Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Monitoring 'self-managing' employees may provoke negative work behaviours

Good things can come when members of an organisation are allowed to manage their own work, such as greater job satisfaction and better adherence with organisational policy. But this involves management doing an uncomfortable thing: surrendering control. Often, organisations compensate by coupling self-management with surveillance techniques of the  close-up or electronic variety. New research suggests that self-management has even more benefits, but that mashing it with surveillance can end up bringing out the worst in people.

Authors Jaclyn Jenson and Jana Raver conducted two studies, the first looking to establish whether people given freedom would use it to perform more positive, discretionary acts, so-called organisational citizenship behaviours or OCBs. By mocking up a fictional consultancy, the researchers could recruit 211 participants (in their own minds, employees on a one-off, very short-term contract) to show up, review investment advice, and write it up in the form of a report. Before starting their short-term shift, they were given Terms of Service both printed and read aloud; these either emphasised self-management or other-management, a promise cashed out by the shift supervisor sitting passively or actively pacing the room. The work involved discretionary elements, such as how long the report and whether to complete or skip some optional questionnaires. The amount of discretional effort  was turned into a OCB score: individuals in the self-management condition scored higher, making efforts over and above what was demanded.

Study two surveyed individuals across a range of organisations, to offer a field replication and extend the investigation to understand how surveillance interacts with self-management. The survey introduced a further outcome measure, counter-productive work behaviours (CWBs), choosing to undermine the organisation in some way, such as deliberately dragging your heels on a task. The data from the 423 respondents suggested that surveillance in itself encouraged CWBs, but this was driven by its interaction with self-management. When individuals believed they were supposed to be self managing - 'It is my responsibility, and not my organization’s, to monitor my own workplace behavior and job performance' - but the reality was that they were being monitored,  their CWBs were markedly higher. Jensen and Raver predicted this finding, seeing it as an example of psychological reactance: when freedom you believe you deserve is seemingly taken away, you will try to recover autonomy through other means, even at the expense of the organisation. Analysing trust in the organisation, also surveyed, revealed that the normally observed relationship between self management and higher trust was severed once surveillance entered the mix.

This research suggests that if you don't want to evoke petty revenges from employees, it's vital that cultures of self-management aren't tempered by close surveillance. By resisting that temptation, you're likely to yield benefits, your people more willing to perform beyond what is expected.

ResearchBlogging.orgJaclyn M. Jensen, & Jana L. Raver (2012). When Self-Management and Surveillance Collide: Consequences for Employees’ Organizational Citizenship and Counterproductive Work Behaviors Group Organization Management, 37 (3), 308-346 DOI: 10.1177/1059601112445804


  1. I agree that When being monitored on a job that is mainly self motivated can cause an individual to become less motivated. If someone believes that they are responsible for the quality and outcome of their own work then they hold themselves to a higher standard. When someone has the freedom of being in charge of their own progress and quality of their work and then someone invades that independance will cause them to react in a completely different way.

  2. thanks for sharing..

  3. employee benefit trust

    Legallly reduce corporation tax and avoid income tax with the successor to the Emplyee Benefit Trust (EBT) the EFRBS II. Employee Benefit Trusts.Announcement of a settlement opportunity for the users of Employee Benefit trusts, to obtain certainty quicker than by waiting for the results of litigation

  4. Employee benefit trusts are often used as part of employee share schemes or to pay deferred bonuses to high earning employees.
    Vlick here

  5. Thanks for providing such useful information for us. I appreciate for this post and I would like to big thanks, will come back on your blogs in future for gathering more information. Lastly huge thanks. staff location management software

  6. Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the best I've found out so far.
    harga cmp

  7. Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the best I've found out so far. jual body slim herbal asli dan murah

  8. My boss is definitely uses one of this apps to spy on us

  9. I must say that I truly fancy all of your blog posts mostly Silverlight development, it's very educational. I'm at this moment hooked to psychics in Adelaide and your web page. Keep it up!
    sandal pria online
    sandal online murah
    jual sendal

  10. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. sandal terbaru
    Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. sendal
    Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work. sandal pria terbaru

  11. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author. sandal kulit pria model terbaru
    I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come back in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a nice weekend!think you’ve made some truly interesting points

  12. Hi, superb blog check out management software & performance monitoring software are in high demand since it helps a lot in tracking the regular activities of the employees. Visit here

  13. When you feel any kind of body pain, it is best if you go to the doctor for treating it. Sometimes body pain can be the symptom of some serious disease. Sometimes body pain attacks us suddenly because of which you may not able to get the help of the doctor. In those situations, to get quick and effective pain relief, you can take the help of painkillers though they cannot cure your pain. As your painkiller, choose Tramadol 50 mg which is very effective. This painkiller is available in the market with the name of Ultram. To use this painkiller, you can get it easily. Buy Tramadol online and get this painkiller at an affordable price
    Buy Tramadol online