Cheat Sheet

Organisational Behaviour For Dummies (UK Edition)

From Organisational Behaviour For Dummies by Cary L. Cooper, Sheena Johnson, Lynn Holdsworth

Anyone who’s ever worked, or who’ll work in the future, can benefit from finding out about organisational behaviour – in other words, pretty much everyone needs to know about organisational behaviour! Understanding and using organisational behaviour principles in the workplace can help you keep yourself and others happier at work, so check out the items on this Cheat Sheet for some helpful insights.

Addressing Fairness as an Employer

Employers have several options open to them for ensuring equality and fairness in the workplace. No quick-fix solutions exist, but the following are options to consider:

  • Develop mentoring schemes. Mentorship is a great way of helping people progress within an organisation. Mentors can be especially useful in introducing mentees to useful networks that they may not be privy to.

  • Ensure that promotion procedures are transparent. Have a clear promotion planning process so that you decide on promotions on clear terms and leave less room for discrimination to creep in.

  • Give the message from the top. The importance of equality and appreciating diversity at work should be a message that comes from the management of your organisation.

  • Make diversity a goal. A diverse workforce is likely to be one that employs men and women, people of different ages, and people with a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Diversity must be a business target and not just something your organisation should or has to do.

  • Provide training on diversity issues. Make people aware of their own potential biases.

Avoiding Work Stress in Organisations

If people are unhappy or stressed at work, they’re often less productive, so not only is their health likely to suffer, so is the organisation! Organisations need to try to minimise the following work stressors where possible to benefit both their employees and their business:

  • Career issues: These issues include things such as over- or under-promotions, job insecurity, and fear of job loss.

  • Job content: Dangerous or particularly dull work is clearly stressful.

  • Job role: Not being clear what role and responsibilities are or being asked to do conflicting things causes stress.

  • Personality: Certain people are more or less susceptible to stress, depending on the type of person they are.

  • Relationships at work: Not getting along with colleagues and lack of support from managers or colleagues contributes to work stress.

  • Work–life balance: Struggling to balance the demands of home and work is an increasing problem.

  • Workplace culture: If the general feel of the organisation is negative, it creates an unhappy work environment for employees.

Defining Organisational Behaviour

Organisational behaviour and work psychology have similar ideas and aims. Both involve looking at the ways in which people behave at work and what this behaviour means for organisations.

Organisational behaviour topics range from those that look at employee- and employer-based issues (such as employee attitudes and leadership styles) and more general areas that all organisations are involved in (such as selection and training).

Some basic themes that organisational behaviour covers include    

  • Applying knowledge at work based on what you know about how people act at work

  • Appreciating how people affect each other at work

  • Studying how people, individuals, and groups act at work

  • Understanding how people are affected by work

  • Using organisational behaviour principles to improve an organisation’s effectiveness and productivity

Looking at Employee Personality: The Big 5

The Big 5 is probably the most famous and most commonly used personality model in the workplace and employers commonly use it in the selection process. Unsurprisingly, this model has five personality traits. An easy way to remember the traits is to use the acronym OCEAN. The following table shows the relationship between these five traits and job performance.

Personality Trait Brief Description Link to Job Performance
Open to experience/closed to experience From being open to new experiences and imaginative to being less open to new experiences, narrow-minded, and unimaginative Predicts training performance
Conscientious/disorganised From being well-organised, focused on targets, goals, and deadlines, dependable and good at paying attention to detail to being impulsive, disorganised, and less detail-focused Predicts performance across most jobs and organisational settings
Extroverted/introverted From being outgoing and good at dealing with people (managers tend to be more extroverted than the average person) to being less outgoing and comfortable in own company or that of their close friends Predicts performance for some jobs – sales, for example
Agreeable/tough-minded From being usually good-natured, keen to co-operate with others, careful to avoid conflict, easy to get on with, and not argumentative to being unfriendly, strong-willed, and not averse to conflict Nice to have at work and can be useful in customer-facing roles but studies report it being the weakest Big 5 predictor of good job performance
Neurotic/stable From having a tendency to experience negative states such as anger, anxiety, and guilt, to being stable, rarely upset, and typically calm Predicts poor job performance

Applying Organisational Behaviour Principles to Make Organisations More Successful

By making the effort to apply organisational behaviour principles within the workplace, organisations can help themselves to be more successful. Organisations should pay attention to the following:

  • Actively manage change rather than just letting it happen.

  • Communicate well with the people in your organisation.

  • Manage your hiring, training, and assessment processes to get the best out of your employees.

  • Put as much emphasis on people issues as you do to other organisation issues. Your people are important to your business!

  • Treat people fairly; feeling unfairly treated worsens employee attitudes toward work, which can cause lots of problems for your organisation.

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