Throughout my career in corporate America, I have reported to great leaders. What made these leaders so great? Was it the lessons they learned throughout their careers? Was it their mentors that influenced their management styles? Was it the books on Leadership they read and followed throughout their career? Or, was it a combination of all these things that helped shaped them into becoming a great leader? I believe it was all of these things plus the influence of Organizational Behavior (OB).
I have made mistakes in management that cost me my job. My management style was to instill fear in my team to get them motivated. My constructive criticism seemed more like a reprimand than providing direction. Boy! What a crappy manager I was?
As a successful sales contributor, with numerous accolades, who was motivated by challenges and rewards, I thought I could use the same approach managing people. Basically, by placing demand requests upon my support team. I was terribly wrong. In fact, my management style ruined my relationship with my support staff. Organizational Behavior changed my life.
What is organizational behavior? Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of both group and individual performance and activity within an organization. There are many disciplines of OB, but the elements that changed my leadership style was focused on leadership, decision-making, team building, motivation, and job satisfaction.These principles shaped me for whom I am today.
- Leadership style — I’m always communicating important information to my employees and involving them in important decision-making. I ask the team open ended questions that provokes thought. For example: if you were the VP of this division, how would you handle this challenge? The feedback my team provided, were always insightful. Its provided a different perspective and often opened the eyes of management, especially if their suggestions got implemented and the team member was given credit for the idea.
- Decision Making — In this phase, criteria is measured between two possible outcomes. What is right for the company? What impact will it have on the employee? There are several types of management styles — Top down approach, Bottom up approach, and Self-directed approach. Many managers only believe in Top down — its my way. I will set the direction. Having a bottom up approach is suited for lower level managers who are engaged with their team on a daily basis, like a first level sales manager who’s responsible for proper forecasting of sales opportunities. Typically, self-directed teams are frowned upon by senior managers thus causing conflict between mid and senior managers. I prefer integrating a little management style from each category.
- Team Building — How can I get my team to perform better? What tools would help my team become more productive? Team building can motivate individuals to reach higher goals by putting incentives in place. Team building is about every department member participating in the activities, challenges, educational improvements — inside and outside of the workplace. If a team is working on a project, everyone is expected to put in 100% to achieve the common goal. A happy and collaborative team will always outperform their peers.
- Motivation — there are two types of motivators: extrinsic and intrinsic. An extrinsic motivator is getting paid a salary. You expect it and it would not motivate you to perform your job better. An intrinsic motivator are additional incentives, like MBO’s or commissions. It a form of compensation that you would receive beyond your salary. Salespeople can relate to the motivation of money (commissions). Placing performance incentives into your department might motivate some team members to perform better. While performance metrics are great for measuring employees, not all employees require financial rewards. I’ve learned throughout my career that people are not always motivated by a financial reward. They respond to praise. For example, some people require recognition in the form of a hand written note, a few kind words, having their name mentioned in a weekly newsletter, or by being selected as the employee of the month. As a manager, it’s very important to get to know your team members and understand their motivational requirements.
- Job Satisfaction –Behavior and emotion are tied directly to job satisfaction. It weighs heavily on absenteeism and employee turnover. If you build a team who interfaces well, works and plays together, receives recognition for a well done job, feels like there is open communication within the organization, the likelihood of your employee satisfaction scores will be high, resulting in minimum employee turnover. If an employee is under a tremendous amount of work related stress, they might discuss it with their peers, possibly causing a decrease in productivity. Managers need to keep an open dialogue with their team to determine job satisfaction.
By following these simple principles of organizational behavior, I have become an effective leader. My teams outperform their MBO’s, sales metrics, and strive to exceed expectations. I follow a simple principle. I never ask anyone to do something I have never done. I lead by example. I create environments that foster team collaboration. I treat each person with respect. I don’t care if you are a sanitation worker or the CEO. I am a better person in my professional and personal life. I hope you are too.