February 1st, 2012

Perceived Organizational Support: Fostering Enthusiastic and Productive Employees

Perceived Organizational Support: Fostering Enthusiastic and Productive Employees

By Robert Eisenberger and Florence Stinglhamber

American Psychological Association

Washington, D.C. 2011

 Must read book has universal appeal

Reviewed By James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D

According to the authors of this book, perceived organizational support or POS concerns “Your work organization’s valuation of you or, to be more exact, how much you believe your organization values your contributions and cares about your wellbeing.” They comment further that “Employees with high POS experience their working lives in more favorable ways….have a more positive mood at work, are more satisfied with their jobs, believe they make important contributions, experience less stress and are less conflicted between work and family life.”

Sound good? You bet, as you will discover in this outstanding book that features hundreds of studies on POS, skilled executive leadership, social validation assessment and employee motivation and satisfaction. On one hand, Eisenberger and Stinglhamber detail the profound negative effects that organizations produce when their leaders ignore the values and perceptions of employees. Thankfully, they present many solutions to this problem that apply within service and manufacturing companies as well as educational and behavioral healthcare settings.

The recommendations to leaders for improving and sustaining positive POS explained in the book are so powerful and instructive that I feel compelled to highlight a few: don’t assume what employees want – go directly to them and solicit their advice and suggestions; don’t fake it because most employees are intelligent enough to see through unilateral, ill conceived, and pretentious policies purportedly in their best interest; communicate honestly with employees during regularly scheduled meetings that have purpose, seek their input and produce visible outcomes; show humility – it is all right to get things wrong when your intentions are good and plans are thoughtfully executed in partnership between managers and employees.

Some of the other research supported tactics that organizational leaders should implement are systematically rewarding employees who meet and exceed explicit performance standards, avoiding aversive control strategies, establishing effective two-way communication at all levels and eliminating favoritism toward selective personnel. Eisenberger and Stinglhamber are particularly adept at representing the rationale for these and other recommendations, backing them up with real-world examples from business, industry and the social sciences.

One of the strongest sections in the book endorses a truth that is well known to any competent performance enhancement specialist: “Assign considerable autonomy in decision making to employees, allowing them to use their skills and ingenuity to solve problems and plan ahead.” On this point the authors describe how organizations suffer dire consequences when leaders take skills away from and impede creativity of their employees. The message is to let employees behave without stifling micromanagement that ends up punishing initiative, engendering disdain and undermining desirable actions within the workforce.

“Perceived Organizational Support” is a must read for organizational/industrial (O/I) and organizational behavior management consultants. In fact, I cannot think of a single better resource that informs so persuasively and achieves such a high professional standard. The book also should find a home in university coursework that encompasses organizational and performance psychology, human relations and behavior systems analysis. It is rare to find a book that has such universal appeal among professional and academic audiences.

One final point: the ultimate goal for this book and perhaps the one most difficult to achieve is getting it into the hands of organizational leaders who desperately need to acquire the knowledge and skills that promote POS. Employees deserve the consideration, respect and supportive practices so clearly articulated in this magnificent book.

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA, is senior vice president, applied research, clinical training and peer review at the May Institute in Norwood, Mass.


Learn more about the book: Perceived Organizational Support: Fostering Enthusiastic and Productive Employees

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

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