About Me

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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Significance of Task Significance

Summary by: Ian B. Mondrow

Task significance is defined as the perception that one's job has a positive impact on other people. Research on task significance has been limited because many studies focuses on cross-sectional designs that were unsuccessful in proving task significance impacted job performance. Job performance is perceived effectiveness of one's behavior that work strive to achieve organization initiatives. In addition, there are limited studies that manipulate task significance with other job characteristics. Grant (2008) sets out to determine if relational mechanisms (specifically: perceived social impact & perceived social worth)  and boundary conditions (specifically: conscientiousness and pro-social values) mediates task significance using three experiments.

Grant (2008) utilized a university fundraising organization as his first sample. 33 callers were split into 3 conditions that include: (1)a task significant condition where participants read 2 stories on how their job can impact others, (2) a personal benefit condition where participants read 2 stories about how the job benefitted the individual and (3) a control group with no manipulation. The data that was collected was measured pre-intervention and post-intervention. The results were quite promising. Results found that callers in the task significant condition increased the amount of pledges earned significantly, t(11) = 4.60, p = .001. The control group and personal benefit group showed no significant improvement in the post-implementation. The  task significant group continued to shine as they showed an increase in the amount of money earned following the intervention, t(11) = 4.51, p =.001. Once again, no significant improvement was present for the control group and the personal benefit group. Grant's initial study was a success in proving that task significance may actually positively impact job performance.

The researcher and his assistants return to the same fundraising organization, which had already experienced a full turnover of all staff. Before the intervention, all participants completed a self-assessment measuring conscientiousness and prosocial values (one's value of protecting and promoting the welfare of others). In addition, data regarding job performance was collected.Participants were split into two groups: control and task significance. Upon intervention, participants in the control group were asked to read about the organization's policies, while the task significance group read two stories portraying how the job has helped other people. Results show that [once again] the task significance group obtained more pledges than the control group, t(32) = 2.03, p = .05.  A OLS regression indicated that individuals with high prosocial values had a strong effect when they encountered the task significance condition. Again, Grant (2008) has demonstrated that task significance can have a positive impact on job performance.

You may be thinking that this study is limited because it was conducted with the same organization. In fact, Grant (2008) conducted a similar study with lifeguards at public pools. In this study there was no control group, but a personal benefit group and task significance group. He found that lifeguards in the task significance group committed more hours to their job, were more likely to help, and experienced an increase in one's perceived social worth  and social impact. Therefore, this study can be applied to a diverse population.

This study can make valuable contributions to training managers for performance evaluations. HR professionals can coach managers on utilizing a task significant outlook when addressing areas for improvement (for an individual employee). According to this study, if a manager informs an employee how their improved performance could help others, the employee is likely to understand the value of the specific task. To be most effective, the manager must provide this logic for each individual task (instead of the overall position) that requires improvement.

As humans, we want to know that we are valuable. Therefore, by providing feedback based on task significance, one can see how their performance can positively impact the organization and its stakeholders.

Reference: Grant, A.M. (2008). The significance of task significance: Job performance effects, relational mechanisms and boundary conditions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 198-124.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Repealing of DADT can pave the way for equality

Over 13,500 men and women were dishonorably discharged from the US Military  as a result of President Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) legislation. What originally was intended to protect members of the GLBT community, ended up hurting them.  That all came to a change in the December of 2010. Members of the GLBT community were starting to lose hope in President Obama in fear that he will never fight for equality. He proved them all wrong on December 22nd, when the legislation of DADT was finally repealed.

With DADT no longer in effect, the country is moving one step closer to equality regardless of sexual orientation. Currently, there is no Federal law preventing employers from terminating employees due to their sexual orientation. Some states offer protection but it is not universal across the US. One hopes that DADT will pave the way for the inclusion of sexual orientation in EEOC as a protected class. DADT was a large obstacle to overcome but now comes the time to protect every U.S. citizen regardless of his/her sexual orientation.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Diversity-Friendly Holiday Party

By: Ian B. Mondrow, M.A.

The holidays are a joyous time of view. From delicious foods to the anticipation of exchanging gifts. However, the holidays can be an offensive or neglected time for those that do not observe the holidays. Christmas has a tendency to obtain more attention than other holidays and thus Jews, Kwanzaa observers and Muslims are often overlooked. Just recently, my client held a holiday pot luck and my coworker decided to compose a Parody to "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Although the poem did not mention Christmas, the fact that it was based on a Christmas poem alarmed me, specifically since there were not other activities to cater to other religions. If employees feel excluded, it can have a negative effect on their commitment to the organization and their quality of work.

Given this incident, I felt it would be beneficial to compose a blog entry that emphasized how to coordinate a diversity-friendly holiday party. When planning holiday parties, I think the best mindset for any event coordinator should be "all or nothing." In other words, it is suggested that the party include all December holidays or not focus around any holidays.

Planning an inclusive holiday party is rather simple, it just takes extra thought. First off, decorations should include components from each holiday. Therefore, there can be Christmas lights/trees, Hanukkah dreidels, and a Kwanzaas Mishumaa Saba. In regards to activities, be sure that if one holiday is represented, that other activities are done to observe other holidays. The same rule applies to food. If holiday dishes are being made, be sure that the entrees of other cultures are included as well.

Hosting a non-denominational party is a simple alternative as well. Instead of holding a "holiday party", host an "employee appreciation party". This party does not focus on the holidays but rather the commitment and hard work on the employees. The decorations will not need to reflect the holiday season and employees will feel engaged by their employers.

Do not overlook the power of exclusion and inclusion. It is very easy to exclude other religions and cultures due to our own personal bias. It is important to understand that while Christmas or Hanukkah may be important to you, it may have no value to another employee. Religion is a sensitive topic for all and I imagine this post is likely offending someone. However, I want to emphasize that the purpose of any company party is not to celebrate the holiday but rather to enjoy the company of your coworkers and celebrate the hard work within the organization.