This research paper examines the effect of feedback environment on employee commitment, with role clarity being the mediating variable in the public and private sectors organizations of Islamabad & Rawalpindi city. From the previous researches a link was found between feedback environment and employee commitment at workplace, this study attempts to explore this link in the context of Islamabad. To create employee commitment amongst organizational members has become increasingly important in today’s dynamic business environment, because this factor leads to employee retention and a low degree of turnover. For this study a sample size of 200 was taken and different private and public sector organizations were covered in the research work. The research was of hypothesis-testing in nature and responses were collected using standardized questionnaires for each variable. All three variables supervisory and coworker feedback and role clarity proved to be positively associated with employee commitment; with the feedback from coworker source being the strongest in creating employee commitment followed by role clarity and feedback from supervisor source. The mediating effect of role clarity was not found to be significant and there is still an opportunity for further research in this area to explore this link. However the positive association of role clarity with employee commitment represents its importance in creating employee commitment, though its contribution is small, but this very dimension must not be ignored by the managers of the 21st century.
It has become necessary for business firms to satisfy all of their major stakeholders (consumers, employees, clients etc) to remain competitive in today’s dynamic business environment. The satisfaction and commitment level of a firm’s employees is of key importance in determining its human resource strength, which in turn leads to their retention and make an organization able to satisfy the needs of its customers, consumers and clients in both the production and service sectors. Many variables have an impact on the level of commitment of a firm’s employees, some of which are job satisfaction level (with intrinsic and extrinsic factors), the quality of leader-member exchange and the overall feedback environment that an employee works in.
Many researchers put emphasis on providing feedback to employees in order to satisfy them and consider providing feedback to employees to be essential for maintaining and increasing employee motivation and satisfaction. Traditionally the yearly formal performance appraisal/review in private sector organizations and Annual Confidential Report (ACR) in public sector organizations have been considered as the ideal platform for higher authorities (departmental/organizational heads, supervisors, immediate bosses) to provide feedback to employees about how they view their performance. But employees generally report problems and shortfalls regarding the current methodologies used to asses their performance and characterize the overall process as being too much restricted to a performance appraisal period and involving only one feedback source (departmental/organizational heads, supervisors, and immediate bosses).
A qualitative case study by Longenecker and Nykodym (1996) in the public sector illustrated some of the problems associated with traditional performance appraisal method. Employees noted that feedback in performance appraisal was problematic for improving employee motivation and performance, and as a communications tool to improve the manager/subordinate relationship and suggested that managers should:
make more time available for providing performance feedback,
increase their knowledge of actual performance,
better clarify performance expectations,
put greater emphasis on employee development,
not dwell on negatives,
provide more ongoing feedback, and
increase two-way communication
These suggestions indicate that supervisors/immediate bosses might adopt a number of specific behaviors to support feedback processes in the organization, which in turn might lead to an enhanced manager/subordinate relationship and increased employee satisfaction and hence employee commitment. Here we can see that feedback only after some specified interval and through formal sessions is not sufficient to improve work outcomes (job satisfaction, productivity, employee commitment, organizational citizenship behavior etc). Considering this very fact; Steelman, Levy and Snell (2004) proposed a scale, known as Feedback Environment Scale (FES) with a validation study to demonstrate how different facets of feedback sources (supervisor and coworkers) constitute the overall feedback environment within an organization. This new instrument measures a much more comprehensive view of the feedback environment and is more relevant to the organizations of today and the responsibilities of 21st-century managers. FES may also be defined as a multifaceted construct with two major factors (Supervisor and Coworker) manifested in seven facets. Together, these seven facets reflect the contextual aspects surrounding the transmission of job performance feedback on a recurrent or daily basis (Steelman et al, 2004).
In general; Employee commitment is one’s psychological attachment to his or her organizations. The higher the level of Employee Commitment of an individual, the lower are the chances of his/her psychological and physical job withdrawal. Moreover; committed employees are generally productive and go beyond their job descriptions in improving their organization’s products and services.
Researchers have found a positive link between Feedback Environment Scale and Employee commitment. This link is mediated by a third variable called Role Clarity, which is defined as the subjective feeling of having as much or not as much role relevant information as the person would like to have Lyons (1971). This study is aimed to explore this link in a Pakistani context and more specifically in the context of Islamabad, After the confirmation of such a link, mangers can adopt a number of measures to improve employees’ satisfaction, their level of productivity and employee commitment.
To measure the level of performance feedback (from supervisors and coworkers) received by the employees of different organizations, both of public and private sector operating in Islamabad city.
To Measure the level of employee commitment of employees working in different organizations
To explore the link between feedback environment and employee commitment
To suggest specific measures to be adopted in order to increase the overall feedback environment and employee commitment in organizations
In the past, the feedback environment has been defined as the type of job performance information that employees perceive as being available to them (Herold & Parsons, 1985).but according to the refined and most up-to-date definition; the feedback environment refers to the contextual aspects of day-to-day supervisor-subordinate and coworker-coworker feedback processes rather than to the formal performance appraisal feedback session (Steelman et al, 2004). Consequently, up to now, an organization’s feedback environment has been defined as the amount and availability of positive and negative feedback from different sources (Steelman et al, 2004).
Feedback environment in an organization is measured through a new multifaceted instrument, the Feedback Environment Scale (FES), which helps inform the feedback process in organizations. This new instrument measures a much more comprehensive view of the feedback environment and is more relevant to the organizations of today and the responsibilities of 21st-century managers. FES may also be defined as a multifaceted construct with two major factors (Supervisor and Coworker) manifested in seven facets. Together, these seven facets reflect the contextual aspects surrounding the transmission of job performance feedback on a recurrent or daily basis (Steelman et al, 2004).
It is clear that employees receive feedback information from various sources (Greller, 1980; Morrison, 1993) but some authors suggest that supervisor and coworker feedback sources are the most practical and relevant from the feedback recipient’s point of view (Ashford, 1989). Thus, the FES postulates two factors called Supervisor Source and Coworker Source and the following seven specific facets within each of those source factors: source credibility, feedback quality, feedback delivery, frequency of favorable feedback, frequency of unfavorable feedback, source availability, and promoting feedback seeking (Steelman et al, 2004).
Source Credibility is conceptualized as the feedback source’s expertise and trustworthiness (Giffin, 1967). Consistency and usefulness have been demonstrated to be important aspects of feedback quality (Greller, 1980; Hanser & Muchinsky, 1978; Herold, Liden,& Leatherwood, 1987). A feedback recipient’s perceptions of the source’s intentions in giving feedback will affect reactions and responses to the feedback (Fedor, Eder, & Buckley, 1989). Favorable feedback is conceptualized as the perceived frequency of positive feedback such as compliments from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance does in fact warrant positive feedback. Correspondingly, unfavorable feedback is conceptualized as the perceived frequency of negative feedback such as expressions of dissatisfaction and criticism from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance warrants such feedback (Steelman et al, 2004). Supervisor and/or coworker source availability is operationalized as the perceived amount of contact an employee has with his or her supervisor and/or coworkers and the ease with which feedback can be obtained (Steelman et al, 2004). Feedback seeking is defined as the extent to which the environment is supportive or unsupportive of feedback seeking. It is the extent to which employees are encouraged or rewarded for seeking feedback and the degree to which employees feel comfortable asking for performance feedback (Williams et al, 1999).
Lyons (1971) defines role clarity as the subjective feeling of having as much or not as much role relevant information as the person would like to have. The importance of having role clarity (knowing the tasks and expectations of a job) has been shown in previous research that used both emotional and performance-related measures (Abramis, 1994; Jackson & Schuler, 1985; Tubre & Collins, 2000). Role clarity is a prerequisite for harmonious interactions with others in the role set (Mcgrath, 1976). The absence of role clarity leads to stress, intrapersonal tension and lowered job satisfaction (Cooper, Sloan & Williams, 1988; Hall, 2004).
Breaugh & Colihan (1994) defined role ambiguity to be job ambiguity and indicated that job ambiguity possesses three distinct aspects: work methods, scheduling, and performance criteria.
It is recognized that an employee’s commitment to an organization can be expressed in three particular ways: affective, continuance, and normative. Affective commitment is focused on an emotional attachment to the organization (Herscovitch, 2002). On the other hand, continuance commitment is when an employee stays with an organization based on a perceived cost of leaving (Herscovitch, 2002). In this case, the employee is staying because he/she thinks it will cost more to go find work elsewhere. Lastly, normative commitment refers to an employee’s moral obligation to stay with the organization (Herscovitch, 2002). This can arise due to the employee feeling that the organization has treated him/her well and therefore, he/she owes the organization a continued period of employment. In one sense, each type of commitment somewhat ties the individual to the organization; however, each impacts differently on the manner in which the employee conducts him/herself in the workplace. For example, an employee with an affective commitment will often go above and beyond what is required of his/her position in order to assist the organization in meeting its goals. Employees with high affective commitment tend to be absent from work less frequently and display a higher work motivation and organizational citizenship (McShane, 2001). Continuance commitment, however, is negatively related to performance whereby employees tend to do simply what is required, have higher rates of absenteeism, and low motivation (Johns and Saks, 1996).
Over recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the effects of the feedback environment on work-related outcomes (e.g. Norris-Watts & Levy, 2004; Rosen et al., 2006). A favorable feedback environment is positively related to supervisory reported organizational citizenship behavior and that this relationship is partially mediated by affective commitment (Norris-Watts & Levy, 2004). Another study tested a mediated model suggesting that the effects of the feedback environment on job satisfaction, and supervisory rated in-role and extra-role performance are mediated by perceptions of organizational politics. In general, this model was supported, again demonstrating the relationship between the feedback environment and several work-related outcomes (Rosen et al., 2006). A field experiment conducted by Tziner and Latham (1989) revealed increased work satisfaction and employee commitment when a goal-setting and feedback program was introduced, but it is not possible to draw the conclusion that this effect emanates from feedback only.
Researchers have found a relationship between feedback and role ambiguity (Herold et al, 1987, Peiro et al, 1994, Sawyer, 1992, Teas, 1983, Vredenburgh, 1983). So, even though previous studies lend support to the hypothesis that feedback affects attitudes towards work, there is also a possibility that the uncertainty reducing effect of feedback is the link between feedback and work attitudes, through the intervening influence of role ambiguity. Resultantly, there is also support to hypothesize that feedback only indirectly affects attitude towards work with role ambiguity as a mediating variable (Anders et al, 1999).
Mathieu & Zajac (1990) conducted a meta-analysis of 48 studies and found that overall employee commitment was low when employees were unsure about what was expected of them (Role Ambiguity). In nine studies, Dunham, Grube, & Castaneda (1994) found that employees understanding about the significance of their tasks were somewhat positively related to affective commitment, but not related to normative or continuance commitment.
Workers need role clarity to be able to navigate on their own. To improve the opportunity for self feedback there appears a need to strengthen the connection between the individual’s work and the organizational goals (Anders et al, 1999).
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