Some of the factors affecting Individual Behavior in an organization are as follows:
The personal factors which influence the individual behaviour can be classified into two categories:
A. Biographic Characteristics
B. Learned Characteristics
All the human beings have certain characteristics which are genetic in nature and are inherited. These are the qualities which the human beings are born with. These are the characteristics which cannot be changed; at the most, these can be refined to some extent. If the managers know about the inherited qualities and limitations of the persons, they can use their organisational behaviour techniques more effectively.
All these characteristics are explained in detail as follows:
1. Physical Characteristics:
Some of these characteristics are related to height, skin, complexion, vision, shape and size of nose, weight etc. All these have an impact on the performance of the individuals. It is sometimes said that the eyes betray the character of a person. Similarly certain ideas about the behaviour can be formed on the basis of whether the person is fat, tall or slim.
Tall and slim people are expected to dress well and behave in a sophisticated manner and fat people are supposed to be of a jolly nature. Whether there is a correlation between body structure and behaviour or not has not been scientifically proven. Even if there is a correlation between these two, it is very difficult to understand which the independent variable is and which is dependent variable.
Age is considered to be an inherited characteristic because it is determined by the date of birth. The relationship between age and job performance is an issue of increasing performance. Psychologically, younger people are expected to be more energetic, innovative, adventurous, ambitious and risk taking. Whereas old people are supposed to be conservative, set in their own ways and less adaptable. Though it is incorrect to generalize all old people as unadoptable, physiologically, performance depends on age.
Performance declines with advancement of age because older people have less stamina, memory etc. Younger people are likely to change jobs to avail better job opportunities, but as one grows old, the chances of his quitting job are less. There is a relationship between age and absenteeism also. Older people tend to absent more from their jobs due to unavoidable reasons e.g. poor health.
Whereas younger people absent themselves from job due to avoidable reasons e.g. going for a vacation. In the organisations which are subject to dramatic changes due to latest innovations, the older people get less job satisfaction as they start feeling obsolete as compared to their younger colleagues. Though there is no clear cut demarcation between young age and old age but according to Lehman the peak of creative ability is among people between the ages 30 and 40.
Being a male or female is genetic in nature and it is considered to be an inherited feature. Whether women perform as well as in jobs as men do, is an issue which has initiated lot of debates, misconceptions and opinions. The traditional view was that man is tougher than woman or women are highly emotional than men. But these are some stereotyped baseless assumptions. Research has proved that there are few if any, important differences between man and woman that will affect their job performance.
Specially, in some are like problem solving ability, analytical skill, competitive drive, motivation, leadership, sociability and learning ability, there are no consistent male-female differences. Initially, some roles were considered to be exclusive domain of women e.g. nurses, airhostesses etc. but now with the passage of time, we have males in these professions also. Similarly, some jobs which were considered to be exclusive domain of men e.g. pilots, defence jobs, etc. have started accommodating women also, though with some conditions.
Gender has its impact on absenteeism. The tendency to abstain from work is more in females than in men, because historically, our society has placed home and family responsibilities on the females. When a child is ill, or the house is being white washed or some unexpected guests turn up, it is the female who has to take leave.
The turnover is also more in female employees, though the evidence is mixed in this case. Some studies have found that females have high turnover rates, while the others do not find any difference. The reasons for high turnover can be that sometimes the females have to quit their jobs or change into part time jobs to look after the children and their homes.
Sometimes they have to quit their jobs if their husbands get transferred to some other place and the females’ job is non-transferable. Although this trend is changing with the passage of time, but majority of the Indian families still follow these norms.
Though there are no scientific studies to prove it and we cannot generalize it, but religion and religion based cultures play an important role in determining some aspects of individual behaviour, especially those aspects which concern morals, ethics and a code of conduct. The religion and culture also determine attitudes towards work and towards financial incentives.
People who are highly religious are supposed to have high moral values e.g. they are honest, they do not tell lies or talk ill of others, they are supposed to be contended. But there is another side of the picture also. Though there are no evidences but it has been observed that sometimes people who are highly dishonest and immoral are more religious as compared to the others.
5. Marital Status:
There are not enough studies to draw any conclusion as to whether there is any relationship between marital status and job performance. Research has consistently indicated that as marriage imposes increased responsibilities, to have a steady job becomes more valuable and important. Married employees have fewer absences, less turnover and more job satisfaction as compared to unmarried workers. But no research has so far identified the causes for this.
Moreover, there are a few other questions which need answers e.g.:
(i) What will be the effect of divorce or death of the life partner on the performance of an employee?
(ii) What about couples who live together without getting married. So far there are no answers to these questions.
The next biographical characteristic is tenure or experience. The impact of seniority on job performance is an issue which is subject to a lot of misconceptions and speculations. Work experience is considered to be a good indicator of employee productivity. Research indicates that there is a positive relationship between seniority and job performance. Moreover studies also indicate a negative relationship between seniority and absenteeism.
Employee turnover is also considered to be negatively related to seniority. But in considering this relationship, past experience i.e. experience of the employee on the previous job is also to be considered. Research indicates that experience and satisfaction are positively related. Here we have to distinguish between chronological age and seniority of the employee. Seniority experience is a better indicator of job satisfaction than the chronological age of the person.
Generally, it is considered that intelligence is an inherited quality. Some people are born intelligent or in other words intelligent parents produce intelligent children. But practical experience has shown that sometimes very intelligent parents have less intelligent children and sometimes average parents have very intelligent children.
Moreover intelligence can be enhanced with efforts, hard work, proper environment and motivation. Anyway, whether it is an inherited trait or acquired trait this factor affects the behaviour of the people. Intelligent people are generally not adamant and stubborn, rather they are considered to be stable and predictable.
Ability refers to the capacity or capability of an individual to perform the various tasks in a job. Ability is the criterion used to determine what a person can do.
Ability of an individual can be of two types:
(i) Intellectual Ability:
If the individual is expected to perform mental activities, he must have a particular level of intellectual ability. Some important dimensions used to ascertain intellectual ability are number aptitude, comprehension, perceptual speed and test of reasoning. For some important jobs or assignment, a person has to clear some admission test.
(ii) Physical ability:
Physical abilities include a person’s stamina, manual dexterity, leg strength and the like. If the performance of a particular job requires some specific physical abilities, it is the duty of the management to identify the employees having those abilities. This is accomplished by either careful selection of people or by a combination of selection and training.
Learning is defined as, “a relatively permanent change in behaviour resulting from interactions with the environment.” A person is born with biographical characteristics which are difficult to change or modify. Therefore, the managers lay much stress on studying, learning and predicting the learned characteristics.
Some of these learned characteristics are as follows:
By personality we don’t mean the physical appearance of a person. Psychologists are not concerned with a smart person, with a smiling face and a charming personality. They consider personality as a dynamic concept describing the growth and development of a person’s whole psychological system. Rather than looking at parts of the person, personality looks at some aggregate whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
Personality generally refers to personal traits such as dominance, aggressiveness, persistence and other qualities reflected through a person’s behaviour. Some personality traits like physical built and intelligence are biological in nature but most traits like patience, open mindedness, extrovertness etc. can be learned.
An individual’s personality determines the types of activities that he or she is suited for. According to Tedeschi and Lindskold, people who are open minded seem to work out better in bargaining agreements than people who are narrow minded. Similarly people who are extroverts and outgoing are more likely to be successful as managers than those who are introverts.
Perception is the viewpoint by which one interprets a situation. In other words, “perception is the process by which information enters our minds and is interpreted in order to give some sensible meaning to the world around us. Psychology says that different people see and sense the same thing in different ways. For example, if a new manager perceives an employee to be a job shirker, he will give him less important jobs, even though that employee is a very able person. Sometimes, we tend to lose good relatives and friends because we change our perceptions about them.
Attitude is just like perception but with a frame of reference. It is a tendency to act in a certain way, either favourably or unfavourably concerning objects, people or events. For example, if I say I am satisfied with my job, I am expressing my attitude towards work. An attitude may be defined as the way a person feels about something, a person, a place, a thing, a situation or an idea. It expresses an individual’s positive or negative feeling about some object. An attitude may be unconsciously held. Most of our attitudes are such about which we are not aware; QNE most common of this is prejudice.
A person’s attitude towards a given situation can be ascertained by measuring and understanding his feelings, thoughts and behaviours. When we directly ask questions from the individuals, we can measure his feelings and thoughts. Behaviour can be measured either by observing the actions of the individual or simply by asking him questions about how he would behave in a particular situation.
In general, if a person has positive attitude about his work it will be reflected by very good work performance, less absenteeism, less turnover, obedience towards rule or authority etc. If a person has got negative attitude towards his work, he will act in exactly the opposite way. The negative attitude can be changed by simple persuasion or by training and coaching.
According to Milton Rokeach, “Values are global beliefs that guide actions and judgements across a variety of situations. Values represent basic convictions that a specific mode of conduct is personally or socially preferable to an opposite mode of conduct.” Values carry an individual’s ideas as to what is right, good or desirable. All of us have a hierarchy of values that form our value system. This system is identified by the relative importance we assign to some values like freedom, self respect, honesty, obedience, equality and so on.
Values are so closely embedded in the people that these can be observed from their behaviour. Individual values are influenced by the parents, teachers, friends and other external forces. A person’s values also develop as a product of learning and experience in the cultural setting in which he lives. Values vary from person to person because every person learns in a different way and have different types of experience.
Values are very important in the study of organisational behaviour because these help in understanding the attitudes and motivation of individuals as well as influencing their perceptions. Values determine what is right and what is wrong, where right or wrong is interpreted in terms of perceived values of the decision maker. Values sometimes overpower even objectivity and rationality. The value system can significantly influence the manager’s outlook and behaviour.
The external environment is known to have a considerable impact on a person’s behaviour.
A brief description of the external factors follows:
The behaviour of an individual is affected to a large extent by the economic environment.
A few economic factors which directly or indirectly affect the individual behaviour are as explained below:
(a) Employment Level:
The employment opportunities which are available to the individuals go a long way in influencing the individual behaviour. If the job opportunities are less, the individual will have to stick to a particular organisation even though he does not have job satisfaction. He may or may not ‘ be loyal to the management but he will remain in the organisation for monetary benefits only. On the other hand if the job opportunities are more, the employees’ turnover will be more. They will continue changing their jobs till they find the ideal job, which gives them maximum satisfaction, monetary as well as psychological.
(b) Wage Rates:
The major consideration of every employee who is working in the organisation is his wages. Though job satisfaction is very important, but what a person will get in money terms, is the major factor affecting the decision of a worker to stay in a particular organisation or shift to another one which will pay more wages.
(c) General Economic Environment:
Some employees who are working in Government offices or public sector undertakings are not affected by economic cycles. Whatever the economic position of the organisation, they will receive their salaries. Whereas, the employees, who work in the organisations, which are severely affected by economic cycles are subjected to layoffs and retrenchment. For these employees job security and a stable income is the most important factor whereas the former employees will be motivated by some other factors.
(d) Technological Development:
Though technology is not an economic factor, but we include it in the economic factors because of the impact it has on the individual job opportunities. The technological development has made the job more intellectual and upgraded. Some workers will be dislocated unless they are well equipped to work on new machines. This makes it the duty of management to retrain the employees. For those, who pickup and acquaint themselves with new technology, the jobs will be rewarding and challenging.
The social environment of an individual includes his relationship with family members, friends, colleagues, supervisors and subordinates. The behaviour of other people not with the individual, but in general, is also a part of his social environment. Similarly, every individual has a cultural background, which shapes his values and beliefs. Work ethics achievement need, effort-reward expectations and values are important cultural factors having impact on the individual behaviour.
Political environment of the country will affect the individual behaviour not directly, but through several other factors. In a politically stable country there will be a steady level of employment (both in quantity and quality) and high level of capital investment. Whereas companies are reluctant to invest large sums of money in a politically instable country.
The political ideology of a country affects the individual behaviour through the relative freedom available to its citizens. A country can have a controlled society or less controlled society. The relative freedom available to the individuals can affect their career choice, job design and performance.
Rules and laws are formalized and written standards of behaviour. Both rules and laws are strictly enforced by the legal system. Laws relate to all the members of the society e.g. Murder is a crime which is illegal and punishable by law and applies to all the people within the system. Observing the laws voluntarily allows for predictability of individual behaviour.
Individual behaviour is influenced by a wide variety of organisational systems and resources.
These organisational factors are as explained below:
The physical environment at a work place is the arrangement of people and things so that is has a positive influence on people. Some of the factors which influence individual behaviour are noise level, heat, light, ventilation, cleanliness, nature of job, office furnishing, number of people working at a given place etc.
These are concerned with the way in which different departments in the organisation are set up. What is the reporting system? How are the lines of communication established among different levels in the organisation. The behaviour and performance of the individual is influenced by where that person fits into the organisational hierarchy.
The system of leadership is established by the management to provide direction, assistance, advice and coaching to individuals. The human behaviour is influenced to a large extent by the behaviour of the superiors or leaders. Behaviour of the leaders is more important than their qualities.
The behaviour and performance of the individuals is also influenced by the reward system established by the organisation to compensate their employees.