Custodial Model of Organisational Behaviour

What is the custodial model?

The custodial model is based around the concept of providing economic security for employees – through wages and other benefits – that will create employee loyalty and motivation.

The custodial model mainly focuses on the financial reward aspects of being employed by the organisation. The underpinning concept of this model is that employees become quite dependent upon the package of wages and other benefits provided by the organisation. As a result, they look to improve their performance for the firm in order to maintain their position and be promoted over time.

Role of management

According to the custodial model, managers can motivate workers and improve their performance by providing a financial incentive, such as financial bonuses and benefits for good performance. Therefore, as you can see, this model promotes a win-win philosophy where employees and the organisation share in the benefits of improved performance of the firm’s workforce.

Impact on teamwork

Given the focus on financial rewards for performance and “locking” staff into the organization through attractive benefits and bonuses, this has the potential to create a self-interested environment that actually negates the concept of teamwork.

In some cases, a very competitive environment can be created where the employees strive for best performances on an individual basis only. While this has some benefit to the organisation, it can also become quite a political and toxic working environment if it is not managed effectively.

In some cases, the extent of professional jealousy builds and the employees consider their co-workers as their competitors, perhaps eroding their own bonus potential. As a consequence, employees work more independently and reduce their reliance on their other team members, or small alliances are formed outside of the formal team structure.

Pyramid system

Some custodial structures are based around a pyramid system where only the more senior staff members truly enjoy the financial benefits of the organisation. Once a certain management level or status is reached the employee is very well rewarded. This creates the incentive, at the lower staff level, to perform and network in order to “break-through” to the next level in the hierarchy.

Key aspects of the custodial model

The custodial model is likely to discourage the concept of teamwork – with the exception of “mutual favours” between staff alliances – a “you help me and I will help you” relationship.

Performance can shift from workplace delivery of goals to a greater concern about reputations in the organisation.

Often the employee’s direct supervisor is not the architect of the financial and bonus schemes, so the employee may feel obligated to communicate their level of performance throughout the organization, particularly upwards in the hierarchy – resulting in image becoming quite important.

Employees in this structure are primarily driven by the financial security they receive for their efforts, which drives an overall on key performance goals for the firm.

In is necessary however, that the organisation be economically strong in order to provide ongoing strong financial benefits for its employees, otherwise the employees will become demotivated and look for better opportunities.

Related Topics

The five models of OB