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Why It Is Important for Managers to Understand Organizational Behavior

Each of Northwest Missouri State University's online MBA programs features a compelling course for all current and future managers. The Organizational Behavior in Administration course covers various behavioral concepts found in organizational settings with implications for management personnel. The course emphasizes the practical application of various topics such as teamwork, leadership, motivation, organizational change and development. Why is this course considered essential to the development of leaders who work in a diverse array of managerial roles? Managers must understand why people behave as they do within organizations, by first appreciating the complex nature of individuals, and second, by being able to identify causes and effects of individual behaviors. The collective behaviors of individuals within an organization create an atmosphere that strongly influences business performance, for better or worse. An organization benefits in five significant ways when managers have a strong foundation in organizational behavior:

  1. Managers understand the organizational impacts of individual and group behaviors.

  2. Managers are more effective in motivating their subordinates.

  3. Relationships are better between management and employees.

  4. Managers are able to predict and control employee behavior.

  5. The organization is able to make optimally efficient use of human resources.

What Abilities Does This Discipline Give Managers? By studying the principles of organizational behavior, managers become adept at the following five key skills:

  1. Identify and promote positive behaviors: "Prosocial" behaviors within an organization are those which benefit other individuals and the company as a whole. Leaders at every level of the organization need to be able to identify, promote and reward these behaviors -- and conversely, to discourage behaviors that lead to mistrust and other poor interpersonal dynamics between people who must work together.

  2. Create a positive workplace culture: Individual "prosocial" behaviors do not necessarily occur naturally. New hires do not come into organizations with a mental makeup optimized for the success of their companies. They must first be incentivized, in part through rewards, recognition, perks and bonuses. The right incentives are the building blocks of a supportive and selfless workplace culture.

  3. Motivate employees to exhibit "prosocial" behaviors: This discipline offers a set of motivational tools for managers to use, which takes into account individual differences between employees. Effectively, this skill is applied psychology and sociology for managers.

  4. Identify the causes of "antisocial" behaviors: Toxic behaviors that can infect a department and spread throughout an organization may originate with individuals; they may come from the top down; or they may even be the result of external or internal influences. A manager with expertise in organizational behavior will be able to find the root causes of negative behaviors and develop plans to solve the identified problems.

  5. Assess likely employee response before initiating organizational change: Predictive capabilities are among the most important for managers, and become even more important as leaders work their way up in the organizational structure. In order to determine the right strategies and implement them successfully, leaders at every level must be able to accurately anticipate how employees will react, and work to develop contingencies. The study of organizational behavior enables this predictive capability.

Often, when organizations go through inevitable slumps or downturns, they bring in experts in organizational behavior for guidance. This practice exemplifies the importance of learning the fundamental concepts in this discipline.

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