Organizations must be prepared not only to deal with but also to utilize the different characteristics of people based on physiological, psychological and social development. An organization must consider three main aspects as far as attaining operational effectiveness is concerned. They include flexibility in organizational design, interpersonal relations and individual evaluations. To gain maximum motivation and commitment from the human resources, the management must systematically recognize the unique individual capabilities within the organization. The process requires the organization to follow what is right, legal and most effective in handling learning individual behavioral characteristics.
The behavior of individuals depends primarily on two psychological processes namely their personality and perception of the situation in question. This explains why people within the same organizational setting have different reactions to similar situations. For one to understand the behavior of others in the work place, he/she has to understand the underlying factors of social behavior. The social behavior in any setting is characterized using three main factors. Physical factors such as gestures, facial expressions and postures play a pivotal role in describing or rather characterizing one’s behavior in a social setting. Social and personality traits of an individual are also essential in understanding an individual’s behavior. Finally yet importantly is the complexity with which we define other individuals. Observation of other people’s behavior is important in an organizational setting.
The chapter gives a detailed description of the process of making inferences about others in the organization-the attribution process. The process is very crucial since it acts as the basis of assessing the individual’s performance. Research has shown the most people show significant levels of consistency in the way they evaluate others. The process is governed by three different principles: the covariance, discounting and augmentation principles. The covariance principle relates an individual’s attribution of an action based on the new factors that are either within or without the occurrence of the act. To be able to decide on the appropriateness of an attribution, one needs to put into consideration the distinctiveness of the information as well as its consistency among other factors. The discounting principle provides that the presence of plausible external explanations of a behavior lowers that validity of an internal attribution of the behavior in question. On the other hand, if the external explanations describe an opposite behavior, then one’s confidence in the internal attribution for the behavior increases significantly. This gives the basis of the augmentation principle. The three principles play a major role in the determination of the sustainability of a given behavior that an employee might have in an organization. For instance, employers have more confidence in the good performance of a given employee if it is attributed to an internal characteristic. The internal attribution also helps the organization to predict its performance in the future.
There are several types of errors associated with our perception of the behavior of others. One type of the errors is attribution errors that are divided into two categories: actor-observer errors and self-serving bias. Actor-observer errors occur when people attribute their own behavior to certain external environmental factors while they attribute other people’s behavior to internal dispositional factors. On the other hand, self-serving bias refers to the tendency of individuals to make internal attributions for the positive things associated to them while associating their bad things to certain external attributions. Such biases are problematic in organizational settings since they distort perceptions. Additionally, they limit the levels of managerial responsiveness within an organization. Stereotyping is another type of errors associated with the perception process, which reduces the complexity as well as the development of a friendly internal environment. Additionally, decisions that are made based on certain stereotypes are not only unjust and illegal but also lead to poor performance of the organization. Stereotyping can also be a source of conflicts between different parties in an organization. The other cause of bias when it comes to the issue of judging others is halo effects. This refers to the phenomenon where ones behavior in a given area tends to affect others perception of the individual in other settings or areas. Generalizing people’s behavior influences organizational behavior and behavior significantly. Projections are sources of errors in perceiving other people’s behavior. Projection errors occur when we base our attributions of others on what we would do if were presented with a similar occurrence/situation. Projections are detrimental in any organizational setting since they can affect numerous organizational decisions such as termination of employee’s services, hiring or even making inappropriate job assignments.
A close look at the various aspects that revolve around people’s personalities is essential in every organization. There are certain characteristics that of a person that account for the consistency of an individual’s behavior. The characteristics are based on certain factors. Some of them are hereditary. Scientific research has shown that nearly 80% of an individual’s character traits are inherited. This explains why people from different backgrounds have different characters an aspect that managers need to put into consideration as one of the measures towards achieving good working relations between different parties. The social setting that one experienced in his/her childhood also have an impact in ones behavioral traits. In the course of an individual’s growth and development especially during the transition from childhood to adulthood, one tends to join certain groups of his/ her interest. In the organizational setting, this refers to reference groups or anchorage groups. Such groups also justify one’s behavioral characteristics that the management should never overlook them when making a judgment concerning an individual’s behavior.
Besides understanding the origins of behavioral characteristics, it is important to understand the dynamics of personality. Personality is a complex interplay of needs, conflicts, drives and motive, which are bound to change with time and situations as well. In understanding personality, one can employ several approaches. The approaches include the psychodynamic theory/ perspective; the phenomenological approach and the social learning theory perspective. For the management systems that have understood the nature as well as the dynamics of personality, they are able to establish personality trait dimension mostly by using personality questionnaires.
Psychological need strength is also an important parameter to put into consideration. This is because the pattern of people’s needs have a significant effect on their behavior at the work place. There are three types of needs. The need for achievement enables the individual in question to carry out their duties effectively. The other needs include the need for power and the need for affiliation. The latter affects the ways in which the individuals interact with the other people in an organizational setting.
In conclusion, it is important to understand the several issues that enable one to understand an individual as far as organizational behavior is concerned. This involves a good understanding of the factors that may affect the inferences we make about others; the errors that may affect our perception of others; the origins of personality and other factors that affect people’s behavior in an organizational setting. The information provided in the chapter is an effective guideline to organizational management as far as organizational behavior is concerned.