4 Sources of Self-Efficacy in the Workplace

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

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Self-efficacy, or the belief about one’s ability to accomplish a task, influences perception, motivation and performance of the task. Managers attempting to increase self-efficacy in their employees must first identify its source. Below are 4 principle sources of self-efficacy in the workplace [1].

1. Past Performance

Bandura stated that the most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences. Employees who have previous experience with on the job success have more confidence to complete similar tasks (high self-efficacy) than those who do not (low self-efficacy).

2. Modeled Behavior

Another source of self-efficacy is through learning from modeled behavior. When an employee observes a coworker successfully complete a task, they will feel more confident they can also successfully complete a similar task. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed.”

3. Social Persuasion or Feedback from Others

Employees can be persuaded to believe that they have the skills necessary to successfully complete a task. Both positive encouragement as well as convincing others that they have the ability to succeed at the particular task can facilitate self-efficacy. When managers are confident that their employees can successfully perform a task, they perform at a higher level.

4. Physiological Responses

The emotional, physiological and psychological response of an individual can influence their level of perceived self-efficacy. A person who expects to fail at a task, or finds the task too demanding will experience a set of emotional cues: racing heart, blushing, sweating, headaches, etc. If these physiological cues are persistent and severe enough, they contribute to a sense of weak self-efficacy in employees.

The aforementioned 4 sources of self-efficacy in the workplace all contribute to an employee’s perceived ability to perform a task. It is therefore an important construct to identify and enhance in employees when seeking to increase individual or team performance.

[1] Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.
[2] Bandura, A. (1992) Exercise of personal agency through the self-efficacy mechanisms. In R. Schwarzer (Ed.), Self-efficacy: Thought control of action. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
[3] Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior,4. New York: Academic Press, pp. 71-81.
[4] Bandura, A. (1995). Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies. Cambridge University Press.

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Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.