Effective Organizational Citizens Help, Then Challenge

March 25, 2013

If we show up on time and meet the performance expectations of our assigned job responsibilities, we will be considered good employees. If we do these things and then look for ways to help our co-workers and organization, we can become effective organizational citizens rather than just good employees.

ChallengeThe evidence shows that if we really care about being effective citizens, we also have to be willing to challenge. A 2011 study by Scott B. MacKenzie, Phillip Podsakoff, and Nathan Podsakoff (citation below) showed that the combination of both helping and challenging behaviors had a significant, positive effect on workgroup task performance and ultimately organizational outcomes. Below are the items they used in the study to represent challenge-oriented citizenship behaviors (p. 574):

1, Communicate their opinions about work issues to others in the group even if their opinion is different and the others in the work group disagree with them

2. Are willing to risk disapproval in order to express their belief about what’s best for the organization

3. Do not hesitate to challenge the opinions of others that they feel are directing the company in the wrong direction

4. Often try to recommend changes in organizational rules or policies that are nonproductive or counterproductive

5. Are willing to voice their concerns about the direction of the work team or company

The study showed that both helping and challenging had a significant direct effect on the performance of the work group, accounting for 27% of the variance. It was then the performance of the group that had the direct effect on the organizational performance measures of sales, profit, and employee turnover.

The most interesting finding was that the helping behaviors enable the challenge behaviors to have a more positive impact on the performance of the group. Challenge absent helping only goes so far.

Our organizations need us to be willing to challenge both crappy systems and egocentric team members that have strayed from our shared purpose. This research shows that for our challenge to be most effective, we must first assume a posture of helping.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Citation: MacKenzie, S.B., Podsakoff, P.M., & Podsakoff, N.P. (2011). Challenge-oriented organizational citizenship behaviors and organizational effectiveness: Do challenge-oriented behaviors really have an impact on the organization’s bottom line? Personnel Psychology, 64, 559-592.

image credit

Related Posts:

The Mantra Of Organizational Citizenship

Thanking People You Lead Makes Them More Helpful

Autonomy Enables The Helpful To Perform

About the Author:

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Judy Lundy says:

    Ultimately it’s about being solution focused. Challenging the status quo without actively working with others to find alternatives is just whinging and usually counterproductive. The combination of challenging and helping is indeed a powerful one.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Judy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Bret

  2. Mark Behl says:

    I agree Bret. It can be hard to challenge our organizations or team members that seem to have strayed from our shared purpose, but you have to be willing to do this – that’s what leadership is about.

    It sounds like a good book, I plan to add it to the reading list…

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark! Bret