Organizations are like big machines, and people are the gears that make them run. The study of how these “gears” work together is called Organizational Behavior (OB). Simply put, OB looks at how people behave at work and why they behave that way.
What is Organizational Behavior?
Think of OB as trying to figure out how people tick at work. Companies like Google and Zappos use OB ideas to make their workplaces better. For example, Google believes in being open and letting everyone share ideas. This open culture has given us many of Google’s best products.
On the other hand, Zappos uses a unique way of organizing jobs called ‘Holacracy‘. This means that instead of having a few bosses making all the decisions, many people share the leadership roles. Spotify, a music company, also uses a similar idea. They have small teams that can make their own decisions, which helps them come up with cool new features for their app.
How Organizational Behavior Has Changed
Organizational Behavior (OB) has come a long way since its early days. In the past, OB was primarily about figuring out how to make workers more productive. It was a bit like looking at workers as parts of a machine. The main goal was to find ways to make the machine run smoother and faster.
However, over time, we’ve realized that people aren’t just cogs in a machine. They have feelings, needs, and motivations. Modern OB is much more about understanding these feelings and needs.
For instance, the rise of technology means that many of us are now connected to our jobs 24/7. This has blurred the lines between work and personal time. Recognizing this, companies like Microsoft have introduced features like “Focus Time” in their productivity tools, which helps employees set aside uninterrupted time for deep work. This isn’t just about getting more work done; it’s about understanding that constant distractions can be stressful and bad for mental health.
Another big change has been in the area of work flexibility. Gone are the days when everyone clocked in at 9 am and left at 5 pm. Companies like Netflix have adopted a results-only work environment, where employees don’t have set hours. Instead, they are judged based on their results. This approach understands that everyone works differently. Some people might be night owls, while others are early birds. By allowing flexibility, companies are saying, “We trust you to know how you work best.”
Diversity and inclusion have also become central to modern OB. In the past, workplaces were often not very diverse, and many groups faced discrimination. Today, there’s a growing understanding that diverse teams produce better results. Companies like Apple now regularly release diversity reports, showing their progress in creating a workforce that reflects the broader population.
Lastly, there’s been a shift from focusing only on individual performance to understanding team dynamics. With projects becoming more complex, teamwork is more important than ever. Companies like Google have conducted extensive research, like Project Aristotle, to understand what makes a team successful. It turns out that factors like psychological safety, where team members feel safe to take risks, are crucial.
In short, the field of OB has evolved from a narrow focus on productivity to a holistic understanding of people at work. It recognizes that for companies to succeed, they need to create environments where people feel valued, understood, and motivated.
How Do We Study Organizational Behavior?
There are many ways companies try to understand their employees. Some companies, like Facebook, ask their employees to fill out surveys about how they feel at work. Others, like Tesla, encourage their workers to talk directly to their bosses if they have ideas or problems.
Websites like ‘Glassdoor’ let people share what it’s really like to work at different companies. This means companies have to really think about how they treat their workers, because everyone can read about it online!
How OB Helps HR
HR, or Human Resources, is the part of a company that looks after its employees. Good HR teams use OB ideas to find and keep the best workers. For example, some companies are now doing video interviews to find new employees. This means they can talk to people from all over the world, not just those who live nearby.
Also, companies are now thinking more about what their workers care about. For instance, many workers want to feel like their job is helping the world. So, companies like Salesforce make sure to share with everyone how their work is making a difference.
Big Issues in Organizational Behavior in 2023
With computers and robots doing more work, we need to think about how people fit in. Big companies, like IBM, are using computers to help make decisions, but they still believe that people are the most important.
Another big topic these days is how companies help the environment. Companies like Patagonia not only sell clothes but also encourage their workers and customers to care about nature.
Conclusion: Why Organizational Behavior Matters
In today’s fast-changing world, understanding OB is like having a map for companies. It helps them understand their workers and make better decisions. When companies think about how people work best and what they care about, they do better work and everyone is happier.