Critical perspectives on management and organisations (How do employees…
Critical perspectives on management and organisations
How do employees cope with conflicting professional identities?
Congruence vs conflict
If an employee's expected and experienced professional identities are in sync and congruent they are unlikely to experience conflict.
However, a high percentage professionals experience a conflict between the two identities
Researchers and practitioners focused on women, especially those with young children as being the main cohort for experiencing conflict but recent research indicates that conflict is not only restricted to them
How do professionals cope with conflict?
They do so by 'straying' from their expected identity by:
Revealing: Intentional or accidental disclosure of non-membership in the favoured group
Passing: Intentional or accidental misrepresentation of membership in the favoured group.
Tools for straying:
Seeking assistance in restructuring work
Hiding or sharing personal information (revealing or passing)
Personally altering the structure of work
An ideal worker & the professional identity
Who is an ‘ideal worker’?
An ‘ideal worker’ is one who is totally committed to and always available to fulfil his or her work duties
Employees who embrace this expectation is richly rewarded, especially those performing professional or managerial jobs
What is a professional identity?
Two main forms of professional identities:
Expected: employer expectations and beliefs
Experienced: own expectations and beliefs
Role identities comprise of goals, values, beliefs, norms, interaction styles, and time horizons associated with a given role
Consequences of using integrated identity management strategies for professionals
External perceptions and performance evaluation
Low performance rating given to those who use revealing identity management strategies to cope with conflict.
High performance rating results in stable and straightforward career paths and at times accelerated advancement while low performance ratings results in missing out on promotions and unstable career trajextories
High performance ratings given to those who embrace the expected professional identity and those who use passing identity management strategies to cope with conflict
Women less likely to engage to identity management strategies that allows passing to high-status audiences and more likely to reveal.
The reasons for the above patterns are complex- often attributed to women being more likely to utilise formal accommodations provided by employer than men
How do organisations control employees’ professional identity?
Organisational mechanisms of identity control
Structure of work
The successful performance of the professional role been contingent upon always prioritising work demands over all other life demands and therefore always being available to the employer
Reinforcing the above structure of work by rewarding (e.g. promotions, salary increments, non- monetary rewards - stars) those who fulfil such ‘expected’ professional identity requirements
Taken together, the structure of work and the performance evaluation system creates a self- fulfilling prophecy of professionals continuously adopting the ‘expected’ professional identity
Integrated identity management strategies for multiple audience
Combining passing and revealing
Closeness of relationship
Perceived access to formal accomodations
Extremity of the conflict experienced
Spillover of perceptions across audiences
Efforts to pass or reveal to one audience can spillover and influence the perceptions held of the professional by other audiences
Revealing to close colleagues often results in informal re-structuring of work which enables one to pass to wider high-status audiences
Revealing to high-status audiences often results in revealing to broader audiences across the organisation
Passing to high-status audiences tends to facilitate passing to equal- or low-status audiences