundational because it sharpens an employees’ sense of competence. Negative feedback should never be used. Negative feedback decreases perceived competence and erodes intrinsic motivation. Employees must feel autonomous to perform at their best; they need to feel that they are trusted to do a good job.

Negative feedback is counter-productive to employee development because it ultimately leads to avoidance behaviour. Instead of improving future performance, employees simply optimise behaviour to avoid negative feedback in the future, not necessarily to improve productivity. This is the same brand of poison as presenteeism because from the manager’s perspective there is no longer anything to complain about but it is superficial. Negative feedback activates avoidance networks in the brain which means employees are incentivised to hide their mistakes for as long as possible to avoid the stress of receiving negative feedback. This behaviour occurs at every level of organisation.