W7 Discussion This week the focus of your studies is on communication. We communicate all the time at home, at work, and at school. Managers must be mindful of what types of communication types they are using and if they are the most effective.
First, read Chapters 12 & 13 in the text.
Next, please watch the following video clips from the lab:
Chapter 12: Concept Clip: Communication Process
Chapter 12: Concept Clip: Up & Down Communication
Find a YouTube or other movie clip, dated within the last 8 weeks, that shows two or more people communicating (from a tv show, video, news, a movie, etc.) What type of communication is it? Why do you think so? Was it effective? Would a different form have been more effective? Why or why not?
Review a minimum of two of your classmate’s posts and respond with additional insights, information, questions, or links to more information on communication types and/or examples. Do you agree with their assessment of the type of communication occurring in their video and if it’s most appropriate? Why or why not? Your responses should be academic in nature and linked to research and management topics discussed this week rather than personal stories of shopping with the company they chose for example. Basic Elements of Individual Behavior in Organizations Chapter 9
· Chapter Introduction
· 9-1 Understanding Individuals in Organizations
· 9-1a The Psychological Contract
· 9-1b The Person–Job Fit
· 9-1c The Nature of Individual Differences
· 9-2 Personality and Individual Behavior
· 9-2a The “Big Five” Personality Traits
· 9-2b The Myers–Briggs Framework
· 9-2c Other Personality Traits at Work
· 9-2d Emotional Intelligence
· 9-3 Attitudes and Individual Behavior
· 9-3a Work-Related Attitudes
· 9-3b Affect and Mood in Organizations
· 9-4 Perception and Individual Behavior
· 9-4a Basic Perceptual Processes
· 9-4b Perception and Attribution
· 9-5 Stress and Individual Behavior
· 9-5a Causes and Consequences of Stress
· 9-5b Managing Stress
· 9-6 Creativity in Organizations
· 9-6a The Creative Individual
· 9-6b The Creative Process
· 9-6c Enhancing Creativity in Organizations
· 9-7 Types of Workplace Behavior
· 9-7a Performance Behaviors
· 9-7b Withdrawal Behaviors
· 9-7c Organizational Citizenship
· 9-7d Dysfunctional Behaviors
· Chapter Review
· Summary of Learning Outcomes and Key Points
· Discussion Questions
· Experiential Exercise
· Building Effective Time Management Skills
· Management at Work
· You Make the Call: Engaging with the Company Garbage
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
· 1Explain the nature of the individual–organization relationship.
· 2Define personality and describe personality attributes that affect behavior in organizations.
· 3Discuss individual attitudes in organizations and how they affect behavior.
· 4Describe basic perceptual processes and the role of attributions in organizations.
· 5Discuss the causes and consequences of stress, and describe how it can be managed.
· 6Describe creativity and its role in organizations.
· 7Explain how workplace behaviors can directly or indirectly influence organizational effectiveness.
Management in Action
Engaging with the Company Garbage
“Once you’ve seen your garbage up close, it’s hard to ignore it.”
—Sustainability consultant Shira E. Norman
In order to demonstrate the impact of waste to employees, Burt’s Bee, a maker of natural personal-care products, launched an unusual campaign. For two weeks members of its green team sifted through company garbage and piled it all in the parking lot for everyone to see. The piles of garbage provided a vivid illustration of how much waste the company and its employees were generating. Especially dramatic was seeing how much of the garbage consisted of recyclable material.
Larry Powell/ Shutterstock.com
A few years ago Burt’s Bees, a maker of natural personal-care products, found to its dismay that it was creating 40 tons of waste every month. Two years later, the company had reduced that amount to 10 tons through a rigorous program of recycling and compositing. It was a start, but at that point, reports CEO John Replogle, “we were stuck and needed to reinvigorate the effort again.” The company’s green team—a group of volunteer employees who oversee efforts to improve the workplace environment—came up with an employee-oriented trash-appreciation exercise. They stockpiled two weeks’ worth of company garbage and dumped it in the parking lot. More than 300 employees then donned hazmat suits and waded through the refuse heap to find everything that should have been recycled and everything that could be recycled if there were someplace to send it.
As a result, Burt’s was able to cut waste in half and save $25,000 a year in hauling expenses. “We found money in the dumpster,” says Replogle. “We’ve turned our waste stream from a cost center into a profit center.” More importantly, adds Replogle, “seeing all that trash in the parking lot translated into a collective ‘aha moment,’ and we all realized we could do a better job at recycling.” In the wake of the dumpster-diving exercise, employee-recycling compliance jumped from 80 percent to 98 percent. “Now,” reports Replogle, “we have a shared ethos of taking responsibility.”
Burt’s isn’t the only company that’s turned dumpster diving into business as usual. Bentley Prince Street, a commercial carpet maker, has been plumbing its garbage on a monthly basis for more than 15 years. Department-based teams of 20 employees sift through the trash for about 15 minutes looking for recyclable or reusable items. So far, the company has not only saved $50,000 a year in waste hauling but also earns about $150,000 annually from the sales of recyclables to companies that have commercial uses for them.
“The monetary savings,” says sustainability director Judy Pike, “are an important aspect of our program, but equally important is. … educating our employees about recycling and sustainability.” Bentley Prince Street coordinates its employee sustainability efforts through its QUEST initiative (for Quality Utilizing Employee Suggestions and Teamwork), a program through which employee teams determine ways of eliminating waste. Since 1996, QUEST has reduced the firm’s water intake by 52 percent, its energy use by 40 percent, its greenhouse emissions by 48 percent, and its waste sent to landfill by 97 percent.
The sustainability success of companies like Burt’s Bees and Bentley Prince Street isn’t entirely surprising to Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capital Solutions, a nonprofit specializing in innovations in environmental practices and economic sustainability. “Let’s track the logic,” she suggests: “Taking care of your workforce, particularly by engaging them in implementing a corporate commitment to sustainability, will drive greater productivity and thus greater profitability.”
Lovins’s logic tracks as follows. She starts from the premise that satisfied employees are more productive employees, citing studies reporting that unsatisfied workers currently cost the U.S. economy $300 billion per year. Lovins then proceeds to argue that the most satisfied employees are those who are given the opportunity to “make progress in meaningful work.” What constitutes “meaningful work”? For that matter, what constitutes “progress”? Lovins suggests that a good measure of both is the extent to which employees put forth discretionary effort—the level above minimum requirements that people could put forth if they wanted to. “People who believe their jobs are meaningful,” says Lovins, “channel their discretionary effort into their work,” such as volunteering to dive into dumpsters or serve on waste-elimination teams.
Lovins also believes that work that involves employees in companywide sustainability efforts is “meaningful” to a lot of Americans. “The American workforce,” she contends,
no longer views work solely as a means to a paycheck. To many people, especially the younger generation, their job is an integral part of their lifestyle.… Ninety-two percent of Millennials say that they want to work for a socially responsible company.… [one] study.… found that 96 percent of Generation Y respondents are highly concerned about the environment and expect that employers will take steps towards becoming more sustainable.
More and more of these people may be able to find the kind of “meaningful” jobs they want because more and more employers are integrating sustainability programs into their overall business strategies. For many of them, the key to success in the initiative is aligning sustainability goals with broader business goals.
As Burt’s Bees puts it, “sustainability is built into our business because it’s so good for our business.… Our sustainability journey has helped to power our growth into a household brand.” A recent Gallup survey reported that highly “engaged organizations” returned 3.9 times the earnings-per-share growth rate of companies that rated low on engagement. A year later, a survey by Hewitt and Associates, a global human resources consulting firm, found that companies with high levels of employee engagement boasted shareholder return 19 percent above average, while those with lower levels were 44 percent below average. The same study identified social and environmental responsibility as a key factor in driving employee engagement.
How do companies foster employee engagement, particularly when it comes to sustainability programs? First of all, it helps to be genuinely committed to sustainability. A study of employees in the food-processing industry found that “employees’ level of organizational commitment is influenced by their perception of their firm’s environmental sustainability.” More specifically, says Suzanne Tilleman of the University of Montana, engagement is higher when a company turns out a high percentage of organic products and exhibits a collectivistic identity orientation—that is, emphasizes companywide contributions to a greater good.
Secondly, organizational commitment is greater when a company fosters a combination of top-down leadership and bottom-up empowerment in its sustainability practices. At Burt’s Bees, for example, if a department fails to pass certain tests for proper recycling, chronic abusers must go through remedial training with the CEO himself. “I’ll sit with them and pick through the trash to teach them where everything needs to go,” says John Replogle. “It’s important because my bonus is tied to [our goal of zero waste], and so is everyone else’s.” Obviously, Replogle and his management also set such strategic goals as making Burt’s Bees a zero-waste company by 2020.
At the same time, the company depends on frontline employees for such ideas as cleaning industrial containers with steam rather than water—an insight that cut water usage for the task by 90 percent. In return, in addition to bonuses tied to companywide sustainability performance, employees receive such “Eco-benefits” as cash compensation for biking or carpooling to work and buying high-efficiency or hybrid vehicles. Then, of course, there are those paid days for volunteering for activities like dumpster diving. Such activities, says Harvard’s Bobbi Thomasin, “are smart initiatives for showing your people that sustainability is truly important to the organization’s central mission.” Besides, adds sustainability consultant Shira E. Norman, “once you’ve seen your garbage up close, it’s hard to ignore it.”
The relationships between people and their employers are growing increasingly complex. Many employees, like those who work at Burt’s Bees, are engaged with their work and have relatively healthy and constructive relationships with their organization and other employees in that organization. But there are many other people who reflect different profiles—they come to work and go through the motions without ever really doing more than what is necessary. Indeed, myriad different and unique characteristics reside in each and every employee (and employer). These affect how they feel about the organization, how they will alter their future attitudes about the firm, and how they perform their jobs. These characteristics reflect the basic elements of individual behavior in organizations.
This chapter describes several of these basic elements and is the first of five chapters designed to develop a more complete perspective on the leading function of management. In the first section, we investigate the psychological nature of individuals in organizations. The following section introduces the concept of personality and discusses several important personality attributes that can influence behavior in organizations. We then examine individual attitudes and their role in organizations. The role of stress in the workplace is then discussed, followed by a discussion of individual creativity. Finally, we describe a number of basic individual behaviors that are important to organizations.
Understanding Individuals in Organizations
A good starting point in understanding human behavior in the workplace is to develop a perspective on the basic nature of the relationship between individuals and organizations. The psychological contract and person–job fit help provide this perspective. It is also useful to gain an appreciation of the nature of individual differences.
9-1aThe Psychological Contract
Most people have a basic understanding of a contract. Whenever we buy a house or sell a car, for example, both buyer and seller sign a contract that specifies the terms of the agreement. A psychological contract is similar in some ways to a standard legal contract but is less formal and well defined. In particular, a psychological contract is the overall set of expectations held by an individual with respect to what he or she will contribute to the organization and what the organization will provide in return. Thus, a psychological contract is not written on paper, nor are all its terms explicitly negotiated.
A psychological contract refers to the expectations held by an individual regarding what she or he will contribute to the organization and what the organization will provide in return. This manager and subordinate are reviewing the subordinate’s goals for the upcoming year and what rewards are most likely to be provided if those goals are met. These agreements are a part of the psychological contract.
Adam Gregor/ Shutterstock.com
The essential nature of a psychological contract is illustrated in Figure 9.1. The individual makes a variety of contributions to the organization—effort, skills, ability, time, loyalty, and so forth. These contributions presumably satisfy various needs and requirements of the organization. In other words, because the organization may have hired the person because of her skills, it is reasonable for the organization to expect that she will subsequently display and use those skills in the performance of her job.
Figure 9.1The Psychological Contract
Psychological contracts are the basic assumptions that individuals have about their relationships with their organization. Such contracts are defined in terms of contributions by the individual relative to inducements from the organization.
In return for these contributions, the organization provides inducements to the individual. Some inducements, like pay and benefits, are tangible rewards. Others, like job security and recognition, are more intangible. Just as the contributions available from the individual must satisfy the needs of the organization, the inducements offered by the organization must serve the needs of the individual. So, if a person accepts employment with an organization because she thinks she will earn an attractive salary and have an opportunity to advance, she will subsequently expect that those rewards will actually be forthcoming.
If both the individual and the organization perceive that the psychological contract is fair and equitable, they will be satisfied with the relationship and will likely continue it. On the other hand, if either party sees an imbalance or inequity in the contract, it may initiate a change. For example, suppose the manager who hires a new employee suggests that if he works hard and does a good job he can reasonably expect to get a promotion and pay raise in a year. If a year passes and nothing happens, the employee might start to feel that the contract has been violated and, in response, formally request a pay raise and promotion, start to decrease his contributed effort, or look for a better job elsewhere. Similarly, if the organization feels that the new employee isn’t performing at the level expected it might request that the individual improve his skills through training, transfer the person to another job, or terminate the person’s employment altogether.
A basic challenge faced by the organization, then, is to manage psychological contracts. The organization must ensure that it is getting value from its employees. At the same time, it must be sure that it is providing employees with appropriate inducements. If the organization is underpaying its employees for their contributions, for example, they may perform poorly or leave for better jobs elsewhere. On the other hand, if they are being overpaid relative to their contributions, the organization is incurring unnecessary costs.
9-1bThe Person–Job Fit
One important element of managing psychological contracts is managing the person–job fit —the extent to which the contributions made by the individual match the inducements offered by the organization. In theory, each employee has a specific set of needs that she wants to be fulfilled and a set of job-related behaviors and abilities to contribute. Thus, if the organization can take perfect advantage of those behaviors and abilities and exactly fulfill his needs, it will have achieved a perfect person–job fit.
Person–job fit is the extent to which the contributions made by an individual match the inducements offered by the organization. This utility workers is trimming tree branches so they won’t interfere with electrical power lines. Some people would find a job such as this interesting and rewarding, while others would be uncomfortable working under these conditions. These feelings contribute to person–job fit.
Randy Miramontez/ Shutterstock.com
Of course, such a precise level of person–job fit is seldom achieved. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, organizational selection procedures are imperfect. Organizations can make approximations of employee skill levels when making hiring decisions and can improve them through training. But even simple performance dimensions are often hard to measure in objective and valid ways.
Another reason for imprecise person–job fits is that both people and organizations change. An individual who finds a new job stimulating and exciting may find the same job boring and monotonous after a few years of performing it. And, when the organization adopts new technology, it has changed the skills it needs from its employees. Still another reason for imprecision in the person–job fit is that each individual is unique. Measuring skills and performance is difficult enough. Assessing needs, attitudes, and personality is far more complex. Each of these individual differences serves to make matching individuals with jobs a difficult and complex process.
Person–job fit may change for a variety of reasons. For example, people change over time, as do jobs. New technology can also affect person–job fit. This manager, for example, is trying to master a new operating system his firm has adopted and is having trouble understanding it. While his confusion may be short-lived, more significant technological changes can lead to major problems with person–job fit.
9-1cThe Nature of Individual Differences
Individual differences are personal attributes that vary from one person to another. Individual differences may be physical, psychological, or emotional. Taken together, all the individual differences that characterize any specific person serve to make that individual unique from everyone else. Much of the remainder of this chapter is devoted to individual differences. Before proceeding, however, we must also note the importance of the situation in assessing the behavior of individuals.
Are specific differences that characterize a given individual good or bad? Do they contribute to or detract from performance? The answer, of course, is that it depends on the circumstances. One person may be very dissatisfied, withdrawn, and negative in one job setting but very satisfied, outgoing, and positive in another. Working conditions, coworkers, and leadership are all important factors.
Thus, whenever an organization attempts to assess or account for individual differences among its employees, it must also be sure to consider the situation in which behavior occurs. Individuals who are satisfied or productive workers in one context may prove to be dissatisfied or unproductive workers in another context. Attempting to consider both individual differences and contributions in relation to inducements and contexts, then, is a major challenge for organizations as they attempt to establish effective psychological contracts with their employees and achieve optimal fits between people and jobs.
9-2Personality and Individual Behavior
Personality traits represent some of the most fundamental individual differences in organizations. Personality is the relatively stable set of psychological and behavioral attributes that distinguish one person from another. Managers should strive to understand basic personality attributes and the ways they can affect people’s behavior in organizational situations, not to mention their perceptions of and attitudes toward the organization.
Agreeableness—a person’s ability to get along with others–is one of the “Big Five” personality traits. This man would appear to be very agreeable, given his happy and positive display of emotions.
9-2aThe “Big Five” Personality Traits
Psychologists have identified literally thousands of personality traits and dimensions that differentiate one person from another. But, in recent years, researchers have identified five fundamental personality traits that are especially relevant to organizations. Because these five traits are so important and because they have been the focus of a lot of research specific to work settings, they are now commonly referred to as the “Big Five” personality traits , which are illustrated in Figure 9.2.
Figure 9.2The “Big Five” Model of Personality
The Big Five personality model represents an increasingly accepted framework for understanding personality traits in organizational settings. In general, experts tend to agree that personality traits toward the left end of each dimension, as illustrated in this figure, are more positive in organizational settings, whereas traits closer to the right are less positive.
Agreeableness refers to a person’s ability to get along with others. A high level of agreeableness in people causes them to be relatively gentle, cooperative, forgiving, understanding, and good-natured in their dealings with others. Those with lower agreeableness can be relatively more irritable, short-tempered, uncooperative, and generally antagonistic toward other people.
Although research has not yet fully investigated the effects of agreeableness, it would seem likely that highly agreeable people will be better able to develop good working relationships with coworkers, subordinates, and higher-level managers than less agreeable people. This same pattern might also extend to relationships with customers, suppliers, and other key organizational constituents.
Conscientiousness refers to the person’s ability to manage multiple tasks and to consistently meet deadlines. People who have higher levels of conscientiousness are likely to be more organized, systematic, careful, thorough, responsible, and self-disciplined as they work to accomplish tasks and meet goals. Others, however, tend to take on more tasks than they can manage and, as a result, are somewhat more disorganized, careless, and irresponsible, as well as less thorough and self-disciplined. Research has found that more conscientious people tend to be higher performers than less conscientious people across a variety of different jobs. This pattern seems logical, of course, because more conscientious people will take their jobs seriously and will approach the performance of their jobs in highly responsible fashions.
The third of the Big Five personality dimensions is neuroticism . People who are relatively less neurotic will be relatively poised, calm, resilient, and secure and experience less anxiety and stress. But people who are relatively more neurotic will be more excitable, insecure, reactive, and subject to extreme mood swings. They are also prone to be anxious and exhibit signs of vulnerability. People who are less neurotic might be expected to better handle job stress, pressure, and tension. Their stability might also lead them to be seen as more reliable than their less stable counterparts.
Extraversion refers to a person’s comfort level with relationships. People who are called extraverts are somewhat more sociable, talkative, assertive, and open to establishing new relationships. But introverts are somewhat less sociable, talkative, assertive, and open to establishing new relationships. Research suggests that extraverts tend to be higher overall job performers than introverts and that they are also more likely to be attracted to jobs based on personal relationships, such as sales and marketing positions. Introverts, on the other hand, may perform better on tasks that are not relationship dependent.
Finally, openness refers to a person’s rigidity of beliefs and range of interests. People with higher levels of openness are willing to listen to new ideas and to change their own ideas, beliefs, and attitudes as a result of new information. They also tend to have a wider range of interests and to be curious, imaginative, and creative. On the other hand, people with lower levels of openness tend to be less receptive to new ideas and be less willing to change their minds. Further, they tend to have fewer and narrower interests and to be less curious and creative. People with more openness might be expected to be better performers, owing to their flexibility and the likelihood that they will be better accepted by others in the organization. Openness may also encompass an individual’s willingness to accept change. For example, people with high levels of openness may be more receptive to change, whereas people with low levels of openness may be more likely to resist change.
The Big Five framework continues to attract the attention of both researchers and managers. The potential value of this framework is that it encompasses an integrated set of traits that appear to be valid predictors of certain behaviors in certain situations. Thus managers who can develop both an understanding of the framework and the ability to assess these traits in their employees will be in a good position to understand how and why employees behave as they do. On the other hand, managers must also be careful not to overestimate their ability to assess the Big Five traits in others. Even assessments using the most rigorous and valid measures, for instance, are still likely to be somewhat imprecise. Another limitation of the Big Five framework is that it is based primarily on research conducted in the United States. As a result, there are unanswered questions as to how accurately it applies to workers in other cultures. And, even within the United States, a variety of other factors and traits are also likely to affect behavior in organizations.
9-2bThe Myers–Briggs Framework
Another interesting approach to understanding personalities in organizations is the Myers–Briggs framework. This framework, based on the classic work of Carl Jung, differentiates people in terms of four general dimensions. These are defined as follows:
· Extraversion (E) versus introversion (I). Extraverts get their energy from being around other people, whereas introverts are worn out by others and need solitude to recharge their energy.
· Sensing (S) versus intuition (N). The sensing type prefers concrete things, whereas intuitives prefer abstract concepts.
· Thinking (T) versus feeling (F). Thinking individuals base their decisions more on logic and reason, whereas feeling individuals base their decisions more on feelings and emotions.
· Judging (J) versus perceiving (P). People who are the judging type enjoy completion or being finished, whereas perceiving types enjoy the process and open-ended situations.
To use this framework, people complete an assessment questionnaire designed to measure their personality on each dimension. Higher or lower scores in each of the dimensions are used to classify people into 1 of 16 different personality categories.
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one popular questionnaire that some organizations use to assess personality types. Indeed, it is among the most popular selection instruments used today, with approximately 2 million people taking it each year. Research suggests that the MBTI is a useful method for determining communication styles and interaction preferences. In terms of personality attributes, however, questions exist about the validity and the reliability of the MBTI.
9-2cOther Personality Traits at Work
Besides the Big Five and the Myers–Briggs framework, there are several other personality traits that influence behavior in organizations. Among the most important are locus of control, self-efficacy, authoritarianism, Machiavellianism, self-esteem, and risk propensity.
Locus of control is the extent to which people believe that their behavior has a real effect on what happens to them. Some people, for example, believe that, if they work hard, they will achieve their goals. They also may believe that people who fail do so because they lack ability or motivation. People who believe that individuals are in control of their lives are said to have an internal locus of control. Other people think that fate, chance, luck, or other people’s behavior determines what happens to them. For example, an employee who fails to get a pay raise may attribute that failure to a politically motivated boss or just bad luck, rather than to his or her own lack of skills or poor performance record. People who think that forces beyond their control dictate what happens to them are said to have an external locus of control.
Self-efficacy is a related but subtly different personality characteristic. It refers to a person’s beliefs about his or her capabilities to perform a task. People with high self-efficacy believe that they can perform well on a specific task, whereas people with low self-efficacy tend to doubt their ability to perform a specific task. Although self-assessments of ability contribute to self-efficacy, so, too, does the individual’s personality. Some people simply have more self-confidence than do others. This belief in their ability to perform a task effectively results in their being more self-assured and more able to focus their attention on performance.
Another important personality characteristic is authoritarianism , the extent to which an individual believes that power and status differences are appropriate within hierarchical social systems like organizations. For example, a person who is highly authoritarian may accept directives or orders from someone with more authority purely because the other person is “the boss.” On the other hand, although a person who is not highly authoritarian may still carry out appropriate and reasonable directives from the boss, he or she is also more likely to question things, express disagreement with the boss, and even refuse to carry out orders if they are for some reason objectionable. A highly authoritarian manager may be autocratic and demanding, and highly authoritarian subordinates will be more likely to accept this behavior from their leader. On the other hand, a less a