What is Organizational Behaviour and why is it so important in today’s business life? Nowadays, in the rapidly growing world of competitiveness, the studies of Organizational Behaviour become more and more urgent for various kinds of businesses for this is an extremely important factor of the workers’ efficiency which has been paid attention to since ancient times. For centuries the problem of team work has been discussed, debated and argued, introducing and advocating still ever new approaches and decisions in the sphere and paying attention to such aspects as leadership, organizational power, division of labour, rewards, motivation and goal settings, etc.
In this very study we’ll try to define what influences the employees’ performance, why does it influence them and in what way the influence is displayed; should it really be so important for the employers to pay so much attention to it and how does the atmosphere in the team correlates with the organization’s objectives. So let’s identify the conception of Organizational Behaviour, its tools and techniques; investigate its nature on the example of a certain organization and try to draw definite conclusions from it.
What is Important for an Organization?
Any organization struggles for its success to survive in a cruel world of business competition. It is a matter of common knowledge that advertising is the engine of commerce. Whatever you do, you need to sell your services; thereof whatever the services are you are involved in the commerce. For this very reason leaders and managers set their hopes on advertising and do everything to develop this aspect of their business. It helps at first, there’s no denying it! Attracted by a pretty picture and an impressive slogan, customers rush to buy the product, making the demand even greater. Still, time and experience will put everything in its places and the poor quality of services will come out regardless of the best quality of advertising.
Next comes the question “How to make the business more successful?” The answer is obvious: improve the quality of services provided. Quality makes products and services competitive and that is something you cannot deny or call in question. Quality in its turn depends on the qualification and competence of the people providing them, as well as the efficiency of their work, which is not the least factor and in no way can be underestimated. And as far as any organization, company, corporation or factory is formed by the people, no one can make an objection to that.
Now what influences the efficiency of the employees? Of course it is nice to be dedicated to your job and know perfectly well what you are doing. But much depends on your environment, including working conditions and the relations in the team you are working in. That is when Organizational Behaviour theories join into force. Unfortunately, not all the managers understand the importance of this factor; still the business environment development makes this aspect of the working procedure come into the first place at many organizations and enterprises.
Organizational Behaviour is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations (Clark, 2004). It is a mistake to regard Organizational Behaviour only in terms of human conduct. This sphere embraces multiple viewpoints and aspects of the team work; deals with individuals, teams and groups, organizations and even whole social groups; and studies psychology, human behaviour, interpersonal processes and organizational dynamics (Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn, 2005, p.3).
Organizational Behaviour as a branch of science developed from behaviourism – an area of psychology which studies the experimental behavioural responses of the human mental organization to various stimulus objects. However, in the late XX century Organizational Behaviour deviates from behavioural set and focuses its attention on the systemic and collective effects in the organizations, as well as the organizational culture phenomenon.
Considering everything said above, we can make a conclusion that Organizational Behaviour’s aim is to establish better relations between individuals, groups and organizations to achieve better working conditions by attaining objectives of the employees, the organization and the whole society. As Lillian Margaret Simms wrote in “The professional practice of nursing administration”, one of the main goals of Organizational Behaviour is "to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life" (Simms, Price and Ervin, 1994). So far as organization is formed by the humans, this aspect should become a key point for any business to guarantee its success.
Major Aspects of Organizational Behaviour
Today, with the rapidly growing business competition, Organizational Behaviour is becoming one of the most important topics at organizations. Leaders understand the importance of motivation, favourable work environment and interpersonal relations between employees. All these are significant factors of their efficiency and the leader or supervisor is in charge of providing all these factors to ensure the favourableness of the quality of work life.
The purpose of quality of work life is to develop excellent conditions for the employees and for the organization which is achieved through various approaches of the job design (Clark, 2004). The success and favourableness depend greatly upon the employer and his or her choice of the job design. The line between various designs and various approaches is so subtle, that the leader should be extremely careful in selecting the right one. You may leave everything in its places and hire only those people who like the established order of things, firing those who cannot put up with it; or pay more to keep the valuable employees. Or you may totally reorganize and redesign the job to match your subordinates.
Because the main thing to consider is people, Organizational Behaviour deals not only with business branches but psychology in the very first place. It is very important to consider differences in the employees and their views on the job. Interpersonal relations are important still not always can be controlled or directed. What can be controlled by the manager is the team work organization. In the “Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World” Whitley (1999) described the team as n integrated organism, metaphorically comparing people to subatomic particles. She stated that people in the society as a whole and in any group in particular cannot exist independently. The conclusion is that the moving force is a team, not an individual. And that is the factor to be considered while organizing work process.
Work environment and working conditions can satisfy one worker but be frustrating for another one. That is also quite individual and personal but can be manageable through the motivation and bonus system. And that is where a manager can face difficulties. Motives, rewards, premiums and the like can be not only financial. A lot of scientists, philosophers and theorists touched upon this aspect of Organizational Behaviour discussing human needs, yearnings and aspirations. And we can clearly see that it’s not as simple as it may seem at first.
According to Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia motivation is “factors within a human being or animal that arouse and direct goal-oriented behaviour”. Motivation is also not an unambiguous notion. Herzberg (1959) noted that motivators enrich the job. He defined such things as company policy, supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions and salary do not motivate people. These are only hygiene factors and produce short-term effect. Instead among primary human motivators are achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and advancement. These things make a long lasting effect and relate to what a person does.
Maslow (1943) in his turn defined the hierarchy of needs that can satisfy a person, thus motivate. He singles out such basic needs as the “physiological” needs, “higher” needs, the safety needs, the love needs, the esteem needs, the need for self-actualization, the preconditions for the basic need satisfactions and the desire to know and to understand. These needs are enumerated in the order of their significance. However, Maslow himself says that the list is not rigid and there can be and do exist various exceptions when people don’t have some of the mentioned needs or consider some of them more important than the others.
It is much easier to understand and perceive such factors, rather than change them somehow. And that is the leader’s concern to satisfy the employees’ needs and create the most favourable working conditions possible to ensure the success of the business. Managers and executives should be psychologists or at least have one in their stuffs to observe the team and set the advantageous conditions for them. For this simple reason Organizational Behaviour should become the main thing to care about in all the spheres of life and at all the organizations. The science of Organizational Behaviour should become the essence of every working process and every organization on the business scene.
The Company Example
General Overview of the Company
When I started working at web-studio “Finesse” it was a young developing company of not even one year old located in Cherkasy, Ukraine. The company’s functions consisted in creating, renovating and promoting the internet sites for the clients. The whole team consisted of five people, including the two founders. Apart from them there was a programming specialist, a web designer and me, a content-manager.
That was a cosy little group of people who communicated little being too occupied with their own duties and obligations, and worked in a small but comfy office down town. With the lapse of time, the company developed, grew in the number of employees and moved to a bigger office. However, the atmosphere in it didn’t change much. We had a flexible schedule limited to eight working hours a day, stable and timely salary and modest overtime pay.
When I was quitting my job, it was a company of 14 workers but for the founders, working together and still communicating little. The main topics for intercourse were the office matter, new orders and troubles with the current ones. The leaders of the team didn’t seem to care much about the healthy atmosphere in the office and didn’t take any measures to improve it somehow.
The advance of wages was in use during my first year at the company. Later the pay rise stopped preserving timeliness as its main advantage. The bonus system was never in use in the company, just like awards. The overtime pay made up the usual payment per hour implying no bonuses or interest premium.
Every worker was given certain amount of work per day. Our chief task was to cope with it within one working day. The work was usually conventional, needing to be repeated every single day. We had to make daily reports with the exact indication of time spent on this or that kind of activity, as well as monthly reports, indicating the amount of hours worked.
As my duties were to some extant creative, I tried to offer and implement some new and interesting ideas which were always denied or set aside with the promise to think it through later. Our designers could never add a fresh look of their own. They were guided by the company executives and the initiative was never encouraged.
At first I was completely satisfied with my salary, the location of the office and the duties. My main motivation was the opportunity of flexible schedule and recurrent advance of wages. The advance stopped, however, the bonuses or rewards were never seen by me, the work stopped bringing the financial satisfaction. When the company moved to another office, the location became a disadvantage just like my duties.
Later I realized that my efforts, initiative and overtime will never be evaluated or rewarded. Still later I became conscious of my personal, professional and creative development crisis. The routine work and dull, nonsensical tasks made my day uninteresting and pointless. The refusal of the executives to meet my ideas deprived me of the desire to take up initiative, as well as of the slightest enthusiasm. My potential failed to be revealed. My hopes on the implementation of the knowledge and skills, including the untapped reserves faded away as soon as I understood the whole hopelessness of the situation.
The taciturn team was an advantage at first, for no one diverted me from my occupation and that quite satisfied me. However with the lapse of time this fact has got a bit oppressive. The silent co-workers almost didn’t react even if you needed some kind of help, support or the answer to the easiest question nontangent the work. Even the corporate parties were dull and uninteresting. We had no leader to change the situation and unite the employees, letting them feel at ease. On the other hand, that was hard to do as no one reacted to the attempts to do that.
In the final analysis I understood that the disadvantageous are too numerous and the advantageous are none and quit my job to face a new one, giving me the opportunity to grow and develop personally and professionally.
Organizational Behaviour Tools and Techniques Used by the Company
According to Donald Clark (2004) there are four major models of Organizational Behaviour: autocratic, custodial, supportive and collegial. Each of them has the basis of its own and motivates the employees differently provoking different performance results.
Looking back at my former employers and my former job I understand that the major model of Organizational Behaviour used at the company was the autocratic one with the shade of custodial. The whole system was based on the managerial orientation. The boss is the power and everything done in the company should be subjected to him and done the way he says. Our main motivation was considered to be obedience and dependence on the executives’ words. The slightest disobedience or insubordination was punished with dismissal from office.
At the same time motivation was achieved by means of economic resources. The salary was paid timely; overtime was paid (at the same time, no one ever mentioned that overtime should be paid more than an average working hour); bad quality of the completed task or its slow completion, in the judgement of the management, was fined. The employees, in this case, were held with the help of financial security. If to consider the financial situation in the country and the job bank crisis, the motivators were well considered.
My employers were also not interested in uniting the team and making it a single organism. On the contrary, I think they believed the isolation will make us work more efficiently and productively, not diverting our attention from the things needed to be done. The infrequent holiday parties were not really enthusiastically held which made the team even more detached. Work and performance of duty were the primary principles of the company. It appears from this that the company executives were not interested neither in the individual values or potentials of their employees, nor in the structuring the team work.
The Analysis of the Effectiveness
Taking into consideration the instability of the labour-market in the world financial crisis conditions, the two models of Organizational Behaviour chosen by the leaders and predominating at the company worked well. The employees were satisfied with the absence of the arrears of the payment and the presence of the salary on the whole. They were subordinated to the authorities out of fear to be redundant. The lack of interpersonal communication in the office preserved the attention and devotion to the task completion, thus provided the productivity of the team.
By the highest standards the company executors succeeded in their reckoning. They assured the highest level of obedience of their employees and the accomplishment of the big amounts of work in short period of time. The workers are all isolated from each other personally, interacting only in terms of the working place and the cause they are all involved in. They do everything they are told to fearing to lose the position and, as a result, their salary, providing them with the needed security. The company’s needs are met.
Knowing all the people working at the company and observing the change of the personnel during three years of my work there, I can definitely say that strong personalities didn’t stay there for long. Instead the founders chose to hire only weak and passive people incapable of rebellion or the slightest disobedience to the executors.
According to Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation (1943) and his hierarchy of human needs, the team is oriented on the physiological needs and the safety needs. They are all pretty satisfied with the availability of stable work with stable salary, which gives them the place to live and the food to eat, having the opportunity to pay for it. All the other needs, like the love needs, the esteem needs, the need for self-actualization, the preconditions for the basic need satisfactions and the desire to know and to understand are totally absent and seem to be absolutely unnecessary.
Having chosen the autocratic model of Organizational Behaviour as the leading one, the managers operate with the McGregor's Theory X (1960), according to which people don’t like to work and need to be “forced with the threat of punishment” and want to be directed avoiding any kind of responsibility. They are passive and they are afraid of the changes, preferring stability and safety.
Considering all these I can definitely say that the company put itself at a disadvantage. First of all, the passive and sluggish workers cannot bring the organization to prosperity, especially the company oriented towards creativity as web-studio should be. Besides, the chosen models of the Organizational Behaviour provoke only minimal passive cooperation, and as a result poor performance results. In the final analysis the founders gained quantity but lost quality of their services.
The tools and techniques of the Organizational Behaviour used by the company executors I worked for turned out to be rather effective in motivating the employees from the point of view of the team’s obedience and subordination. Still they failed to motivate the workers to achieve the superior performance. If the founders’ main objectives were to create a team of silent slaves, then they are more than successful in their choices.
The creation of the internet sites requires high level of creativity, along with excellent skills and profound knowledge of the matter. Creativity in its turn requires freedom of mind and freedom of actions. It cannot tolerate routine and compulsion and that is the very first thing the leaders of the company like web-studio should take into consideration.
Unfortunately, in the examined case, the company executors failed to understand that and staked on the quantity instead of quality of the completed tasks. As a result they have the fulfilled assignments, meeting the organization objectives, with no trace of enthusiasm or initiative, meeting the employees’ objectives. They hire a team of zombies ready to do what they are told to not caring much of the final outcome.
For the success of the company it would be more advantageous to operate out of McGregor's Theory Y (1960), directed on the creative side of an individual. According to this theory employees may be ambitious and self-motivated. Work is quite natural for them and brings the genuine satisfaction. They are looking for responsibility and take the initiative. They can work better if they are given the freedom to act independently, not being bound by any kind of rules or restrictions. “Theory Y relies heavily on self-control and self-direction” says McGregor (n.d., p.12). And it all definitely helps the flourishing of creativity in the company, requiring it.
On the assumption of this, we may say that the model of Organizational Behaviour in the company should be supportive or collegial, or both supporting and supplementing each other. In this case the employees would be oriented towards the better participation in the company’s life, responsibility and self discipline and would perform enthusiasm and drive (Clark, 2004), which is so important for creativity.
So far as one of the most important human needs are esteem and self-actualization needs, the individual growth, which can be attained by job enrichment, is an extremely important and beneficial factor of the employee’s efficiency. The worker performs better results when he can fulfil himself in full. The leaders should have reorganized job by means of its enrichment and adding the variety of minor tasks, able to diversify an ordinary working day.
So, the founders of web-studio “Finesse” have definitely miscalculated the main objectives and aspirations of the company. They should have staked not on their own authority and the silent obedience of the employees, but on high motives, satisfying the personal objectives of the workers, which would be definitely beneficial for the company’s prosperity, putting team work, enthusiasm, creativity and the feeling of responsibility in the first place.
- Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia
- Clark, D. R., 2004. Instructional System Design Concept Map. [online] Available at: <http://nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/ahold/isd.html> [Accessed on 10 December 2010].
- Douglas McGregor original XY-Theory model, 1960. Alan Chapman review, code, design 1995-2008. [online] Available at: <http://www.pdfebooksdownloads.com/preview/> [Accessed on 9 December 2010].
- Gawel, J. E. Herzberg's Theory of Motivation and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. ERIC Digest.[online] Available at: <http://www.ericdigests.org/1999-1/needs.html> [Accessed on 10 December 2010].
- Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B.B., 1959. The Motivation to Work. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Herzberg F. The Two-Factor Theory and Project Management. [online] Available at: <http://knol.google.com/k/frederick-herzberg#> [Accessed on 9 December 2010].
- Hofstede, G., July 1978. The Poverty of Management Control Philosophy. [online] The Academy of Management Review Available at < http://www.jstor.org/pss/257536 > [Accessed on 10 December 2010].
- Hofstede, G., 2005. Cultures and organizations: software of the mind Revised and expanded 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill
- Maslow A.H., 1943. A Theory of Human Motivation. Originally Published in Psychological Review. [online] Available at: <http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm> [Accessed on 10 December 2010].
- Maslow, A. H., 1970. Motivation and Personality. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row.
- McGregor, D. The Human Side of Enterprise. [online] Available at: <http://www.pdfebooksdownloads.com/preview/> [Accessed on 10 December 2010].
- Schermerhorn, J. R., Hunt, J, G., & Osborn, R, N., 2005. Organizational Behavior. 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Simms, L.M., Price, S.A., Ervin N.E., 1994. The professional practice of nursing administration. Delmar Publishers. p.121.
- Wheatley, M.J., 1999. Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.