Albert Bandura (1986) defined self efficacy (SE) as people’s judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action, required to attain designated types of performance and successfully perform a particular task.
The key point in the definition of SE is people’s judgment not KAS (Knowledge, Ability, Skills) to perform. If the required KAS is available but the person in question doesn’t think that he can perform the task then no progress will be made. Such effect was echoed by Hill, Smith & Mann (1987). People with low SE, are less likely to be open to new situations; less likely to cope with demands and manage setbacks in challenging situations (Gist, Schwoerer & Rosen, 1989).
A person’s SE is a strong determinant for effort, persistence and job performance. SE is a key factor in training effectiveness and learning transfer (Mathieu, Martineau & Tannenbaum, 1993) because trainees with low SE will not benefit from the training and will be reluctant to try new concepts and approaches. Research has confirmed that people with high SE approach training positively and benefit the most out of it (Gutherie & Schwoerer, 1994).
SE is task oriented, where people may have high SE for some tasks and low SE for others, such as high SE for marketing, and low SE for complains handling. For this nature, it is a strong predictor for one’s performance and motivation. SE has positive and negative consequences. High SE triggers people to work hard and persist against turbulences and pitfalls, like Thomas Edison, when he did three thousand different unsuccessful prototypes before he achieved his light bulb breakthrough.
High SE people react positively when a negative feedback is addressed to them. Contrary to this, in areas where they have low SE, they consider negative feedback as a confirmation for their incompetence. Although SE is positive in nature, it has its negative consequences. We tend to be negatively impacted when we can not win what we value, and cause us to keep trying until we experience stress and pressure.
Factors influencing SE.
- Self-mastery is the stage where we perform part of the assigned job in an excellent manner. This performance confirms to us that we are capable to perform the expected job, as desired. Usually we judge our capabilities based on perception, as we fear to try new things and leave our comfort zone. As a result, we take the easy escape and decline trying. When facing difficult assignment, SE is a critical element, and to approach it in a positive way, we have to divide the difficult assignment into small manageable tasks, and work on satisfying each task separately. In addition, because we learn as we progress, difficulty level should be increased gradually, to avoid the shock of sudden difficulty increase. After settling the difficult assignment as desired, rewards should be given, in order to reconfirm self faith and SE, and reinforce the positive thoughts regarding self ability and performance capacity.
- Role-modeling is observing successful people performing, for learning purposes. This technique is powerful because it leaves immediate impact, as we observe to learn. For this, the role model should be an ideal choice, to reflect positive learning experience.
- Verbal persuasion builds SE when managers motivate and praise individuals for their competence and ability to improve their effectiveness.
In training, trainer should safeguard from the following SE pitfall, to ensure developing positive and high trainees’ SE:
1. Assign unchallenging tasks
2. Giving praise for regular performance
3. Treat faulty performance indifferently
4. Repeatedly offered unsolicited help
5. Personal not action criticisms
To produce positive SE, trainer can:
1. Capitalize on trainee’s interests
2. Allow trainees the opportunity to make their own choices
3. Encourage trial and error, for learning purposes
4. Provide on-going feedback
To finalize, Schwarzer & Jerusalem (1995) devised the following SE scale. This tool helps the user to measure his SE level, and analyze their gap for development purposes.
1 = Not at all true 2 = Hardly true 3 = Moderately true 4 = Exactly true
1. I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
2. If someone opposes me, I can find the means and ways to get what I want.
3. It is easy for me to stick to my aims and accomplish my goals.
4. I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.
5. Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen situations.
6. I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
7. I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.
8. When I am confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions.
9. If I am in trouble, I can usually think of a solution.
10. I can usually handle whatever comes my way.
Trainer & Consultant