Self-efficacy, or a person’s self-belief in his ability to perform specific tasks, has been correlated with workplace performance, burnout, the experience of stress and role adjustments. Given its influential role on performance, it is critical for managers to understand the role of self-efficacy in the workplace.
According to Stanford University psychologist Alfred Bandura, self-efficacy affects learning and performance in the workplace in five ways:
Self-efficacy beliefs influence the choices individuals make, degree of challenge of their goals and their level of commitment to personal goals. Employees with low levels of self-efficacy will chose less challenging goals for themselves and vice versa.
Employees learn, perform and exert effort at levels consistent with their self-efficacy beliefs. Employees with high self-efficacy will work hard to learn how to perform new tasks, because they are confident they will be successful.
Self-efficacy beliefs influence how long employees will persist when engaging with challenging tasks. Employees with high-self-efficacy will persist longer in the face of difficult tasks because they are more confident that they will learn and successfully execute the task.
Self-efficacy beliefs influence how an employee will respond to disappointment. Individuals who have higher self-efficacy will recover faster from setbacks than those who don’t.
Self-efficacious beliefs influence the physiological experience of stress. Individuals with lower levels of self-efficacy may experience a more intense physiological stress reaction in the face of challenges than those who have higher levels of self-efficacy. This in turn can affect their performance on the task and the degree to which they persevere in the face of the challenge.
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Self-efficacy influences how individuals will approach tasks and challenges in the workplace. Below are commonalities in the approach to work related tasks in employees with high vs. low self-efficacy beliefs.
Employees with high self-efficacy:
Employees with low self-efficacy:
Self-efficacy beliefs are the most central and pervasive influences on the choices employees make and goals they set for themselves . Self-efficacy beliefs also strongly affect their approach to a task, motivation to engage in a task, the level of effort they exert, degree of persistence when facing a difficult task and their performance on the task. It is therefore critical that managers seek to enhance self-efficacy beliefs in employees in an effort to improve performance.
 Bandura, Albert. “Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency.” American psychologist 37.2 (1982): 122.