Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of how individuals and groups behave in an organizational setup. OB can be used to find a path to solving many different behavioral problems that can occur in the workplace. However, OB isn’t only useful for individual behavior issues. It can also be used to pinpoint areas where the organization itself has problems with overall behavior, such as improper reporting habits or company culture.

Core Topics of Organizational Behavior

There are several core topics of organizational behavior, including individual, personality, abilities, attitude, job satisfaction, learning capacity, group and organization. Running a successful company that effectively manages employees will likely require a comprehension of each.

Individual Organizational Behavior

How the individual acts within your organization can have lasting effects. Even if your company is enormous, how each individual acts can give you incredible insight on the effectiveness of your policies. For example, if you notice that employees are not entering reports until the very end of the day or the next day, you may wish to reconsider the rules you put in place for timelines.

The overall goal of OB is to use data to apply new methods to improve your organization’s relationships, efficiency and the leadership skills of your management teams. Studying the behavior of individuals may seem to be a waste of resources. However, the theories and concepts that are used in studying an individual are key to effective management. Reading articles on organizational behavior in the workplace or organizational behavior and management may also prove helpful.

Personality and Organizational Behavior Topics

As a manager, you should have a firm understanding of the character of your direct reports. This includes knowing their personalities, how they react to certain events and how they work best.

Some people, for example, need to sit next to others to have a sounding board or feel a social connection, while others work best alone and without interruption. Can your employee work easily on his own and find tasks to complete without oversight? Does another employee need hand holding more than others? Knowing how your employees interface with each other is imperative for success with OB.

Abilities and Organizational Behavior

Do you have an employee whom you can easily see walking up the management track? Do you have another who looks for and actively seeks out new challenges to build new skills? Perhaps you also have an employee who doesn’t have an accurate picture of her abilities.

How you approach each of these employees should be different, and knowing how to do so is important for OB and your organization’s employee satisfaction.

Attitude and Organizational Behavior

Do you have an employee who is somewhat volatile but otherwise good at his work? Is another employee the sort of person who just wants to do her job and then go home? How your employees approach work and each other can either help or hinder your group and organization.

Job Satisfaction and OB

Is your organization having trouble keeping key employees? Do you regularly ask employees about how they feel about their jobs and their co-workers? What is the overall happiness level of your staff?

Knowing whether people are happy at work is extremely important, not just in terms of staff retention but also when it comes to how well employees perform their tasks on a daily basis.

Learning Capacity and OB

Some employees likely will not expand their skills or grow in their position no matter what you do. Others may go far and will need to be challenged often to continue to feel high levels of job satisfaction. This aspect of OB is both within and outside of a manager’s control, but it is important to understand each employee’s learning capacity so you can react accordingly.

Group Organizational Behavior

An expansion of the individual is the group of which they are a part. Groups can consist of a social group and a work group. Many times, these are the same thing, but it is important to note that they may not be.

Looking to see how groups interface is an excellent way to figure out if you may have issues within one particular group. Without a comprehensive audit of how groups behave, you may miss these issues until they cause problems within your organization as a whole.

Behavior and the Organization as a Whole

An organization is comprised of both individuals and groups. It stands to reason, then, that problems you see at individual and group levels can have a significant impact at the organizational level as well.

When considering the overall organization, you may realize, for instance, that you are giving one group too much time to complete a task and another group too little time. These stresses can reduce morale within your organization and could foster significant feelings of dissatisfaction.