One of the challenges in understanding organizational behavior (OB) is that it addresses issues that aren’t obvious. Like an iceberg, OB has a small visible dimension and a much larger hidden portion. What we see when we look at an organization is its visible aspects: strategies, objectives, policies and procedures, structure, technology, formal authority relationships, and chain of command. But under the surface are other elements that managers need to understand—elements that also influence how employees behave at work. As we’ll show, OB provides managers with considerable insights into these important, but hidden, aspects of the organization.
What Is the Focus of OB?
Organizational behavior focuses on three major areas. First, OB looks at individual behavior. Based predominantly on contributions from psychologists, this area includes such topics as attitudes, personality, perception, learning, and motivation. Second, OB is concerned with group behavior, which includes norms, roles, team building, leadership, and conflict. Our knowledge about groups comes basically from the work of sociologists and social psychologists. Finally, OB also looks at organizational aspects including structure, culture, and human resource policies and practices.
What Are the Goals of Organizational Behavior?
The goals of OB 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.
What employee behaviors are we specifically concerned with explaining, predicting, and influencing? Six important ones have been identified: employee productivity, absenteeism, turnover, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), job satisfaction, and workplace misbehavior.
Employee productivity is a performance measure of both work efficiency and effectiveness. Managers want to know what factors will influence the efficiency and effectiveness of employees.
Absenteeism is the failure to show up for work. It’s difficult for work to get done if employees don’t show up. Studies have shown that the total costs of all major types of absences cost organizations an average 35 percent of payroll with unscheduled absences costing companies around $660 per employee per year. Although absenteeism can’t be totally eliminated, excessive levels have a direct and immediate impact on the organization’s functioning.
Turnover is the voluntary and involuntary permanent withdrawal from an organization. It can be a problem because of increased recruiting, selection, and training costs and work disruptions. Just like absenteeism, managers can never eliminate turnover, but it is something they want to minimize, especially among high-performing employees.
Organizational citizenship behavior is discretionary behavior that’s not part of an employee’s formal job requirements, but which promotes the effective functioning of the organization. Examples of good OCB include helping others on one’s work team, volunteering for extended job activities, avoiding unnecessary conflicts, and making constructive statements about one’s work group and the organization. Organizations need individuals who will do more than their usual job duties and the evidence indicates that organizations that have such employees outperform those that don’t. However, drawbacks to OCB arise if employees experience work overload, stress, and work-family conflicts.
Job satisfaction refers to an employee’s general attitude toward his or her job. Although job satisfaction is an attitude rather than a behavior, it’s an outcome that concerns many managers because satisfied employees are more likely to show up for work, have higher levels of performance, and stay with an organization.
Workplace misbehavior is any intentional employee behavior that is potentially harmful to the organization or individuals within the organization. Workplace misbehavior shows up in organizations in four ways: deviance, aggression, antisocial behavior, and violence. Such behaviors can range from playing loud music just to irritate coworkers to verbal aggression to sabotaging work, all of which can create havoc in any organization. These days, Professional institutions like LSBF provides a number of professional programs and workshops through which, managers can develop their management skills and overall knowledge about an organization.
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