Critical Perspectives on Management and Organisations (An ideal worker…
Critical Perspectives on Management and Organisations
An ideal worker & the professional identity
An 'ideal worker' is one who is totally committed to and is always available to fulfil his or her work duties
Due to a move towards a 24/7/365 work cycle, employees today are expected to prioritise work ahead of family, personal needs and even health
Employees who embrace this expectation are 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
Organisations employing professionals expect their workers to conform to the ideal worker image
When a worker's experienced professional identity does not meet the ideal worker image conflict arises
This expectation has lead to persisting gender inequality in the workplace
Who is an ideal worker
How do employees cope with conflicting professional identities?
Congruence vs. Conflict
If an employee's expected and experienced professional identities are in sync they are unlikely to experience conflict
A large percentage of professional's experience conflict between two identities
Historically, researchers and practitioners focused on women (based on popular gender norms), especially those with young children as being the main cohort of professionals who would experience conflict, recent research indicated that conflict is not only restricted to them
How do Professionals Cope with Conflict?
Professionals cope by 'straying' from the expected identity
They do so by either passing or revealing
Passing: intentional or accidental misrepresentation in favoured group (ie. expected professional identity) - faking to remain in group
Revealing: intentional or accidental disclosure of non-membership in the favoured group (ie. expected professional identity)
Tools for Straying
Hiding or sharing personal information (passing and revealing)
Personally altering the structure of work (passing)
Seeking assistance in restructuring workload (revealing)
Consequences of using integrated identity management strategies for professionals
Women less likely to engage to identity management strategies that allows passing to high -status audiences and more likely to reveal.
Men are equally likely to use passing asa well as revealing identity management strategies
External perceptions & performance evaluation
High performance ratings given to: Those who embrace the expected professional identity (congruent with their experienced professional identity)
Integrated Identity Management Strategies for Multiple Audiences
Factors influencing the use of passing and/or revealing when interacting with audiences:
Pass to high-status while revealing to same-status audiences.
Closeness of relationship:
Pass to those distant while revealing to close friends (colleagues) and mentors.
Perceived access to formal accommodations:
Reveal if having access to formal accommodations (e.g.. parental leave) and pass if not.
Extremity of the conflict experienced:
When faced with extreme circumstances in work (eg. excessively demanding project) or personal life (eg. death of a close family member) reveal while passing on all other circumstances.
Spillover of perceptions across audiences:
Efforts to pass or reveal to one audience (e.g.. high status) can spillover and influence the perceptions held of the professional by other audiences.
Passing to high-status audiences tends to facilitate passing to equal or low status audiences.
Revealing to close colleagues often results in informal restructuring 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.
How do organisations control employees' professional identity? Organisations mechanisms of identity control
Structure of work and performance evaluation
SOW: 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
PE: Reinforcing the above structure of work by rewarding 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