Reducing Job Insecurity and Increasing Performance Ratings: Does Impression Management Matter?

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Prior research on job insecurity has demonstrated its detrimental effects on both employees and the organization, yet no research has detailed how people actively deal with it. Drawing from proactivity research, this article argues that job insecurity prompts a proactive use of impression management tactics in the workplace. The effectiveness of these tactics depends on the level of supervisory liking for the employee and the attributions supervisors make regarding the employee’s motives for the impression management behaviors (i.e., for the good of the organization or for self-interest). A 3-wave survey study of 271 Chinese employees and their supervisors showed that employees experiencing job insecurity in Time 1 reported using a variety of tactics to impress their supervisors at Time 2 and that these tactics curbed the affect associated with job insecurity and enhanced supervisor rated performance, through supervisor’s liking and attributed motives. The relationship between impression management and increased supervisor-rated performance was moderated by supervisor attributions; the relationship between impression management and reduced affective job insecurity depended on supervisor liking.

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