In seeking to match individuals to jobs, it is necessary to examine the motivation of the individual. It varies with different individuals. Different factors will affect different people in different ways. Besides, the motivation of any one individual is likely to vary in accordance with his personal circumstances and the situation he is in.
Therefore, work structuring or restructuring requires a considerable amount of sophisticated design effort, or it may, to some extent, be within the control of the immediate supervisor or manager. He needs to ensure that the work of subordinates is structured, as far as possible to take into account and capitalize on their motivational needs as theorized by Maslow Hertzberg whose studies have not been covered in this article.
The manger may need to consider the validity of his own assumptions about his subordinates, so that he neither overestimates nor underestimates their appetite for work and responsibility.
A further complication is that brought about by the high level of unemployment. Employees may be increasingly frustrated in their jobs because of lack of promotion opportunities, work place injustices and lack of jobs elsewhere. This can lead to employees building their jobs up, both as a relief from boredom and as a means of obtaining an upgrading. Take the case of a graduate taken to do a routine clerical job. Although he may be glad to have got employment, he may rapidly become bored because of lack of intellectual stimulation. Consequently, the most interesting parts of the job may be expanded and as much as possible the routine aspects ignored.
This can lead to job distortion. Other pressures which can lead to job distortion may arise because of the frustrated desire of job holders to obtain jobs they consider to be in line with their ability. It also happens with people who have “outgrown” their existing jobs and find that they cannot easily progress. The solution for this individual caught in this trap may be to build his job up and particularly, if there is a formal job evaluation scheme, claim an upgrading.
This happens a lot in the bank industry. In my view, many job evaluation schemes are losing meaning because of claims for such upgrading. There is also the danger that poor supervisory control may lead to subordinates to take a wrong of work in order to engineer an upgrading that is not in line with organizational requirements. A possible solution is for the employers to exploit any opportunities for job enrichment.
It is also necessary to recognize that people have lives outside work and this will, and indeed should affect their aspirations at work. Therefore the achievement of an appropriate balance between work and other activities is an issue that needs to needs to be considered by all employees, including mangers and not just employees with domestic problems.
The total immersion of a person in his job may not be best for him and his employer. I am not suggesting that it is a bad thing for people to be involved in their work, far from it. The issue here, as in most things, is finding the appropriate balance. The dangers to the employer of having a workaholic are that he may be difficult to replace when the time comes, he may damage his health, and he may lose the sense of perspective and good judgment that comes from having other interests as a counterbalance.
The risks to the workaholic include what he will do when he retires or when he is dismissed. Employees are increasingly being treated like expandable commodities. Rwandan employers are yet to emulate the Japanese cradle-to-the-grave personnel practices. Therefore, with the many injustices in the work places in Rwanda, and given our high level of unemployment, people are now forced to seek their developmental needs outside work.
Increasing attention is also now being given to the dangers of managerial stress. Stress may be caused by the problems inherent in a particular job, or the mismatch between the abilities of an individual and the requirements of a job, or a combination of the two. The consequent work style may generate an excessive flow of adrenalin within the body, dependence on physical stimulants such as nicotine and alcohol, and thus prevent an individual from having an appropriate diet and sufficient physical exercise and rest.
Individuals can hardly be expected to change their personalities so that their basic responses to situations are altered, but they can, at least, try and move out of or change a situation if that is the source of unacceptable levels of stress. It is good to remember also that people tend to live up to, or down to, the expectations that are made of them. In matching people to jobs, managers need also to remember that both sides of this equation can and do change.
People can, for example, develop, so that the work that stretched them historically has now become boring. Jobs too can change, for example because of technological change. The attempt to match people and jobs is a continuous process.