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Individual behaviour

Today, there is hardly any room for mediocrity in a business environment. To survive in the present economic market, it is turning inevitable for the business industry to explore and incorporate more creative and flexible human resource plans in order to increment profitability and achieve stability. In course of time, business has arrived to a critical juncture where it perfectly understands that the behavior of an individual does strongly influence productivity and efficiency of in organizations. To enhance growth and development, it has thus become significantly desirable to study and value the various attributes of individual behavior.

From many years, researchers and scientists have been constantly working on the various elements that determine organizational growth and productivity. Their experiences provide us with exceedingly useful information that allow us understand and reason individual behavior concepts and theories. Four major factors have been known affect individual behavior: • Biographical characteristics: • Age: The relation between age and performance is probably known ever since the evolution of man. But modern business has succeeded to establish many facets of this truth.

In course of time, the relation has turned into a truly debatable topic indeed. If some may believe that aging diminishes efficiency, there are enough evidences to conceive the opposite as well. If on one hand, aging results in enhanced work ethics, higher experiences and strong powers of judgment, aging may also lead to a loss of flexibility and resistance to new technologies. The relationship between age and absenteeism is interesting. A majority of studies reveal that an older employee shows higher levels of unavoidable absenteeism and lower levels of avoidable absenteeism.

While with the young, the case is just the opposite. The theory thus regards poor health and long recovery periods as obstacles for workers of higher age group. Establishing a relation between age and productivity is difficult. It is an age old thought that performance diminishes with age. This is however contracted by a survey in the US that believes that workers more than 55 happen to form the fastest growing sector of the work force. Thus it is rather more logical to assume that there is hardly any relation between age and productivity. • Gender:

Modern business has come to believe that gender is no longer a factor governing performance. Studies indicate that gender has hardly much to do with analytical and reasoning skills, perception or learning abilities. Women may however show a higher rate of absenteeism due to the many responsibilities they are endowed with. • Marital status: There are not enough evidences hat allow us to correlate marital status of an individual with his performance. • Tenure: Researchers firmly believe that seniority does impact job performance. Some of their recent conclusions are: i.

There exists a positive relation between productivity and seniority. ii. Tenure is inversely elated to absenteeism. iii. “The longer a person is in a job, the less likely is he or her to quit”(Gatewood and Field, Human resource selection) iv. Tenure varies directly with satisfaction • Ability: Every individual is special In his or her own way. An important managerial trait is not knowing if people differ in terms of their abilities but identifying how they do and use the knowledge to improve organizational proficiency. Organizational studies categorize ability into the following three kinds:

i. Physical ability: Physical abilities play a major role in physically demanding jobs that are generally less skilled and more standardized. ii. Intellectual ability: Individuals with higher intellectual abilities are more suitable to perform mental activities. To become a professional hacker or a rocket scientist, one must naturally possess an extra tinge of intellectual brilliance. Modern researchers however expand intelligence beyond mentally abilities, breaking it down into cognitive, social, emotional and cultural intelligence. iii. Job-fit

If Soccer requires a high level of stamina, software engineering demands special intellectual skills. An executive or a news reader must possess proper verbal qualities just as a neurosurgeon needs to be tremendously calm, focused and steady. These are only a few realities of life that can not be changed. Thus, an employee performs best only when he or she is fit to do it. • Learning: “Any permanent change in individual behavior that occurs as a result of experience” (Weiss, Learning theory and industrial organizational psychology) We learn every day and there is no en to it.

Learning helps us understand that reinforcement is more productive that punishment. Thus a manager must identify and reward performance, raising the spirits of the individual. • Values: Values are a set of basic convictions that contain a judgmental element carrying an individual’s ideas that help him chose between the right and the wrong. Values are generally stable and enduring. An individual’s values are mostly formed in his or her early years, learning from parents, teachers and friends. Values deeply influence perception attitude and behavior.

Values have been also known to play an imperative role in developing strong ethical or rational thinking and objectivity. Their influences upon loyalty and rationalism are not unseen either. • Attitude: Attitude is an evaluative force concerning objects, people and events. Basically attitude reflects how we eel about anything. An individual’s attitude is of there types: i. Cognitive component that is mostly determined by values. ii. Affective component that forms the emotional segment of attitude and helps us incorporate our values into reality. iii.

The Behavioral component that is mostly visible to the outside and develops from cognitive and affective components of attitude. An individual’s attitude is generally positive if he or she sustains a higher level of job satisfaction. Attitude does have an effect on job involvement commitment and consistency. Attitude also happens to be a reflection of one’s perspective of race and gender. Thus a good sound attitude forms the foundation of a diverse organizational culture. • Job satisfaction: How content we are in the work place, almost absolutely determines how we perform and the intensity of our work.

A higher level of ob satisfaction often results in increased productivity and decreased absenteeism and turnover. It is thus a common experience to encounter satisfied employees building a healthy organizational culture in organizations. However, it has only come to light recently that although satisfaction affects OCB, perceptions of fairness play a crucial role as well. There is also substantial evidence that satisfaction is a vital influence on loyalty and customer-employee relations. • Personality and emotions: Personality is a dynamic concept that describes the growth an development of an individual’s psychology.

Basically, personality reveals how uniquely an individual can adjust to fluctuating environments. i. Locus of control: It is a person’s perception of the source of his or her fate. Researchers classify individuals as internal and external. If internals are those who believe they are the masters of their own fate, externals prefer being controlled by outside forces. Quantities research comparing the two ‘labels’ suggests that externality brings lesser satisfaction, lesser involvement and intensity and higher absenteeism. Effects of locus of control on turnover are inconclusive.

One may expect internals to be active and ready to quit heir jobs more willingly. Contrastingly though, they can achieve more success that again enhances satisfaction and intensity, inspiring them to hold on to their jobs. ii. Machiavellianism: It is a personality trait that when high, is pragmatic, generates confidence and maintains emotional distance. Researchers regard high ‘Machs’ as people who win and manipulate more and are persuaded less. Union leaders and managers of labor affairs must possess such qualities. iii. Self-esteem:

It is a personality trait that determines to what do we like and respect ourselves. It is believed that individuals with high self-esteem prefer taking more risks and are more unconventional in their style of working. On the contrary, low self-esteemed people are more susceptible to external influence and may break down under pressure. iv. Self-monitoring is yet another personality trait that influences adaptability and sensitivity. An individual with a high self monitoring ability is more suitable for managerial positions that demand multiple roles. v. Type-A and Type-B personalities:

An elite class of individuals is often found intently engaged in an incessant struggle to achieve more in less time, irrespective of others around them think or do. While, Type-B’s are just the opposite and may drastically affect intensity, consistency and ultimately the performance of the whole workplace. • Emotion: Emotions are intense feelings that being object specific, are directed at someone or something. Organizationally directed emotions have given rise to a relatively new concept of ‘emotional labor’. Lady flight attendants, receptionists and customer service associates are only some members of this group.

Irrespective of their personal state of mind, they must carry a ‘happy face’ and a ‘cheerful’ voice around. Effects of emotion: i. Selection and ability: A recent research on emotional intelligence says that people who have knowledge of their emotions are more effective at work. The same is also true for people who excel in reading other’s emotions. Many other studies suggest that managers must consider EI as a valuable tool in selection, specifically in jobs that demand high degrees of social interaction. ii. Decision making and motivation:

Emotions may induce significant changes in decisions, depending upon circumstances. Positive emotions are known to enhance problem solving abilities and facilitate integration of information. On the contrary, negative emotions may hamper such causes. Since people who are motivated in their work also happen to be emotionally committed, emotions may considerable affect motivation. iii. Leadership: Emotions form an integral part of leadership. Effective leaders in the past have always relied upon expression of their emotions and feelings in their interactions with the people they led.

Excited, enthusiastic and active leaders are more likely to lead successfully. iv. Conflict and deviation: Emotional people are often found involved in interpersonal conflicts and arguments. For a workplace to be healthy and prosperous, it is more than important that emotions are controlled. Negative emotions disrupt the organizational culture as they generally result in disagreements. Such feelings thus lead to various deviant workplace behaviors. • Perception and decision making: Perception is a process in which individuals organize and interpret their impressions to give meaning to the environment outside.

Thus, perception becomes the basis of their organizational behavior and allows them to structure their work more effectively. This is primarily why productivity so heavily depends on how and what employees perceive their work. Obviously, job satisfaction, absenteeism, and turnover also vary with perception. This is clear because only when an individual perceives his or her work as satisfactory or otherwise, is a conclusion about satisfaction or dissatisfaction drawn. Managerial skills thus include understanding his worker’s perception and reacting accordingly. The following are some of the factors influencing perception:

i. Attitudes: ii. Motives iii. Interests iv. Experience v. Ethics vi. Expectations and responsibility Apart from these, three situational factors also contribute to perception: i. Work setting ii. Social setting iii. Decision making: As we think before we act understanding what we think will help predicting what we might d or how we might behave. • Motivation: Perhaps the most influential element giving shape to individual behavior in a workplace is motivation which is a process that structures an individual’s intensity and direction, providing him or her with a reason to persist for goal achievement.

• Maslow’s need hierarchy theory: It was the first of all theories to describe motivation as a function of one’s basic needs, flourishing in a hierarchy. Maslow identified the five basic needs as: i. Physiological needs ii. Safety needs iii. Social needs iv. Esteem v. Self actualization Maslow believed that although a need can not be completely regarded as gratified, a substantially fulfilled need ceases to be a source of motivation any longer. • Managerial strategies to enhance motivation:

As it is clear today that motivation designs many aspects of individual behavior, managers all over the world seek to motivate their employees in several ways. This would fetch them with improved individual behavior, hence giving way to increased productivity and efficiency. • Managers organize various programs to facilitate motivated work. Some of them are: i. Employee recognition and involvement programs: Employee recognition programs are designed to boost the morals of the workers. Many schools announce the names of the most sincere teachers (minimum absenteeism) and reward them accordingly.

Employee involvement programs are designed to maximize the utilization of employee potential and encourage individuals to get more involved in the production process. Participative management, representative participation, employee-stock ownership plan and the quality circle concept are a few instances. ii. Variable pay programs: Many schools in the US motivate their teachers by compensating them according to the performance of their students. Thus, variable pay programs motivate individuals by assuring them of rewards on outstanding performances.

Wage incentives, profit sharing and bonuses are a few examples. iii. Skill based pay: Otherwise known as knowledge-based or competency-based pay, skill based pay plans are alternatives to job based pay plans that pay the employees according to their job-titles. Rather, skill based pay plans pay them by virtue of their ability to perform various kinds of jobs. iv. Benefit plans and compensation programs: Beyond the notion of simply completing a task, the organization wants its employees to aspire towards ingenuity, creativity, and so much more.

Today it is seen that an employee who is healthy, both physically and mentally, is a more productive person. This has led to a series of employee services, such as athletic facilities and counseling in areas such as smoking and drug abuse, intended to create and maintain a healthy work force. The purpose for the organization providing the reward is quite simple. The common viewpoint is that the major purpose of all hodgepodges of rewards is to increase the attractiveness of the organization to the individual, so that he or she will continue as an employee. Benefits are among the factors that tie people to organizations.

Different surveys over the past reveal that the organizations that initiated health benefits, found a direct increase in productivity. Popular benefits like time-off programs; vacation and personal leave and retirement programs allow employees to save valuable money. Modern organizations reward their employees not only for their job and performance but for their membership in the organization also. Such rewards indicate that the organization is aware that in the so called employee exchange, it not only purchases labor services, but is looking foreword to an organizational attachment with its employees.

The organization attempts to secure a long-term commitment from its employees. The fact that these are oriented toward reduction of insecurity among employees, benefit plans and compensation programs thrust more stability into the economic environment. References: Robbins, P. Stephen, Organizational Behavior, 2004, Prentice Hall. ISBN: 81-203-2283-5 Bowen, B. R. Recognizing and Rewarding Employees, 2000, McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07135-6177 Berger, L. A. & Berger, D. R. The Compensation Handbook – A State of the Art Guide to Compensation Strategy and Design, 2000,(4th Edition). Society for Human Resource Management

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