Organizational behavior is one of the most important things to understand within the workplace. It is not only necessary to understand the behaviors of other people, but that of oneself as well. Between balancing relationships and facilitating communication, organizational behavior can ultimately help a company, individual, and everything in-between to reach their goals. In doing so, an organization will be more effective and a healthier environment can be maintained. The following articles describe multiple aspects of organizational behavior and how it relates to different people in different aspects of life. The analyzation and application of different organizational behavior theories that follow serve as supporting material for an organization to be successful.
Sue Shellenbarger, a work and family columnist writer for the Wall Street Journal, details the importance of organizational behavior in her article titled “The Right and Wrong Way to Manage Up at the Office.” Shellenbarger documents the many different types of rules and guidelines for engaging with bosses and subordinates in the workplace. She first describes the thoughts of Robert Tanner, a Lacey Wash Leadership and Business Consultant, who says “One financial-services executive was at odds with his subordinates until he and they understood they had different decision-making styles” (Shellenbarger 1).
Because the executive seemed to make decisions intuitively and changed his mind often, many employees felt that he was indecisive and only cared about himself. Situations such as these relates greatly with the individual differences of people and how various attributes can change ones’ influenceability and perception to workers. For example, employees who value a more fact-based approach to managing would be more likely categorized as “relatively fixed.” They would tend to value intelligence and cognitive abilities over attitudes and emotions, categorized as “relatively loose,” which explains their opposing viewpoints.
A proactive approach to understanding these differences beforehand would be beneficial to both parties. Shellenbarger continues to distinguish this importance of understanding organizational behavior by noting the concerns of New York City Executive Coach Julie Kantor, who states “Employees also need to understand the boss’s priorities…What seems like a small error to an employee might look like a systemic failure to a boss with a broader realm to manage” (Shellenbarger 1). Kantor’s statement relates to the importance of Schwartz’s Value Theory, which states that managers can better manage their employees when they understand an employees’ values and motivation. Because the values of employees and bosses can differ, this can lead to conflicting goals and thus conflicting actions and behaviors. If both groups can identify like-minded goals consistent with their values, employees will derive more meaning from their work and priorities will align.
In relation to Sue Shellenbarger’s article, Marissa King, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Yale, observes the peculiar nature of people and how the behave around popular employees in the workplace. In her article titled “The Problem with Popular Employees,” King begins by emphasizing the advantages and disadvantages of being popular in the workplace; she acknowledges that sometimes it seems reminiscent of high school. King initially points out that “Forty years after the end of high school, those who were once part of the cool crowd get paid 10% more than their socially excluded peers.
These effects persist after taking into account IQ and social background. Even as adults, we tend to confer privileges upon the popular” (King 1). Her description directly correlates with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which explains the general model of human needs and the desire to fulfill them. The top three categories on this hierarchy chart include self-actualization, esteem, and love; all three are extremely evident in their relationship between popular employees. The desire for self-fulfillment is to become the ‘best’ one is capable of becoming. This includes the need for reputation, prestige, and recognition from others; it also could be said that this involves the desire for affection and belonging.
It could be derived that those who more-or-less have these needs fulfilled could also be categorized as those who are more popular within the workplace. King goes on to warn the reader about the possible downsides of being popular when she points out that “Popularity can negatively affect decision-making and lead to suboptimal performance by fueling overconfidence. One of the reasons that overconfidence is so common is that it makes people more popular” (King 1). King explains this thought by describing a scenario in which 242 M.B.A students in a class at the University of California Berkeley were shown a list of fictitious items and asked to explain what they were. Those who were overconfident were later seen as having a higher status than those who could not explain what the objects were, even if they were wrong.
The conclusion drawn was that overconfidence can be falsely mistaken for competence. This whole scenario and the actions of students can be correlated to the motivation of the students and the psychological influences it had on their thoughts and behavior. For some students, it may have been extrinsic motivation; this source of motivation deals with external rewards like praise from their peers. For example, they could have been motivated by their desire to be liked and thus falsely claimed to have known what the objects were. For other students, it may have been intrinsic motivation; this source of motivation deals with internal rewards such as self-worth. It could be possible that they felt positive emotions after having guessed at what each item meant, having speculated that they could have been correct.
In discussing the importance of organizational behavior, the significance of emotional intelligence and how it relates to those in the workplace is absolutely crucial. In Sue Shellenbarger’s second article titled “The Rare Workers Who Thrive on Negative Feedback,” she describes the uniqueness of some employees’ emotional intelligence and how they react to criticism. Shellenbarger writes that “People who thrive on feedback tend to be strivers who believe they can improve their skills and abilities. They’ve embraced personal goals so compelling that they see criticism as a tool for helping reach them, rather than a setback” (Shellenbarger 1).
Emotional intelligence is described as the ability to master emotions and those of others and use that information to guide one’s thinking and actions. The four components of this are self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management. It is evident that those who are able to receive criticism and take the necessary action to better themselves have, to some degree, every one of those four aspects. Because of this, they can gain better social relationships and better job performance. Shellenbarger affirms this idea by interviewing Brian Bink, a president and CEO of Birmingham Group. In recalling when he received criticism from his peers, he states in Shellenbarger’s article that he “sees the criticism not as a put-down, but as a vote of confidence—as if his friends were saying, ‘I know if you just put your mind to it, you can fix this’” (Shellenbarger 1).
Brian Bink’s emotional intelligence is evident in how he is motivated by criticism and remains committed toward his goals. It also must be said, however, that workers like Brian would also tend to have a high self-efficacy, or the belief that once can successfully accomplish a given task. With both of these behaviors in mind, a person can take negative feedback and turn it into a personally profitable experience.
The study of organizational behavior can be attributed as one of the most important and influential components of management. Using its many applications and concepts, the accumulation of knowledge about how people act in an organization can improve their overall effectiveness and success. Throughout all three articles, different methods of organizational behavior have been analyzed and used to address multiple issues within the workplace. Hopefully, society will continue to improve on the many concepts that organization behavior has already covered; in doing so, the way people relate and companies develop will be changed forever.