How to create better citizens in your workplace | Jared Valdron, University of Waterloo

How to create better citizens in your workplace | Jared Valdron, University of Waterloo


[MUSIC PLAYING] You know, whether you’re
from sunny California or frigid Canada
like me, we all want to see our organizations thrive. When it comes to
organizational success, researchers have found that
it’s often through behaviors outside of one’s formal
job description– known as citizenship– that
can often have the most value. For example, you may say that
employee who regularly engages in additional work tasks,
such as helping out a fellow employee, is
high in citizenship. But on the other
hand of the spectrum are deviant behaviors
which are counterproductive to organizational success. You may say then that someone
who is high in deviance may engage in behaviors
like stealing office supplies for personal use. Something my
colleagues and I were interested in studying was
what types of employees are high in citizenship and
what types are high in deviance. In our minds, we
might intuitively– when I say these citizens
and deviants– in our minds we have these ideas. Someone pops into our mind. But what’s interesting is that
it isn’t necessarily that way. What’s interesting
is that we usually think that they are two
very distinct people. But our results suggest
something different. In reality, we’ve
shown that– we’ve suggested that,
essentially, we think of these citizens and deviants
as two very separate people. But our results suggest
that often times they’re actually the exact same
people in an organization. It’s almost as if they’re
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You know, I know someone else
already used that reference. And I’ll be the
Canadian in the room, and I’ll apologize for that. But yeah, it’s really
interesting to think about. What’s the potion? What catalyzes
this transformation from model employee to deviant? And as someone who
studies the dark side of organizational behavior,
I have my suspicions. Does the relationship
with the supervisor have anything to do with it? To investigate this,
my colleagues and I did a simple survey
process where we asked employees about
their citizenship and deviance behaviors, as well as their
relationship with a supervisor. What did we find? Well, as you can
see here, when we look under normal
supervision conditions, there isn’t much of a
difference between those low in citizenship and high
in citizenship with respect to deviance. But where things get
really interesting is when we look at
those who say they’ve been abused by the supervisors. Here we see that it’s
actually the employees who are highest in citizenship–
those who did the most good– that actually
engage in the most trouble making, the most
deviance, when they feel they’ve been mistreated. In other words, the
potion that we’re looking for that transforms
model citizens to deviants was abuse of
supervision all along. Further studies
revealed that something called moral licensing
is probably at play. You’re probably familiar
with this notion. It’s the idea that
doing something good can give someone the
right to do something bad. Imagine an employee
who just engaged in unpaid overtime in
order to finish a project and then is called a
slacker by the supervisor the very next day. Feeling unrecognized
and mistreated, that employee might feel
justified in falsely calling in sick the next day
in order to balance the scales. Through this simple
process, a model employee turned into a deviant at the
drop of the managerial hat. But what exactly is
abuse of supervision? What actually
matters in this case isn’t the objective
levels of abuse but rather the perceived
levels of them. In this way it’s quite
possible for employees to feel mistreated despite their
supervisor’s best intentions and without them even knowing. And that becomes
really interesting when we look at different
sort of personality variables like entitlement. And people who are especially
entitled, for example, have been shown to be
more likely to construe supervisory behavior
as abusive and then engage in moral
licensing and become sort of deviant in this way. Why does this matter to
the current workforce? As you can see from
this graph, Generation Y overtook Baby Boomers as
the largest generation in the workforce in 2015. And Generation Y–
for reference– is those aged 19 to 35. And while this
generation has plenty to offer the working
world, they also score highest on scales of
entitlement in any generation thus far. This is really problematic
because considering the relationship
between entitlement and moral licensing,
this creates the framework for a
perfect storm to occur and for this to grow as a
problem for organizations nationwide. Now, the question
arises, what can you do to prevent this from
happening to your organization? How do you prevent
all your Dr. Jekylls from turning into Mr. Hydes
after you’ve hired them? Well, obviously, you can try
to prevent actual supervisor abuse, but most
organizations do that anyway. What I think an
organization should focus on is reducing perceived
supervisory abuse. For example, those
in Generation Y tend to have different
expectations about work relationships and
starting their new job. For example, they tend to
expect rapid advancement and the development
of new skills in early and entry
level positions. And you have to speak to,
clarify, and even limit those expectations up front
to ensure that everyone’s on the same page and
those expectations don’t lead to a gap that
becomes very problematic. But even if you
listen to nothing else in this presentation,
I implore you to take all– I implore
you to acknowledge the differences between
work force generations and take active steps to
suit their individual needs. But the story has a
silver lining as well. This isn’t all doom and gloom. The research suggests
that even if you have these deviants and
these troublemakers, with some small changes
in supervisor behavior, those troublemakers
can become the best citizens you’ve ever
seen– just like our friend the Grinch here. That’s all I have for today. Thanks for listening. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *