Basic Overview of Organizational Behavior: Guidelines and Resources

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    Basic Overview of Organizational Behavior: Guidelines and Resources

    Much of the content
    of this topic came from this book:
    Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC

    Strongly Suggested Pre-Reading

    Performance Management

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Types of Practices to Influence and Sustain Desired Behaviors in Organizations

    What is Organizational Behavior?
    Practices to Influence and Sustain Desired Behaviors
    Cultivating the Right Organizational Culture
    Applying the Right Leadership
    Understanding How to Develop Great Leaders
    Finding the Right People
    Understanding Nature and Needs of Employees
    Sustaining Strong Job Satisfaction
    Developing High-Performing Teams
    Maintaining Strong Performance

    Also consider
    Theories in Management
    Forces and New Organizational Paradigm
    Contemporary Theories in Management
    Trends in Organizations (a video)


    Be sure to read the description in Organizational
    Performance Management
    to understand that organizational behavior and organizational
    structures are ultimately strategies to help increase the performance of an

    In this topic, the Library aims to convey the core practices in guiding organizational
    behaviors, as well as how the practices might be organized and integrated. You
    will recognize most of the practices because many of them are commonplace in
    our lives and work.

    Understand that the practices are cyclical and highly integrated in nature. Like any
    component in a cycle, the learning from implementing the practices should, in
    turn, improve the other components.

    Remember that the nature of how the practices are implemented depends on whether
    the leaders in the organization choose traditional or progressive approaches
    to performance management. See
    Management: Traditional and Progressive Approaches

    The purpose of the information in this topic is to convey the core concepts
    in organizational behavior. Your proficiency in the concepts would come from
    applying them over time, especially under the guidance of a person who is highly
    experienced in applying them, as well.

    (Those who naturally prefer to focus on the “human” side of organizations,
    rather than on the “business” side, might particularly appreciate
    this topic on organizational behavior.)

    What is Organizational Behavior?


    Organizational behavior focuses on how humans behave in organizations, including
    how they interact with each other, as well as how they work within the organizations’
    structures to get their work done. Here are some other definitions:

    • Organizational behavior is the “the study of human behavior in organizational
      settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the
      organization itself.” iEduNote
    • “Organizational behavior is directly concerned with the understanding,
      prediction, and control of human behavior in organizations.” —
      Fred Luthans


    This description specifies the goals of organizational behavior:

    • “The goals of OB [organizational behavior] are to explain, predict,
      and influence behavior. Managers need to be able to explain why employees
      engage in some behaviors rather than others, predict how employees will respond
      to various actions and decisions, and influence how employees behave.”

    However, organizational behavior holds benefits for employees, as well. The
    field is rich with research, findings, guidelines and tools for employees to
    clarify their own goals, understand what motivates them and increase their job

    Practices to Influence and Sustain Desired
    Behaviors in Organizations

    There is a vast array of different types of practices that leaders and managers
    use to influence their employees toward achieving the organization’s goals.
    More recently, they use a variety of practices to help employees to achieve
    their own goals, as well. Thus, it can be a challenge to efficiently categorize
    and explain the practices in a manner that is comprehensive and yet well organized.

    IEduNote‘s listing
    of the eight objectives of organizational behavior seems a reasonable way to
    categorize them, as well. The titles of their objectives have been slightly
    reordered and modified in the following categories. The categories are cyclical
    and highly integrated with each other.

    NOTE: Descriptions of each of the following practices are included in each
    of their respective topics in this Free Management Library. Thus, the descriptions
    are not duplicated here.

    Cultivating the Right Organizational Culture

    Organizational culture can be explained as a combination of the members’ values,
    beliefs, assumptions and ways that they interact with each other. Basically,
    an organization’s culture is its personality. A person’s personality influences
    every aspect of their life.

    The same is true of an organization’s culture. That is why experts on strategic
    planning often assert that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” —
    that is, culture often determines whether strategies are successful or not.
    That is why so much of what happens in an organization starts from its culture,
    especially the behaviors that occur in it. The following topics refer to practices
    that might influence an organization’s culture, and thus the overall behaviors
    in it.

    Applying the Right Leadership

    The culture of the organization, its current life cycle and the nature of its
    strategic goals all help to suggest the types of leadership needed in an organization.

    For example, a start-up organization might want leaders who are visionary and
    charismatic in attracting more employees to join it. It might also want leaders
    who have strong expertise in the types of products and services that it delivers.
    However, as the organization evolves, it might want leaders with expertise in
    developing internal systems and practices to form a firm foundation for further

    A complicating factor about leadership is that different leadership skills
    are required for leading oneself versus leading another individual versus leading
    a group versus leading an organization. See Understanding
    All Aspects of Leadership

    If the organization’s culture is quite traditional, then it might prefer a
    rather autocratic style of leadership; whereas, a more progressive organization
    might prefer a more participatory style.

    Also, it is important to remember that leaders cannot successfully lead others
    unless they first can successfully lead themselves.

    Understanding How to Develop
    Great Leaders

    The leaders in an organization are the “engines” that drive the activities
    in organizational performance. Thus, the expertise of the leaders is a critical
    component in the success of the organization itself. As discussed above, the
    nature of the leaders must match the models and styles preferred by the organization.
    That often requires further development of the leaders, including its executives,
    managers and supervisors.

    Finding the Right People

    The most important asset in an organization is its people. As important as
    having the right kind of leaders and managers is having the right kind of employees
    — employees who can do a great job in doing the necessary work to best achieve
    the goals of the organization. This is where expertise in human resource management
    is vital to the success of the organization. However, small- to medium-sized
    organizations can still do that 20% of effort that generates 80% of the success
    in finding and equipping the right people.

    Understanding Nature and Needs of Employees

    Historical approaches to management treated employees like machines. The top
    priority was on efficiency — on producing more results in less time. However,
    today’s approaches have changed dramatically. Today’s leaders are realizing
    that they will get better performance if they treat their employees as individuals,
    each of whom is unique in their own interests and capabilities — and also in
    what motivates them. For the new generations in today’s workforce, it is often
    far more important to find meaning and fulfillment in their work than to make
    more money.

    Sustaining Strong Job Satisfaction

    Research shows that the cost of hiring and re-training employees is one of
    the highest of labor costs in organizations. Research also shows a strong correlation
    between job satisfaction and employee retention. Fortunately, there are a variety
    of approaches to support strong job satisfaction for employees.

    Developing High-Performing Teams

    Most of the significant accomplishments in organizations is done in teams.
    However, a team is often comprised of a wide diversity of values, perspectives
    and opinions among its members. So teams must be carefully planned, organized
    and supported. Also, a team is an organization — just a small one. Thus, team
    performance management is also critical to the success of a team.

    Maintaining Strong Performance

    Strong performance is the result of very effectively and efficiently achieving
    the goals, whether they are for an employee, team or the overall organization.
    Performance management means establishing the goals, monitoring their achievement
    and making the necessary corrections in order to achieve them even better.

    Suggested Additional Readings

    The Role of Strategic Evaluation in Nonprofits

    Basic Guide to Program Evaluation

    Assessment and Evaluation Tools

    Organizational Structures and Design

    Performance Management
    Group Performance

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Organizational Performance

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs
    that have posts related to organizations. Scan down the blog’s page to see various
    posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of
    the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.
    The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    Consulting and Organizational Development Blog

    Human Resources Blog

    Leadership Blog

    Project Management Blog

    Supervision Blog

    For the Category of Organizational Development:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
    want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
    Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

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