Apple—the largest company in the world by capitalization (2022)—pursues its vision with a laser focus and unparalleled expertise in organizational behavior. Harvard Business Review observes that The Apple Model is "...organized around functions and expertise align(ed) with decision rights. Leaders are cross-functionally collaborative and deeply knowledgeable about details."
Berkshire Hathaway (the largest investment company in the world by market capitalization in 2022) follows a different organizational structure. Professor David Larcker of Stanford describes the company's "extreme decentralization of operating authority, with responsibility for business performance placed entirely in the hands of local managers."
Despite stark differences in organizational settings at Apple and Berkshire Hathaway, the two companies share one undeniable similarity. Both companies employ an uncompromising vision of their unique structures and wield expertise in organizational behavior management toward common goals for their company's success.
Organizational behavior is the study of human behavior within varied scales of an organizational environment. Micro, meso, and macro constitute the three levels of analysis in organizational behavior. Supported by theories of social psychology, micro OB applies to individuals, meso applies to groups, and macro applies to organizations as a whole.
One can develop better-informed strategies for improving an organization's performance by understanding how human behavior manifests in organizational settings. Organizational behavior research indicates that integrating OB into management strategies can contribute to greater employee productivity, efficiency, job satisfaction, and commitment. Such improvements to the culture and energy of a work environment are likely to boost a company's overall success. The study of organizational behavior frequently overlaps with human resource management.
Knowledge of organizational behavior gives any organization or firm the competitive edge to execute its operations with more significant innovation and profitability. For example, the organization's performance will likely improve if all group members receive fair incentives while experiencing the same levels of respect and motivation. To gain a holistic understanding of what factors play into organizational behavior, researchers often look to four critical elements: people, structure, technology, and external environment.
This article covers prominent examples of organizational behavior management. It addresses the following topics:
Knowing how people navigate their organizational environments makes it possible to target beneficial human behaviors via the governance practices of a group. To promote a value or behavior, your organization must put that value into practice. Management can strategize positive organizational behavior by systematically encouraging all group members' individual strengths and ideas.
We see this strategy at work within the organizational structure of Google, a company well known for its innovative approach to work environments. Google achieves a positive organizational culture by using a "bottom-up" style of management, where leadership allows employees the freedom and trust to dictate many tasks. In this way, employees elude the hierarchical structures that often discourage innovation and motivation in the workplace. Rather, the bottom-up method prioritizes respect as a central aspect of company culture. All employees are equally capable of decision-making and of positively impacting the organization.
Every organization relies upon individuals to define who they are. At the individual level, micro-organizational behavior focuses on human attitudes and behaviors in an organizational environment.
Diversity stands out as one important variable on the micro level of an organization, as each individual in a group holds values and identities that distinguish them from the group as a whole. Looking at organizational behavior from this vantage point can help shape a company's central practices or values.
For example, a company might recognize how women navigate their work environment through the lens of the discrimination many face in the workplace. Executives can implement leadership strategies to combat the harmful effects of this behavior on group dynamics and individual employees. At this point, organizational behavior is most useful in management strategy, as it can utilize knowledge of human relations to foster a work environment centered around a specific value.
For example, promoting equality in the workforce might translate into the goal of hearing the opinions of all employees. One way to realize this goal is through the creation of a company forum or survey so employees can openly share ideas and input. Ideally, this strategy would result in members of an organization adopting the symbolic meaning behind the survey: placing equal value on every employee's voice. In turn, management models equality-oriented behaviors for the workforce to follow. By taking steps such as these, companies can work towards strengthening job satisfaction rates and employee attitudes to promote overall positive organizational change.
While micro-level studies of organizational behavior focus on individuals, the meso-level field focuses on the group as a dynamic entity. Meso-level focus means exploring the interpersonal relationships among co-workers that fuel the group and the social systems that define group dynamics. Communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and social factors like politics and power are central to this level of organizational behavior.
Grasping the nature of a group's dynamic is crucial to the success of an organization. Understanding the workforce allows leadership to cultivate an environment that promotes efficient teamwork and positive work culture. With a healthy and appealing group dynamic among coworkers or team members, the objectives of an organization are easier to meet.
People strategy, or "winning people strategy", exemplifies organizational behavior management on the group level. It builds on human behavior and human relations in a group setting to produce thriving relationships in work environments.
Airbnb took a giant leap toward a winning people strategy in 2015 when it created a Global Head of Employee Experience job position. Such positions focus solely on ensuring the well-being and strength of a company's workforce. Excelling in this kind of role means responding to employee needs, creating space and time for employees to engage positively with one another, and encouraging a healthy work-life balance. In 2016, just one year after launching the employee experience role, Glassdoor ranked Airbnb the best place to work in the United States based on employee reviews. Case studies show us that meso-level organizational behavior strategy can spark positive workplace culture, ultimately communicating a message of care and community among coworkers and leadership.
Finally, macro-level analysis in organizational behavior focuses on the organization as a whole. Company structure, work climate and culture, and physical are key components at this level of organizational behavior.
Variables like physical space, for example, can greatly affect an organization's behaviors. Extensive evidence suggests that crowded workspaces trigger negative attitudes and behaviors, resulting in more conflict, lower job performance, and territoriality. As organizations typically control factors such as these, drawing from organizational behavior studies can help shape decision-making processes and leadership styles for positive work behavior.
360 feedback provides another example of a strategy companies use to meet their objectives on a macro level. This method allows all members of an organization to contribute feedback for company evaluation, regardless of their job level. A collaborative approach to company change, such as appreciative inquiry, may follow an evaluative method like 360 feedback. Appreciative inquiry is a strategy that functions on the macro level of an organization because it aims to address structure as a whole and make changes based on existing strengths.
Macro management techniques such as these are crucial to an organization's success because they facilitate company change and improvement on a structural level. As a result, macro organizational behavior management has the potential to create a ripple effect on the individuals and groups who function under the organization's structure.
Because organizational behavior management centers on the behaviors of humans, numerous fields can utilize this knowledge. Human resource positions provide significant opportunities to utilize organizational behavior management. Human resource roles often handle employee performance and behavior concerns and organize interventions surrounding workforce-related topics.
Additionally, any management-level job, such as a training and development manager, requires that candidates are knowledgeable of human behavior, especially in an organizational environment. Regardless of your role, level, or field, organizational behavior can be instrumental to the success of your career or organization.
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