Human beings are social beings capable of learning and being influenced by others. They are also responsive to any system of implicit or explicit rules, which they are exposed to. They strive to maintain their position as they aspire for greater ones. As a rule of thumb, an employee has to observe the rule that governs the company, in which he works to retain his employment and interact with others freely and professionally if the job description requires so. As outlined in the Fayol’s principles of management in an organization, there must be unity of direction to ensure efficiency through focus and plans. The principles also include the rights of a manager to have authority and responsibility to give orders and demand attention. These rules among others may be contained within the vision and mission of the company and any employee is required to abide by them (Powell & Zimmerman 1997). They contribute to formation of an individual identity, which may conform to the known or bring rise to a totally different person upon employment. On the part of the organization, it has sole responsibility of upholding ethics and social responsibility, respect to the vast cultural diversity of its employees, stimulate high productivity of employees and appreciate the impact of globalization on the organization. It, therefore, expects every employee to live to the standard, as outlined in the rules, governing the organization such respect for others, commitment, flexibility, creativity and other core values. The identity of an employed person tends to correlate to the code of conduct, demanded in the working place, and is also influenced by the interaction with other employees (Ingham 1970). The scope of this paper is to explore the various aspects of self-identity that relates to one being in a paid employment.
Perception towards an individual by the society differs, depending on what an individual does. For example, a doctor would be perceived differently from the road sweeper. This will influence how one perceives himself and consequently impact on his identity. As a result of globalization, people are moving in all places of the world, seeking employment. This is resulting to fragmentation of traditional norms that used to provide a collective identity that gave an individual a sense of belonging. As observed by Turner (1987), identity is the product of self-categorization, where individual assess different social groupings and decide which to join.
Organization culture refers to the identified set of values and behaviour that contributes to the unique psychological and social environment of the organization. The organization culture conveys a sense of identity to its members, while generating commitment beyond self interest. Bureaucracytheory states that, it’s the role of managers to ensure a system of rules, standards and norms, which are capable of controlling the behavior within the organization. Foucault’s (1979) major contribution to organization analysis is that employee should be expected to look at the headquarters as the source of administrative procedures, but should feel as part of the architects of the procedures for better performance. The identities of new employees adjust as they try to learn and adjust to the new working environment. This may be in a three steps process:
Pre-arrival stage refers to a period of learning in socialization process, which occurs before the employee joins the new employment. It happens through insider-outsider possible interactions and also exposure to information, concerning the company of interest. This helps one to learn how to adopt the identity that identifies an employee from that company. The second stage is the encounter stage. In this stage the employee witnesses how the organization behaves and confronts the fact that expectations and reality may diverge (Jackson 2002). The last stage is metamorphosis, where the employee adjusts to the work group, organization and the job. At this stage, the employee starts to display an identity as natured by the prescribed code of behavior in that organization. This defines the language to use, what the employee is supposed to do, how an employee advances within the company, how to be sensitive to employees and customers among others. The dominant culture in an organization refers to the core values, shared by the majority in an organization. There are, however, some subcultures, which may be defined by geographical separation or departmental designations. As a part of instilling organizational culture that is in line with the mission and vision of the organization, managerial practices that result to ethical culture and that modifies individual identity must be upheld (Zeiler & Harzem 1979). This includes: provision of ethical training, being a role model, communication of ethical expectations and rewarding ethical acts, while taking disciplinary action to unethical ones as explained in the Fayol’s 14 principles of management.
Different employees behave differently in the organization, based on the extent to which they are attached in their past experience, dogmas and orientation. This results to various categories of employees, displaying different identities. As indicated by Schein (1968), these categories include: those who are isolated, those who conforms, those who becomes rebellions and those who form creative individualism as shown in the quadrant below.
The different groups arise from the levels of individualism and socialization. Any organization would strive to make individuals with high levels of both individualization and socialization to avoid instances of rebellions, isolations and conformity.
Obedience is a fundamental element of social aspect of life and equally a major determinant of behaviour. From an experiment, conducted by Milgram (1963), obedience requires a system of authority. He found out that, the more nearer the teacher was to the learner, the more likely the learners were to be rebellious against authority. When the authority was not close, obedience level was lower. He observed that obedience was higher, when carried out by legitimate authority and that there is peer rebellion that rises, when a person sees someone else disobey. It has been established that millions of innocent people were slaughtered on command between 1933 and 1945. This, then, poses a challenge to employers on how to have employee conduct themselves in a productive obedient way. To do this, they have tried to emphasize on the system of co-values that should act as guide on conduct to avoid any sort of conflict. As a rule, any new employee will have to undergo training and induction to be conversant with these values such that by the time he is done, he is ready to interact with the new environment without any challenge. This may mark a greater point on the influence of the employer on employees’ identity.
It’s difficult to unveil an individual’s capabilities unless exposed to situation that requires extra effort. Though organization has made use of the managerial authority to demand extra efforts, the trend is changing to a freer environment by pegging remunerations and other rewards such as promotion on the individual’s efforts. Adoption of theory Y fromDouglas McGregor motivational theories has enabled individuals to take responsibilities upon themselves. An employee, in a paid employment, therefore, improves his self control with respect to rising occasions that arise in the job place as well as his life. This is in line with the organizational culture’s objective of paying attention to the details (Jacquemin & Jong 1976). This also results from the current urge of organization to have all round staff, which consequently forces an employee to go an extra mile to learn the other co-worker’s responsibility. Additionally, an employee, who takes responsibilities, is not afraid to bear the burden of their actions without shifting blames.
Another positive influence on personal identity from a paid employment relates to self-esteem, which is conceptualized as an outcome, buffer and motive. It is integral in the process of self-verification of an employee within the organization. Maslow in the hierarchy of need notes that self-esteem is at two levels. The lower level comprises; respect for others, status, attention, dignity, dominance, fame and recognition. The upper level includes: self-respect, confidence, achievements, freedom, independence, competence and mastery. Employers are providing working environment that can help to facilitate self-esteem. Levinson (1989) noted that managers have a duty of reconciling the employees’ need and those that are in line with the objectives of the organization. Lewis-McClear and Tylor (1998) noted that employee’s breach of contract may act as de-motivator, lowers self-esteem and leads to intentions of quitting. To avoid such instances, managers are striving to help employees achieve their aspirations. This is because low self-esteem causes the inferiority complex something that Maslow confirms as a root to many psychological problems (Mangham 1987). A motivated employee performs his duties cheerfully. There are no employees who would like to work around an employee with a negative attitude or a surly one, hence, acting as a barrier to teamwork and free interaction. Whereas pessimism results to more pessimism, cheerful attitudes are contagious, hence, the likelihood of producing a cheerful team.
Another contribution of employment environment on an employee’s identity relates to challenging the employee to become dependable. A team that consists of people who are dependable makes any other individual that joins them to be dependable too. This relates to keeping commitments, task performance on time, picking calls, arriving to work on time among others. The employee is expected to be consistent and accurate, get along with others without conflicts, follow directions, to work independently, to be a team player and have proactive attitude. The feeling of dependability by an employee motivates the employee and also increases the level of self-confidence.
Employment environment is also nature teamwork at all levels. In the research, conducted by Dr Meredith Belbin (1970s), he established that the difference that causes failure or success to a team did not depend on the level of intellect but rather on behavior. Team building is a concept that has been embraced by organization to enhance proper interaction among the employees. As a result of team building, employees are able to share positive experience, which strengthen the bonds, help them understand their talents and strengths and also, learn the skills of making team works to be successful. Team building activity provides the feeling that the organization cares for them, hence, enabling a more effective working relationship. As a consequence of being a team player an employee has his identity modified. He develops interpersonal skills that ensure good interactions, being respectful, caring and also learns how to demonstrate a positive attitude.
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability and the skills to identify, assess and control emotions both to one-self and others. The trend of relationships has been on the rise, especially as a result of globalization. These include interpersonal, intergroup and interdepartmental relationships. The increase in work teams in an organization demands new premium on relationship team skills. These skills include managing conflicts, guiding and inspiring groups and individuals, managing, initiating and withstanding change, cooperating with others, communicating and listening openly (Harris 1996). These can happen only if the individual is capable of controlling emotions. Daniel Goleman proposed mixed models that focus on various skills and competencies that one should have with respect to emotions. The first one is self-awareness, it points at one’s ability to read his emotions and appreciate their impact, when making decisions. The second one is self management, this pertains to the ability to control emotions and adapt to changing situations. The third one relates to social awareness, which is the ability to read, comprehend and react to other peoples’ emotions, while maintaining the social networks. He also pointed out the skill of relationship management, which relates to the skills of influencing, inspiring and managing conflicts. He states that individuals are born with general emotional intelligence that acts as a basis for studying emotional competencies. Therefore, as a new employee, one is required to develop EI that will enable working relations.
Honesty and integrity are basic traits that an individual must develop to define himself in the working place. This is because, in most cases, there is zero tolerance to integrity issues because of the potential liabilities and tarnishing of corporate image that they may bring to the organization (Foster 1969). An employee is supposed to live to the simplest acts of honesty and integrity. This includes doing ones best as an individual and as a member of a team, avoiding making others clock for you when late among others.
Apart from the positive traits that contribute to an individual’s identity, there are others that compromise the conducts, perceived unjust and unacceptable by a society. This may include subordination, so as to protect the boss, which, in most cases, ends up violating one of the Fayol’s 14 principles of management that relates to remuneration of personnel. Sometimes, organizations are obsessed by the desire to satisfy the corporate goals, which may be characterized by self-interest, irresponsibility, manipulation of information, lack of empathy and concern among others. Such policies will also influence the identity of the employees in the process of executing them.