What the study of organizational behavior tells us about ourselves.
Ever since I began teaching organizational behavior to students at NYU Polytechnic, I have fallen in love with this enlightening field of study.
It combines all of my favorite fields of study, including: effective communications, teamwork, psychology, business ethics (not an oxymoron), cultural diversity, sociology, job satisfaction (also NOT an oxymoron), leadership, social psychology, employee engagement and conflict resolution. OB can teach us all of these things while also providing us with a road map for achieving genuine transformational change and creating world-class cultures. Almost ANY discipline that focuses on how people engage in organizational settings can be studied through the lens of OB.
So, what is Organizational Behavior (OB) you ask?
Organizational behavior is defined as: “actions and attitudes of individuals and groups toward one another and toward the organization as a whole, and its effect on the organization functioning as a whole.” (Businessdictionary.com)
Here’s another great definition of organizational behavior: “investigates the impact individuals, groups, and structure have on behavior within organizations for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an organization’s effectiveness.” (Organizational Behavior. Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge)
I use the class to engage students in frank and sometimes intentionally confrontational discussions about those organizations that exhibit truly transformational cultures for lasting success, as well as organizations that struggle to function in today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving global business climate.
For example, check out this list of the best companies to work at for women and minorities, or this list of Top 50 companies for diversity.
Since the semester started, we have explored the behaviors of such institutions as Chik-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, BP, and the New York Police Department. We use OB to discuss how people conform their ethics, values, morals and behaviors to the cultures of the places they work at. I encourage my students to use OB to dive into their own past work experiences, and explore their own personalities as a means of assessing where they would be most engaged and fulfilled working at. I have shared with them the challenges faced by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Catholic Church, Center for Disease Control, and ISIS.
OB teaches us how to think and act independently, to avoid the trap of failing victim to groupthink (blindly following the herd.)
As a career coach and business consultant, I strongly advise that in today’s global contract workplace EVERY person that wants to achieve career and business success brush up on this critically important and enlightening field as a means of understanding how to transform organizations. Those organizations and individuals that are not CONSTANTLY striving to learn and adapt will go the way of Circuit City, Borders, Bear Stearns, etc. If you have not had a chance to explore this fascinating and enlightening field of study I suggest you do so. It is the single most IMPORTANT topic that I have come across over 20 years spent in Corporate America and 6+ years in management consulting.
A great starting point for reading up on Organizational Behavior
Here’s to your organization’s continued success.