BUS209 Study Guide

Site: Saylor Academy
Course: BUS209: Organizational Behavior
Book: BUS209 Study Guide
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, May 25, 2024, 5:32 PM

Unit 1: Organizations in Business

1a. Define organizational behavior (OB) and relate it to an organization's success

1. It's important to understand what organizational behavior is, and your understanding begins with your ability to define it.

  • Define organizational behavior in your own words in one or two sentences.
  • The study of organizational behavior is based on many traditional behavioral sciences. Identify these sciences, and explain how they are used in studies on how organizations behave.

Are you comfortable with your ability to state what organizational behavior is? Can you demonstrate how our understanding of organizational behavior draws on other, established behavioral sciences and why it is important in evaluating OB's current studies?

This is a good point to review What is Organizational Behavior?.

2. When studying any organization, we need to understand its structure. Think of the classic representation of an organization, which details the various levels, such as the president, vice presidents, directors, and so on, down the ranks. Much of our discussion on OB will involve looking at these various levels and understanding how they influence and impact those above and/or below.

  • Find some examples of different organizational structures. Don't just look at public, for-profit firms; also consider private and not-for-profit organizations. Write three to five sentences to discuss what organizational structure you would like to be a part of and why.
  • Now that you are looking at some companies, ask yourself why an understanding of OB matters. Firms spend a great deal of time and resources on this topic. Can you list some reasons why this understanding is important?
  • If you were about to invest your time and money to launch a new business, are there some OB ideas you would want to include as you build the business?

There are a few points made in this unit that you should review:

  • "People are definitely a company's greatest asset. It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps." – Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay, Inc.
  • In its 2007 Job Outlook Survey, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) noted that employers sought these skills more than any others:
    1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
    2. Honesty/integrity
    3. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
    4. Motivation/initiative
    5. Strong work ethic
  • In terms of OB, healthy organizations exhibit role clarity, information sharing, and performance feedback. In these terms, 50% of business organizations today are "unhealthy".

3. We have discussed the importance of studying OB to benefit you, your employer, and the organization. But how do we go about conducting these 'studies'? As a consumer of thousands of products, you realize that the companies involved are constantly conducting studies to determine what you want, need, and what you are willing to pay for their products or services. We are interested in conducting studies to understand more about how organizations work, what can increase their effectiveness, what contributes to a more productive workforce, and any additional factors that can help improve the health of our organization.

  • Define each of the following forms of research: surveys, field studies, laboratory studies, case studies, and meta-analyses.
  • List an OB issue that each form of study can address.
  • Consider the various measurements that may result from your studies.

Read Organizational Behavior to answer the above questions and prepare for the final exam.

4. There has been much discussion over the years on the importance of employee engagement as a determinant of firm success. The higher the level of employee engagement, the higher the level of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and financial return.

  • Define employee engagement.
  • Take a moment and think about when you were really happy with a job and a time when you were not so happy. What were some of the factors that contributed to how you felt in each of those situations?

5. Everyone can see the effects of technology on business. The rapid changes in technology have impacted how we communicate internally and externally, produce goods/services, and reach domestic and foreign markets.

  • Consider one technology that we are all familiar with, namely e-mail. Consider this: 100 million American adults used an email system at least once a day in 2006, and that same year, Internet users worldwide sent approximately 60 billion emails each day! And that was ten years ago!
  • Identify five benefits of this technology for a business.
  • Identify five disadvantages to this technology for a business.

6. In the past, technology was considered an entry barrier against competition. In other words, companies that invested heavily in various forms of technology made it more difficult for competitors to enter their markets. Now, this barrier has been lowered or eliminated.

  • See if you can identify three examples of firms that created a barrier to entry for their competitors in the past few decades.
  • Identify at least three new forms of technology that have made it easier for new companies (start-ups) to enter markets. Write a short paragraph on each, explaining how a company can benefit from using this technology.

7. The more we know about OB, the better managers and leaders we can become.

  • Watch Why, What, and How We Study Behavior in Organizations. What was one thing you learned about OB from Rotter's story about her weekend trip?
  • Let's assume that you are stepping into a new role as an executive of a local company. What specific behaviors would you like to see in this organization that could help you succeed?

 

1b. Identify and analyze current trends in organizational behavior

1. Regulations for environmental protection have a massive impact on the business community, which is reflected in products and services that support the ideas of sustainability and "going green".

  • Define sustainability, and provide an example of how this has been integrated into a business.
  • What does the term 'going green' mean to you? List a few companies following this program, and provide examples from their product/service offerings.

2. One topic that has generated much research and discussion is the culture clash between the older generation and Millennials. The generational differences can greatly benefit firms or be a source of conflict.

  • How would you define Baby Boomers?
  • How would you define Millennials?
  • List some benefits and concerns that Baby Boomers bring into your company, and do the same for Millennials. What would you do if this was your company to emphasize the benefits and reduce the conflicts?

3. We are now participants in a truly global economy. The good news is that you can access more markets and customers than ever. The bad news is that you are faced with more competition than ever. This needs to be a part of any business's strategic plan.

  • There is plenty of discussion about outsourcing, both positive and negative. Start by defining this term.
  • No discussion of the global economy would be complete without some reference to offshoring. How would you define this activity?
  • Discuss how you feel about these two activities. Would you consider them to be beneficial to the firm? What about the company's employees? Are there any ethical issues you can identify with these practices?

Review Organizational Behavior to learn about globalization, multiple generations in the workforce, environment, sustainability, and technology in the workplace.

 

1d. Discuss globalization, cross-cultural challenges, and benefits of diversity in the workplace

1. No discussion on OB can occur without including the issue of a diverse workforce, customer base, or management team.

  • How would you define diversity? Explain the benefits that come from a diversified organization.
  • As a business executive, what would you do to encourage diversity in your company?

2. Companies today recognize the benefits they can realize from having a culture that supports diversity. However, it is not always so easy to achieve diversity.

  • What steps might you take to ensure that everyone in your company sees the benefits of diversity and integrates diversity into the company culture?
  • There are many benefits to diversity for a business. These include increased creativity, better customer service, improved employee satisfaction, better financial performance, and lower legal costs. Create a chart that provides examples of each benefit, using research on different companies.

As you can see from your readings and research, diversity benefits businesses in many ways. However, recognizing the benefits and achieving diversity are two very different topics. Diversity will not just occur in the normal conduct of business but results from an organization's leaders being proactive in pursuing a truly diverse firm.

3. We have already discussed globalization and the implications of a global marketplace on any business. Part of improving our understanding of the issue is recognizing that the world is made up of many cultures that are quite different from one another. We now have a new area to consider in our diversity plans.

  • This chart summarizes some basic differences that exist between various cultures. Review the definitions of individualism, collectivism, power distances, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, and femininity.
  • If you have traveled to any foreign countries, can you recall any instances when you observed these differences? If you haven't traveled outside your home country, research this topic to feel comfortable with the issue.
  • Now that you have gained an appreciation for some of the cross-cultural challenges, can you discuss how you would address these challenges in your company?

Many companies today, both large and small, will be conducting business around the globe. If your company has a dynamic, positive, and effective global strategy, you will need specific plans for addressing cultural diversity.

 

Unit 1 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • case studies
  • collectivistic cultures
  • culture
  • diversity
  • employee engagement
  • field studies
  • interpersonal skills
  • laboratory studies
  • meta-analysis
  • Millennials
  • motivation
  • offshoring
  • organizational behavior
  • outsourcing
  • power distance
  • surveys
  • sustainability
  • uncertainty avoidance

Unit 2: Managing Individuals, Personalities, and Motivation

2a. Discuss how work environment affects workplace behavior, such as an employee's attitudes and perceptions

1. Imagine your career. You get a job where you work 40 hours a week and continue to work for 25 years, after which you decide to retire. This job will represent 50,000 hours or 1,250 weeks of your life. In that work environment, things like the friendliness of the people you work with, how you get along with your supervisor, the physical aspects of the workplace, and many other factors will have a direct influence on how you feel about your work and how you perform the tasks assigned to you.

  • Think back to where you worked or a school you attended. Make a list of three things that you felt positive about that environment. Now list three things that left you with a negative feeling.
  • Review the list you developed, and write one sentence on how you could have eliminated the negatives.
  • Keeping with your list, write one sentence on how you could have increased those things that gave you a positive feeling about the location.

The list you developed contains some things that affect your attitude and can be either good or bad. Attitudes are defined as: "…our opinions, beliefs, and feelings about aspects of our environment".

2. We care about attitudes as they can influence our relationship with others. In the workplace, we care about how attitudes can affect the relationships between and among employees, our customers, and/or their impact on job performance. One measure of the attitude of employees is the level of job satisfaction.

  • In two or three sentences, provide your definition of job satisfaction.
  • In your experience, have you ever participated in a survey intended to measure employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, or student satisfaction? Explain why you think the organization was interested in this information in a paragraph.

Organizational commitment is one way to describe employees' emotional commitment toward the company they work for. Higher levels of organizational commitment are associated with greater employee satisfaction. This chart lists some of the factors that contribute to satisfaction:
 
 

 

2b. Assess your own personality characteristics and motivation through a series of surveys

An individual's behavior toward a task or their interactions with others can result in either positive or negative environments in the workplace. The text highlights four key behaviors for you to consider: a) job performance, b) citizenship, c) absenteeism, and d) turnover.

  • Define each of these behaviors in two or three sentences.
  • With these definitions in mind, make a chart that lists these behaviors. Now, identify one or two specific actions you could take to increase an employee's positive attitude towards each one.
  • Let's assume that this is your company. In two or three paragraphs, write a memo to your management team explaining why it is important for you to create a work environment supporting actions to improve employee attitudes towards the company.

The text notes that "work attitudes are our feelings toward our company and job. Job satisfaction and organizational commitment are related to many outcomes of interest, such as absenteeism, performance, and turnover. Therefore, companies track feelings toward work and try to create more positive attitudes".

Absenteeism and employee turnover have several negative impacts on a business. These include higher costs resulting from lost work time, the expense of recruiting new employees, training, and overall employee morale.

 

2c. Correlate the effects of motivation on performance and apply motivational theories to increase an employee's motivation

1. A discussion of perceptions may require us to 'step back' for a minute and think about what this term means. We all have perceptions of people, places, and things. Perceptions are not right or wrong but represent how we feel about something or someone based on real or imagined experiences. We might perceive a situation as positive or negative, and perceptions can influence our behavior.

  • To explore this concept a bit more, make a list that includes the name of your best friend, one of your favorite restaurants, and a clothing brand you like. Now, describe why you have a positive impression of each one in a sentence.
  • Repeat the above exercise, making a list that includes a person, place, and thing you negatively perceive. Explain why.
  • When considering employees' perceptions of their supervisor, job, or colleagues, we recognize that these perceptions may benefit the firm or work to its disadvantage. Write a paragraph explaining what you could do to positively influence a person's perception.

Remember that perceptions are developed from what we see and experience, but what we see can be influenced by whether we truly understand what is happening or what is being said. Sometimes, we may form perceptions based on erroneous information.

2. To a greater or lesser degree, we are all subject to emotions. Positive emotions (happiness, joy, love, excitement, etc.) can result in a more positive attitude, while negative emotions (fear, hate, unhappiness, jealousy, etc.) can have the opposite effect. Any efforts to improve employee satisfaction and increase job performance must recognize the influence of emotions.

  • Negative emotions tend to affect more people and last longer than positive emotions. In one or two paragraphs, explain why this is true. Feel free to draw on your own personal experiences.
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to step back and recognize that our emotional state, at any given time, can influence those around us. It is an ability to control our emotions in certain settings for the benefit of the department, team, or company. In two or three sentences, can you describe what you might do to ensure that you are aware of your emotions and not allow them to negatively influence those around you?

Imagine the owner of a company sees that the profitability of the company is declining. This owner may feel angry, frustrated, or even afraid of what is happening. Recognizing the value of communication, this owner gets everyone together to discuss the state of the business and encourages the employees to try and improve the company's financial performance. The emotional state of this owner can either be a help or a hindrance.

3. Think about times you have felt motivated to take on a task. Perhaps you were motivated to start on a research paper early or volunteer for a project at work. When we are motivated, our performance improves, and we feel better about what we have achieved. Motivated employees experience higher levels of job satisfaction and produce better outcomes for the company. This is how motivation, ability, and the work environment are contributing factors to performance:

  • Think of a time when you felt motivated to take on a specific task. Write a short paragraph describing the task, and explain what motivated you to take this task on.
  • Now, think about a time when you were not motivated but still had to get something done. Describe any differences between when you were motivated and when you were not.
  • Sometimes, it will be necessary for you to motivate someone else. In a paragraph or two, can you think about a time when you could motivate a friend or an employee? What did you do?

As an employee, there are times that you need to find the motivation that is needed for you to take on an assignment or complete some task. An employer must also be aware that employee motivation results in improved outcomes and must design ways to motivate them.

This unit discusses several theories to better understand what motivates people and how we can create a work environment that fosters motivation. Review these theories: Acquired-Needs Theory, Equity Theory, ERG Theory, Goal-Setting Theory, Need-Based Theory, Reinforcement Theory, and Two-Factor Theory.

4. Once we understand the importance of motivation to improve employee performance or our own personal performance, we need to start thinking about motivating people. An old saying says you can motivate others by using a 'stick or a carrot'. The stick might be a threat that you complete this job, or you are fired! A carrot could be a bonus for getting this job done on time.

  • In thinking about your own experience, can you remember a teacher, coach, or employer that motivated you to do your best? Write one or two sentences describing what they did and why that motivated you.
  • Any number of things can motivate employees. Raises, promotions, days off, bonuses, recognition, awards, etc. In order of importance, with the most important item being number one, list the top five things that would motivate you to do your absolute best on an assignment at your place of work.
  • Here's a challenge for you. You are an employer with 30 employees. The employees are diverse in age, gender, race, experience, marital status, and education. Write a paragraph on how you will determine what will motivate this team to improve their performance.

Diversity benefits an organization by introducing different points of view, life experiences, skill sets, and personalities that can improve a company's overall performance. However, this same diversity means that different individuals may be motivated by different incentives. One employee may be motivated by time off, while another is motivated by a cash bonus. This presents a challenge for the organization.

 

2d. Interpret and explain the various components of job design

Motivation can be increased by specifically considering the design of each job and the work environment. This requires evaluating a job that goes beyond just describing what must be done but also considering the different ways it could be done.

  • The job characteristic model to provide a high Motivating Potential Score is: (MPS) = skill variety + task identity + task significance / 3 + autonomy + feedback. In one or two sentences, explain each of the terms in this equation.
  • There are many other ways to design jobs to improve motivation, including job sharing, job rotations, making tasks more meaningful, providing frequent feedback, and telecommuting, to name a few. Identify one technique that appeals to you, and see if you can research a company that effectively uses this technique online.
  • Companies often use performance appraisals to evaluate an employee's performance during the year. They may be the basis for promotions and/or salary increases. Consider a performance review that you have had, or interview a friend or family member who has had a review, and write a paragraph about the experience. Include your thoughts on how accurate the appraisal was, its fairness, and if you were motivated to improve your efforts.

 

Unit 2 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • Acquired-Needs Theory
  • attitude
  • autonomy
  • emotions
  • Equity Theory
  • ERG Theory
  • feedback
  • Goal-Setting Theory
  • job design
  • job rotation
  • job satisfaction
  • motivation
  • Need-Based Theory
  • organizational citizenship
  • organizational commitment
  • perceptions
  • performance appraisals
  • personality
  • Reinforcement Theory
  • Two-Factor Theory

Unit 3: Managing Groups and Teams

3a. Compare and contrast groups and teams, their identities, development, and dynamics

1. Chances are that you have been involved in many groups in your experience. You may have worked on a group project for an assignment in a school or a group effort to address some work situation. The text defines a group as "a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person's actions have an impact on the others". As companies downsize, outsource, and right-size their organizations, the result is a reduction in the number of employees available to work on issues that arise. This creates an increasing need to gather employees from different parts of the organization to use form working groups, both formal and informal.

  • Informal groups are not organized by the company but result when individuals work on a task. Briefly, can you describe a time you participated in an informal group? What was the task?
  • Thinking about this event, what were the dynamics among the members of this group? Write a sentence or two on some of the positive interactions.
  • Now, see if you can list some of the interactions that were not as effective as they could have been. Can you think of some ways that you could have improved them?

2. When you think about the value that groups can contribute, whether in business or some personal endeavor, we must make every effort to make a group project as effective and efficient as possible. As discussed in the text, informal groups can come about for many reasons, not the result of a planned effort. We will often need to organize a group for a particular task.
 
Let's consider a business scenario. You are managing a business, and there seems to be a problem with a major customer account. You need to identify the specifics of your customer's concerns and develop an action plan to address them. As the issue involves products, shipping, and customer service, you assemble a group of experienced employees to work on this problem.

  • As you consider who you will appoint to this team, list 5/6 traits that you think the group members should possess to help this group work together.
  • Once you have selected the people who will work together, make a list of 3/5 instructions you want them to follow.
  • Finally, in one or two paragraphs, explain your expectations for this assignment to this group of employees. Clearly define the authority you give the group to proceed and define the end goal.

3. Assembling a group of employees to address business issues would seem to be a straightforward task. However, a group consists of individuals with their own skills and experiences, which can impact interpersonal relationships. "American organizational psychologist Bruce Tuckman presented a robust model in 1965 that is still widely used today. Based on his observations of group behavior in various settings, he proposed a four-stage map of group evolution, also known as the forming-storming-norming-performing model".

  • With one or two sentences, define each of the stages in the development of a group.
  • In your opinion, which stage of development might be the largest contributor to strained interpersonal communication? Why?
  • At which stage of this development process does the group get down to the real work?
  • As a manager who wants this group to be effective and achieve the stated goals, can you think of any steps you could take to assist the group in forming to performing as quickly as possible? List 4 or 5 actions you could take.

4. Once a group has been assembled, they need to establish how they will work together. They should discuss the roles that may be needed, a project schedule, deliverables, etc. Time spent at the beginning of this process can save much time later. You are one of four employees assigned to a group by your supervisor and directed to address quality issues with a new product.

  • What action items should be on the agenda at the first group meeting? Make a list and, in a sentence or two, explain the purpose of each item.
  • Effective teams identify the roles needed to accomplish the various tasks required to complete the project. Let's assume the first role to be filled is 'group leader'. List a few attributes that you think the leader should have. Write a sentence that describes the importance of each attribute.
  • Now that you have a leader in place, what roles might be appropriate for the other three group members? Can you write a brief job description for each?

There is a requirement for some pre-group planning to increase the probability of the group being successful. A clear idea of the project to be undertaken, the make-up of the members (skills, experience, training, etc.), and the identification of appropriate roles. Sometimes, the company may also find it necessary to provide group training before the project begins. This training might include project management, product knowledge, communication, or any other skills the members need.

5. Groups are made up of people with their own personalities, character traits, emotions, and ability to work with others. It should come as no surprise then that the dynamics of groups will vary per the members' make-up. Let's review some of the dynamics that can affect group performance.

  • The size of the group matters. Create a chart that lists the advantages and disadvantages of a small group and a large one.
  • Diversity in group members affects group dynamics. Discuss the potential benefits of assembling a diverse group to address a business issue in a paragraph or two.
  • Groups can use different methods for making decisions. Briefly define consensus and unanimity, and discuss the difference between the two. Which type of decision-making do you prefer, and why?
  • In any group, conflicts can arise. One frequently occurs when one of the members is 'loafing', or not meeting the group's expectations. If you were the group leader, what would you do? Write a short paragraph outlining your steps to reduce or eliminate the conflict.

Interpersonal relations are a fact of any group activity. Understanding how individuals interact and communicate in a group is one of the fundamental concerns of organizational behavior. To learn more, do a web search on the subject. You can search for: effective group communication, social loafing, group decision-making, interpersonal relationships, and group dynamics to get started.

 

3b. Explain the benefits and costs of teams from the organization's perspective

1. A team is "a cohesive coalition of people working together to achieve mutual goals". We have all heard about the need for 'teamwork', or how individuals can work together for a common purpose. It involves everyone putting forth their best efforts for the team's benefit, not for their own individual preferences.

  • Based on your understanding and/or experience, list five benefits a business can gain by using teams to work on projects.
  • You are assembling a team from 3 or 4 different departments to work on a project. Make a list of ways that you might use to motivate the team members to put forth their best efforts.
  • One of the business's objectives is to improve employee satisfaction levels. Maybe in your experience, you've participated in a survey that wanted to determine your level of satisfaction. In a paragraph or two, tell us if you believe that employee teams increase or decrease employee satisfaction, and explain why you believe that.

2. While there are certainly several positive outcomes from employee teams, there are also genuine expenses involved in team-based initiatives. Consider just a few:

  1. Training requirements to ensure that team members have the skills needed for the task
  2. Need to provide outside support to cover team members' usual responsibilities while involved with the team
  3. More complex reporting requirements involved with cross-functional, interdepartmental teams
  4. Allocation of resources to facilitate the team's work
  • As a new manager in your firm, you want to create an employee team to develop ideas for a new consumer product. You will meet with the company president to present your idea, knowing that the discussion will include cost. Prepare a list of 2 or 3 items, in addition to those listed above, that you will include in your budget.
  • You will also want to consider how you will reward this team if they successfully meet the project's goals. You know that your company has awarded bonuses to employees in the past. In a couple of paragraphs, outline your bonus proposal for the team. Consider if it will be individual bonuses or a group bonus. Explain the reasons for your choice.

Other costs can be incurred depending on the location of the employees and the need for technological support. It is not unusual for large domestic companies to have employees throughout the US. Travel costs can add up very quickly. These costs can be even higher for global firms establishing teams from locations in several countries. Of course, there is also the possibility of employing virtual team meetings, but these have a list of issues.

 

3c. Discuss the skills required for working effectively in teams

This unit discusses many benefits a company can gain from using employee teams. A search on employee teams and teamwork on the web will yield an extensive list of resources available for your review. With the increasing use of teams and their importance in helping companies improve their financial performance, you will want to ensure that any teams you create succeed.

  • As you assemble a team, prepare a checklist (8 to 10 items) of the skills you want the team members to have. Remember that not everyone needs the same skill set. For example, one team member may need to understand a product/service, while another may need experience with a process.
  • In addition to helping a company meet its goals, employee teams can also affect employee engagement. Go to the website for the Gallup Organization (gallup.com), and search for any research reports they have published on employee engagement.
  • In your opinion, can employee teams positively affect employee engagement? In a short paragraph, explain your reasons.

Employees' productivity, job satisfaction, and commitment to the company increase when they are engaged. However, we can't just hope that our employees will be engaged; we must proactively find ways to let them know how important they are to the company and that their voices will be heard.

 

3d. Identify and discuss interpersonal communication styles within groups and teams

1. Wherever we have more than one person in a group, the need for clear and effective communication is of vital importance. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and after they left, you wondered if they heard what you were saying? One would think that communication is a simple task. After all, you've been communicating for years. Anyone who has left a department or team meeting, and then had conversations with colleagues trying to understand what you just heard, knows the problems that can occur with communication.

  • Review the basic communication model (shown below). Study each step in the process, from the sender to the receiver.

 
As you review this model, list each step in the communication process, and define it in a sentence.

  • In communicating our positions or opinions to a group of colleagues, we should be aware of those things that can interfere with how our message is received. These barriers include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotional disconnects, lack of source familiarity or credibility, gossip, semantics, gender, bias, and culture. Pick three of these that you may have experienced or are interested in learning more about. In one or two sentences, define each one, and suggest an approach to minimize the effect on communication.

2. With understanding the importance of communication and recognizing that sometimes there are issues with the clarity of communication, we should spend some time discussing how communication can be improved. As with so many interpersonal relationships, once a concern is identified, it is possible to work on ways to eliminate those concerns.

  • Communication channels are directional. They can flow down (supervisor to employee), up (employee to supervisor), or laterally (among peers). Describe something that could be communicated for each channel in one or two sentences.
  • Communication can also be oral, written, or non-verbal. The key is the richness or completeness of conveying all the information as clearly as possible. Different circumstances require different methods of communicating. Describe a possible use for each of these methods in a sentence or two.
  • There is no doubt that technology has transformed the way we communicate. E-mail, texting, and social media have become daily forms of communication for both personal and business topics. Identify three benefits and three disadvantages of electronic communication. Think about the issue of message richness as you consider this technology.
  • We are in the age of global business, whether the company is large or small. Cultural diversity can present some challenges to effective communication. How would you address this issue for your company? Write a paragraph that outlines some specific steps you will take.

We cannot underestimate the importance of effective communication in our personal and professional lives. The more important the message we wish to deliver, the more critical it is to communicate it clearly and ensure that it is received exactly as intended. The good news is that there is a volume of research on this topic, as the WWW search can show. We need to make an effort to understand the potential barriers that can impede the reception of our message and to learn about methods to reduce, or eliminate, those barriers.

 

Unit 3 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • communication channels
  • consensus
  • emotional disconnects
  • filtering
  • group conflict
  • group dynamics
  • group roles
  • information overload
  • interpersonal communication
  • selective perception
  • semantics
  • social loafing
  • unanimity
  • virtual teams

Unit 4: Leadership, Influence, and Leveraging Power

4a. Assess the impact of various leadership approaches and how they compare to managerial styles

1. This unit has allowed you to consider the importance and influence of leadership in an organization.

  • Take a moment to think about someone that you believe is a leader. They can be in any organization, public or private, formal or informal. Make a list of attributes you identify with leadership, such as communication skills. See how many you can list.
  • At this point, you have identified many attributes that you associate with leadership. Take the list you just compiled and highlight the attribute you think is the most important one, which may not be easy to do. Write a sentence or two explaining why you selected this attribute.
  • Volumes have been written on leadership in courses, seminars, and training programs. In one or two paragraphs, explain whether you believe that leadership can be learned or that you can't teach someone how to be a leader. State the reasons for your position.

Being a leader can help you in both your career and your personal life. If one aspires to become a leader, consider the value of identifying people with the attributes you admire and try to learn from them. It is useful in business if you can identify an executive that exhibits these leadership traits and see if he/she will agree to be a mentor.

2. In any organization, there will be leaders and managers. These roles are not necessarily the same, and given any certain set of circumstances, there may be a need for one or the other…or both.

  • You have selected someone to lead your organization. In a paragraph, describe how you would define this role. What do you want this leader to accomplish? How would you define success?
  • It is time for you to fill a vacancy in your company for a department manager. You are working on creating a job description for this position. What skills are you looking for in a manager? What do you want this manager to accomplish? Summarize your thoughts in a paragraph.
  • Given your review of leaders and managers, do you think they are the same or different? Make a list of three to five items that describe what a leader does and a list of what a manager does. Are any of the items on your list the same, or are they different? In a short paragraph, explain the difference between the two roles.

When we think of leaders, we consider individuals who can create a vision, motivate others to support the vision, encourage employees to excel at what they do, and are the founders of the company culture. Managers are responsible for creating the necessary plans to achieve the vision and providing the day-to-day direction necessary for the business to operate efficiently.

 

4b. Explain modern theories of leadership and how these relate to influencing workers

1. As you can see from the material in this unit, there is more than one type of leader. Depending on the circumstances and the individual, there can be many outcomes from a specific leadership style. The text defines four leadership styles. Let's think about these a bit more. After each definition, complete the sentence provided and use more than one sentence if needed:

  • Directive leaders provide specific directions to their employees. An example of when this style would be most appropriate is…
  • Supportive leaders provide emotional support to employees. An example of when this style would be most appropriate is…
  • Participative leaders ensure that employees are involved in making important decisions. An example of when this style would be most appropriate is… 
  • Achievement-oriented leaders set goals for employees and encourage them to reach their goals. An example of when this style would be most appropriate is… 

Much can be learned from studying the different kinds of leadership, especially for those who aspire to lead. To continue your understanding of leadership styles, conduct a web search on the following leadership styles: charismatic, transformational, servant, and authentic.

2. Good leaders are required by any organization, public or private, to achieve all their goals and objectives, create a culture of respect, and develop a team of motivated people who truly want the organization to succeed.

  • After learning about the different leadership styles, which style would you most like to emulate? Write a short paragraph explaining the reasons for your selection.
  • Now, write a paragraph on which leadership style you put on the bottom of your list. Explain why.
  • Now that you have selected a style that you believe would be effective for you, list five or six things you can do to develop into that leadership style.

Remember, leaders can be made. You can identify the skills and attributes of leadership, conduct a personal inventory to see where you may have a skills gap, and plan to acquire what is needed.

 

4c. Define and differentiate the areas of power in leadership

1. Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get what you want. You have had someone exercise power over you at some time in your life, from parents and family, teachers and professors, and supervisors at work. You may have also experienced times when you had the power. While someone may have power, it may never be used or used too much. 

  • Take a moment to think about what you have read on power. Write a few sentences on how you would define power.
  • It is also possible to use influence to gain support or consensus. In a sentence or two, provide an example of when you have influenced someone to help achieve a goal.

2. There is more than one type of power. This unit identifies five different sources of power.

  • In one or two sentences, define each source.
  • Consider a scenario where you are the team leader for a group of associates working on a class project. Provide an example of how and why you might use each power source to help the team reach its goal.

In different circumstances, one type of power may be more appropriate than another. One attribute of leadership is applying the power most likely to achieve the desired outcome. This is one of the attributes of emotional intelligence (EI).

3. In an organization, politics influences others and their actions to accomplish something useful to the individual, team, or department. Organizational politics are informal, unofficial, and sometimes behind-the-scenes efforts to sell ideas, influence an organization, increase power, or achieve other targeted objectives.

Organizations are coalitions of individuals and interest groups because they need each other's support. There are enduring differences among individuals and groups in values, preferences, beliefs, information, and perception of reality. Most important decisions in organizations involve allocating scarce resources: decisions about who gets what. Because of scarce resources and enduring differences, conflict is central to organizational dynamics, and power is the most important resource. Organizational goals and decisions emerge from bargaining, negotiating, and jockeying for positions among members of different coalitions.

  • In your own words, write a short paragraph on what organizational politics means to you. If you can, provide an example of organizational politics that you have experienced.
  • In any organization, both public and private, organizational politics exist. Write one or two sentences on a positive impact on the political environment and a negative one.

 

Unit 4 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • achievement-oriented leaders
  • authentic leadership
  • charismatic leadership
  • directive leaders
  • influence
  • leadership
  • organizational politics
  • participative leaders
  • power
  • servant leadership
  • supportive leaders
  • transformational leadership

Unit 5: Conflict Management and Negotiations

5a. Describe the various types of conflict

1. In any organization, regardless of size or purpose, the possibility of having a conflict exists between or among the members of the organization. Conflict is a process that involves people disagreeing. Conflict can be distracting, but is all conflict something to be avoided? It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • This unit presents you with three types of conflict: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group conflict. Review the discussion on each type of conflict, and write a one-sentence definition for each.
  • Refer to the definitions that you just completed. Can you describe an experience that you had with each type or witnessed occurring in others in a sentence or two?
  • Conflicts can be either functional or dysfunctional. That is, they can have a negative or a positive impact n an organization. Write a brief paragraph describing the negatives of conflict and one describing a positive result.

In some instances, conflict can mean a difference of opinion or someone saying "I don't agree with you on this point". If this conflict results in an exchange of opinions and ideas, the result may be improved. It can delay a project or result in inferior decisions if it degenerates.

2. Conflicts can occur in any organization. If we are concerned with the potential negative effects of conflict, we will want to minimize conflict causes. The following chart depicts six possible causes of conflicts.

  • Take a moment and write a one- or two-sentence definition of each cause.
  • If you were a business manager, can you identify a specific action you would take to minimize the potential risk of a conflict resulting from each of these causes?
  • While internal conflicts can negatively affect an organization, external conflicts may be even more problematic. Can you identify three external sources of conflict that could occur? Can you identify a possible solution for each one?

Conflict must be identified quickly and managed for any organization, group, or team. We want to minimize dysfunctional conflict and its' negative impacts and utilize functional conflict to produce better outcomes. Conflict management can be integrated into an organization's strategy, and processes for dealing with conflict can be implemented.

 

5b. Explain how to effectively manage conflict and resolve conflict with others

Let's continue with the idea of conflict management. This is a process for identifying and resolving conflicts effectively that limits any disruption of the organization's tasks. For example, conflicts can sometimes become quite personal, instead of simply disagreements about issues. Conflict management techniques can help refocus people's attention back to the issues. Note that conflicts can grow from a simple misunderstanding to a verbal or physical abuse level if no intervention occurs.

  • There are a few ways that we handle conflict. This chart plots the different techniques by evaluating the level of cooperation between conflicting parties versus competitiveness. In one or two sentences, define each technique.

 

  • Pick one of these techniques, and in a paragraph or two, describe a time you used the technique to address a conflict and explain if it was successful or not. Would you use this technique again? If not, explain why.
  • Pick one of the listed techniques you have not used to address a conflict. Think about a case where you might use this technique, and write a brief paragraph explaining how you would use it.
  • Since we live and work in a diversified global market, can you identify potential conflicts that might occur due to cultural differences? Gender differences? Age differences? Make a list of five or six of these potential conflicts.

If you are planning on being proactive in planning to include a conflict management plan for your organization, many resources can help. You may consider training programs for the members of your organization. Some consulting firms can come into your organization and aid in developing plans. You can also ensure that many communication channels are available to people to express a concern, point out a problem, or seek help.

 

5c. Summarize and employ negotiation strategies

Many conflicts may be resolved through the process of negotiation. Negotiations typically require that the parties involved discuss the point(s) of conflict, and through varying degrees of give and take, which may utilize an independent, outside referee, to reach an accommodation. This chart represents the stages of the negotiation process:

  • First, describe each phase in the negotiation process in a sentence or two.
  • Let's consider a scenario describing a workplace conflict. You are the department manager, and two of your employees have responded to your request to identify a solution to a customer issue. Only one resolution can be implemented, and there is a conflict between the employees on whose idea should be used. Briefly explain how you might use the negotiation phases to resolve this conflict.
  • Have you ever been involved in a conflict with a classmate, co-worker, or teammate? How did you resolve this conflict? Did the resolution go through any of the listed phases of negotiation?

As discussed, there are several ways to address conflicts in an organization. An organization must be familiar with many techniques to be effective at limiting conflicts. Different levels of conflict will require a different response. Most of us would agree that it is better to have a win-win outcome, if possible, rather than a win-lose outcome.

 

Unit 5 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • accommodation
  • conflict management
  • interpersonal conflict
  • intrapersonal conflict
  • negotiation

Unit 6: Organizational Culture, Diversity, and Managing Change

6a. Analyze corporate structures and explain how and why organizations divide their tasks

1. Organizational structure considers how best to organize individuals, departments, and/or teams to be able to work together efficiently and to be able to reach the company's goals. Structures will vary by number of considerations, such as size, product/service, physical facility layout, number of departments, and the kind of culture you want to develop for your business.

  • Organizations will usually be structured as either centralized or decentralized. This describes the decision-making process and information flow for the business. In one or two sentences, define what is meant by centralized and decentralized control.
  • Based on your definitions, briefly design the pros and cons of each type of structure.
  • Write a brief paragraph on which structure you prefer and explain why.
  • Organizations can also have a formal or informal structure. Briefly explain what is meant by each type. Can you identify which structure is more appealing and why based on what you have written?

The decisions on what structure should be designed for any business need to consider many factors. What kind of culture is preferred for the organization? For example, if a team-based organization is preferred, the office's layout should support large, open areas where teams can meet. We will also think about the decision-making process and the amount of control that will need to be exercised. Will the management team make most of the decisions and pass them down through the organization, or will they empower employees to make more decisions?

2. Many of us are familiar with the classic organizational chart representation of a business' operation.

This shows us the various departments in the firm, as well as identifies the management structure. As you can imagine, the organization charts can grow and expand as firms grow, sometimes involving dozens of levels.

  • Two terms that have become a part of today's business vocabulary are spans of control and flattening organizations. Define both terms in a few sentences.
  • In a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages and disadvantages of flattening the organization. What do you think about this direction?
  • Again, in a short paragraph, explain the potential advantages and disadvantages of increasing or decreasing the span of control. How should a business owner think about this process?

3. As companies continue to evaluate ways to improve performance and increase the satisfaction levels of shareholders, employees, and customers, new forms of organizational structure continue to emerge. Many changes in structure have resulted from the continuing study of organizational behavior and applying the findings to current business operations.

  • Define the following terms in one or two sentences: matrix organization, boundaryless organization, and learning organizations.
  • Which of the structures that you just defined do you find most interesting? In a short sentence, explain why.
  • Briefly define the terms: cross-functional, interdepartmental, and matrix organizations. Have you ever been involved in one of these structures for a task or assignment? In a short paragraph, discuss your experience. If you haven't experienced any of these structures, tell us which one you would like to try and why.
  • In one or two paragraphs, compare and contrast the mechanistic organization and the organic organization.

As you have seen, there are many choices in how an organization can be structured. The key is to consider all those choices and decide based on the most beneficial structure for the members of your organization and your other stakeholders.

 

6b. Describe organizational change by analyzing methods and appropriate skills for accomplishing successful organizational changes

1. If there is one certainty in business, it is that the future is uncertain, or in other words, change is inevitable. Changes occur in the skills and work ethics of employees and the expectations of customers. Change is driven by the workforce, technology, the economy, world trends, competitor actions, and social trends. That's why businesses today need to adapt to change and move quickly to meet new requirements. However, change is not so easy to achieve.

  • Although change can sometimes occur unexpectedly, in most cases, it results from an organization purposely deciding that a change is required. Thinking about your organization's members and the impact that changes can have on them, how will you go about introducing the change? Write a brief memo to the organization describing your decision to effect a change.
  • You are in an organization that consists of a formal, centralized structure. Your major competitor is releasing new products at a much faster rate than you, and your share of the market is decreasing. Can you suggest an organizational change that might address this issue? Explain your choice in one or two paragraphs.

2. In many instances, change can hurt the members of an organization. This impact can result in a concern or active resistance to change. Individuals can fear what a change may mean to their continued employment, opportunities for advancement, or compensation. We want our employees to support our decisions actively.

  • Understanding that the members of your organization will have real concerns regarding change, list five or six steps that you could take to minimize their concerns.
  • In addition to addressing your employees' concerns about change, you would like them to understand why the change is needed and support it. Can you identify two or three steps that you might take to gain enthusiastic support from these members? Consider the following diagram as you frame your answer.

3. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show people what appropriate and inappropriate behavior is. The culture of an organization should reinforce the importance of and commitment to the organization's values. Dynamic, growing, and successful organizations create and sustain a culture that enables all the organization members to achieve their individual and group goals.

  • Write a brief description, one or two sentences, that describes the three levels of organizational culture, i.e., assumptions, values, and artifacts.
  • From your experience, provide an example of one of the levels of organizational culture. How important was this example to your organizational experience? Explain in one or two paragraphs.
  • The following diagram depicts the various dimensions of organizational culture. Different cultures have varying levels of these dimensions. In one or two sentences, define each of the dimensions of organizational culture.

  • Select any two dimensions and write a short paragraph on each, explaining how each of these dimensions could positively impact the firm's culture.
  • Select one of these dimensions and describe how you might increase this dimension in an organization. In a paragraph, list some specific action items that you could take to accomplish this.

4. An organization's culture typically begins with the vision of the group's founder. The starting point might be found in the organization's vision statement, which tells the internal and external stakeholders what the organization believes in. The culture will influence many factors, including goals and objectives, employees, leadership, and rewards and punishments. To be effective, the culture must be assessed to verify that it is still true to the organization's vision, and adjustments must be made if it is not.

  • To ensure that the culture is understood and supported by the organization's members, care should be taken to bring in new members that are a good fit for the group. If you oversaw talent management, what would you consider important traits in selecting new members for your organization? Make a list of three to five attributes that you would consider and provide a brief explanation as to why they are important.
  • Now, let's consider employees who have been with the organization for a few years. Can you identify two or three things you could do to remind and/or reinforce the desired culture? Provide a one- or two-sentence explanation of why you think these things are important.

For an organization's culture to positively contribute to its success, it must create a sense of belonging for all its members. It should influence the desired behaviors and commitments required to achieve the organization's goals.

 

Unit 6 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • active resistance
  • artifacts
  • assumptions
  • boundaryless organizations
  • change management
  • founders
  • learning organization
  • matrix organizations
  • mechanistic structure
  • organic structure
  • organizational culture
  • organizational structure
  • reward systems
  • vision statement