Can we do it? Yes, we can!

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It is the 21st century and the world is getting increasingly demanding. To accommodate all these demands, each business is looking for an edge over others. Instead of other, expensive means to gain competitive advantage, smart organizations are increasingly looking into their internal resources for it. And what better advantage than the sheer grit and capability of their workforce?

In a cutthroat world like this, organizations need to make sure they have a labor force that is not just competent but aware of their competencies (and shortcomings) and can challenge themselves to gradually increase their capabilities to benefit the company and to develop themselves. There is a popular term for this knowledge- it is known as self-efficacy.

The term self-efficacy has been the source of confusion for many people for a long time. Some confuse the trait with confidence, others with motivation and some with their own internal strength and conscientiousness. But its neither of these at all. Self-efficacy is nothing but the knowledge one has about one’s abilities. It is that simple and that difficult to understand. All these other traits are merely results of or catalysts of self-efficacy. For example, we are motivated because we know we can successfully complete a task at hand. We are confident because we know we have the inherent capability to finish this task and do it well. We know we can do something well because we have the internal locus of control on our side. Therefore, self-efficacy is related to and dependent on all of these other traits but it isn’t them.

Self-efficacy is an invaluable trait for organizations. If estimated correctly, employees with high self-efficacy will naturally take on more responsibility and work harder to be more successful at it. They will be more confident and motivated, with a strong internal locus of control, making them take full responsibility of setbacks instead of reverting to blame games. What’s more, workplaces can help increase the self-efficacy of their employees on their own.

Making self-efficacious employees is a cycle. Here is how the cycle goes:

Einstein once very rightly mentioned, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, it will spend its entire life thinking it is stupid.” Goals, therefore, must be realistic. When goals are communicated well, employees have a better sense of what they are to achieve (results), how they are to achieve it (behavior), and what is expected out of them.

As suggested by Mark Williams, Head of Training and Development from Management- Training and Development, managers must set employees jobs that are engaging and moderately challenging that can be supplemented through peer and manager support. Periodic job enlargement or adding more variety to employees’ jobs will allow employees to get used to challenges and the constructive resolving of those challenges, training their brains towards self-efficacy.

Once they learn these tasks, it is wise to empower them and give capable employees the freedom to work and make decisions in a way they are comfortable. This demonstrates trust and will make conscientious employees work more responsibly.

It is better to link employee performance to regular and fair feedback sessions with the immediate supervisor so that if the employee is facing problems, the manager can help. When employees see their supervisors as capable and trustworthy, it helps them open up towards the job and give more to it. Once getting back on track after making mistakes becomes easy and not stressful, self-efficacy improves.

For organizations that drastically wish to increase self-efficacious behavior in their workplaces, they must look for this trait when they hire new people. This way, new employees can display this behavior and older ones can emulate it.

Some training programs like behavior altering games and simulations, even outdoor, inspirational training sessions can help employees explore their own capabilities better. Peripheral self-development training such as time management, public speaking, punctuality etc. can develop self-enhancement and get employees in the mind frame for work.

Finally, reinforce. Not all employees work solely for monetary rewards. Make new leadership opportunities available. When good leadership opportunities are available, employees try harder to fit into them. Identify top performers and reward them with these positions so that they can become role models for all those who were peers of this promoted employee. Increasing the quality and quantity of role models will help the organization transition towards a more self-efficacious workforce and provide positive reinforcement to employees who do win the recognition.

Organizations look for self-efficacy because they know the repercussions of having employees with low self-belief. No organization wants to pay capable employees who won’t work simply because they have been conditioned to think they can’t. Therefore, if you are a potential addition to the corporate workforce, do a quick SWOT on yourself to know where you stand and work up. If you are the owner of an organization, evaluate your employees to maximize their productivity and their development. It pays.

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