Chapter 8: Foundations of Individual Behavior

After reading this chapter students should be able to:
1. Identify the focus and goals of organizational behavior (OB).
2. Explain the role that attitudes play in job performance.
3. Describe different personality theories.
4. Describe perception and the factors that influence it.
5. Discuss learning theories and their relevance in shaping behavior.
6. Discuss contemporary issues in OB.
Opening Vignette—Towels, Severance, and Morale... Oh My
For employees who biked to work through the often-drizzly weather in Seattle, the provided towels had
become an entitlement. However, one day when employees came to work, the towels were gone. The
company’s human resources manager thought removing the towels, which had been done as a cost-saving
measure, “wouldn’t even be a blip.” But it was. Lisa Brummel, a successful Microsoft product
development manager with no HR experience, was tapped to become the new HR chief. Her mandate:
Improve the mood around here. And Lisa, who had always been a strong people leader, stepped up to do
just that.
In addition to reinstating the towels (a no-brainer), Lisa looked for other ways that the company could
reshape HR at Microsoft. And in doing so, she brought a unique and insightful understanding of human
behavior. With Lisa at the helm of HR, the company has made progress in its people policies. Yet,
sometimes a decision coming out of One Microsoft Way (company headquarters) still makes you scratch
your head and wonder why. The most recent was when 25 recently laid-off employees were asked to
return an overpayment of severance pay. Lisa made the calls to the employees involved and said that the
company hadn’t handled the situation in a “thoughtful manner” and the money was theirs to keep. Like
any successful manager, Lisa recognizes the importance of people skills.
Teaching Tips
1. From the opening vignette, what do you learn about people?
2. Why do you think morale was low at Microsoft?
3. What happens when employees have the wrong attitude? Discuss
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A. Organizational Behavior
1. OB is concerned specifically with the actions of people at work.
2. Addresses some issues that are not obvious, such as informal elements. (See Exhibit 8-1.)
B. What Is the Focus of Organizational Behavior?
1. First, OB looks at individual behavior.
a) Psychologists are primary contributors.
b) Includes personality, perception, learning, and motivation.
2. Second, OB is concerned with group behavior.
a) Sociologists and social psychologists are primary contributors.
b) Includes norms, roles, team building, and conflict.
3. Finally, OB looks at organizational aspects including structure, culture, and human
resource policies and practices.
C. What Are the Goals of Organizational Behavior?
1. To explain, predict and influence behavior.
2. The manager needs to explain why employees engage in some behaviors rather than others
and to predict how employees will respond to various actions by the manager.
3. The emphasis will be on employee productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.
4. Organizational citizenship—a fourth type of behavior becoming important in determining
employee performance.
a) Discretionary behavior that's not directly part of an employee’s formal job description.
b) Reflects behaviors that promote the effective functioning of the organization.
c) Examples, helping others on one’s work team, volunteering for extra job activities,
avoiding unnecessary conflicts, making constructive statements about one’s work
group and the overall organization.
5. Job satisfaction—not a behavior—it’s an attitude.
a) An employee’s attitude may be linked to his or her productivity, absenteeism, and
6. Workplace misbehavior is any intentional employee behavior that is potentially harmful to
the organization or individuals within the organization.
7. Workplace misbehavior shows up in organizations in four ways: deviance, aggression,
antisocial behavior, and violence.
Teaching Notes
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
1. Attitudes are evaluative statements—favorable or unfavorable—concerning objects,
people, or events.
a) They reflect how an individual feels about something.
B. What Are The Three Components of an Attitude?
1. An attitude is made up of three components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral.
C. What Attitudes Might Employees Hold?
1. The cognitive component consists of a person’s beliefs, opinions, knowledge, and
information held by a person.
2. The affective component of an attitude is the emotional, or feeling, segment of an attitude.
a) Cognition and affect can lead to behavioral outcomes.
3. The behavioral component of an attitude refers to an intention to behave in a certain way.
4. The three most important job-related attitudes are job involvement, organizational
commitment and employee engagement.
a) Job involvement is the degree to which an employee identifies with his or her job,
actively participates in it, and considers job performance important to his or her selfworth.
b) Organizational commitment represents an employee’s orientation toward the
organization in terms of his or her loyalty to, identification with, and involvement in
the organization.
c) Employee engagement, which is when employees are connected to, satisfied with, and
enthusiastic about their jobs. (See Exhibit 8-2).
D. Do an Individual’s Attitude and Behavior Need to be Consistent?
1. People change what they say so that it doesn’t contradict what they do.
2. People seek consistency among their attitudes and between their attitudes and their
3. Individuals try to reconcile differing attitudes and align their attitudes and behavior so that
they appear rational and consistent.
E. What Is Cognitive Dissonance Theory?
1. Leon Festinger, in the late 1950s, proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance.
2. This theory sought to explain the relationship between attitudes and behavior.
a) Dissonance in this case means inconsistency.
b) Cognitive dissonance refers to any incompatibility that an individual might perceive
between attitudes or between his or her behavior and attitudes.
3. Festinger argued that any form of inconsistency is uncomfortable and that individuals will
attempt to reduce the dissonance and the discomfort.
4. Festinger proposed that the desire to reduce dissonance is determined by:
a) the importance of the elements creating the dissonance.
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b) the degree of influence the individual believes he or she has over the elements.
c) the rewards that may be involved.
5. Examples
a) The factors creating the dissonance are relatively unimportant and the resulting
pressure to correct the imbalance would be low.
(1) Case of corporate manager—Tracey Ford .
b) The degree of influence that individuals believe they have over the elements also will
have an impact on how they will react to the dissonance.
(1) If they perceive the dissonance to be uncontrollable, they are less likely to feel a need
for an attitude change.
(2) If the dissonance-producing behaviors were required by the boss’s directive, the
pressure to reduce dissonance would be less than if the behavior were performed
6. These moderating factors suggest that just because individuals experience dissonance, they
will not necessarily move directly toward reduction of the dissonance.
7. Rewards also influence the degree to which individuals are motivated to reduce
a) High dissonance, when accompanied by high rewards, tends to reduce the tension
inherent in the dissonance.
8. Just because individuals experience dissonance, they will not necessarily move toward
consistency—toward reduction of the dissonance.
a) The individual will not be under great tension to reduce the dissonance if:
(1) The issues underlying the dissonance are of minimal importance.
(2) An individual perceives that the dissonance is externally imposed and is substantially
(3) Rewards are significant enough to offset the dissonance.
F. How Can an Understanding of Attitudes Help Managers Be More Effective?
1. There is relatively strong evidence that committed and satisfied employees have low rates
of turnover and absenteeism.
2. Managers should do those things that generate positive job attitudes and manage
a) The pressure to reduce the dissonance is lessened when the employee perceives that
the dissonance is externally imposed and uncontrollable.
b) The pressure is also lessened if rewards are significant enough to offset the
3. But, are happy workers more productive?
4. Past research studies suggested that satisfied employees were highly productive.
a) In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, management did things that would create a “caring”
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
5. But their effect on productivity was questioned.
6. Most researchers perceived that managers would get better results by directing their
attention primarily to what would help employees become more productive.
a) Successful job performance should then lead to feelings of accomplishment, increased
verbal recognition, increased pay and promotions opportunities, and other rewards—
all desirable outcomes—which then lead to satisfaction with the job.
Teaching Notes
A. Introduction
1. An individual’s personality is a unique combination of emotional, thought, and behavioral
patterns that affect how a person reacts to situations and interacts with others.
B. Can Personality Predict Behavior?
1. An individual’s personality is the combination of the psychological traits that characterize
a person.
2. Researchers attempted to focus specifically on which traits identify sources of one’s
3. Two widely recognized efforts.
a) The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
b) The Big Five model of personality.
4. What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
a) One of the more widely used methods of identifying personalities.
b) Uses four dimensions of personality to identify 16 different personality types based on
the responses to an approximately 100-item questionnaire. (See Exhibit 8-3.)
(1) More than 2 million individuals each year in the United States alone take the MBTI.
c) The sixteen personality types are based on the four dimensions noted in Exhibit 8-3.
d) Extroversion versus introversion (EI).
(1) The EI dimension measures an individual’s orientation toward the inner world of
ideas (I) or the external world of the environment (E).
e) Sensing versus intuitive (SN).
(1) The sensing-intuitive dimension indicates an individual’s reliance on information
gathered from the external world (S) or from the world of ideas (N).
f) Thinking versus feeling (TF).
(1) Thinking-feeling reflects one’s preference for evaluating information in an analytical
manner (T) or on the basis of values and beliefs (F).
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g) Judging versus perceiving (JP).
(1) Judging-perceiving index reflects an attitude toward the external world that is either
task completion oriented (J) or information seeking (P).
h) Proponents of the instrument believe that personality types influence the way people
interact and solve problems.
5. What is the Big Five model of personality?
a) The Big Five factors are:
(1) Extroversion—the degree to which someone is sociable, talkative, and assertive.
(2) Agreeableness—the degree to which someone is good-natured, cooperative, and
(3) Conscientiousness—the degree to which someone is responsible, dependable,
persistent, and achievement oriented.
(4) Emotional stability—the degree to which someone is calm, enthusiastic, and secure
(positive), or tense, nervous, depressed, and insecure (negative).
(5) Openness to experience—the degree to which someone is imaginative, artistically
sensitive, and intellectual.
b) Research has shown important relationships between these dimensions and job
(1) One study reviewed five categories of occupations: professionals, managers, sales,
and semiskilled and skilled employees.
(2) Job performance was defined in terms of employee performance ratings, training
competency, and personnel data such as salary level.
(3) The results of the study showed that conscientiousness predicted job performance for
all five occupational groups.
(4) Predictions for the other personality dimensions depended on the situation and the
occupational group.
(a) Extroversion predicted performance in managerial and sales positions.
(b) Openness to experience was found to be important in predicting training
(c) Emotional security was not positively related to job performance.
6. What is emotional intelligence?
a) According to underlying research on emotional intelligence, people who understand
their own emotions and are good at reading others’ emotions may be more effective in
their jobs.
b) Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an assortment of noncognitive skills, capabilities,
and competencies that influence a person’s ability to cope with environmental
demands and pressures.
c) EI is composed of five dimensions.
(1) Self-awareness—being aware of what you’re feeling;
(2) Self-management—the ability to manage your own emotions and impulses;
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
(3) Self-motivation—the ability to persist in the face of setbacks and failures;
(4) Empathy—the ability to sense how others are feeling;
(5) Social skills—the ability to handle the emotions of others.
d) Several studies suggest EI may play an important role in job performance.
(1) One study looked at the characteristics of Bell Lab engineers rated as stars by their
(a) Scientists concluded it was EI, not academic IQ, that characterized high
(2) A second study of Air Force recruiters generated similar findings—top performing
recruiters exhibited high levels of EI.
(3) Examples, Air Force, American Express, Cooperative Printing in Minneapolis.
e) 56 percent of human resources managers felt that EI was very important or moderately
important to career advancement.
C. Can Personality Traits Predict Practical Work-Related Behaviors?
1. Five personality traits have proven most powerful in explaining individual behavior in
2. Locus of control.
a) Who has control over an individual’s behavior?
b) An internal locus of control—people believe that they control their fate.
(1) Internals explain a performance evaluation in terms of their own action.
c) An external locus of control—people believe that their lives are controlled by outside
(1) Externals blame a poor performance evaluation on events outside their control (e.g.,
their boss’s prejudice, their coworkers, etc.).
3. Machiavellianism (“Mach”).
a) Named after Niccolo Machiavelli who provided instruction in the 16th century on how
to gain and manipulate power.
b) A high “Mach” is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance, believes that ends can
justify means, and is found to have beliefs that are less ethical.
c) “If it works, use it” is consistent with a high Mach perspective.
d) High Machs are productive in jobs that require bargaining skills or that have
substantial rewards for winning.
4. Self-esteem (SE).
a) People differ in the degree to which they like or dislike themselves.
b) Research suggests that self-esteem is directly related to expectations for success.
(1) High SEs believe that they possess the ability to succeed at work, take more risks in
job selection, and are more likely to choose unconventional jobs.
c) Low SEs are more susceptible to external influence than are high SEs.
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(1) In managerial positions, low SEs will tend to be concerned with pleasing others and
be less likely to take unpopular stands.
d) Relationship to job satisfaction—high SEs are more satisfied with their jobs.
5. Self-monitoring.
a) An individual’s ability to adjust his or her behavior to external, situational factors.
b) Individuals high in self-monitoring can show considerable adaptability.
c) They are highly sensitive to external cues and can behave differently in different
(1) High self-monitors are capable of presenting striking contradictions between their
public persona and their private selves.
d) Low self-monitors are behaviorally consistent between who they are and what they do.
e) High self-monitors pay closer attention to the behavior of others and are more capable
of conforming, which might help them be more successful in managerial positions that
require multiple, even contradicting, roles.
6. Propensity for risk taking.
a) This preference to assume or avoid risk impacts how long it takes individuals to make
a decision and how much information they require.
b) In one classic study, high-risk-taking managers made more rapid decisions and used
less information in making their choices than did the low-risk-taking managers.
(1) Decision accuracy was the same for both groups.
c) It is generally correct to conclude that managers in organizations are risk-aversive.
d) It makes sense to recognize that there are individual differences on propensity for
being risk-aversive and to consider aligning risk-taking propensity with specific job
Right or Wrong?
It‘s been called the “desperation hustle.” Employees who are “anxious about layoffs want to look
irreplaceable.” So they clean up their act. Those who might not have paid much attention to their manner
of dress now do. Those who were mouthy and argumentative are now quiet and compliant. Those who
used to “watch the clock” are now the last to leave. The fear is there and it’s noticeable. “Managing that
fear can be challenging.”
1. What ethical issues might arise for both employees and for managers?
2. How could managers approach these circumstances ethically?
D. How Do We Match Personalities and Jobs?
1. Efforts have been made to match the proper personalities with the proper jobs.
2. The best-documented personality-job fit theory by psychologist John Holland states that
an employee’s satisfaction with the job, as well as the propensity to leave that job, depends
on the degree to which the individual’s personality matches his or her occupational
3. Holland identified six basic personality types.
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
4. The theory argues that satisfaction is highest and turnover lowest when personality and
occupation match.
5. Three key points of Holland’s model.
a) There do appear to be intrinsic differences in personality among individuals;
b) There are different types of jobs; and,
c) People in job environments congruent with their personality types should be more
satisfied and less likely to resign voluntarily than should people in incongruent jobs.
E. Do Personality Attributes Differ Across Cultures?
1. There certainly are no dominant personality types for a given country.
2. Yet a country’s culture should influence the dominant personality characteristics of its
3. Example, locus of control.
a) North Americans believe that they can dominate their environment.
b) Those in Middle Eastern countries believe that life is essentially pre-determined.
F. How Can an Understanding of Personality Help Managers Be More Effective?
1. Over 62 percent of companies are using personality tests when recruiting and hiring.
a) Managers are likely to have higher-performing and more-satisfied employees if
consideration is given to matching personalities with jobs.
A. Defined
1. Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory
impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
2. Research demonstrates that individuals may look at the same thing yet perceive it
a) None of us actually sees reality.
b) We interpret what we see and call it reality.
c) We act according to our perceptions.
B. What Influences Perception?
1. A number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception.
2. They reside in the perceiver, in the object or target being perceived, or in the context of the
situation in which the perception is made.
3. The individual’s personal characteristics will heavily influence the interpretation.
a) His or her attitudes, personality, motives, interests, past experiences, and expectations.
4. Targets are not looked at in isolation; background also influences perception as does our
tendency to group close things and similar things together. (See Exhibit 8-5.)
5. The context in which we see objects or events is also important.
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a) Time of perception as well as location, lighting, temperature, and other situational
factors can influence attention.
C. How Do Managers Judge Employees?
1. Much of the research on perception is directed at inanimate objects.
2. Our perceptions of people differ from our perceptions of inanimate objects because we
make inferences about the actions of people that we don’t make about inanimate objects.
3. When we observe people, we attempt to develop explanations of why they behave in
certain ways.
4. These assumptions have led researchers to develop attribution theory.
5. What is attribution theory?
a) Proposed to develop explanations of how we judge people differently depending on
what meaning we attribute to a given behavior.
b) Suggests that when we observe an individual’s behavior, we attempt to determine
whether it was internally or externally caused.
(1) Internally caused behaviors are under individual control.
(2) Externally caused behavior results from outside causes.
6. That determination of whether an individual’s behavior is internally or externally caused
depends on three factors: distinctiveness, consensus, and consistency.
a) Distinctiveness—whether an individual displays a behavior in many situations or just
(1) What we want to know is whether this behavior is unusual.
(2) If it is unusual, the observer likely gives the behavior an external attribution.
(3) If this action is not unique, it will probably be judged as internal.
b) Everyone faced with a similar situation responds in the same way, we say the behavior
shows consensus.
(1) If consensus is high, an external attribution is often assumed.
(2) If not, the reason would be internal.
c) A manager looks for consistency in an employee’s actions.
(1) Does the individual engage in the behaviors regularly and consistently?
(2) The more consistent the behavior, the more inclination to attribute it to internal
7. Exhibit 8-6 summarizes the key elements in attribution theory.
8. Can attributions be distorted?
a) Errors or biases distort attributions.
b) When we make judgments about the behavior of other people, we have a tendency to
underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of
internal or personal factors.
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
(1) This is the fundamental attribution error.
(2) Can explain why a sales manager may be prone to attribute the poor performance of
the sales agents to laziness rather than to the innovative product line introduced by a
c) There is also a tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal
factors such as ability or effort, while putting the blame for failure on external factors
such as luck.
(1) This is called the self-serving bias.
(2) Suggests that feedback provided to employees in performance reviews will be
predictably distorted by them, whether it is positive or negative.
D. How Can an Understanding of Perceptions Help Managers Be More Effective?
1. Managers need to recognize that their employees react to perceptions, not to reality.
a) Whether a manager’s appraisal of an employee is actually objective and unbiased or
whether the organization’s wage levels are actually among the highest in the industry
is less relevant than what employees perceive.
b) Employees behave as if the conditions they perceive actually exist.
2. Managers should pay close attention to how employees perceive both their jobs and
management practices.
3. Managers use a number of shortcuts to judge others.
4. Individuals develop techniques for making the perceiving and interpreting of what others
do more manageable.
5. These techniques are frequently valuable—allow us to make accurate perceptions rapidly
and provide valid data for making predictions.
6. These techniques are not foolproof—they can and do get us into trouble.
a) To understand the distortions, see Managing Diversity - All About Shortcuts.
7. Individuals cannot assimilate all they observe, so they are selective, they 'speed read'.
8. Assumed similarity. It is easy to judge others if we assume that they are similar to us, the
'like me' effect.
9. Stereotyping—we judge someone on the basis of our perception of a group to which he or
she belongs.
a) When stereotypes have no foundation, they distort judgments.
10. The halo effect—forming a general impression about an individual on the basis of a single
characteristic such as intelligence, sociability, or appearance. (See Exhibit 8-7).
Teaching Notes
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A. Defined
1. The average person's view—“it’s what we did when we went to school.”
2. A psychologist’s definition of learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior
that occurs as a result of experience.
3. Two popular theories—operant conditioning and social learning theory.
B. What Is Operant Conditioning?
1. Behavior is a function of its consequences.
2. People behave to get something they want or to avoid something they don’t want.
a) Operant behavior is voluntary or learned rather than reflexive or unlearned behavior.
b) Reinforcement strengthens a behavior and increases the likelihood that it will be
3. Building on earlier work, B. F. Skinner expanded our knowledge of operant conditioning.
a) Behavior is assumed to be determined from without (learned).
b) Causing pleasing consequences to follow a specific form of behavior will increase the
frequency of that behavior.
c) Rewards are most effective if they immediately follow the desired response.
d) Behavior that is not rewarded, or is punished, is less likely to be repeated.
4. Any situation in which it is either explicitly stated or implicitly suggested that
reinforcements are contingent on some action on your part involves operant learning.
5. If a behavior fails to be positively reinforced, the probability that the behavior will be
repeated declines.
C. What Is Social Learning Theory?
1. Learning through both observation and direct experience is social learning theory.
2. Social learning is an extension of operant conditioning. It assumes that behavior is a
function of consequences, but it also acknowledges the existence of observational learning
and the importance of perception in learning.
3. People respond to how they perceive and define consequences, not to the objective
consequences themselves.
4. The influence of models is central to the social learning viewpoint.
5. Four processes determine the influence that a model will have on an individual.
a) Attentional processes—people learn when they recognize and pay attention to a
model’s critical features.
b) Retention processes—a model’s influence depends on how well the individual
remembers the model’s action.
c) Motor reproduction processes—the watching must be converted to doing.
d) Reinforcement processes—individuals will be motivated to exhibit the modeled
behavior if positive incentives or rewards are provided.
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
From the Past to the Present
Why does hearing Christmas carols evoke pleasant memories of childhood? Classical conditioning theory
would say it’s because the songs are associated with a festive holiday spirit and make us remember all the
fun and excitement. However, classical conditioning is a passive theory. As such, it can explain simple
reflexive behavior, but most behavior by people at work is voluntary rather than reflexive; that is,
employees choose to arrive at work on time, ask their boss for help with some problem, or “goof off”
when no one is watching. A better explanation for behavior is operant conditioning. Operant conditioning
says that people behave the way they do so they can get something they want or avoid something they
don’t want. It’s voluntary or learned behavior. Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner first identified the
process of operant conditioning and he argued that creating pleasing consequences to follow specific
forms of behavior would increase the frequency of that behavior. Skinner demonstrated that people will
most likely engage in desired behaviors if they’re positively reinforced. Operant conditioning can be seen
in work settings as well and smart managers quickly recognize that they can use operant conditioning to
shape employees’ behaviors to get work done in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
D. How Can Managers Shape Behavior?
1. Managers should be concerned with how they can teach employees to behave in ways that
most benefit the organization.
2. Managers often attempt to mold individuals by guiding their learning in graduated steps.
a) This is shaping behavior. (See Developing Your Skill at Shaping Behavior.)
3. We shape behavior by systematically reinforcing each successive step that moves the
individual closer to the desired response.
4. There are four ways in which to shape behavior.
a) Positive reinforcement—when a response is followed with something pleasant.
b) Negative reinforcement—rewarding a response with the termination or withdrawal of
something pleasant.
c) Punishment—penalizes undesirable behavior.
d) Extinction—eliminating any reinforcement that is maintaining a behavior.
5. Both positive and negative reinforcement result in learning; they strengthen a desired
response and increase the probability of repetition.
6. Both punishment and extinction also result in learning; however, they weaken behavior
and tend to decrease its subsequent frequency.
E. How Can an Understanding of Learning Help Managers Be More Effective?
1. Employees must continually learn on the job.
a) Managers need to decide whether they are going to let employee learning occur
randomly or whether they are going to manage learning through rewards they allocate
and examples they set.
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Developing Your Shaping Behavior Skill
About the Skill
In today’s dynamic work environments, learning is continual. But this learning shouldn’t be done in
isolation or without any guidance. Most employees need to be shown what is expected of them on the
job. As a manager, you must teach your employees the behaviors that are most critical to their, and the
organization’s success.
Steps in Practicing the Skill
Identify the critical behaviors that have a significant impact on an employee’s performance.
Establish a baseline of performance.
Analyze contributing factors to performance and their consequences.
Develop a “shaping” strategy.
Apply the appropriate strategy.
Measure the change that has occurred.
Reinforce desired behaviors.
Practicing the Skill
a) Imagine that your assistant is ideal in all respects but one—he or she is hopeless at taking phone
messages for you when you are not in the office. Since you are often in training sessions and the calls
are sales leads you are anxious to follow up, you have identified taking accurate messages as a highimpact behavior for your assistant.
b) Focus on Steps 3 and 4, and devise a way to shape your assistant’s behavior. Identify some factors
that might contribute to his or her failure to take messages—these could range from a heavy workload
to a poor understanding of the task’s importance (you can rule out insubordination). Then develop a
shaping strategy by determining what you can change—the available technology, the task itself, the
structure of the job, or some other element of performance.
c) Now plan your intervention, a brief meeting with your assistant in which you explain the change you
expect. Recruit a friend to help you role play your intervention. Do you think you would succeed in a
real situation?
Teaching tips
Conduct this exercise in class.
Either as a class or in small groups have students complete Steps 1-6.
Inform students that you will ask two groups to “fishbowl” their intervention.
Have two groups, one immediately after the other, conduct the intervention in front of the class.
As a class, critique the exercise suggesting first what was done right and then what could have been
done better.
6. Use the critique to model behavioral feedback and direct students’ feedback into that form
Teaching Notes
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
A. Introduction
1. It is clear at this point that managers need to understand how and why employees behave
the way they do.
B. How Do Generational Differences Affect the Workplace?
1. Generation Y, are 70 million people who are embarking on their careers, taking their an
increasingly multigenerational workplace.
2. Gen Y comprises those individuals born from about 1982 to 1997.
3. They’re very independent and tech savvy. (See Exhibit 8-8).
4. Managerial challenges include:
a) appropriate office attire
b) technology - they have grown up with it vs. their older colleagues in the workplace.
c) they want bosses who are open minded; experts in their field; organized; teachers,
trainers, and mentors; not authoritarian or paternalistic; respectful of their generation;
understanding of their need for work/life balance; providing constant feedback;
communicating in vivid and compelling ways; and providing stimulating and novel
learning experiences.
5. Managers, have to recognize and understand the behaviors of this group in order to create
an environment in which work can be accomplished efficiently, effectively, and without
disruptive conflict.
C. How do Managers Deal With Negative behavior in the Workplace?
1. Rudeness, hostility, aggression, and other forms of workplace negativity have become all
too common in today’s organizations.
2. In a US research study 10% of employees said they witnessed rudeness daily within their
workplaces and 20 percent said that they personally were direct targets of incivility at
work at least once a week.
3. Managers cannot ignore the behavior.
4. Preventing negative behaviors by carefully screening potential employees for certain
personality traits and responding immediately and decisively to unacceptable negative
behaviors can go a long way toward managing negative workplace behaviors.
Teaching Notes
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Part 4 - Leading
8.1 Identify the focus and goals of organizational behavior (OB). OB focuses on three areas:
individual behavior, group behavior, and organizational aspects. The goals of OB are to explain,
predict, and influence employee behavior. Six important employee behaviors are as follows:
Employee productivity is a performance measure of both efficiency and effectiveness. Absenteeism is
the failure to report to work. Turnover is the voluntary and involuntary permanent withdrawal from
an organization. Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is discretionary behavior that’s not part
of an employee’s formal job requirements but which promotes the effective functioning of an
organization. Job satisfaction is an individual’s general attitude toward his or her job. Workplace
misbehavior is any intentional employee behavior that’s potentially harmful to the organization or
individuals within the organization.
8.2 Explain the role that attitudes play in job performance. Attitudes are evaluative statements
concerning people, objects, or events. The cognitive component of an attitude refers to the beliefs,
opinions, knowledge, or information held by a person. The affective component is the emotional or
feeling part of an attitude. The behavioral component refers to an intention to behave in a certain way
toward someone or something. There are four job-related attitudes: job satisfaction, job involvement,
organizational commitment, and employee engagement. Job satisfaction refers to a person’s general
attitude toward his or her job. Job involvement is the degree to which an employee identifies with his
or her job, actively participates in it, and considers his or her job performance to be important to his
or her self-worth. Organizational commitment is the degree to which n employee identifies with a
particular organization and its goals and wishes to maintain membership in that organization.
Employee engagement is when employees are connected to, satisfied with, and enthused about their
jobs. According to cognitive dissonance theory, individuals try to reconcile attitude and behavior
inconsistencies by altering their attitudes, altering their behavior, or rationalizing the inconsistency.
8.3 Describe different personality theories. The MBTI® measures four dichotomies: social interaction,
preference for gathering data, preference for decision making, and style of making decisions. The Big
Five model consists of five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness,
emotional stability, and openness to experience. Another way to view personality is through the five
personality traits that help explain individual behavior in organizations: locus of control,
Machiavellianism, self-esteem, self-monitoring, and risk-taking.
Finally, how a person responds emotionally and how they deal with their emotions is a function of
personality. A person who is emotionally intelligent has the ability to notice and to manage emotional
cues and information.
8.4 Describe perception and the factors that influence it. Perception is how we give meaning to our
environment by organizing and interpreting sensory impressions. Attribution theory helps explain
how we judge people differently. It depends on three factors. Distinctiveness is whether an individual
displays different behaviors in different situations (that is, is the behavior unusual). Consensus is
whether others facing a similar situation respond in the same way. Consistency is when a person
engages in behaviors regularly and consistently. Whether these three factors are high or low helps
managers determine whether employee behavior is attributed to external or internal causes. The
fundamental attribution error is the tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and
overestimate the influence of internal factors. The self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute our
own successes to internal factors and to put the blame for personal failure on external factors.
Shortcuts used in judging others are selective perception, assumed similarity, stereotyping, and the
halo effect.
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
8.5 Discuss learning theories and their relevance in shaping behavior. Operant conditioning argues
that behavior is a function of its consequences. Social learning theory says that individuals learn by
observing what happens to other people and by directly experiencing something. Managers can shape
behavior by using positive reinforcement (reinforcing a desired behavior by giving something
pleasant), negative reinforcement (reinforcing a desired response by withdrawing something
unpleasant), punishment (eliminating undesirable behavior by applying penalties), or extinction (not
reinforcing a behavior to eliminate it).
8.6 Discuss contemporary issues in OB. The challenge of managing Gen Y workers is that they bring
new attitudes to the workplace. The main challenges are over issues such as appearance, technology,
and management style. Workplace misbehavior can be dealt with by recognizing that it’s there;
carefully screening potential employees for possible negative tendencies; and most importantly, by
paying attention to employee attitudes through surveys about job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
To check your understanding of learning outcomes 8.1 – 8.6, go to and try the
chapter questions.
1. How is an organization like an iceberg? Use the iceberg metaphor to describe the field of
organizational behavior.
Answer: OB is concerned with the subject of behavior specifically with the actions of people at work.
It addresses some issues that are not obvious. See Exhibit 8-1. As a consequence while the symptoms
are visible, the top of the iceberg, the real causes, the substance behind the behavior is not always
readily apparent, the portion of the iceberg under water.
2. Does the importance of knowledge of OB differ based on a manager’s level in the organization?
If so, how? If not, why not? Be specific.
Answer: Student answers will vary. OB knowledge is important at every level of management. The
more senior the manager the more employees are impacted by his/her decision-making, so people
skills are critical for productive employees and successful organizations as the right people are the
most important assets of the organization.
3. Clarify how individuals reconcile inconsistencies between attitudes and behaviors.
Answer: People seek consistency among their attitudes and between their attitudes and their
behavior. Individuals try to reconcile differing attitudes and align their attitudes and behavior so that
they appear rational and consistent.
4. Describe what is meant by the term emotional intelligence. Provide an example of how it’s used
in contemporary organizations.
Answer: People who understand their own emotions and are good at reading others’ emotions are
said to have emotional intelligence and may be more effective in their jobs.
Emotional intelligence refers to an assortment of non-cognitive skills, capabilities, and competencies
that influence a person’s ability to cope with environmental demands and pressures. Five dimensions
of emotional intelligence include self awareness, self management, self motivation, empathy and
social skills.
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One study looked at the characteristics of the Bell Lab engineers who were rated as stars by their
peers. The scientists concluded that these stars were better at relating to others. That is, it was EI, not
academic IQ that characterized high performers.
5. “Instead of worrying about job satisfaction, companies should be trying to create environments
where performance is enabled.” What do you think this statement means? Explain. What’s
your reaction to this statement? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?
Answer: Students should agree and then share why they believe it to be true. Some suggestions would be
that a caring culture and managers with good interpersonal skills, will provide an environment in which
employees will be satisfied and normally productive. When the culture of an organization is a good match
with the personality of the employee, the employee is often satisfied. An environment that is conducive
and consistent with the employee's values will foster the commensurate motivation and performance.
6. How might a manager use personality traits to improve employee selection in his department?
Emotional intelligence? Discuss.
Answer: The major value probably lies in selection. More higher-performing and more-satisfied
employees if personality types are matched with jobs. Also, a manager can better understand
employee behavior by recognizing that people approach problem solving, decision making, and job
interactions differently.
A study of Air Force recruiters showed that top performing recruiters exhibited high levels of EI.
Using this information, the Air force revamped its selection criteria. A follow-up investigation found
that future hires who had high EI scores were 2.6 times more successful than those with low scores.
7. Describe the implications of social learning theory for managing people at work.
Answer: Because learning takes place on the job as well as before it, managers will be concerned
with how they can teach employees to behave in ways that most benefit the organization. Thus,
managers will often attempt to mold individuals by guiding their learning in graduated steps. This
process is called shaping behavior. We shape behavior by systematically reinforcing each successive
step that moves the individual closer to the desired response. If an employee who has chronically
been thirty minutes late for work comes in only twenty minutes late, we can reinforce this
improvement. Reinforcement would increase as responses more closely approximated the desired
8. A Gallup Organization survey shows that most workers rate having a caring boss even higher
than they value money or fringe benefits. How should managers interpret this information?
What are the implications?
Answer: Managers should adjust their styles for the people they manage and the organization. Caring
managers are an important component since many employees leave their jobs when there is a conflict
with their immediate supervisor. A good culture facilitated by the manager is often more valuable
than external compensation.
The implication is that employees will be more satisfied and presumably more productive when they
know that their manager cares about them. Turnover and absenteeism will also be reduced.
9. Write down three attitudes you have. Identify the cognitive, affective, and behavioral
components of those attitudes.
Answer: Student responses will vary.
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
What’s My Basic Personality?
The five-factor model of personality—often referred to as the Big Five—has an impressive body of
research suggesting that five basic personality dimensions underlie human behavior. This self-assessment
exercise will give you an indication of what your personality is like according to the Big Five model.
INSTRUMENT Listed is a set of 15 adjective pairs. For each, select the number along the scale (you
must choose a whole number) that most closely describes you or your preferences.
SCORING KEY To calculate your personality score, add up your points as follows (reverse scoring
those items marked with an asterisk):
Items 1, 6, and 11*: This is your extraversion score.
Items 2*, 7, and 12: This is your agreeableness score.
Items 3, 8, and 13: This is your conscientiousness score.
Items 4, 9, and 14*: This is your emotional stability score.
Items 5*, 10*, and 15*: This is your openness-to-experience score.
Extraversion—high scores indicate you’re an extravert; low scores indicate you’re an introvert.
Agreeableness—high scores indicate you value harmony; low scores indicate you prefer having your
say or way on issues.
Conscientiousness—high scores indicate that you pursue fewer goals in a purposeful way; lower
scores indicate that you’re more easily distracted, pursue many goals, and are more hedonistic.
Emotional stability—high scores indicate positive emotional stability; low scores indicate negative
emotional stability.
Openness to experience—high scores indicate you have a wide range of interests and a fascination
with novelty and innovation; low scores indicate you’re more conventional and find comfort in the
What defines a high or low score? No definite cutoffs are available. However, reasonable cutoffs for each
dimension would be 12–15 points = high; 7–11 = moderate; and 3–6 = low.
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What are the implications of some of your scores? Studies on the Big Five model suggest that individuals
who are dependable, reliable, thorough, organized, able to plan, and persistent (that is, high on
conscientiousness) tend to have higher job performance, no matter the occupation. High scores on
extraversion indicate you may be suited to a managerial or sales position. Also, high scores on opennessto-experience are a good predictor of your ability to achieve significant benefits from training efforts.
Personality is a unique set of attributes that every human being has. It is quite often the first thing that we
notice about a person when we meet them. We immediately assess and judge them based on the attributes
identified in this self-assessment exercise. For example, you are taking an interview for a new job. You
have done your homework and researched the company’s history, its corporate earnings, and expected
earnings; checked with others who are familiar with the company’s culture and attitudes toward
employees; and have researched the trade magazines such as Fortune, Fast Company, and Business Week
on how the company is being managed. You have also visited the company’s website and made
assumptions as to what type of “personality” would best fit into the company. You realize that this is the
company for you and the job for you. Your personality appears to fit right in, and you are hopeful the
interviewers will agree. But so as not to leave too much to chance, you rehearse your interview with
friends with like personalities so you can show off your own personality to the best advantage. On the
day of the interview, you dress the part, act the part, and “hit a home run” in the interview from your
perspective. Your personality seemed to mirror that of the panel of interviewers, making your very
comfortable and able to “do” a good interview. The next day you receive a call from the company human
resources department offering you the job. It appears your assessment, at least on the surface, was
correct, and you should be able to do well in this culture.
In this situation, you have used your personality in a positive way to achieve your goal. Had you done
your research and found a mismatch between your personality and the company’s culture, you might have
either passed up an interview or failed miserably in the interview from both your perspective and the
company’s. In a recent best-seller, Built to Last, by Collins and Porras, they discovered that many
companies, as part of long-term success, have very strong cultures that in many ways dictate a certain
personality type if one is to be successful. For example, if you work at 3M, a high score on Openness to
Experience would be an almost necessary personality attribute or trait, because the culture is built around
innovation, change, and creativity. At Nordstrom’s, there is a cult-like culture that demands an adherence
to the “Nordy” spirit and culture, so high scores on Extraversion and Agreeability are essential traits to
possess. If you are low on either of these, the Nordstrom culture is probably not the place for you.
Knowing your own personality and the culture of the company can save both parties much time, effort,
and money if the culture is strong and has fairly specific expectations around behavioral patterns.
Teaching Notes
Scotsman Robert Burns in Ode to a Louse (“louse” is the singular form of head lice, in this case, as seen
in a woman’s bonnet while in church) writes the following lines (loosely modernized): Would God give
us the power to see ourselves as others see us; it would free many from their blinders and foolish notions.
Understanding the impact of one’s personality on others is the heart of this quote and essential to finding
a successful match between an organization, a person, and that person’s chosen career. It is both
economically and psychologically cost effective for both the company and the potential employee to get a
sense of the mutual “fit” at the beginning of the relationship.
The students can use this exercise to see where they are in their personality evolution at this point. That
is, although personality is relatively set in many ways, extraordinary events (wars, encouragement in class
with the right timing, experiencing something that changes one’s world view) can change a personality.
In many instances, there is not a perceived match between the employee and the culture, but something in
the new employee changes enough to adapt to the situation. Again, drawing from Built to Last, Merck, a
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Chapter 8 - Foundations of Individual Behavior
drug company, has the overall goal of serving humanity. It is a very socially responsible company. Many
employees in our society may never have realized this dimension of organizations’ roles in our society or
given it much thought. However, once in this culture, developing drugs to help humankind is the guiding
managerial framework. This does bring profit, but that is not the overarching goal. A scientist may find
this a wonderful place to work that they had not necessarily always thought about. If the scientist is more
interested in money, he or she would be better off joining a company that believes that the responsibility
of a company is to its stockholders first and foremost, so profit is the guiding factor.
1. How Important is a Good Fit? Form students into teams of three to six people, depending on the
size of the class. Half of each team represents management and the other half, potential and current
employees. Have the teams discuss the importance of personality from both perspectives.
Learning Objective(s): To (1) familiarize students with the role that personality plays at work, and (2)
demonstrate that there are multiple perspectives on this topic.
Preparation/Time Allotment: This is a good icebreaker exercise at the start of the course. Make sure
students are familiar with the basic definition of personality, and try to create groups that have at least
one practicing manager in them. This should take about 30-45 minutes.
Advantages/Disadvantages/Potential Problems: It might be difficult to generate a discussion if the
exercise is done prior to the students reading the material or doing enough assessments to understand
themselves. The exercise is most effective if there are practicing managers in the class that can give
management’s perspective on the issue.
2. Just What Is Personality Anyway? Break the class into small groups and have them debate the
concept of personality as a fixed or changing set of traits.
Learning Objective(s): To introduce the controversial topic of what personality really means; which
traits are stable, and which traits can be learned.
Preparation/Time Allotment: This exercise is most effective after the basic concept of personality has
been covered. The students should understand the differences between traits, states, and behavior.
Advantages/Disadvantages/Potential Problems: Point out that psychologists have different views on
this topic, and that they will not come to one “right” answer. Rather, this gives them a flavor for how
things are debated and discussed in this field.
FYIA ( For Your Immediate Action)
Wood Designs Plus
To: Ted Sigler, Director of HR
From: Michelle DePriest, President
Re: Hiring
Ted, as we discussed last Friday, our manufacturing operations have grown to the point where we need to
add a couple of people to our executive team; specifically, a corporate controller and a national sales
director. The controller will be responsible for establishing operational and financial standards (in other
words, a lot of number-crunching using financial and manufacturing statistics) for our various work units.
The national sales director will be responsible for working closely with our sales staff to further develop
long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with our customers.
1. What personality type would be best for each of these two positions? Explain.
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Case Applications
Odd Couples
A 29-year old man and a 68 year old are paired together to learn from each other. How much could they
possibly have in common? At Randstad USA’s Manhattan office, such employee pairings are common.
Randstad Holding NV, a Dutch company, has used this pairing idea since its founding over 40 years ago.
The founder’s motto was “Nobody should be alone.” The original intent was to boost productivity by
having sales agents share one job and trade off job responsibilities. Today, these partners in the home
office have an arrangement where one is in the office one week while the other one is out making sales
calls, then the next week, they switch.
Randstad executives figured that if they shared a job with someone whose own success depended on
theirs, they were certain to get all the nurturing they required.” The company looks for people who will
work well with others by conducting extensive interviews and requiring job applicants to shadow a sales
agent for half a day. “Everything about our organization is based on the team and group.” One of the most
interesting elements of Randstad’s program is that neither person is “the boss.”
Discussion Questions
1. What topics of individual behavior do you see in this case? Explain.
Answer: Personality and selection would be imperative for the team to be successful. Individual traits
would need to mesh for the greater good.
2. What do you think about this pairing-up idea? Would you be comfortable with such an
arrangement? Why or why not?
Answer: This answer will vary by student and his/her own personality whether he/she would be
comfortable in this environment or not.
3. What personality traits would be most needed for this type of work arrangement? Why?
Answer: Students should review the Myers-Briggs and the Big Five Model for their response.
4. What types of issues might a Gen Y employee and an older, more-experienced employee face?
How could two people in such a close-knit work arrangement deal with those issues? That is,
how could both make the adjustment easier?
Answer: They would need to adjust to the generational differences and create an environment of
mutual respect, whereby both individuals could learn from each other and build an effective team that
was also mutually beneficial. The work ethic would need to be addressed as well as the differences in
knowledge regarding such areas as technology and overall experience.
5. Design an employee attitude survey for Randstad’s employees.
Answer: Students could do some research on other employee attitude surveys on the internet and
design one accordingly for Randstad.
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