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Hackman & Oldham's Job Characteristics Model

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  1. 0:07 Hackman & Oldham's Job…
  2. 1:54 Skill Variety & Task Identity
  3. 3:09 Task Significance & Autonomy
  4. 4:26 Feedback From Job
  5. 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Taught by

Jennifer Lombardo

Hackman & Oldman's job characteristicmModel is one of the only approaches to job design that focuses on person-fit theory. The individual's personality, behaviors and task accomplishments are all taken under consideration to describe the perfect fit for the job.

Hackman & Oldham's Job Characteristics Model

Squeaky Clean is a manufacturer of cleaning supplies. They try to match individuals with a job that corresponds to their overall work personality.

For example, Squeaky Clean accountants should be detail-oriented, obey rules and regulations and enjoy analyzing information to find discrepancies. They are usually more inwardly directed and think before they speak. On the other hand, Squeaky salespeople should be outgoing and enjoy interacting with people.

As you can see, certain jobs are best suited for individuals with specific personality traits, values and beliefs. Since good job design is dependent on understanding a person's fit for the position, Squeaky Clean has decided to revamp their job design process. They have chosen to adopt the Hackman & Oldham job characteristic model.

Hackman & Oldham's job characteristic model is one of the only approaches that focuses on looking at job design through a person-fit theory. Under this theory, the individual's personality, behaviors and task accomplishments are all taken under consideration to describe the perfect fit for the job. In addition, the employee's beliefs, values and ethnic background can also play a role in how they respond to a job.

The theory was developed in the 1970s and is composed of five core job characteristics. The five characteristics are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback from the job. The characteristics are combined with three psychological states to determine the personal and work outcome. The three psychological states are meaningfulness, responsibility for outcomes and knowledge of actual results of the work. Let's take a look at the theory in relation to Squeaky Clean.

Skill Variety

The first characteristic of the theory is called skill variety, or the amount to which a job includes diverse activities and allows the use of multiple skills and talents of the worker. The psychological state that is associated with this characteristic is that the employee experiences meaningfulness of work.

At Squeaky Clean, workers who have personalities that enjoy variety and challenge find work with high skill variety meaningful. For example, marketing managers have to enjoy diverse skills, such as designing, promoting, selling and presenting. The end result of this type of job is high internal work motivation.

Task Identity

The second characteristic of the model also provides meaningfulness in work. Task identity equals the amount the job requires an employee to finish the completion of a product or process from beginning to end. Some individuals enjoy working on an entire process rather than task-diverse activities. If the correct employee is positioned in this job, they will also find meaningfulness in their daily work.

Squeaky Clean allows their advertising and design department to work on all steps of the creative process. Workers start with an idea and are able to complete the process until the final results of a new package, ad or commercial.

Task Significance

The third characteristic also gives employees' jobs meaning. Task significance is the amount of impact the employee has on other people and their work, whether in the organization or the outside world. This also can lead to work meaningfulness.

Squeaky Clean's legal department hires individuals who care about social responsibility and producing products that are good for the environment. The individuals are motivated to help protect the company, customers and the environment. This also provides high-quality performance.

Autonomy

The next characteristic deals with providing responsibility as a motivating factor for employees. The fourth characteristic of the model is autonomy, which is the amount of freedom and independence the job provides to the employee. The psychological state that results in this characteristic is the motivating factor of responsibility.

Squeaky Clean tries to train and motivate employees to work with minimal interference from managers. Individuals who are creative and out-of-the-box thinkers excel in this type of position. The end result is that employees should be happy and have high satisfaction to be able to work independently. The employees who work in the product design section of the company must have autonomy in order to create the coolest cleaning product.

Feedback from Job

The last characteristic is feedback from the job. This provides knowledge to the employee about how they are doing in their position. Certain jobs require more feedback than others. This results in lower absenteeism and turnover.

For example, the retail section of the company that sells cleaning services requires customer feedback. Based on customer feedback, employees understand if they are completing the cleaning services in an excellent manner.

Lastly, a survey called a job diagnostic survey can be used to measure all of the elements mentioned above to determine how a job falls in the characteristic model. Once the job is labeled appropriately, then the employee with similar characteristics can be placed in the position, and a match is made.

Lesson Summary

Hackman & Oldham's job characteristic model is one of the only approaches to job design that focuses on person-fit theory. The individual's personality, behaviors and task accomplishments are all taken under consideration to describe the perfect fit for the job. The five characteristics are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback from the job. The characteristics are combined with three psychological states to determine the personal and work outcome. The three psychological states are meaningfulness, responsibility for outcomes and knowledge of actual results of the work.

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