Every organization brings together individuals with different backgrounds, skills, and abilities with the objective of working together to achieve common goals and objectives. For this to happen, all members of an organization have to work collaboratively to ensure they understand the common goals and are aligned to those goals. Organizational leaders serve the purpose of continuously communicating what the organizational goals and objectives are to others, and inspiring them towards pushing for those goals. A definite organizational culture is however needed in order for the communication to be effective, and for the organizational behavior to be developed. Organizational behavior particularly defines the concept of common behavior in the work environment, including its effects on the work environment, the leadership, motivation, communication and performance. Notably, organizational behavior (OB) has to be clearly defined since in a work environment, individuals are predisposed to different behavior characteristics. Organizational leaders have the responsibility of aligning these individual behaviors to a given norm by clarifying the organizational goals and providing clear guidelines into what the expected behavior norms are.
OB is a field of study that is mainly concerned with how and why people behave in a particular way in an organizational environment. OB focuses on the impacts of groups, individuals and the organizational structure on the behaviors of people in the organization. Considering the OB as a field of study, various characteristics can be associated with the concept, and it can also motivate exploration into many other concepts. For instance, understanding the impacts of employee interaction and job satisfaction on the organizational benefits is an essential part of OB exploration, and considering both internal and external perspectives to the OB concept is mandatory for this understanding to be achieved. In the subsequent sections of this paper the concept of OB is explored with a focus on the characteristics of organizational behavior and how the leadership molds these behaviors, importance, and examples of OB. Real life organization examples are provided to help develop an understanding of what good OB is versus what constitutes bad OB.
Characteristics of Organizational Behavior and Leadership Roles
OB concerns the behavior of individuals within an organizational setting and may be formal or informal. An organization generally has to do with a social grouping that is under the leadership of the organization. As such, any social grouping that has not been set up to achieve a particular business objective would be considered an informal organization and thus characterized by informal OB. On the other hand, a clearly structured organization would exhibit formal organizational behavior. The OB described herein is the formal type, which is found mostly in the corporate environment. According to Cummings the first characteristic of organizational behavior is its multidisciplinary character (90). The area of OB is developed based on traditional human behavior related fields including sociology, psychology, and economics. Additionally, some disciplines such as communication and gender studies find relevance in the implementation and push towards organizational behavior (Cummings 90-91). The multidisciplinary approach to OB fosters the understanding of individual behaviors in the workplace. Concepts such as learning, attitude, and perception are adopted from the diverse fields that influence the development of OB. Considering OB from only one perspective may be detrimental particularly in the contemporary work environment where diversity is continuously being recognized for its contribution to organizational performance. The only way to maximize the benefits of diversity in the work environment is to foster the sharing of diverse perspectives, which can only happen when all the organizational members area aware of their role in the organization, feel appreciated and included in the organizational culture (Kreitner, Kinicki and Cole 31-33). The organizational leadership plays a crucial part in ensuring that these outcomes are achieved by communicating their appreciation of the employees, engaging them to share their diverse perspectives, and promoting the understanding of the individual values of the employees. The leaders use knowledge based on the different subjects to attain the organizational objectives. Subjects such as sociology are associated with the study of diverse cultures and backgrounds including behavior norms and expectations; while psychology aids in understanding the individual differences between members of an organization, thereby promoting the ability to fine-tune behavior expectations to the individual and cultural norms of members.
The multidisciplinary character of OB is also linked to the other characteristic, which is the multi-level character. The multi-level character is focused on the study of different levels of OB on the organizational effectiveness. The organization comprises of different levels of social groupings, each with its own characteristics. The first level is the individual level. Every individual in an organization comes with his/her own attitudes, expectations, motivations, capabilities, knowledge, skills, competencies, cultural and religious backgrounds, and performance metrics (Kreitner and Others 11). With this variety of characteristics, it is expected that the most basic difference in behavior would be observed between individuals in an organization. The second level is the functional level. Here, individuals in an organization are grouped based on the functions within which they work. The individuals in a particular function interact closely and are expected to influence each other in terms of attitudes, behaviors, and competencies, under the guidance of their functional leaders. As such, observable behavior differences exist from one function to the other in an organization. Bringing the different functions to common behavior norms requires an understanding of those particular behavior differences and their contributions to the organizational effectiveness, which has to be founded on the organizational strategy run by the leadership of the organization (Kreitner and Others 138). Finally, the highest level in organizational behavior is the corporate level. At this level, the OB is defined based on the organizational cultures, guided by the organizational executive function, which is the highest level of leadership in any organization, and focused on attaining the strategic goals of the organization. This level of OB is used to define the bigger percentage of the overall organizational behavior, and subsequently to influence the OB portrayed at the lower levels of the organization. For this process to be effective, communication, interpersonal skills and effective leadership are mandatory (Kreitner and Others 29). Therefore, it is the role of the leadership of the human resources management function (HRM) in any organization to bring together all members and to unite them through the common organizational goals into common OB.
Another characteristic commonly associated with OB is the goal oriented character. From the last section, an explanation of the highest level of OB has resulted in a mention of the common goal of the organization. This common goal is considered to be the driving factor behind all OB areas that are to be established. Accordingly, the main goal of OB in any organization is not to force employees to focus on the organizational goals but to fine tune their own goals and behaviors to the organizational goal. The organizational goals are developed and communicated by organizational leaders and are then cascaded down to the functional goals and lastly to the individual goals in the organization. With an effective and visionary leadership structure, any organization can develop effective goals that can drive the development of the organizational behavior. Thereafter, the individual goals are used to direct individual behaviors within the functions, functional behavior within the organization, and general OB. These outcomes ensure that there is always a consistent progress towards the overall goal. This characteristic is also tied to another, which is the normative science character. The normative science character relates to the applicability of organizational outcomes to the society in an acceptable manner (Ogwueleka and Ogbonna 161). This relates to the influence of OB on the cultures and the values of the people around whom the organization works.
Other characteristics of organizational behavior include a situational character, which relates to the organizational fit to the environment in which it operates. Changes in the political, economic, legal, and/or environmental factors are expected to drive changes in OB. This feature therefore implies that OB is also dynamic. Situational leadership is one of the most commonly lauded forms of leadership in any organization. This implies that for an OB to be effective, the leadership has to be sufficiently strong in making situational decisions that foster growth. Kreitner and Others posit that values and norms of groups and individuals change from time to time (139-140). When addressing the multi-level character of OB, it has been stated that OB is escalated from the individual behaviors in response to their individual goals in alignment with the organizational goals and objectives. This implies that changes in individual value system would also be escalated to the functional and to the general OB. At the same time, changes in the organizational goals and strategic plans would require changes in OB. These relationships between the individual behavior and OB, or organizational goals and OB exhibit the cause-effect characteristic of OB. As such, OB can be said to be a complex phenomenon that would require an understanding of so many concepts and principles for effective application.
Benefits of Positive Organizational Behavior
Organizational behavior is a crucial aspect in organizational performance. The organizational behavior can be understood from the individual level, the functional level and the organizational level. Through the understanding of individual behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and motivations as part of the general OB, leaders have the responsibility of recognizing any defiant behavior as soon as it emerges and to address such behavior accordingly. OB thus helps in understanding the perception of employees. Employee perception is the determining factor for the employee behaviors and attitudes. OB helps in understanding employee perception thus exposing antecedents or cause behaviors for other outcomes (Ogwueleka and Ogbonna 163). In this way, it is possible to identify the controllable and non-controllable antecedent behaviors and thus handle each of the behaviors as it emerges and before affecting other organizational behaviors.
For managers intending to improve the working environment and enhance employee effectiveness, OB provides an approach for controlling human behavior. The multidisciplinary character of OB is such that it allows for the recognition of all behavior elements and their relation to particular theoretical concepts in the different disciplines of focus (Cummings 90). Through application of the recognized theoretical concepts, managers can change the behaviors of their employees by seeing things from their perspectives. Additionally, enabling organizational members to understand the implications of their individual behaviors and attitudes on the accomplishment of organizational goals can be essential towards motivating behavior change. According to Cummings negative behavior change can be driven by changes in perception or lack of understanding of organizational expectations in specific circumstances (93). When such misunderstanding is consistent, employee behavior is consistently seen to fall outside the expected OB norms. As such, managers have to understand the principles and disciplines behind OB and thus use those same principles and theories to understand employees’ behaviors and to guide them towards more acceptable corporate behavior.
Organizational behavior also helps in building better industrial relations. Good industrial relations require an understanding of the general expectations both within the organization and outside. The employee attitudes and behaviors influence the externally perceived organizational behavior in different contexts. The organizational responsibilities are also affected extensively. Managers therefore use OB norms to understand the expectations at the individual, functional and organizational levels. The same process can be used to resolve misunderstanding both internally and externally and to maintain mutual understanding and respect, both of which help in maintaining positive industrial relations (Kreitner and Others 165). Additionally, OB helps to identify the employee needs and their motivations, and subsequently to work on strategies through which the organization can meet those needs. Individual differences in needs and motivations require different employee handling procedures, which result in different outcomes. Such deliberate efforts to understand employees and to satisfy their needs enhance motivation, and subsequently job satisfaction. In this way, a good OB fosters productivity among employees and improves their general job performance.
Another benefit associated with OB is reduced expenditures. In most cases, organizations spend extensively on building human resources. Processes such as employee hiring, training and development and HR maintenance are all crucial towards effective organizational performance. If done without a clear understanding of the individual capabilities, needs and motivations, organizations end up incurring costs associated with high employee-turnover, which may not work for the achievement of the organizational objectives. As such, OB enables the organization to utilize its resources effectively to attain the intended outcomes.
Organizational Behavior in Companies
The application of organizational behavior in companies can be either positive and effective or negative and with unintended outcomes. OB effectiveness is often evaluated based on the outcomes associated with the practice. For instance, various companies over the years have had significantly positive organizational behavior and outcomes. A report by Patel describes various companies that have used their organizational cultures to develop strong organizational behavior and reap the immense benefits from those behaviors (Par. 1-4). Some of these companies include Southwest Airlines, which has been lauded for its friendly and happy employees; Twitter, which is recognized for its supportive team environment and clear goals and vision statements; Chevron, for its focus on safety, teamwork and employee welfare that makes employees feel valued; and Google, which is renowned for its employee welfare initiatives such as free meals and gym, financial incentives, pet-friendly environment, and effective team communication. All these organizations have identified something unique, that sets them apart from other organizations, and both the employees and the customers notice this difference, hence the continued success.
On the other hand, there are companies that have been considered ineffective in their OB behavior at one time or the other. According to Loftus, these companies include Samsung, with a focus on the management of its Note 7 product launch and recall from the market; Volkswagen and the company’s technology for bypassing the emissions test; and Wells Fargo on the employees’ use of customers’ details to create fraudulent bank accounts, which indicated poor risk management, irresponsible leadership, poor corporate culture (Par. 1-5). Each of these companies has been operating effectively and they are all recognized as world leaders in their respective industries. As such, the consideration of these companies as corporate leadership and culture fails of the year only purposes to indicate how relevant OB is to organizational effectiveness. The sensitivity of the outcomes of poor OB makes the concept even more important to understand in the corporate environment.
Understanding OB is an important part of organizational success due to the benefits associated with effective OB. To understand the application of OB, its characteristics have to be explored as has been done in this paper. The multidisciplinary, situational, and dynamic natures of OB indicate its relevance to multiple work environments, and the role of the management in fostering the development of an effective OB. The benefits associated with OB including control of employee behavior and building industrial relations, are useful for every organization hence the need to foster them.
Cummings, J.J. “Towards Organizational Behavior.” Academy of Management, vol. 3, no. 1, 1978, pp. 90-98. www.jstor.org/stable/257580?seq=1. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.
Kreitner, Robert, Angelo Kinicki and Nina Cole. Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior: Key Concepts, Skills, and Best Practices, 2nd Canadian Ed. Canada: McGraw –Hill/Ryerson, 2007. [Print].
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Ogwueleka, Amaka Chinweude and Stanley Nnamdi Ogbonna. “Effect of Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) Characteristics on Construction Employees’ Turnover in Uyo City of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.” African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, vol. 10, no. 12, 2018, pp. 159-168. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/20421338.2017.1412610. Accessed 7 Feb. 2020.
Patel, Sujan. “10 Examples of Companies with Fantastic Cultures.” Forbes Magazine, 6 August 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/249174. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.