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The Job Characteristics Model focuses around five areas: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. Let us look at each one of these individually.


  • Skill variety–provides challenges for the employee, utilizing existing skills and developing new ones.
  • Task identity–although we do not want to necessarily admit, we do not like going home at the end of a workday not feeling like we have not completed anything. In addition, we want to do something more than “assist someone” all day. Task identity gives the position ownership of a task, holding the employee responsible for the beginning to the end.
  • Task significance–As employees, we all want to feel that we add value to the company, whether it is sweeping the floors or signing checks. Our positions need to contribute to the success of the organization.
  • Autonomy–is a self-explanatory term. Independence tends to assist in building person’s confidence and self-esteem.
  • Job Feedback–We all need feedback. We need to make sure we are on the right track and meeting the standards set by the organization.


Technology, once again, enters the picture in designing jobs. Machines have replaced functions previously performed by humans. Just the other day, I was talking with some colleagues regarding technology in education. Some of us can remember when we attended math class and they would not allow us to use calculators or having to balance a set of books manually and not on the computer. Technology has permitted us to focus our learning in others and not so much on skills. Is that necessarily a good thing? I do not think we will ever know unless all systems fail. Finally, technology even affects the physical layout and location of our organizations.


Would you consider your current position as a “motivating job?” If so, use the above five areas to describe your position. If not, use the five terms and describe how you would make your job a “motivating job.”




Throughout each of the management functions, we will be required to make decisions. Faced with complex environments, limited information and cognitive limitations, people tend to use simplifying strategies for decision-making. These strategies are called “heuristics,” and their use can cause decision errors. An awareness of judgmental heuristics and their potential biases can help improve our decision-making capabilities.

The “availability heuristic” occurs when people use information “readily available” from memory on a basis for assessing a current event or situation. An example is deciding not to invest in a new product, based on your recollection of how well a similar new product performed in the recent past. The “potential Bias” is that the readily available information may be fallible and represent irrelevant factors. The new product that recently failed may have been a good idea that was released to market at the wrong time of year.


The “representative heuristic” occurs when people assess the likelihood of something occurring based on its similarity to a stereotyped set of occurrences. An example is deciding to hire someone for a job vacancy, simply because he/she graduated from the same school attended by your last and most successful new hire. The “potential bias” is that the representative stereotype may fail to identify important and unique factors relevant to the decision – the abilities and career expectations of the newly hired person may not fit the job requirements.


The “anchoring and adjustment heuristic” involves making decisions based on adjustments to a previously existing value or starting point. An example is setting a new salary level for an employee by simply raising the prior year’s salary by a reasonable percentage. The “potential bias” is that this may inappropriately bias a decision toward only incremental movement from the starting point. For instance, the individual’s market value may be substantially higher than the existing salary. A routine adjustment won’t keep this person from looking for another job.


We talk about the challenges with planning, do you believe that maybe part of this issues is the inability for management to make effective decisions? Why or why not?

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