Good supervisors are not easily duped by the motives of people who go the extra mile - they know when an employee is sucking up to them because of personal ambition, or when such actions truly have what is best for the organisation, the findings showed.

"Supervisors are able to accurately identify the motives behind their subordinates' organisational citizenship behaviour, and they are not fooled by good actors," said Magda Donia from the University of Ottawa in Canada.

The researchers tested whether supervisors can indeed successfully spot a "good actor" from a "good soldier".Whereas the soldiers' actions are selflessly motivated and help the organisation, actors are more self-serving and focused on furthering their ends.

The study was conducted in 21 branches of an English-speaking multinational bank in Pakistan. It involved 197 bank tellers and cashiers, and their 47 immediate supervisors.

They found that supervisors know with relative accuracy when employees' organisational citizenship behaviour is selflessly or selfishly motivated. It might therefore be more effective and meaningful for their long-term advancement in a company if employees selflessly work within an organisational setting, Donia said.

The study appeared in the Journal of Business and Psychology.


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