Employee Behavior

August 7, 2017


Employee Behaviors


Employee behavior is largely driven by corporate expectations and is partially limited in scope because of organizational culture, goals, and management practices. By necessity an employee works to an expectation and not beyond, because instinctually a worker has, as the priority, preservation of employment, the need to satisfy corporate expectation and the need to meet basic social and psychological needs. The organization may not be the tool to obtain the right behaviors and best performance of it employees. It is also shown that behavior theories motivate to a degree or for a period of time however; sustained employee behavior is driven by key relationships.


Management/Employee Conflict


Taylor’s scientific management was a means to define work place efficiencies. In his work he recognized the need for management to avail itself of cooperation with employees because a result of attempting to structure their labor would be a banding together he called “soldiering”, which would potentially thwart work place production A recent study evidences that Taylor’s point remains a risk in managing employee behavior today. Shaul & Berson advanced a study which, evidenced that employees actions are based on the need to conserve their employment and that they have intentions to find means to avoid change in their work place. Weber suggests that a division of labor is necessary and that career personnel should be sought after to carry out the responsibilities of a bureaucracy. Weber’s works are also noted as the groundwork for creating rules and regulations to govern employee behavior. This supports the organization and, it too, creates specialists who protect their silos and justify their positions. This exacerbates management’s ability to mitigate theorists concerns of employee banding behaviors. Further, Weber admitted that salaried, career oriented specialists may have a negative effect in allowing employees to contribute to the whole because managers are responsible to the bureaucracy, which takes away attributes conducive to allowing personalization of employee work. Additionally, Sloan purported the need for strong central authority, which created an accountability model. This model suggests that employees would look to a central power before making independent decisions and would result in reduced level of personal creativity. Many managers assume McGregor’s X Theory applies to employees and presupposes that employees are lazy and find ways to shirk their responsibilities and therefore need strong oversight. Strong oversight has overtones of stifling employee production. Recent thinkers of management look to management or managers as the source for guiding organizational behavior. Collins, in his book Good to Great, characterizes the managers need to take people off the bus who can’t or don’t sit in the right seat and Deming looks to the organization as the means to solve complexities that create employee indifferences such as profit driven forces, tangible measurement and other empirical employee measurements. Drucker advanced corporate measurement practices with his “statistical quality management” which is a corporate need to measure output and places task and production above employee inclusion. With this history, how is the employee to act and is it any wonder they conserve loyalties?




            Follett’s work centered management’s responsibility to find “unity” with employees and to include them through empowerment suggesting there is greater progress toward corporate goals with employee inclusion. Drucker suggests management is a skill to be developed and necessary to promote employee productivity. Notice the emphasis is on the manager not the employee. Taylor did propose that management should take an interest in the employee and their well-being and advancement. This alone does not give the employee license to make decisions, suggest improvements, or to be empowered to advance changes. Accountability measures, profit driven goals, performance evaluations tied to an employee raise in compensation gave power to management. This also created a relationship between the employee and the manager and organization. It created leverage because the power resides with a given the organization and the manager. To this end employees do not put their job at risk to advance a new concept or suggest changes to management. Employees remain most concerned about preserving their jobs and satisfying their personal needs, which Maslow suggests, is to take care of the basic psychological needs of food, shelter and social acceptance. Further, Another theorist, McClelland suggested there are three needs to be met by an individual which is the need to achieve and contribute, however limited that may be, and to affiliate with a group while enjoying power within it. This could be achieved in that employees can, just through day-today job completion obtain all three of the needs summarized by McClelland. Employees behave under strict guidelines set by the organization and managers. Organizations get what it needs through goal setting management styles because the organization reaches its desired performance through this type of strategy. In this case the employee is working toward an end driven by the company and still not getting the benefit of the intellectual power it possesses. David McClelland indicated that incentives will increase employee performance. Ah, but does it create lasting change in behaviors? Fayol understood the division between workers and managers and even suggested that profit sharing might be a means to bridge the gap. Employees would be incentivized through the profit sharing program. It seems incentives create short-term bursts of activity, which are not sustainable. So, can the organization really get the best from its employees under these circumstances? Is it then leadership we turn to as a means to mitigate employee contention and to find greater loyalty, contribution, and job satisfaction? Is this the key to the unity sought after by Follett?


Relationships with management


            Recent studies suggest leadership may be the means to sustain employee behavior consistent with organizational desires. Leadership styles do have impact on employees, as does the nature of the organization. Three studies are used to compare five professional leadership styles. The leadership styles are used as a reference to determine the impact on employees of various organizations and organization types. Specifically, the studies target influences of these leadership styles on job performance, job satisfaction, and confidence to function within a job. Several questions are developed to determine the differences between transformational and transactional leaders and further attributes within those leadership styles are also tested. The additional characteristics are developmental leadership and supportive leadership. The leadership styles are shown to have positive influence.

            A relationship with management is a two way street including formation based upon organizational leaders who promote vision, encourage personal development, and provide innovative environments wherein employees can take greater ownership of their responsibilities. This is a done for purposes of exchanging with the employee greater commitment to the enterprise, exacting purpose in work, and extending meaning and consistency in production. These are key to creating lasting change in employee behavior.

It is concluded in each of the studies that transformational leaders do have impact on employees where a flatter organizations exists and where the leadership style can be felt. Job performance, satisfaction, and commitment are higher as a result of this leadership style. With an even deeper view into a sub leadership style known as developmental leadership has additional impact on an employee’s attitude toward his job. It should be noted that the transformational leader does not have the same influence in a more hierarchical structured organization. There is a dilution of impact in this structure.




            Employees at the front line level have many intrinsic influences which shape their behavior including, management expectations, organizational demands and leverage placed in favor of both the organization and the manager. Employees behave according to their need to preserve their employment and to satisfy their basic psychological needs. As such, they are not as apt to risk their livelihoods to suggest, act, or put forth more effort or contribution than what is required. They are self-interested and will act accordingly. Motivation tactics are effective for a period of time however; organizations can obtain most from employees when employees perceive they have a strong relationship with their managers and organizational leaders. Those relationships evidence higher retention, more loyalty, increased volunteerism, and employee sacrifice on behalf of the company.

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