Organisational leaders and performance managers use the term self-efficacy to describe an individuals’ belief in their own ability to successfully complete a task. This task-oriented self-confidence has been directly linked to employee learning, engagement, motivation, and performance. Effective leaders recognise the influence they can have over employees’ motivation and will actively work to improve their job-related self-efficacy.
All employees should be assigned tasks that are the best possible fit to their knowledge, skills, and abilities. While it may seem that giving employees easy tasks would increase their self-efficacy, this is actually likely to leave them bored and disengaged from their work. Leaders should take care to ensure that all employees are assigned tasks that challenge their skills, yet can be completed with support from colleagues and without excessive frustration.
As employees master their current tasks, employees should be kept engaged by learning additional tasks related to their role in the organisation. This can be done as a form of job enlargement, increasing the number and variety of tasks done on a routine basis, or could be approached as a cross-training exercise designed to prepare employees to fill in for absent colleagues. In either case, proper training should be provided for each new task, and a team mentor should be assigned to help support the employee throughout the transition.
As leaders work to challenge employees, they must make sure that goals and expectations are reasonable and clearly communicated. Each member of the team should know precisely what their responsibilities are, and how they relate to the work of their teammates. It should go without saying that expectations and employee performance should be acknowledged frequently, whether the employee is doing well or not. Leaders should hold performance appraisals at least twice per year, and use objective and valid measures of performance.
While it may seem like pointing out poor performance would decrease self-efficacy, this can easily be managed. The employee should be asked to play an active role in identifying the root cause of their poor performance and the development of an action plan for improvement. Offering the employee any additional supplies they may need or assistance with training or re-training for challenging tasks can help them to get back on track. As employees continue to work through their performance challenges, their self-efficacy will naturally increase.
The performance appraisal process should be used to manage team performance as well. Both the self-efficacy of the individual employee and the team as a whole will continue to grow when the work team is able to succeed. Of course, for this to work employees should be encouraged to bring any concerns about their own or a team members’ performance to their team leader or manager to ensure the entire office performs at their best.
As leaders work to increase the self-efficacy and performance of employees, they often find that their own self-efficacy increases. As leaders’ model successful performance and a confidant attitude, their increasing self-efficacy will rub off on their employees. Before long, the entire organisation will be confidant, engaged, and productive in their roles, and employee self-efficacy will continue to rise as they successfully tackle these new challenges.