Basic Overview of Organizational Behavior: Guidelines and Resources

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    Much of the content of this topic came from this book:
    Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    Strongly Suggested Pre-Reading

    Organizational Performance Management

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Types of Practices to Influence and Sustain Desired Behaviors in Organizations

    Also, consider


    Be sure to read the description in Organizational Performance Management to understand that organizational behavior and organizational structures are ultimately strategies to help increase the performance of an organization.

    In this topic, the Library aims to convey the core practices in guiding organizational behaviors, as well as how the practices might be organized and integrated. You will recognize most of the practices because many of them are commonplace in our lives and work.

    Understand that the practices are cyclical and highly integrated in nature. Like any component in a cycle, the learning from implementing the practices should, in turn, improve the other components.

    Remember that the nature of how the practices are implemented depends on whether the leaders in the organization choose traditional or progressive approaches to performance management. See
    Performance Management: Traditional and Progressive Approaches

    The purpose of the information on this topic is to convey the core concepts of organizational behavior. Your proficiency in the concepts would come from applying them over time, especially under the guidance of a person who is highly experienced in applying them, as well.

    (Those who naturally prefer to focus on the “human” side of organizations, rather than on the “business” side, might particularly appreciate this topic on organizational behavior.)

    What is Organizational Behavior?


    Organizational behavior focuses on how humans behave in organizations, including how they interact with each other, as well as how they work within the organizations’ structures to get their work done. Here are some other definitions:

    • Organizational behavior is “the study of human behavior in organizational settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the organization itself.” iEduNote
    • “Organizational behavior is directly concerned with the understanding, prediction, and control of human behavior in organizations.” — Fred Luthans


    This description specifies the goals of organizational behavior:

    • “The goals of OB [organizational behavior] are to explain, predict, and influence behavior. Managers need to be able to explain why employees engage in some behaviors rather than others, predict how employees will respond to various actions and decisions, and influence how employees behave.” — Open Class

    However, organizational behavior holds benefits for employees, as well. The field is rich with research, findings, guidelines, and tools for employees to clarify their own goals, understand what motivates them, and increase their job satisfaction.

    Practices to Influence and Sustain Desired Behaviors in Organizations

    There is a vast array of different types of practices that leaders and managers use to influence their employees toward achieving the organization’s goals. More recently, they have used a variety of practices to help employees achieve their own goals, as well. Thus, it can be a challenge to efficiently categorize and explain the practices in a manner that is comprehensive and yet well organized.

    IEduNote‘s listing of the eight objectives of organizational behavior seems a reasonable way to categorize them, as well. The titles of their objectives have been slightly reordered and modified in the following categories. The categories are cyclical and highly integrated with each other.

    NOTE: Descriptions of each of the following practices are included in each of their respective topics in this Free Management Library. Thus, the descriptions are not duplicated here.

    Cultivating the Right Organizational Culture

    Organizational culture can be explained as a combination of the members’ values, beliefs, assumptions, and ways that they interact with each other. Basically, an organization’s culture is its personality. A person’s personality influences every aspect of their life.

    The same is true of an organization’s culture. That is why experts on strategic planning often assert that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” — that is, culture often determines whether strategies are successful or not. That is why so much of what happens in an organization starts from its culture, especially the behaviors that occur in it. The following topics refer to practices that might influence an organization’s culture, and thus the overall behaviors in it.

    Applying the Right Leadership

    The culture of the organization, its current life cycle, and the nature of its strategic goals all help to suggest the types of leadership needed in an organization.

    For example, a start-up organization might want leaders who are visionary and charismatic to attract more employees to join it. It might also want leaders who have strong expertise in the types of products and services that it delivers. However, as the organization evolves, it might want leaders with expertise in developing internal systems and practices to form a firm foundation for further growth.

    A complicating factor about leadership is that different leadership skills are required for leading oneself versus leading another individual versus leading a group versus leading an organization. See Understanding All Aspects of Leadership.

    If the organization’s culture is quite traditional, then it might prefer a rather autocratic style of leadership; whereas, a more progressive organization might prefer a more participatory style.

    Also, it is important to remember that leaders cannot successfully lead others unless they first can successfully lead themselves.

    Understanding How to Develop Great Leaders

    The leaders in an organization are the “engines” that drive the activities in organizational performance. Thus, the expertise of the leaders is a critical component in the success of the organization itself. As discussed above, the nature of the leaders must match the models and styles preferred by the organization. That often requires further development of the leaders, including its executives, managers, and supervisors.

    Finding the Right People

    The most important asset in an organization is its people. As important as having the right kind of leaders and managers is having the right kind of employees — employees who can do a great job in doing the necessary work to best achieve the goals of the organization. This is where expertise in human resource management is vital to the success of the organization. However, small- to medium-sized organizations can still do that 20% of effort that generates 80% of the success in finding and equipping the right people.

    Understanding the Nature and Needs of Employees

    Historical approaches to management treated employees like machines. The top priority was on efficiency — on producing more results in less time. However, today’s approaches have changed dramatically. Today’s leaders are realizing that they will get better performance if they treat their employees as individuals, each of whom is unique in their own interests and capabilities — and also in what motivates them. For the new generations in today’s workforce, it is often far more important to find meaning and fulfillment in their work than to make more money.

    Sustaining Strong Job Satisfaction

    Research shows that the cost of hiring and re-training employees is one of the highest of labor costs in organizations. Research also shows a strong correlation between job satisfaction and employee retention. Fortunately, there are a variety of approaches to support strong job satisfaction for employees.

    Developing High-Performing Teams

    Most of the significant accomplishments in organizations are done in teams. However, a team is often comprised of a wide diversity of values, perspectives, and opinions among its members. So teams must be carefully planned, organized, and supported. Also, a team is an organization — just a small one. Thus, team performance management is also critical to the success of a team.

    Maintaining Strong Performance

    Strong performance is the result of very effectively and efficiently achieving the goals, whether they are for an employee, team, or the overall organization. Performance management means establishing the goals, monitoring their achievement, and making the necessary corrections in order to achieve them even better.

    Suggested Additional Readings

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Organizational Performance

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to organizations. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    For the Category of Organizational Development:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.