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Organisational Behaviour Essay

Organizational Behaviour is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations. In OB people-organization relationships are interpreted and from studying the different topics of OB, better relationships can be built by achieving human objectives, organisational objectives and social objectives. (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadob.html)

Three of the many topics that fall under Organisational Behaviour are Motivation, Communication and Leadership which in this essay will be explained and analysed individually as well as in specific organisational examples to form a better understanding of their importance in organisations and the role they play in organisational behaviour.

Motivation involves the forces within a person that effect his or her direction, intensity and persistence of voluntary behaviour (Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010). Motivation plays an incredibly important role in the workplace as organisations are constantly trying to increase the efficiency of the way in which they are run whether their aims are to increase profits or employee satisfaction. Through their employees and what motivates them organisations can do this by using different motivation theories developed by different motivational theorists.

Two types of motivation that theorists have identified are intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivators being factors that internally motivate individuals to perform tasks out of personal desire and Extrinsic motivators that involve motivating a person by something they have no control over such as increasing their pay or giving them a promotion.

This ties in to Content theories of motivation that all state individuals in an organization all have a set of basic needs and so need these fulfilled to be motivated. A very well known content theory being Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that as humans we all have five levels of needs and as we satisfy these needs we are motivated and so continue to satisfy needs on higher levels.

However to be able to apply such a theory in the workplace workers location on the hierarchy of needs would have to be indentified by their managers. Challenges in implementing a motivation theory such as Maslow’s include people responding to attempts to motivate them differently and trying to figure out what motivates each employee. In order to properly motivate employees, managers must know them and this is rarely the case due to organisations sizes especially with Trans National Corporations (TNCs).

This would also cost the organisation time and money and so depending on their financial position, trying to better get to know the employees of the organisation may be quite the challenge. In the current financial situation, this may be a time where this is a challenge for many organisations.

Theory X and Y is another content theory of motivation. Deveolped by Douglas McGregor, Theory X and Y are both attitudes managers in organisations have in regards to employees of that organisation and their motivation towards work in the workplace. Theory X managers believe employees are unmotivated to work, lack the drive to do and don’t take any enjoyment out of work. Google is a company where managers have the opposite belief. The belief that employees are motivated to work and take as much enjoyment out of work as they do their social life.

For this reason Theory Y managers at Google allow the employees to have very easy and relaxed rules in regards to working time and projects to work on and 20% of work time can be devoted to their own projects which motivates them to work hard. Allowing their employees to do things they enjoy and take so much satisfaction out of their job causes motivation levels to be very and high and so efficiency to be at a high level also.

Individuals in the workplace aren’t all motivated by satisfying their needs. Some theories direct their attention to employees and how they make conscious choices that lead to a specific work behaviour. These theories are Process theories of motivation and help to gain knowledge on how behaviour is initiated, directed and sustained.

Such theories are made to understand the process of implementing motivators into their behaviour in order to reach the level of rewards the employee desires. One of these theories is the Goal-setting theory, which is the process of motivating employees and clarifying their role perceptions by establishing performance objectives. (Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010)

Goal-setting works best with employees who have a high need for achievement, low need for affiliation and high need for autonomy and is most successful in interdependent situations and supportive climates as employees feel they play an important rule in the organization and its success.

Research conducted consistently showed that goal-setting techniques have had a positive effect on motivation in the workplace with one of the best goal-setting theories applied being ‘management by objectives’. Management by objectives works by managers setting specific and challenging goals over a specified period in time for each employee that best suit their role. A benefit of management by objectives is it more easily allows appraisal of employee performance pay awards to take place.

A massive fault with the management by objective and performance pay awards however is not all people are motivated by money and pay rewards. Different people at different points in their lives and in different scenarios are motivated by different factors.

For instance, a young individual straight out of school who has just joined a specific organisation is motivated by trying to impress and is possibly looking to get a promotion as soon as possible while a single mother working two jobs could be motivated by the money as she needs to support her children on her own.

What it comes down to is employees all have their own individual needs and the ways companies can best get the most out of their employees is by catering to their needs in return so that motivation in the workplace can be achieved to keep the organization running as smoothly as possible.

Communication

Communication can be defined as a process in which information is transmitted and understood between two or more people. In the modern world it plays a massively important role, as the effectiveness with which a person will be able to perform in almost any organization will depend massively upon their ability to communicate effectively. (Organisational Communication, The Keystone to managerial effectiveness)

Communication in business is everywhere, be it between employees of an organization during group work, management delegating work to subordinates or just an employee of an organization making an order for stock. Before communication can take place a communication channel must be chosen as choosing the correct communication channel for each specific situation is important if the quality of the message being sent is to be maintained through the whole process so that it is the of the same quality when it is received as it was when it was sent.

There are three main types of communication channels in a work organization, a formal communication channel, an informal communication channel and an unofficial communication channel. Formal communication is communication in an organization that flows down the hierarchy structures of the organization and involves the transmittal of goals. On the other hand Informal communication doesn’t go down a hierarchal structure and involves communication links developed outside of the hierarchal structure.

Similarly, unofficial communication is communication that doesn’t involve the actual organization but is interpersonal and occurs between employees in an organization. A well-known example of unofficial communication is the grapevine and involves such talk between employees as complaints they have with the company and rumours going around concerning the organization. For this reason, unofficial communication can be an advantage for organisations as managers can pick up on false rumours and also better the organisation by fixing the problems talked about by employees. In the long run this has a positive effect on the company by as employees become more effective in their work as they see their thoughts matter.

Failures in Communication are more frequent than the successes in the lives of us all and in an organization such failures could be extremely costly and have detrimental effects. To minimise these failures, processes have been designed. (Organisational Communication, The Keystone to managerial effectiveness) The nature of the communication process established in the organisation reflects the management style, degree of employee participation, culture and efficiency of the workplace. (Organizational Behaviour in a Global Context By Albert J. Mills, Jean C. Helms Mills, John Bratton, Carolyn Forshaw)

One example of a process model of communication is by Berlo (1960) where he blended his own extensive experiences with the Shannon-Weaver mathematical model. It is depicted in a flow diagram in which there is six parts. The six parts of Berlos communication flow diagram are Communication source-Encoder-Message-Channel-Decoder-Communication receiver. In order for the communication process to run smoothly all six parts of the flow diagram have to be working as each stage of the diagram operates on the basis that the one before it worked first.

Unfortunately, all six parts of the flow diagram don’t always work and there can be disruptions in the communication process. These disruptions are barriers to effective communication and are examples of the challenges to applying communication theory to organization. There are many kinds of barriers to effective communication such as Physical barriers, Emotional barriers and Perceptual barriers.

Physical barriers to effective communication include distance from the person trying to be communicated with and technology failing. This is why even with a designated communication network flow such as the one coined up by Berlo, communication in an organization isn’t guaranteed to run smoothly.

Other challenges become present when applying certain communication processes. Weaver (Shannon and Weaver, 1949) came up with the idea that regardless of the type of communication situation an organization is in, there are always the same problems involved and they can be split into three levels- level A, level B, level C. Level A is the technical problem of achieving accuracy in the transmission of signals, level B is the semantic problem of assuring that the transmitted signals convey the desired meaning and level c is the effectiveness problem of assuring that the received meaning affects behavior in the desired way. Weaver suggests that for communication to be successful in any form each level of the problem must be solved or its effects minimized.

Leadership (and Management)

Leadership is a very important aspect in organisations of all kinds regardless of their aims, size and the markets they are in. This is because leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how it can be done effectively, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish the shared objectives. (Yukl ,2002).

Obviously leadership in one organisation may be different from the next as the managers decide on how to best run the organisation based on factors specific to their own organisation. Such factors can include the organisations structure, the organisations aims and also the organisations corporate culture.

This is where leadership theories come into play as they suggest the different ways leaders can carry out their roles and the best way to lead a business from the top. Leadership theories have come up with not only what leaders should do i.e. theories for leaders but also what leaders actually do. i.e. theories of leadership. Theories for leaders main purpose is finding out ways in which to improve leadership effectiveness while Theories of Leadership are directed at a better understanding of leadership processes. (Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010)

These theories can be based on a variety of philosophies and can have leadership models based on them. Derived from Leadership theories and models are Leadership styles, which are perceptions of the theories and models acted out in actual organisations. Such Leadership styles include autocratic, participative and laissez-fair. (http://managementhelp.org/ldrship/ldrship.htm)

One well-known leadership theory involves what is thought to be the make up of a good leader. This theory is the Traits theory and suggests that people are born with inherited traits, with some traits being particularly suited to leadership and people who make good leaders have the right combination of traits. (http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/theories/trait_theory.htm) Such traits include drive, leadership motivation, honesty, self-confidence and knowledge of the business. A big example of a leader who fits the Trait Theory is Sir Richard Branson the chair of Virgin Group since 1973. (Page 364, Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010)

Sir Richard Branson’s Leadership built Virgin Group to more than 200 privately held companies such as Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Holidays and Virgin Rail and has annual sales of over US $5 billion. This shows that with certain characteristics the right leader can have a very positive impact on an organization.

However, while there are examples of when the Trait theory has been correct and certain leaders with certain characteristics have successfully led companies, the trait theory has also been criticized. One major criticism of the Trait theory is the failure to recognize the importance of followership in the leadership process.

As well as this, not all leaders are going to fit the Trait theory criteria and so because of this the Trait Theory doesn’t apply in all cases.

Another Leadership Theory is the Path-goal Theory developed by Robert House. Specifically the theory is a contingency theory (a theory based on the idea that the most effective leadership style depends upon the leader, the followers and the situation) that suggests that leaders can affect motivation, job satisfaction and the performance of work group members by their actions. (Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010)

The Leadership behavioural styles such as Directive, Supportive, Participative and Achievement orientated are adopted by the leader in the situations they would best allow the ‘followers’ or subordinates to achieve their specific goal at that point in time. For example a leader in an organization may choose to pick up a supportive style when dealing with a follower who is in need of a more supportive environment. This is how motivation, job satisfaction and work group members performances can be affected.

The path-goal theory’s approach to leadership can be seen as better than the roles managers play as they aren’t set roles but are more flexible and orientated towards the subordinates of the leader. An important point to note is that management and leadership are not the same. For example, while a manager would look to exhibit supervisory behaviour, a leader would instead look to exhibit leading behaviour which would involve the leader helping a follower reach their goal instead of just supervising them and watching from the sidelines. (Page 363, Work and Organizational Behaviour, John Bratton, 2010)

In conclusion to this essay we can see the importance each Organisational Beahviour topic plays in an organizational structure especially in this day and age. Not only this, but we can see the challenges in applying organizational theories to organizational examples. For example, in implementing such a leadership theory as the traits theory, it can be seen that this can’t be applied to every type of leader there can be because not all leaders are born with these traits, others gain them.

Leadership and management in an organization involves both motivation and communication as they are both vital parts of being a leader. Being able to properly apply motivation theories and types in an organization comes down to the person in charge and the approach of motivation will depend on the approach taken with Leadership. For instance, different leaders have different methods of motivating followers and people in their organization. One leader or manager might have a theory y attitude and so will feel not a lot has to be done about motivation while on the other hand a manager with a theory x attitude will believe the opposite.

Communication choices in an organization can also be heavily dependant on the leadership and management, as depending on the organizational structure of the organization decided by management communication may flow down the structue in a certain way. Different types of communication may also be determined. One leadership style which prefers more formal commnication, which ties to the idea of commnication following strict organizational structure or another that prefers the more informal approach of commnication.

In this essay not only were challenges of implementing organizational theories brought to light, but also the connections that can be drawn involving all three of the organizational topics were made evident.

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