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Organisation Case Study

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A large American city government held seminars for managers from various departments. The topic of self-motivation – how to get public servants motivated to do a good job was discussed. Our case study focuses on a police commissioner who has a problem with his officers.

His officers enlist as inexperience young cadets. They like the work they are doing out on the streets like upholding the law and helping in emergencies or accidents. However, the problem lies with paperwork being put aside or done inadequately which officers must do when they return to the station. Poor reporting causes them to lose most cases.

The commissioner does not know how to motivate them and he does not have financial rewards to his disposal. He cannot say that promotions will also be based on their excellence of their paper work as officers know they if their performance is adequate, they will be promoted after a certain number of years in service. Officers are trained to do the job on the streets and not to fill up forms. It is the arrest and crime interventions get noticed. Good paper work does not necessary mean a win in court but bad paper work increases the chance of losing. Team competition was set up based on the excellence of reports. This method did not work; officers had no incentives performing well.

Assumptions: The commissioner does not know how to motivate his officers.

Statement of problems1.Incompetent / inexperience workforce. (Ability)From the police commissioner statement “they come in the force as young inexperience rookies” and “they are trained to do the job they do out on the streets, not to fill out forms”, it is evident that police officers lack the abilities needed to perform well in their job. Officers do not know the importance of having highly detailed and unambiguous reports is equivalent to upholding the law and serving the public. What good is there if there is a criminal arrested and the law is unable to prove him guilty because a folly in a police officer’s report has been made?2.Poor task performance. (Role perception)Police officers dislike doing paperwork and thus it is often being put of and done inadequately. Furthermore, it has been perceived that doing work for the community is far more important than paperwork. It is the arrests and interventions that are beneficial for their career, not performing well in the areas of paperwork.

3.Lack of recognition. (Motivation)The police commissioner does not know how to motivate his officers. He has tried setting up teams to compete in the excellence of paperwork but that failed because officers are not receiving any incentives. It seems that he assumes that motivation can only be induced with financial rewards.

Causes of the problem1.Incompetent / inexperience workforce. (Ability)The main cause is because insufficient training is given at the police academy which results in the unsatisfactory performance of their paperwork. The police academy is a place where knowledge and skills are passed to cadets so that they could perform duties a police officer must do. Upon graduating from academy school, they should be able to understand the core aspects of their job carry out their job scope diligently.

According to McShane and Travaliogne (2007, pg 88) ” behaviour modelling is where by people learn by observing the behaviours of a role model on the critical task, remembering the important elements of the observed behaviours, and then practising those behaviours.” Form the beginning; officers are already not trained in the knowledge of importance in paperwork. When Fresh police graduates are designated to their jobs, each one of them will be full of drive to do the best they can in all aspects of their jobs. Upon seeing senior officer role models not making effort to excel in paperwork, behaviour modelling comes in play and they too will underperform in that area.

2.Poor task performance. (Role perception)As mentioned by McShane and Travaliogne (2007, pg38) “Employees have accurate role perceptions when they understand the specific task assigned to them, the relative importance of those task, and the preferred behaviours to accomplish those tasks.” From the statement mentioned above, clearly we know that officers do not understand the importance of paperwork. Thus, they undermine the significance of report statements or other sorts of paperwork.

The police commissioner is also to be blamed for the poor performance of his officers. 20th century sociologist Robert K.Merton’s theory on self-fulfilling prophecy states, “The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.”The self-fulfilling prophecy cycle McShane and Travaliogne (2007. pg 80)Although the police commissioner has expectations from his officers that paperwork has to be done properly, that is the first step done and subsequently he did not carry out the second step that is “Supervisor’s expectations affect his/her behaviour towards employee”. Step two is the most crucial part as here the commissioner will be the one reinforcing good behaviour with more emotional support, training and officers are given more opportunities to perform. Step 3 and 4 will be the areas that will be self-fulfilling.

3.Lack of recognition. (Motivation)The main cause of lack of motivation is that there is no incentive for performing well in the areas of paper work. Therefore, why will officers put the effort knowing there is no reward to achieve?Expectancy theory of motivation, McShane and Travaglione (2007 pg.146)Personnel and Human Resource Management – Text and cases; (2000) mentions that expectancy theory predicts that employees in an organization will be motivated when they believe that: putting in more effort will yield better job performance, better job performance will lead to organizational rewards, such as an increase in salary or benefits. These predicted organizational rewards are valued by the employee in question.

From the three causes that I have mentioned, it all fits into the MARS model. The lack of motivation, inadequate ability and wrong role perceptions will indefinably result in unacceptable behaviour and poor results. As for situational factors, it would be the budget that the police commissioner did not have because it is controlled by the organization.

Mars Model, McShane and Travaliogne (2007. pg 36)Possible SolutionsMethod 1The source of the problems is from the police academy. McShane and Travaliogne (2007, pg 77) “Learned Capabilities are the skills and knowledge that you have actually acquired”. Therefore, we should look at how to implement subjects in the academy, educating cadets’ about the importance and the integrity they must have in all aspects of their job scope. Furthermore, we have to prevent further bad influences from senior officers to rookie officers. McShane and Travaliogne (2007, pg 77) Employee competencies skills, knowledge, aptitudes, values, drives and other underlying personal characteristics that lead to superior performance are typically bunched together into the concept of competencies. Training will be given to current officers to change their role perception and values. Senior officers will be empowered to carry out reinforcement to modify behaviours.

Steps to be taken.

1.The commissioner is to contact the police organization and tell them about the problems he is facing, corrective measures are to be taken as soon as possible.

2.A review of the syllables that is being taught in the academy must done.

3.Officers and other staff that are carrying out the training in the school will have to attend meetings informing a change of syllabus has been done.

4.Hire an expert on employee competencies to give training to current police officers.

5.Follow up work has to be done. Having a senior officer with aptitudes doing random checks on officer’s paperwork monthly.

6.Senior officers will carry out contingencies of reinforcement accordingly.

Strengths1.Future enlistees will be more prepared to undertake the job of a police when they graduate.

2.Officers that received positive reinforcement generally will continue the good work they are doing.

3.Random monthly checks will reduce the number inadequate paperwork being done.

Weakness1.Negative reinforcement generally will generate negative emotions, feelings and thoughts towards the enforcer.

2.The self-esteem of Officers that has been reprimanded will be hurt. This may causes them to perform even worse in their job.

3.Senior officers that are empowered to carry out behaviour modification may misuse their authority.

4.The commissioner is already in a budget crunch, hiring a expert to give training lessons will be costly.

Method 2The commissioner himself here has to upgrade his skills on emotional intelligence and go for a course on Self-fulfilling prophecy. Goleman, D. (1995) describes emotional intelligence as an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. There are four main areas of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. The commissioner has poor relationship management and social awareness. Relationship management because he is not a inspirational leader and does not have influence on all his subordinates. Social awareness as he does not understand his officers because he thinks that only financial rewards can only motivate officers.

From what we have discussed about self-fulfilling prophecy in the causes of the problem, we know that the commissioner did not carry out the second step of cycle. Thus, having him trained in that area will benefit him and his officers indirectly.

Steps1. The Commissioner will have to enrol himself in emotional intelligence and on Self-fulfilling prophecy courses.

2. He practices what he has learned.

3. He should monitor the progress he is making in terms of the police officer’s performance.

Strengths1. Low cost as training is given to one person alone.

2. Closer bonds will be formed between commissioner and officers.

3. Subordinates will have a higher regard of the commissioner as he will be proven a capable leader.

Weakness1. It takes time for the Self-fulfilling prophecy to work out.

Chosen solution and implementationMy preferred solution will be a combination of those 2 method mentioned above.

Firstly, the commissioner is to make known to the police academy that officers are neglecting the importance of paperwork. The reason being that the importance of the task is not emphasise in the training program. A review of the teaching syllabus in the areas of task performance in paperwork has to be done. The revised material is to be taught as soon as possible. This is to ensure future police officers will understand the importance of paperwork.

Secondly, the commissioner is to go on a course on self-fulfilling prophecy.

McShane and Travaliogne (2007. pg 80) “self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when our expectations about another person cause that person to act in a way that is consistent with those expectations.” This is a very powerful theory because this can change the behavior of officers and they will behave according to his expectations. Carrying out the first two steps will eliminate chances of role modeling bad behaviors occurring.

Finally, the commissioner is to appoint trust worthy senior officers to do monthly random checks on individual police officers paperwork. This system will ensure that reports are all unambiguous and highly detailed. The trust worthy senior officers will also be empowered to give verbal reinforcement.

After some time, excelling in paperwork will become one of the core values of the police force. “Values are stable, evaluated believes; values tells us what we ‘ought’ to do” McShane and Travaliogne (2007, pg 42).

General ideas from the case study

There are many possible solutions to a case study. However, you cannot use one management theory to solve a particular problem. To achieve the optimal solution, a few theories must be applied together.

I personally feel that the self-fulfilling prophecy model could be improved.

The self-fulfilling prophecy cycle McShane and Travaliogne (2007. pg 80)This theory is a continuous never-ending cycle. An employee who is performing well would be well motivated to continuing doing well but how long can he maintain that standard? After some time, they will not strife as hard as before and start slacking. To counter this problem, I would suggest a performance reward be added on the self-fulfilling prophecy cycle. In our case study, the police has no financial rewards to give out to his officers. However, rewards can be other aspects such as job status based rewards, competency based rewards, empowerment and recognition of outstanding performance. This will further reinforce the motivational drive as the employee knows he is recognized for his continuous efforts.

This improvised model on the self-fulfilling prophecy will enable employees to perform at their optimal capacity for longer periods.


Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, Free Press, 1968, p.

477P. Subba Rao, Personnel and Human Resource Management – Text and cases; (2000) – Himalaya Publishing HouseGoleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam BooksStreve Strauss columnist for USATODAY.com (2007). How can I better motivate employees: A discuss document. Retrieved n.d., from http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/expert/strauss110305.mspxMcshane,S.,& Travaglione,T (2007). Organizational behaviour on the Pacific rim(2nd ed.) . Aus: McGraw Hill Australia Pty Limited.

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