Organizational Alignment from Self-Regard

Can one’s commitment to position and organization be consistent only when one’s self-esteem is in agreement with the occupational prestige and income of that position?  “[Job] search behavior, whether it results in turnover or not, is costly because it absorbs time and energy that might be put to other uses (March & Simon, 1958) and may engender psychological processes that induce withdrawal behavior and reduce commitment to the current job and organization (Lock, 1976)” (Bretz Jr., Boudreau, & Judge, 1994, p. 277).  When researching the possible statistical relationship between self-esteem and extrinsic career success, early results have shown a direct relationship between increases in self-esteem and resulting increases in occupational prestige and income as seen in the Kammeyer-Mueller et al. (2007) study.  Additionally, those with lower levels of self-esteem were shown to possess lower levels of occupational prestige and income as well.

Generation X and Generation Y exhibit different perspectives and expectations than the Baby Boomer generation, the retention of Generation X members and the attraction of Generation Y members have proven elusive for many organizations (Bridgers & Johnson, 2006).  This lack of understanding as to the motivational factors begets further inquiry as to whether elevating job satisfaction or employee engagement alone is enough.

Evidence now exists of the relationship between self-esteem and extrinsic career success among survey respondents born into Generation-X.  Evidence now also exists of the relationship between education and extrinsic career success among these respondents.  This research has elucidated a relationship between aspects of personality and the stability of career paths, thus exhibiting the potential side-effect of compromises to organizational profitability when not in alignment.  This impact is driven by one’s self-esteem, and maintains a relationship with one’s income, and one’s occupational prestige.  With every year of formal education complete, a person is likely to earn an additional $2,700 per year six years in the future.  With every year of formal education complete, respondent’s Duncan SEI score increased by 3.79 points six years in the future.  Self-esteem accounted for an additional $300 per year when coupled with education and an additional $460 gross effect on income over the same period.

Organizations are at a crossroads, as they are in the midst of a shift in leadership from members of the Baby Boomer population to members of Generation X.  The respondents above cannot tell us all we need to know about Gen-X, but they can provide a glimpse as members of this generation, while serving to pilot for larger studies inclusive of a representative sample of Generation X members.  The literature has shown a tendency for this up-and-coming generation to be incentivized by merit, driven by individualism, while embracing a matrix organization that puts ceremony aside and concentrates on action.  This welcomed reception not based on new hire orientations which present reams of training material and countless presentations from numerous department heads.  These are instead orientations where employees who have had self-perception assessed prior to hire, and are put into roles befitting self and organization-aligned expectations.  They are given endless opportunities moving forward, to find true passion, and expand current skillset at a pace set by each individually, while serving a responsive and open organization.  When Gen-X entered the workforce, companies were blindsided… employers never expected Xers to behave differently from Baby Boomers or that they would have their own unique expectations about the workplace (Lancaster & Stillman, 2010).

– Justin

Bretz Jr., R., Boudreau, J., & Judge, T. (1994). Job search behavior of employed managers. Personnel Psychology, 47(2), 275-301. Retrieved from Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection database.

Bridgers, M., & Johnson, H. (2006). The aging workforce: The facts, the fiction, the future!. ASHRAE Journal, 48, A6-A9. Retrieved March 4, 2008, from ProQuest

Kammeyer-Mueller, J., Judge, T., & Piccolo, R. (2008). Self-Esteem and extrinsic career success: Test of a dynamic model. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57(2), 204-224. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2007.00300.x.

Lancaster, L.C. & Stillman, D. (2010). The m-factor: How the millennial generation is rocking the workplace. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers


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