Organizational Behavior Prediction and Management

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Introduction

Organizational Behavior studies and uses information related to the behavior of people in the workplace. It focuses on the individual and groups but this study tends to focus more on the individual because an individual is the focal point of any organization. Individuals work in organizations with a view of satisfying their wants, egos and experiences and each individual has their own physical, psychological and social needs. To satisfy these needs each individual uses their own traits and experiences which in turn influence organizational behavior(Hatch, 2007). It is almost impossible to have a uniform behavior within an organization made of up of many people because no individual is similar to the other meaning that no two individuals can exhibit exactly the same behavioral traits.

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The question that arises is whether managers of organizations can manage to understand, predict or even influence behavior in an organization in the face of behavioral diversities within the organization. There are various internal and external factors that influence behavior of individuals in the workplace.Research and study of these factors can help managers to modify and mould the behavior of the workforce and this will turn help the company to achieve its strategic objectives efficiently and effectively (Miles, 2003). Behavior in an organization has become a special area of interest because human behavior in an organization is influenced partly by the formal and partly by the personal systems that form that organization. The interaction of the formal and the personal systems produces organizational behavior. Producing organizational behavior from the formal systems is easy but complexity lies in the personal systems because of the individual differences within an organization.

Individual Behavior Management

One of the biggest challenges facing the management and leadership systems in organizations is comprehension of the motives of the human resources within the organization (Robbins, 2004). If all the people had the same motives, then it would be very easy for the organizational management and leadership to understand, predict and influence the behavior of the people within the organization but the individual diversities that exist in any organization prevent the managers and leaders from knowing why people act the way they do and this in turn prevents them from building better relationships in the workplace. This does not imply that it is impossible to understand, predict or influence behavior of individuals within an organization (Kaye, 2005). Individual differences only complicate this process but if the managers manage to rise above these complexities, they can develop better understanding and relationships within the workplace, creating a happy environment which will in turn lead to better individual, team and overall performance.

How Managers Can Understand, Predict or Influence Behavior

There are some models that can help organizational leaders to understand and influence individual behavior. One of the models that can help managers of organizations to understand and influence individual and organizational behavior is known as the window on work values(Hatch, 2007). This is a model that focuses on individual values and it groups values together in a system that makes it easier for managers to understand the values of each individual easily. What are values in the first place? Values are fundamental concepts or views that individuals use as guidelines to shape their behavior in the workplace and they influence the decisions that an individual makes. They also make the individual to gather energy that will help them to protect what they believe in. Values go beyond ordinary situations and they play a big role in shaping how people view other people, their behaviors and events. Managers ought to understand that the main source of conflict and discouragement in the workplace is mismatched values.

They need to understand even if people are willing to work on areas they don’t like; they may not give in easily when their values are threatened because they will react to defend their attacked values(Hatch, 2007). Values are internal concepts and it is not possible to observe the values of other individuals because they are often found deeper in the human psyche and cannot be penetrated by a conscious mind. When individual values are violated, the conscious mind assumes a central position and this elicits a behavior that is aimed at defending the attack on the values of an individual. The window on work values model has two components. These components are organizational constraints values and the organizational freedom values. Organizational constraint values are motivational in nature and they determine individual behavior in a group. This factor develops a prescriptive set of norms that helps an individual to restrain themselves from impulses and this helps them to avoid actions that may be injurious to others. Understanding of the organizational constraint value can help leaders to influence organizational behavior.

The other factor is organizational freedom which is influential nature and it has some vital variables that define individual independence and thought(Hatch, 2007). This means that the individual has the leeway to select their paths of operation, despite organizational constraints. This factor can therefore help managers in an organization to understand their limits as they exert their control on the human resources because if the managers fail to respect individual freedoms, they can easily violate individual values which may be a source of workplace conflict. Therefore, managers can easily predict individual behavior because the two types of values have same content of human psyche and the behaviors related to each value are in opposition. Managers can also predict behavior of individuals if they realize that individual values define the central frameworks that individuals hold and an individual is determined and prepared to spend significant energy to promote or defend them. Ideally, a huge percentage of people hold at least three values very strongly and these values are more likely to be tilted towards a particular section. This gives rise to important value patterns that can really help managers and leaders in organizations to understand and predict the behaviors of individuals within a company or organization.

The second variable that can help managers and leaders in organizations to understand, predict and influence behavior in an organization is risk orientation. Knowledge of how people react to risk is very vital and behaviors that are associated with risk orientation are usually found at the middle of the consciousness of an individual. Risk orientation may not be as important as values because this variable can be influenced by the prevailing environment in the workplace and the attitude of the workmates. In life, people are faced with opportunities and challenges and different people react differently to the aforementioned factors (Scott, 2007). In a project, some people see the opportunities while others see the challenges. Some people treat challenges as opportunities while others use challenges as excuses for their failure. This ushers in the risk orientation scale and this can be used by managers and leaders in an organization to measure and understand an individual’s approach to risks (Simon, 1997).

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At one extreme end of the scale are people who focus their strengths and energies on identifying opportunities and these people are always optimistic when ideas are presented and will always be positive towards many situations, the other extreme end of this scale has people who utilize most of their energies seeing challenges and using them as excuses (Estelle, 2000). These people always see potential obstacles which lead them to misjudge situations and they always think that everything will go wrong. Since no individual is similar to another in terms of behavior different people occupy different levels on the risk orientation scale and the understanding of the position each individual occupies in this scale can help managers and leaders in an organization to predict and influence the behavior of different individuals in an organization. How can managers and organizational leaders quantify persons on this scale?

The best method is the use of the opportunities-obstacles quotient which can help managers understand the motivational behavior of every individual(Hatch, 2007). Those individuals who gravitate strongly towards the opportunities side of the risk orientation scale are more likely to help the company or an organization in achieving its strategic objectives than the ones on the obstacles side of the scale. People on the opportunities side of the risk orientation scale usually set challenging goals and always make sure that they achieve them(Hatch, 2007). In case of obstacles, they do not give excuses; they generate alternative paths around the obstacle as they remain focused on their set goals. People found on the obstacles side of the risk orientation scale do not generate paths around the obstacles they encounter; they spend most of their energy along the same pathway and give up when their energy reserves dry up. Managers and leaders in organizations can use this scale to predict the behavior of all the individuals within the organizations and this will help them in organizational processes like assignment of tasks, promotions and rewarding of employees.

Preferences

Another variable that can be used by managers to understand, predict and influence individual behaviors within an organization is preferences. People approach their work in different ways and different individuals communicate differently and there are some aspects of ones work that may interest them more than others which means that an individual will tend to focus on those areas that interest them (Jones, 2008). People value their preferences but this does not mean that preferences are the same as values. Preferences always guide and shape the behavior of an individual and they work from the outside unlike values which are deep seated. Preferences are transparent and they are easily seen in other people and this means they are readily visible. They are they are the basis of first impressions though they are subject to variability depending on situations that exist in different organizational settings. Using the Magerison-McCann team management wheel, managers and organizational leaders can easily understand individual behaviors in the workplace based on individual preferences(Hatch, 2007).

This model describes the different roles that people adopt when they are placed in a team and these roles provide a background upon which the behavior of an individual can be understood or predicted (Haines, 2004). One of the roles that individuals adopt when in a group is that of a reporter advisor. A reporter advisor is a person who prefers to gather information that would help them comprehend situations before they act. The second role is that of a creator innovator and this is a person who prefers and enjoys thinking up new ideas and innovating newer ways of approaching their work instead of using the regular mechanisms to deliver outputs. The third role that an individual may prefer in the workplace is that of an explorer- promoter and this is a person who takes ideas created by others and promotes them to more people without caring much about the intricate details. Thruster –organizer is an individual who likes to make things happen and instead of wasting too much time debating issues, they focus on getting results. The concluder-producer is the practical individual who enjoys the detailed part of any role and they like working using facts and figures (Weick, 1979).

These individuals are quiet and more reflective. The controller- inspector is the individual who likes working on plans and carries through things to the end using planned strategies rather than details. The last group of individuals is the upholder-maintainer who likes supporting others ensuring that roles are carried out and delivered to high standards. All individuals in the workplace fall within the aforementioned preferential groups and it is possible that some individuals may all into two or three groups at most. This means that managers must understand the preferences of the workforce based on this management wheel because this is one of the easiest ways of understanding the behavior of individuals in the workplace (Suzanne, 1993). People may be quite different in the way they behave but understanding of the behavior of every individual starts with the understanding of the individual preferences as outlines by this management wheel. Leaders can therefore use powerful sets of techniques to deal with diversities in individual behavior in the workplace, to forestall workplace conflict, to motivate individuals and groups, to assign roles to individuals and groups and to improve organizational performance.

Consequences and Antecedents

If managers can understand and predict individual behavior despite the individual differences between the various individuals in the workplace, then they can also manage to influence individual behavior. There are two variables that managers can use to influence behaviors of individuals within the workplace (Tracy, 2000). One of the variables is factors that precede behavior which is known as the antecedent. The other variable is factors that succeed behaviors or the consequence. The difference between antecedents and consequence is that the former gets the people going while the letter keeps the people going meaning that an antecedent encourages an individual to perform a certain behavior(Hatch, 2007).

Some of the antecedents that managers and leaders in the contemporary organizational setting can use to influence behavior include goals, objectives, procedures and meetings. These are variables used by the management to communicate individual expectations and the role of an antecedent is to prompt initial or subsequent behaviors. These prompts may be useful to managers because they can use them to spark a behavior but it is important to note that it is what comes after the behavior that sustains and supports performance meaning that the most important method of influencing behavior and performance of the workforce is through the use of consequences because consequences create a room for the recurrence of desirable behaviors. The behavior of any individual in an organization is a result of contingent consequences because people act the way they act because of what happens to them when they act meaning that consequences makes a desirable behavior to repeat itself and undesirable behavior to die away.

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Consequences include variables such as verbal praises for good performance, rewards and bonuses for excellence, feedback from supervisors and any other thing that communicates to individuals that their efforts have been noticed.

Negative consequences include reprimands for poor performance, demotion for poor accomplishments and even withdrawal of bonuses and gold starts that had been given to outstanding individuals who have slackened (Estelle, 2000). Ignoring behavior is the worst method of influencing behavior because there is no way a manager can understand or influence behavior through inaction. Organizational success is dependent on consistent performance and this consistent performance can only be brought by a heavy investment in consequences. This does not mean that managers should not invest in antecedents but overemphasis on antecedents at the expense of consequences only produces inconsistent performance. Managers can therefore influence behavior through consequences using the law of effect which is one of the most valid organizational laws.

This law postulates that any behavior, reinforced by a good or positive consequence will replicate itself more often while any behavior followed by a negative consequence is less likely to recur more often. A consequence is negative or positive depending on the perspective of the receiver of that consequence which means that managers must be willing to look at situations from the perspectives of the many individuals present in their organizations. Individuals are more likely to have differing perspectives on different situations because individuals are different and their responses to situations cannot be similar. This means that managers must be ready to put themselves into the shoes of the individuals they manage and see circumstances from the eyes of their juniors. If they fail to grasp the perspectives of the different individuals within their organizations, conflicts, misunderstandings and misinterpretations can arise and these may hamper relationships and derail organizational effectiveness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the literature reviewed in this paper has shown that individual behavioral differences cannot prevent managers and leaders in organization from understanding, predicting or influencing individual behavior. Several models have shown how easy it is for managers to understand, predict and influence behavior of the individuals. One of the most important behavioral variables that managers can use is the value systems. Preferences are also very important especially in behavior prediction. Antecedents and consequences are the most important variables that managers can use to influence behavior of individuals within their organizations

References

Estelle, M. (2000). Demystifying Competitive Intelligence. Oxford: OUP.

Haines, S. (2004). ABCs of Organizational management: NY: Willey.

Hatch, M.J. (2006). Organization Theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Jones, I. (2008).The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. New York: Encounter Books.

Kaye, J. (2005). HR Planning for Nonprofit Organizations.NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Miles, R. (2003). Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Robbins, S. (2004). Organizational Behavior – Concepts, Controversies, Applications. NY: Prentice Hall.

Scott, W. R (2007). Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspectives. NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Simon, H. (1997). Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations. London: The Free Press.

Suzanne, R. (1993). Successful Strategic Planning: A Guide for Nonprofit Agencies and Organizations. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Tracy, B. (2000). The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success. Berrett: Koehler Publishers.

Weick, K. E. (1979). The Social Psychology of Organizing 2nd Ed. NY: McGraw Hill.

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