Chapter 3: Perception and Learning
The concept of perception in organizations refers to the process in which information about other people is received, and sense is made out of the received information. It entails the creation opinions about other people based on what has been heard, seen and read about him or her. Perception in organizations includes how people in the organizations perceive themselves too based on characteristics they believe to possess. The concept is very important in organizations because apparently it determines how employees will relate with one another. According Greenberg, (91), people tend to have a positive perception about their personalities. When employees meet their boss for the first time, they tend to look for characteristics that would reveal to them the kind of a person is the boss. Perception, therefore, is very important in explaining behaviors in organizations (Greenberg).
Learning is the means through which a relatively lasting change in behavior within organizations occurs through experiences that people get from within the organization. It is another important process in explaining organizational behavior. Learning in organizations is responsible for a range of behaviors in any particular organization. When one is new in an organization, he or she relies on learning, through observation or otherwise to get to know how things are done in the organization. Learning is also responsible for acquisition of new skills while on the job, as well as for introduction of changes on how things are done in an organization. According to Arvinen-Muondo and Perkins, organizations are currently very keen on fostering organizational environments that encourage and are ample for learning. It is such organizations that are said to be more productive, profitable, and, therefore, successful.
Kinds of Learning
There are different kinds of learning within organizations. As defined above, the process takes some time, and people learn through experiences and change the way they behave. However, there are some changes that also take place but they are not permanent. Such changes may be as a result of an illness of fatigue among employees. They are not considered learning mainly because they are temporary. The succeeding discussion will be looking at two kinds of learning that takes place in organizations.
It is a principle that is considered very important in learning within organizations. In this kind of learning, behaviors in organizations are accompanied by rewards or punishments (Arvinen-Muondo and Perkins). When an employee does something good, the reward is the opportunity to do it again alongside other material and rank rewards. When the employee performs poorly, the possible consequence is dismissal from duty thereby denying the opportunity to repeat the behavior again. Through the Law of Effect, it has been realized that connecting certain behaviors in organizations with repercussions helps individuals and teams in organizations to behave in a certain way (Shapiro, Von Glinow and Cheng).
Observational learning is a kind of learning that is very common in organizations. Greenberg describes it as the process by which individuals and teams in an organization learn through observing what is being done by others and doing it themselves. (114) It is an effective way of organizational learning since one only imitates what he or she has seen working for others. Behaviors learned through observation have a high chance of succeeding and yielding desirable results. The learning process involves observing the model and memorizing what they do. The learner then practices doing what the model does and later imitates the model.
Chapter 6: Work-Related Attitudes
Organizations are currently putting a lot of emphasis on diversification of their employees. For multinationals, it is very important that they maintain diversity in their organizational structure so that they maintain the international outlook of the organization. Diversification of the workforce brings with it a range of challenges for organizational leaders, and if not handled properly, there are great possibilities of conflicts arising among employees (Burke and Cooper). The conflicts are normal as a result of work-related attitudes. Work-related attitudes are defined as feelings that employees have towards their working environment. It includes their colleagues, bosses, food, the type of work, etc. These feelings can affect the productivity of the employees either positively or negatively. Work-related Attitudes majorly cover three important areas. These are prejudice, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment (Burke and Cooper).
In an organizational context, it refers to a negative attitude that an employee may have towards a colleague or colleagues at work that belong a different group. As mentioned above, attitudes towards other people have an effect on how employees perform at work and also on the quality of life while at work. Prejudice are feeling that are normally developed due to some beliefs about other people that are sometimes not true. For example, some dark skinned people can have certain beliefs about light skinned people. Similarly, white people can also have negative feelings about black people (Burke and Cooper). The most common prejudice against black people in some states in the U.S is that they are lazy and that they like complaining. As much as it can be true amongst a few individuals as it can also be true amongst some whites, it is not universal amongst all blacks. There are black people that work extremely hard and are very good at whatever they do (Greenberg).
The feelings of prejudice, however, tend to impede peoples judgment making them hold onto to the beliefs that they already have. As Greenberg puts it, feelings of prejudice make people uncomfortable with others (156). Prejudice is mostly the basis for stereotyping and discrimination in most organizations. The feelings of prejudice can be based on race, ethnic differences, academic backgrounds, gender, etc.
Job satisfaction relates to the feelings that an individual or a team has towards their job. There are people who like their job while others are just working to be paid. The feelings that one has towards his or her job is what is known as job satisfaction (Greenberg). Job satisfaction is very important on performance at work and also behavior. There are several theories that have been advanced to try and explain this concept. These theories include; the two-factor theory, the social information processing model, value theory, and the dispositional model (Greenberg). All these theories attempt to give factors that can cause an individual or team to be satisfied with their job or unsatisfied. Some of these factors include remuneration, promotion opportunities, company policies, responsibilities, recognition, etc.
It relates to the feelings or attitudes that workers have towards the organization in which they work. A few years ago, people were known to be very loyal to the companies they worked for, and it was common to find people who had worked for a single company all their lives. They had a total commitment to their organizations. The same cannot be said about the workers of today (Greenberg and Baron). They readily move from one organization to another in a bid to advance their careers. There are several varieties of organizational commitment. They include;
Continuance commitment. Employees stay in one organization simply because they do not want to look for another job opportunity elsewhere. They feel comfortable in their current organizations.
Affective commitment. Employees do not wish to move from the company because they believe in the goals and visions of the company. They, therefore, stay on to help the company achieve its goals (Greenberg and Baron).
Normative commitment. Employees stay in an organization because they feel that they have an obligation to do so due to external pressures.
Chapter 8: Group Dynamics and Work Teams in Organizations
Organizations have gone through a transformation and especially in terms of the structures that they have adopted. Although there has been a transformation that is also linked with advancement in technology, structural transformation in organizations has also been one of the trademarks of modern organizations (Greenberg and Baron). The main feature of the structural transformation has been the use of groups and teams to pursue organizational objectives. The global business context has become very competitive, and it is becoming increasing impossible for organizations to assign important assignments to individuals. Even the office layout in many organizations has changed. Only the senior-most organization executives are allowed to have private (closed) offices. Middle-level executives are mostly grouped together in an open office where they can easily consult and make joint decisions with their juniors (Greenberg). Organizations have found the use of groups and work teams to be efficient since it facilitates faster decision making and is more adaptable to different situation given the different personalities.
Groups and Teams
The dynamics that exist in groups and teams through diverse personalities and experience are responsible for the achievements and failures that they attain. They are also responsible for job satisfaction amongst their individual members. They can be very effective or ineffective depending on how they are managed (Greenberg and Baron). A good group or team should have strong leadership that is responsible and can bring the members together. Properly managed or led team or group gives an organization a competitive advantage over the rest given ability to deliver results. Work groups and teams should have certain outstanding elements that characterize them. The key elements of work teams and groups are as follow;
An effective working group or team should have full trust amongst its members. The members must acknowledge that they are working for each other and hence, the need to maintain trust amongst them (King and Lawley).
Groups and work teams cannot lack conflict. However, a good work team or group should engage in positive and healthy conflicts that are meant to improve the quality of the work that the team does. Team members must be ready to receive positive criticism from their colleagues. A group member who feels that his or her group has made a poor decision should feel free to challenge such decisions (King and Lawley).
It is essential that all team members are committed to achieving the objectives that have been set for their team. Committing and sacrificing what needs to be sacrificed for the sake of the team is the genesis of any success in a team. According to (Greenberg and Baron) any team that lacks commitment has high chances of failing since they will not achieve the goals set.
A good team that is destined to succeed must have accountability. Each member is considered accountable for the success of the group. Every group member has an essential part to play towards the group's success (Palmer, Dunford, and Akin).
Chapter 13: Leadership in Organizations
Leadership is simply defined as the ability to influence others, referred to as followers, towards achieving a specified set goal. Leadership is very important for organizations to achieve their objectives. Any organized entity would require having leadership to give them the direction they would take. The importance of having a leader is that he guides the team and often reminds the team of the objectives that they are supposed to achieve. There are different theories that have been advanced to explain the concept of leadership in organizations (King and Lawley). Some of these theories include; great man theory, trait theory, behavioral theory, participative leadership and transformational leadership amongst many others (Greenberg).
This is a leadership style that is mainly focused on causing change to individuals as well as to social system. It is leadership that is always seeking to find better ways of doing things. It does not only change the organization and how things are done within it, but also changes the followers and transforms them into leaders (Kusluvan). As compared to the autocratic style of leadership, is participative in nature as the leader prefers to include all the members of the organization into decision-making process. In this way, it makes it easy for the leadership to implement the set plans since they are normally acceptable to most if not all members of the organization. Allowing participation from junior members is of utmost importance since it acts as a motivating factor when they know that their opinion is valued by the management. The followers take the mission, vision and objectives of the organization as their own given their participation in coming up with them (Greenberg).
Characteristics of Transformational Leadership
The leader in this model of leadership gives personalized attention to his followers and as such, he or she is more of a mentor to his followers. The leader is normally concerned about the personal wellbeing of his followers and takes time to listen to their concerns. A transformational leader is empathetic and very supportive of the people he works with. He motivates his followers through work-related challenges and compliments them when they perform well (Kusluvan).
Transformational leadership articulates the vision, mission, and objectives quite frankly which makes it possible for the followers to fully understand them. They challenge followers with high standards, and they are always optimistic about the future (Kusluvan). Their communication skills and eloquence in explaining themselves inspires others into action.
Transformational leadership relies on creativity and innovation to advance its ideology. The leaders are thus, known to encourage their followers to be creative thinkers and innovators. They discourage their followers from blaming anyone whenever there is a problem and encourage them rather to look for the solution.
The philosophy of this leadership style is to practice what you preach. The leader is always at the forefront leading by example. He acts as the role model so that the followers can emulate him (Greenberg).
Criticisms of the Theory
The theory seems to be a combination of several leadership theories which makes it difficult to be taught or trained. Furthermore, there is a possibility of followers being manipulated thereby, end up losing more than they gain from the leader (Leban and Stone).
Chapter 16: Managing Organizational Change
Change management is a very difficult concept to manage or implement in an organization. Human are naturally resistant to change and who prefer status quo most of the time. The natural resistance to change is the reason some developing nations keep on electing dictatorial governments for many years even when they have the chance to change the regime. In organizations, employees are always skeptical about the uncertain. When change is introduced, some of them normally think that they will be sacked once the company policies have been changed (Greenberg). Organizational leaderships must, therefore, have a good plan through which to introduce and implement change in their organizations. To introduce and manage change, the following principles might be of great help depending on the type of organization;
Addressing the human side of the change plan is a systematic manner.
Change should always start at the top of the organization to demonstrate to the juniors.
Every layer in the organizational structure has to be involved.
Make the change plan for the organization formal so that it is heard and accepted by everybody.
Ownership of the change model needs to be created and made public.
The change message should be communicated eloquently to all after consultations (Lepsinger and Yukl).
Examine the cultural landscape that can affect the implementation of change.
Culture should be addressed explicitly
Always be ready for the unexpected.
Speak to the organizational individuals (Lepsinger and Yukl).
Lewin’s Change Model
Lewin’s change model is based on three steps. They are unfreezing, changing and refreezing. The model is based on an ice block analogy.
The stage involves communicating to all the stakeholders as to why the change is necessary. It requires creating a message that emphasizes the importance of the change and making it clear that the status quo cannot continue anymore. It will be easier when factors such as shrinking customer base, slow sales, staff reduction and closing of stores are highlighted as the reason that makes the change necessary (Shapiro, Von Glinow and Cheng).
It is the stage where the uncertainty that is created in the first stage is resolved. Communication as to the importance and the associated benefits of the change must continue in this stage. An organization can now start implementing its change plan. All the stakeholders need to be carried on board, and that is why communication has to continue (Greenberg). All employees of the organization need to be involved and made to feel that they are part of the change. This stage is very important for long term goals as it opens up a new market that will be used even in the long run.
Once the changes have started taking shape and the employees have embraced the new ways of doing things, the organization now refreezes. The signs that the company has reached this stage will include stability in organization structure and job descriptions. Support will continue to be offered to stakeholders and also a feedback and reward system is established to motivate employees (Palmer, Dunford and Akin).
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