Role Efficacy: Meaning, Aspects and Measurement

What is Role Efficacy?

The performance of a person working in an organization depends on his own potential effectiveness, technical competence, managerial experience as well as the design of the role that he performs in the organization. It is the integration of the two that ensures a person’s effectiveness in the organization. Unless a person has the requisite knowledge, technical competence and the skills required for the role, he cannot be effective.  If the role does not allow the person to use his competence, and if he constantly feels frustrated in the role, his effectiveness is likely to be low.

The integration of a person and the role comes about when the role is able to fulfill the needs of the individual, and when the individual in turn is able to contribute to the evolution of the role. The more we move from role taking to role making, the more the role is likely to be effective. Effectiveness of a person in a role in an organization will depend on his own potential effectiveness the potential effectiveness of the role, and the organizational climate.

Role efficacy would mean potential effectiveness of an individual occupying a particular role in an organization.  Role efficacy is the potential effectiveness of a role.

Aspects of Role Efficacy

Role efficacy has several aspects. These aspects can be classified into three groups or dimensions:

Dimension 1: Role Making

  1. Self-Role Integration– Every person has his strengths experience, technical training, special skills, and some unique contribution that he may be able to make. The more the role a person occupies provides an opportunity for the use of such special strengths, the higher the efficacy is likely to be. This is called self-role integration. The self or the person and the role get integrated through the possibility of a person’s use of his special strengths in the role. Our special strengths are used in the role so that it may be possible for us to demonstrate how effective we can be. Integration contributes to high role efficacy. On the other hand if there is a distance between the self and the role, role efficacy is likely to be low.
  2. Proactivity- A person who occupies a role, responds to the various expectations that people in the organization have from that role. While this certainly gives him satisfaction, it also satisfies others in the organization. However, if he is also expected to take initiative in starting some activity, the efficacy will be higher. Reactive behavior helps a person in being effective to some extent, but proactivity contributes much more to efficacy. If a person feels that he would like to take initiative but has no opportunity to do so in the role that he occupies in the organization, the efficacy will be low.
  3. Creativity- It is not only initiative  which is  important for  efficacy. An opportunity to try new and unconventional ways of solving problems or an opportunity to be creative is equally important. If a person perceives that he has to perform only routine tasks, it is detrimental towards a high role efficacy. If he feels that the role does not allow any time or opportunity to be creative, the efficacy is bound to be low.
  4. Confrontation– If people in an organization avoid problems or shift the problems to the others; their role efficacy will be low. The tendency to confront problems and find relevant solutions contributes to efficacy. When people facing inter-personal problems sit down, talk about these problems, and search  out  solutions,  their  efficacy is  likely  to  be  higher when  compared  with  situations in which  they either deny such problems or refer them to their higher officers.

Dimension 2: Role Centering

  1. Centrally- If a person  occupying  a  particular role in organization feels that the role he occupies is central in the organization; his role efficacy is likely to be high. Every employee would like to feel that his role is important to the organization. If persons occupying various roles feels that their roles are peripheral i.e. not very important, their potential effectiveness will be low.
  2. Personal Growth- If  a  person  feels  that  he is  stagnating in a role without any opportunity to grow he is likely to have a low role efficacy. In many institutes of higher learning, the roles of the staff pose problems of low efficacy. The main factor behind this is the lack of opportunity for them to grow systematically in their roles. Institutes which are able to plan the growth of such people in the roles will have higher efficacy and obtain a great deal of contribution from them.

Dimension 3: Role Linking

  1. Inter-role Linkage- Linkages  of  one’s  role  with  other roles in the organization increases efficacy. If there is a joint effort in   understanding problems, finding solutions, the efficacy of the various roles involved is likely to be high. The feeling of isolation of a role reduces role efficacy.
  2. Helping Relationship- If  persons  performing a particular role feel that they can get help from some source in the organization whenever the need arises, they are likely to have higher role efficacy. On the other hand, if there is a feeling that no help is forthcoming when asked for, or that the respondents are hostile, role efficacy will be low.
  3. Super Ordination- When a person performing a particular role feel that what he does is likely to be of value to a larger group, his efficacy is likely to be high. Roles in which people feel that what they are doing is helpful to the organization in which they work, result in role efficacy. But if a person feels that he does not get an opportunity to be of help to a larger group, the role efficacy is likely to be low.

Measuring Role Efficacy

In order to determine how much role efficacy a person has, the strengths of the 10 aspects of role efficacy need to be measured. The various materials that can be used to measured role efficacy are:

1. Writing The Essay

The best method of measuring role efficacy is the EMR (Essay on My Role). It gives a high pay-off especially in programmes of increasing role efficacy. The role occupant may be asked to write an essay of about 500 words on his role which is then analyzed for role efficacy. When a person writes such an essay, he projects his perceptions about the role and provides enough material from which role efficacy can be measured.

2. Scoring Essays

The essays can be scored either by the one who writes the essay or by an expert. Each aspect can be given one of the three scores: +2, +1, or -1. After trying out various ways of scoring, this was the method decided upon: give a score of 2 on each aspect, if that particular aspect is present; score of 1 when that aspect is present to some extent; -1 if the negative side of the aspect is shown.

3. Role Efficacy Scale ( RES)

Role Efficacy Scale is a structured instrument consisting of 20 triads of statement in each triad which describes his role most accurately. A respondent marks one statement in each triad which describes his role most accurately. These three alternatives are pre-weighted. There are two statements for each dimension of role efficacy and the same scoring pattern is followed.

4. Interview

An unstructured interview with a role occupant to know his perceptions about the role can help collect data for scoring role efficacy. Interview has an advantage, it gets spontaneous responses, and necessary probes can be made to find out more about the various dimensions.

5. Checklist of Adjectives

Role efficacy can also be measured by asking a role occupant to list as many adjectives as he can think of to describe the role. In such a lasting the person reflects his significant perceptions of the role.

6. Role Efficacy Differential (RED)

Semantic differential scale can also be used to measure role efficacy. These scales are bipolar, having contrasting adjectives at each of the two ends, with 7-point or 9-point scales in between.

7. Role Efficacy Index (REI)

Role Efficacy Index represents the percentage of role effectiveness of a respondent in an organization. It ranges from 0 to 100. A high REI indicates that the respondent perceives that he has a great deal of opportunity to be effective in the role. To find out the REI, scores on all the 9 aspects of role efficacy may be totaled and then the relevant formula can be used.

  • Role Essay & Interview: [(Total Score+ 10)/30] * 100
  • Role Efficacy Scale:   [(Total Score+ 10)/60] * 100
  • Role Efficacy Differential: [(Total Score+ 10)/80] * 100