Organizational Behavior: Strategic HR Management

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 14
Words: 3922
Reading time:
15 min
Study level: PhD


The research paper on organizational behavior and strategic human resources management critically evaluate evidence on motivation at work and what managers can do to increase motivation and productivity in their organization on part one. In part two the paper discusses career anchors and Career Orientation Inventory (CIO) and I outline my dominant career anchors after taking CIO. The paper goes further to discuss the extent to which my current Job matches my career anchors and the effects matches/mismatches on my work attitudes and motivations have. Finally, I discuss recommendations that are evidence-based for action to increase congruence between my current job and dominant career anchors.


The management process of an organization should consider the management of the people working for it as an important part. This is because the human element and the organization are synonymous according to (Clark, 2003). In an organization that is well managed, the average worker is considered as the basis for quality and productivity and not so much as its capital investment. Effectiveness in such an organization is measured on the degree to which the goals and objectives are realized and to do this, a spirit of cooperation and a sense of commitment and satisfaction among its employees and other partners should be of the main concern. This satisfaction and commitment in work among the employees will come as a result of strong and effective motivation in all the organization’s departments and management levels (Tella, 2007). This leads to the question of what motivation is.

Motivation is described by Clark, (2003) as a psychological process that awakens, energizes, directs s and upholds behavior and performance. In a workplace, this simply means the process through which people are stimulated to act and achieve desired goals. Work motivation is also described by Wright, (2003) as a process that instigates and sustains goal-oriented performance where the employee’s thinking is energized, enthusiasm is fueled and positive and negative emotional responses to work and life, in general, is differentiated with an emphasis on the positive responses. Knowledge, skills, and even talents would not achieve the desired results if they are not accompanied by motivation. It is what converts willingness to act into actions driving people to do something they have never done before or repeating something they have done well. Motivation is what makes people persist on something to achieve a specific goal amid distractions and other important things to be done. It also drives a person either to invest more or less effort in the improvement of the quality and quantity of things done (Tella, 2007).

Related to work motivation are employees’ attitudes towards job satisfaction and organizational commitment which are covered in organizational behavior and human resources management. This is because attitudes and job satisfaction are directly related and organizational commitment should be geared towards influencing attitudes towards the whole organization. Coetze & Schreuder, (2009) says that a strong relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment has been demonstrated by various studies where commitment causes satisfaction, however, this is treated in others differently especially in recent times where downsizing is part of the modern companies.

In Unilever Singapore, employees perceive motivation as an influence on their level of satisfaction and commitment. This study looks at motivation at work and how managers can increase motivation and productivity especially at Unilever Singapore (Donaldson, 2004).

Motivation at work

The behavior of people can be understood by looking at the perceptions, personalities, attitudes, learning, and motivation of individuals as Wright, (2003) says. This is because behavior results from interactions with and actions towards other mediating processes and with the environment itself. Motivation cannot be seen since it is a cognitive process, but, its manifestation is seen in the behavior of a person although it does not influence behavior on its own. The central role of motivation in organizational behavior is recognized by Bratton & Gold, (2001) who say that theories should put a greater emphasis on behavior. Bratton & Gold,(2001) therefore, defines motivation as a process that starts with a psychological need that triggers behavior or a force that is aimed at a goal incentive. This means that to understand motivation one must understand the meaning of, and relationship among needs, incentives, and drives. This view is retaliated by Coetzee, Schreuder, & Tladinyane, (2010) who says that in an organization or a system, motivation is composed of three interrelated elements; needs, drives, and incentives.

Managers in organizations such as Unilever Singapore believe that to achieve organizational goals, the continued commitment of all members is critical, a fact that is supported by management researchers as Clark, (2003) says. Motivation is an important psychological attribute that influences the degree of commitment a person has to an organization and its goals. Managers should understand that factors that cause, channel, and maintain human behavior in a particular assigned course influence commitment. Clark, (2003) adds that managers should know the following basic assumptions about motivation; that it should be assumed to be a good thing, that one feels good about himself/herself if motivated. Secondly, motivation is among several factors that directly affect performance, others are things such as resources, environment, and ability. Thirdly, motivation is assumed by both researchers and managers to be in shortage and, therefore, require a constant refill. Fourthly, managers should know that motivation is a tool for work just like any other in an organization and, therefore, they should know what drives their employees to design jobs and rewards to suit these drives. Finally, motivation is which that encourages employees to perform. Cannon, (2001) adds to the last point by saying that motivation is goal-directed and, therefore, it is within the overall objectives of any organization whether public, private or no-profit.

It has already been established in the above discussion that motivational performance gaps arise when people evade stating something new, resist responsibility for familiar things, switch focus from the important tasks and start doing fewer priority tasks. Also when they reject initiating new ways of meeting new challenges and choose to use old methods to tackle the new challenge which is inadequate Igbaria & Baroudi, (2002). This results in underperformance.

It should, however, be noted that motivation has no direct influence on work performance as Inkson, (2006) says. Motivation leads people to utilize their knowledge and skills in effectively accomplishing their tasks. It is the drive that leads people to initiate, energize and continue the application of their experience and expertise in their tasks. To realize the successful performance of tasks, there is a need for a meeting point of motivation and knowledge with supportive work conditions. In absence of adequate knowledge, motivation would not be enough to realize effective performance (Bratton & Gold, 2001).

Strategies for motivating workers to increase productivity

Employers should be able to meet the needs and demands of their workers be it personal, economic, or non-economic satisfaction. The following are strategies Unilever Singapore or any other multinational should do to motivate its workers.

Salary, wages, and conditions of service

A personnel manager can use salary, wages, and conditions of service as a motivator to his/her staff according to Roos, (2004). To effectively use salary as a motivator as Ross says that there are four components of the salary structure to consider. Job rate means the significance to which the organization attaches to each job and which will either motivate or demotivate the employee. Payment is what the worker takes home for his/her services. This can be used as a motivator to hearten workers or a group of them by paying them according to their performance. Personal or special allowances are given to some workers regarding factors such as scarcity of their particular skill, long service e. t. c. Finally, fringe benefits such as pension and holiday pay, among others are used to motivate employees. Regarding prevailing pay Cilliers, (2000) says that personnel managers should take into consideration what other organizations such as their own are giving their employees before designing or improving their pay structures.

In support of this strategy (Venter & Barkhuizen, 2005) says that money has remained the most important factor in employees’ motivational strategy since the study of employee motivation began. In support of his assertions Venter & Barkhuizen, (2005) cites a 1911 paper by Frederick Taylor and his scientific management associate where they outlined money as the most crucial thing in the industrial worker’s motivation for greater productivity. A personnel manager who wants motivation for higher performance, commitment, and greater satisfaction should consider an incentive wage system. This Venter & Barkhuizen, (2005) says is for the reason that money symbolizes tangible and also intangible goals such as security, power, prestige, and a sense of accomplishment and success. The power of money as a motivator is demonstrated by (Radcliffe, 2005) through the job choice process of his study. The results showed that money has the power to attract, retain and motivate people to perform well. The power of money as a motivator is also echoed by Quesenberry, (2007) who says that personnel managers use the money to reward or punish workers through productivity rewards. The higher-performing employees are rewarded while fear of losing a job is instilled into nonperformers.

Staff training

Work processes in organizations have become increasingly automated as Clark, (2003) says but high productivity in these jobs still depends on the level of motivation of those doing them as well as the effectiveness of the staff. Training staff is an important way of motivating employees and a good training program should be developed. This will give employees a chance for self-improvement and development to meet the challenges and requirements of the ever-changing work environments and advancement in techniques in task performance and technology (Cannon, 2001).

Information availability and communication

Managers in every department in an organization should be able to give relevant information to their subordinates on the outcomes of their actions on others. This is a way of stimulating motivation as workers feel that they matter in the organization (Inkson, 2006). Inkson says that in many organizations people seem to have a sense that improvement in the way departments communicate, cooperate, and collaborate should be given consideration. Provision of information on what is happening around the organization will bring a sort of powerful ‘peer pressure’ as it is referred to by Wright, (2003), that is equated to a group that is running together who will run faster than when running alone and not aware of whereabouts or the pace of other runners. By sharing information, workers can cooperate at the same time compete with each other.

In a study on the link between work motivation and worker’s performance, Wright, (2003) found out that motivation improves work performance and job satisfaction. This was a study done on teacher-librarians where their work characteristics were divided into four major groups; knowledge base, technical skills, values, and beliefs. The study reported that they succeeded in meeting this task because they were motivated by a deeply-held set of values and beliefs regarding a shared vision. In another study on motivation and job satisfaction of social workers and regard to agency-influenced work and employment conditions such as salary, fringe benefits, job security, safety, and physical surroundings Bratton & Gold, (2001) found a correlation between these factors.

Complete the ‘Career Orientations Inventory’ and identify your dominant Career Anchors

Unilever Singapore has experienced many changes in recent years due to external and internal factors. This has resulted in changes in the organization of work and the composition of the labor force which in turn has led to changes in the content, processes, and targets for career intervention measures and the services given at my workplace. Amid these factors of change, the human resources aspect of the organization has become very crucial in the achievement of its goals and maintaining competitiveness in the global economy. The changes in the organization of work at Unilever have also changed the formation of a person’s career development. New career paths have come up and others are still being predicted which will depend more on how an individual manages his/her career as opposed to how the company manages our careers. As Schein, (2006) say, individuals, are beginning to take ownership of their careers this means that a more subjective definition of careers is more important than the objectively defined careers by organizations. Furthermore, the way people are defining careers psychologically is changing a fact supported by Coetze & Schreuder, (2009). This is due to the social and economic factors or pressures that are in turn affecting people’s beliefs about themselves, the people around them, and the work environment. The result is that people are looking at careers as a way of improving their lifestyles and realizing more freedom from laid down work roles. It is also put forward by Inkson, (2006) that the younger generations are in favor of managing their careers instead of following hierarchical models.

Career anchors is a concept that describes a career as a model of self-perceived talents and capabilities, basic values, and a sense of drives and needs regarding a career that impacts on decisions a person makes about a career according to Quesenberry, (2007). This is expounded more by Schein’s career anchor theory as cited by Wee, (2006) which says that individuals develop the self-concept regarding a career with experience and as they are required to make choices about careers they become more aware of the values and motives that guide the choices they make. This means the self-concept becomes the stabling force such that they are the ones referred to when career choices are made and they will not be given up. A person can have one or more dominant career anchors that characterize a person’s career and work preferences. A composite of these anchors explains why people are engaged in what they are doing and or are committed to a certain organization.

Career Orientations Inventory (COI) on the other hand, is a self-measuring tool of eight career anchors with 41 items, and a score is obtained for each anchor and an average is calculated of these scores (Coetze & Schreuder, 2009).

As an information Systems professional, my major career anchor is the technical content of the work that I do and the functional area to which I am assigned. I prefer to work in an organization where the skills are fully utilized and where I excel and to be rewarded according to my skills level and have an opportunity to develop my career in the field of information systems. I also value independence and desire to work on projects that have clearly outlined objectives and deadlines. This will allow me to work without supervision and in a way that I am comfortable with. What I expect are rewards that are given regarding the quality and quantity of work. I also desire a wholesome life where the needs of the individual, family, and career are considered. This is the kind of job that will allow flexibility to attend to other aspects of my life and an organization that recognizes and respects this need. A flexible schedule, sabbaticals, maternity/paternity leaves, day-care facilities, and paid annual leaves are what I expect from the company. Another thing that I look for in a career is the chance to explore and be creative through challenges. Creating new solutions for any problem in my field is what makes my job more exciting and opportunities for doing this are valued. I would also love to work in an organization where lateral rather hierarchical career paths exist where people work as teams and I can communicate with any person without the need for formalities (Donaldson, (2004) and Coetzee, Schreuder, & Tladinyane, (2010).

Evaluate the extent to which your current job matches your dominant Career Anchors

Unilever Singapore understands the importance of its human resources in the achievement of its goals. The organizational and communication structure is highly decentralized and one can get in touch with the person or information needed at the click of a button on PeopleSoft and BUSSINESSOBJECTS, eliminating the need for the tedious hierarchical communications structures, and most importantly careers are developed along with this lateral model (Unilever, 2008).

Information systems management is a major business function of the company, with the company using different types of these such as PeopleSoft and BusinessObjects to improve decision making at any level of the company’s operations. This is also made important by the fact that it is a multinational and despite its decentralized nature, we still need to share a lot with other subsidiaries and the headquarters on regular basis. This makes my skills utilized at the same time, an avenue to creatively find solutions to problems that arise in the company as a result of this. It is very challenging to work in this field at Unilever (Unilever, 2008).

Another thing why I still work for Unilever Singapore and I am committed to it, is that the working environment is very supportive and the working schedule is very flexible for me. Every year I get 32 days of paid annual leave in addition to days off as needed to attend to family emergencies. I work on a three-year contract (which is subject to renewal) with some fringe benefits to develop, implement and maintain specific information systems projects and am now working on BUSSINESSOBJECTS, and PeopleSoft and such I do not need to go to the office all day from eight-five O’clock and sometimes I work at home and others, when I am outside the country where it allows me to take my family with me (Unilever, 2008).

Drawing upon relevant OB/HRM theories, predict the likely effects of any matches/mismatches on your work-related attitudes and motivation

Coetze & Schreuder, (2009) says that people are the core of any organization. When they feel the organization is responding to their needs and supporting them, commitment and loyalty result. Human resources theories assume that first organizations are there to serve human needs. Secondly, organizations and people need each other since on one hand organizations cannot function without ideas, energy, and talent and people need salaries, opportunities, and careers. Finally, it is important to fit these needs well to avoid exploitation and victimization by both (Bratton & Gold, 2001).

One of the things that make me motivated to work in this organization is the level of confidence that has been put into my work skills. I am given my tasks in the project and the period to complete them without much supervision, and the other team members most which do not reside in Singapore are given theirs and we are in constant communication to check on progress and other issues. This way, I can do what I am good at and have the confidence to tackle the challenges that arise as we implement the project (Igbaria & Baroudi, 2002).

At Unilever Singapore, the work environment is very positive where people have developed good working relations and support each other in times of pressure and stress. Happiness, humor, and joy are feelings that I have whenever I am here. The offices are bright, lively and one can fashion his/her work according to their tastes as long as it is not intrusive. People are also able to meet during tea and lunch breaks in the common area to chat, share and laugh irrespective of their titles (Igbaria & Baroudi, 2002).

Financial incentives that I get from Unilever Singapore are another thing that keeps me motivated. My pay is gauged according to the performance on the last project I accomplished and is reviewed every time I am renewing my contract. In addition to this, I get bonuses on every successful mini project that increases performance and productivity not only in Singapore but also in other subsidiaries. In addition to this, I get paid annual leaves with a holiday package if I can visit designated countries and drop in on the subsidiaries to help them with some issues or offer training (Roos, 2004).

Recommendations for actions you can take to increase the congruence between your current job and your dominant Career Anchors

In increasing congruence between my job and my dominant career anchors, I will start using the Unilever ‘work smart’ program to manage my organization of work more simply and manage my time better in three aspects or levels. In this program, I will be able to manage my work and time on the first level while on the second level, will take care of how I operate within the project at the team level. The third level involves simplification of my work regarding organizational processes and engagement. By using this program, I will be able to priorities my work, manage my time and coordinate better with teammates. This will save time I can dedicate to other things like tackling new issues at work, training others, and more time to spend with my family (Donaldson, 2004).

With more time on my hands in organizing my work, I will be able to work more from the office to help experience problems with information systems on a face-to-face basis as opposed to technical support, which I do more through the phone and email. This will also leave me more time to attend other aspects of the organization that I normally miss while traveling on business or working from home such as ‘get to know each other’ day with the senior managers and board of directors representatives and working out in the company fitness center where I will be able to bond more with other staff members (Donaldson, (2004) and Igbaria & Baroudi, (2002).


Human capital is the most important part of any organization. It is this part of the organization that determines whether it achieves its goals or not. It is, therefore, important to cultivate a spirit of cooperation and a sense of commitment and satisfaction among its employees. This is done through strong and effective work motivation. Motivation will enable people to persist on what is important, focus on priority tasks, initiate new ways of doing things, and put the effort into improving the quality and quantity of things. In an organization, there are several strategies that a personnel manager can implement to motivate his staff such as training, making information available to staff, and communicating openly and clearly, while at the same time listening to responses from the staff. He/she can also improve the salary, wages, and conditions of work for the employees. While this does not translate into motivation directly, studies have shown that there is a link between work motivation and workers’ performance.

Career anchors describe what a person believes are his talents and capabilities and the values, forces, and needs that one holds regarding a career. These influences the choices one makes when it comes to careers. Career Orientation Inventory (COI) on the other hand, is a measuring tool to the career anchors as described by Schein. My dominant career anchors are technical/ functional competence, lifestyle values, a sense of autonomy, and a value for challenges. These are well-matched in Unilever Singapore and this is the reason I remain working there and committed to the organization. This has resulted in a high level of confidence in what I do, a good and supportive working environment, and a feeling of success in terms of career growth and financial rewards. To increase the congruence between my career anchors and my current job, I will adopt the ‘work smart’ program to manage my work better and work more in the office to solve daily problems on a face-to-face basis.

Reference List

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