Employee Satisfaction Research
In a study, The Impact of Perceptions of Leadership Style, Use of Power, and Conflict Management Style on Organizational Outcomes by Virginia P. Richmond, John P. Wagner, and James McCroskey, the researchers developed an instrument to measure employee satisfaction using this continuum (tell, sell, consult, join).
Their research discovered that, "the supervisor who wishes to generate positive impact on satisfaction with supervision, satisfaction with work, and solidarity and to reduce communication anxiety should strive to get her/his subordinates to perceive her/him as using a more employee-centered (consult-join) leadership style." At the same time, however, the supervisor cannot be seen by employees as abdicating responsibility for decisionmaking.
The authors further concluded, "we believe there is a relatively straightforward explanation of this finding. Leadership styles which approach the employee-centered (join) end of the continuum greatly increase the degree to which subordinates are asked to participate in making decisions and/or make the decision themselves. When this approach becomes excessive, the supervisor may be seen as abdicating her/his responsibilities-the laissez faire leader-or even deserting the subordinate. The subordinate may feel that they are given more responsibility than their positions should require and, thus, are overworked or underpaid for the work expected. Such reactions could be expected to be reflected in negative outcomes of the type observed in this study. We conclude, therefore, that while the supervisor should attempt to be perceived as employing an employee-centered leadership style (consult-join), he/she must maintain a supervisory role and avoid being perceived as abdicating responsibility."
Reference: Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W. "How to choose a leadership pattern". Harvard Business Review, 1958, 36, 95-101.
Also Known As:
Employee Participation and Participative Management
Tell: Useful when communicating about safety issues, government regulations, decisions that neither require nor ask for employee input.
Sell: Useful when employee commitment is needed, but the decision is not open to employee influence.
Consult: The key to a successful consultation is to inform employees, on the front end of the discussion, that their input is needed, but that the supervisor is retaining the authority to make the final decision. This is the level of involvement that can create employee dissatisfaction most readily when this is not clear to the people providing input.
Join: The key to a successful join is when the supervisor truly builds consensus around a decision and is willing to keep her influence equal to that of the others providing input.
Additional Employee Involvement Resources
Read the beginning to understand the degrees of employee involvement.