Team Management Systems
 

The Relationship of Change in Job Demands to Change in Work Preferences

By Dick McCann
Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

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Job Demands

Team Management Systems (TMS) uses a model known as the Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel to characterize the nature of work undertaken in teams.

Figure 1. Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel

Figure 1.  Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel

This model defines eight Types of Work or work functions as follows:

  • Advising - Gathering and reporting information
  • Innovating - Creating and experimenting with ideas
  • Promoting - Exploring and presenting opportunities
  • Developing - Assessing and testing the applicability of new approaches
  • Organizing - Establishing and implementing ways of making things work
  • Producing - Concluding and delivering outputs
  • Inspecting - Controlling and auditing the working of systems
  • Maintaining - Upholding and safeguarding standards and processes

In the center of the Types of Work Wheel is an activity known as 'linking'. When team members focus on their critical work functions then they need to employ the principles of Linking to be successful.

Job analysis methodology has shown that opposite work functions are different aspects of work whereas those closer together on the Wheel are more related. The nature of work and the way jobs are defined means that the critical work functions (job demands) in an individual's job are more likely to be in adjacent sectors of the Wheel than in opposite ones.

In high-performing teams there is usually a distribution of labor required in terms of the Types of Work Wheel. Rarely would an individual team member be expected to have all eight work functions on his or her critical list. However when the critical work functions of all team members are put together, a well-designed team should cover all eight functions.

Work Preferences

Our research over many years has shown that people have distinct likes for some of the Types of Work functions and definite dislikes for others. We measure these work preferences using four key scales as follows:

Figure 2. Work preference measures

Figure 2.  Work preference measures

The results show the following relationships between the Types of Work Wheel and the four work preference measures.

Figure 3. Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel

Figure 3.  Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel

Longitudinal Study

A longitudinal study was carried out over a 3-year period to see how changes in people's critical work functions might impact their work preferences. 92 people completed the Types of Work Profile Questionnaire (TWPQ), which determines the critical work functions of their job, as measured by the Types of Work Wheel. Simultaneously they also completed the Team Management Profile Questionnaire (TMPQ) which determines their work preferences. They completed the same profile questionnaires a year later (Year 2). 63 of them also completed the profile questionnaires two years later (Year 3). The data enables us to see what relationships there might be between changing critical job demands and changing work preferences.

Predicted Variations

One theory often postulated is that people's work preferences are very much molded and shaped by the job they do. It is possible from the model in Figure 3 to predict the changes that might occur in one or more of four work preference measures as a result of changes to a particular work function. For ease of discussion it is best to refer to the work preference measures by the four continuous scales of E-I, P-C, A-B and S-F.

Figure 4: Predicted relationship between work functions and work preferences

Increasing criticality Predicted changes in work preferences
 
E-I
P-C
A-B
S-F
Advising
-
-
-
-
Innovating
+
-
-
-
Promoting
+
-
+
-
Developing
+
-
+
+
Organizing
+
+
+
+
Producing
-
+
+
+
Inspecting
-
+
-
+
Maintaining
-
+
-
-

Taking Producing as an example, we can see that any increase in criticality of the Producing work function should result in a decrease in the E-I scale, and/or an increase in the P-C scale, and/or and increase in the A-B scale, and/or and increase in the P-C scale.

The Results

Figure 5 shows the results of the comparison between Year 2 and Year 1, for the 92 respondents involved in the study.

Figure 5: Relationship (Pearson product-moment correlations) between changing work functions and continuous scale scores (n=92), Year 1 to Year 2

Relationship (Pearson product-moment correlations) between changing work functions and continuous scale scores (n=92), Year 1 to Year 2.

From this data we can make the following observations:

  • An increase in the criticality of the Producing function is related to a decrease in the E-I scale (or an increase in introversion)

  • An increase in the criticality of the Innovating function is related to a decrease in the P-C scale (or an increase in the Creative information-gathering work preference measure)

  • An increase in the criticality of the Maintaining function is related to a decrease in the A-B scale (or an increase in the Beliefs-based decision-making work preference measure)

All three of these observations align with the prediction from Team Management theory.

Figure 6 shows the results of the comparison between Year 3 and Year 2, for the 63 respondents who remained in the study.

Figure 6: Relationship (Pearson product-moment correlations) between changing work functions and continuous scale scores (n=63), Year 2 to Year 3

Relationship (Pearson product-moment correlations) between changing work functions and continuous scale scores (n=63), Year 2 to Year 3

The results show these trends:

  • An increase in the criticality of the Innovating function is related to a decrease in the P-C scale (or an increase in the Creative information-gathering work preference measure)

  • An increase in the criticality of the Organizing function is related to an increase in the P-C scale (or an increase in the Practical information-gathering work preference measure)

  • An increase in the criticality of the Developing function is related to an increase in the S-F scale (or an increase in the Structured organization work preference measure)

Again these results align with the prediction from Team Management theory.

A further analysis was also carried out on the data in Figure 6 by removing those respondents who did not change job positions between Year 2 and Year 3. This reduced the sample size to 30. One might expect a greater change in critical work functions for respondents who moved to a new position and therefore such an analysis might throw up additional relationships.

Although this is a small sample, significant relationships were found as follows:

  • Advising was correlated to the S-F scale at -0.37
  • Innovating was correlated to the P-C scale at -0.44
  • Developing was correlated to the S-F scale at 0.40
  • Organizing was correlated to the P-C scale at 0.38

The relationships highlighted in the larger sample (Innovating, Developing and Organizing) were reproduced in this analysis, but with higher correlations. In addition a new relationship between Advising and the S-F scale was found. An increase in Advising as a critical function was correlated with an increase in the Flexible organization work preference measure.

Again these results confirm our Team Management theory.

Conclusion

Based on the data of this longitudinal study we can conclude that there is a definite pattern in the relationship between a change in respondents' critical work functions and their work preferences, very close to that described by Team Management theory. What is not yet clear, though, is the arrow of causality i.e.. Does a change in job cause work preferences to change or does one seek to change the emphasis of the job to align with changing preferences?

Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.


With a background in science, engineering, finance and organizational behavior, Dick McCann has consulted widely for organizations such as BP, Hewlett Packard and Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. He is coauthor of Team Management: Practical New Approaches with Charles Margerison; author of How to Influence Others at Work, the TMS E-Book Series and The Workplace Wizard: The Definitive Guide to Working with Others; and coauthor with Jan Stewart of Aesop's Management Fables and The Half-Empty Chalice. Dick is coauthor and developer of the Team Management Systems concepts and products and also author of the QO2™ Profile, Window on Work Values Profile and the Strategic Team Development Profile. Involved in TMS operations worldwide for over 25 years, Dick is now Managing Director of TMS Australia and a Director of TMS Development International.
 

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