The 21st century has experienced growth and change at an exponential rate. Science, technology, and education are just some of the elements that have catapulted the business world into an unforeseen place. Today’s business world requires leaders to reassess old models of management and begin implementing new, human-friendly techniques. Ultimately, businesses seek to improve productivity and increase employee engagement in an effort to achieve a better workforce.

HR is no longer simply a matter of thumbing through resumes and finding the best applicants to narrow the candidate pool; it’s also about human behavior and attitudes. HR managers and leaders must now understand the importance of behavioral management theory and organizational behavior.

Indeed, employees (human capital) have become touted as the most important asset of any company and, as such, understanding their intrinsic needs has become vital to a company’s growth and success. They’re not just motivated by the size of their compensation, but also have psychological, physical, social, and physiological needs.

Behavior Studies and Business

Previously, management concepts were devoid of much of the human element, requiring leaders to essentially disengage from their employees. This commonly-applied technique became challenged, however, when Elton Mayo performed the Hawthorne Studies which exposed the deficiencies of these classic management styles and was followed by a multitude of studies in human behavior and interactions that came to the same conclusions about these outdated managerial styles.

Specifically, they ignored the importance of motivation and human behavior in the individuals that make up a team.

These experiments greatly influenced Dr. Douglas McGregor, who developed Theory X and Theory Y, maintaining these are the two types of managers.

A “Theory X” manager is one, he posited, that assumes the average employee:

  • Dislikes work and attempts to avoid it.
  • Has no ambition, wants no responsibility, and would rather follow than lead.
  • Is self-centered and therefore does not care about organizational goals.
  • Resists change.
  • Is gullible and not particularly intelligent.

Conversely, a “Theory Y” manager is one who generally assumes that the average employee:

  • Work can be as natural as play and rest.
  • People will be self-directed to meet their work objectives if they are committed to them.
  • People will commit to their objectives if rewards are in place that address higher needs such as self-fulfillment.
  • Under these conditions, people will seek responsibility.
  • Most people can handle responsibility because creativity and ingenuity are common in the population.

Numerous studies have been done to essentially determine that the effectiveness of a Theory Y manager aligns better with today’s top-performing organizations than the Theory X managers of the past. It’s become clear that today’s most successful leaders are those who tap into the human element of their followership and create a productive, motivated, and committed workforce.

whiteboard meeting with 3 happy employees in office

Good and Bad Apples

The most successful teams are those that have a commitment to the big picture goals and achieve them by reaching unique, individual goals.

However, if the attitude and behavior of just one team member are not in alignment with the rest of the group, this can have a negative (and costly) impact on the group as a whole. This is why it’s important for managers to monitor attitudes of individual employees as a way to – in part – determine the behavior of the entire team.

Likewise, positivity is contagious and makes predicting group behavior easier when the morale is high among your team. For this reason, understanding each individual employee’s attitude is imperative to the success of the team – and company – as a whole. Sometimes unfavorable behaviors are directly related to unfavorable attitudes.

However, attitude alone is not the only predictor that effective leaders can leverage to determine and/or change their organizational behavior. Sometimes, adjustments are necessary to elevate the attitudes and, thus, change the behaviors of their employees.

Set An Example

People learn by observation, beginning as children. Learning leads to actions via cognition (observation-cognition-thought-action). Leaders who are optimistic, positive, and focused are more likely to have like-minded teams. These leaders see the potential in their employees. They are not ignorant of negativity. Rather, they view negative circumstances as opportunities for growth and change, which makes it easier for their followership to stay onboard.

Provide Opportunity

Once you’ve established a more positive corporate climate, your employees will be more inclined to want to enhance the skills they already possess. In today’s business world, employees no longer want to be “just a number.” Rather, they want to be an integral part of an organization’s success. By providing opportunities to your employees to be that important part of the whole, you’ll be better able to assess who’s attitudes and behaviors are productive and who to reevaluate.

Get An Assessment

There are many tools available to perform behavioral assessments among your employees. However, having a professional assessment is likely going to be much more effective in determining the strengths and weaknesses within your team and/or company.

Behavioral and organizational assessments are valuable tools. They help identify specific areas and individuals that may be counterproductive to your company’s success.

Further, the more managers understand about human and organizational behavior, the more they’re able to predict them. For example, it’s important to be able to recognize when a particular behavior is repetitive versus reactionary.

By understanding the many different components of human behavior, organizations can implement tools and strategies. These can change negative behaviors into the positive ones or eliminate them altogether.

Before falling into the trap of believing your employees are performing badly because of negative work behaviors, consider that existing patterns may not be indicative of them as individuals. Instead, consider using their work environment to assess the reasons behind their performance.

At Industry Leading Results, we believe in the power of finding unique individuals to create grade-A teams. Under-performing teams often occur when individuals don’t understand their connection to each other and the organization.

By evaluating the organizational challenges within a company, we believe real and sustainable change can occur.

If you are experiencing organizational behaviors that are counterproductive to your company, schedule a call with us today and let’s begin the process of understanding the reasons behind it.