Critical Behavioural Issues Confronting the Managers
(Challenges and Opportunities for Managers/Organizational Behavior)
Individual and organizational behaviour is dynamic in nature. Furthermore, the world has been changed a lot in the past few decades. Today’s managers are facing a number of behavioural issues and challenges in their organizations. Some important changes in workplaces (recently seen) are fast-changing employee expectations; declining loyalty towards working organizations; an increasing number of women, old aged employees, and minorities among others.
In short, there are a lot of challenges and opportunities today for managers to use OB concepts. In this section, we are going to review some of the more critical issues confronting managers. To solve those issues for which OB offers solutions or at least some meaningful insights toward solutions.
It is well known to us that this is the age of globalization. It occurs when the organization extends its activities to other parts of the world, actively participates in other markets, and competes against organizations located in other countries.
Challenges: Managing a global company poses many different challenges and opportunities. But for our purposes, a very important consideration is how behavioural processes differ widely across cultural and national boundaries.
- Values, symbols, and beliefs differ sharply among cultures.
- Different work norms and the role work plays in a person’s life influence patterns of both work-related behaviour and attitudes toward work.
- They also affect the nature of supervisory relationships, decision-making styles and processes and organizational configurations/ compositions.
- Group and inter-group processes, responses to stress and the nature of political behaviours also differ from culture to culture.
The challenges in front of managers are:
- How to manage growing dissatisfaction?
- How to design motivational packages?
- How to learn and develop managerial abilities?
- How to deal with cross-cultural differences, etc.
Opportunities: Globalization has also opened new avenues (ways) of opportunities if managed properly. Some of them are expanded market and revenue, opportunity to learn new things, better-cared opportunities for employees among others. Therefore, managers need to improve their practices to face the challenges before them.
B. Workforce Diversity (Heterogeneity)
The second important challenge today is the management of diversity. The term diversity refers to the differences among people. Diversity may be reflected along numerous dimensions, but most managers tend to focus on age, gender ethnicity, and physical abilities and disabilities.
Diversity trends in organizations are:
- The average ages of workers in many countries are gradually increasing because of the declining birth rate and people are living and working longer.
- An increasing number of women workers, foreigners, migrants, refugees, black employees, disabled retirees and so on.
Challenges: The challenge for the organization is to make people accommodating to the diverse groups of people at the workplace by addressing their different lifestyles, cultural factors, family needs, and work styles. Managing people through a single method was a fact till the other day. But now, it is being replaced by one that recognizes the value differences among workers in organizations.
Opportunities: If diversity is managed properly, it can increase creativity and innovations. On the contrary, diversity, if not managed properly, can result in higher turnover, increased interpersonal conflict, and ineffective communication.
C. Quality and Productivity
The third competitive challenge that has attracted a high level of attention is quality and productivity. Quality is an important issue for several reasons.
The ever increasing concern for quality products and services has given birth to today’s expanding buzzword ‘Total Quality Management – TQM’. Similarly, the delivery of quality services in the ever service sector has become very critical. The challenge for managers across the world is, therefore, to have human resources to deliver quality products and services to the customers and clients.
Challenges: Globalization has increased the degree of concern towards quality and productivity because it has given birth to tough competition. The implications for organizational behaviour are obvious. The more closely people work together, the more important it is to understand behavioural processes and concepts. To motivate employees to get involved in quality improvement efforts, to increase the level of participation throughout the organization, and to reward people on the basis of a contribution to quality are COmmon suggestions. And they all rely on human behaviour.
Opportunities: If managed properly the challenges of quality and productivity can be converted into opportunities.
- First, more and more organizations are using quality as a basis for competition.
- Second, increasing quality tends to increase productivity because making higher quality products generally results in less waste and rework.
- Third, enhancing quality lowers costs.
D. Improving People Skills (Skill Deficiencies)
Previously, the world economy was based on agriculture and then it moved towards industry-based. But today, most of the developed countries’ economy is based on the knowledge and service sector. This trend has brought a reduction in managerial ranks, decentralized decision-making, increased responsibility to the employees, participation, teamwork, increased automation, and so on.
Challenges: Increased competition and quality awareness have demanded a high level of skills and knowledge. Employers must train and re-educate their less-skilled employees. Moreover, managers must become more responsive to the needs of their skilled employees to keep them from going to work for a competitor.
Opportunities: The other side of the coin is that if people can be duly trained, developed and motivated to the newly required skills, they will be assets to the organization. The opportunities are that: (a) People will get more rewards, (b) they will be more motivated and productive, and (c) they will be the greatest weapon to compete in the market.
E. Empowerment of Employees
Previously, people worked under the tight control of their bosses, supervisors or managers. Today, managers are bound to work as coaches, advisors, facilitators or as team leaders so as to compete in the marketplace and satisfy employee demands. The following Chinese proverb illustrates the importance of empowerment.
“Give a person a fish, and you feed that person for a day; teach a person to fish, and you feed that person for life. “
Challenges: The trend is towards the use of self-managed work teams, quality circles, job enrichment, self-appraisal, MBO, etc. What’s going on is that managers are empowering employees. They are putting employees in charge of what they do. And doing so, managers have to learn how to give up control and employees have to learn how to take responsibility for their work and make appropriate decisions.
Opportunities: In many organizations, employees have become associates or team members. And there is a fusion between the role of managers and workers. Decision making is being pushed down to the operating level, where workers are given the freedom to make choices about schedules, procedures and solving to work-related problems. The ultimate results that can be derived from doing so are: (a) Higher level of motivation, (b) Increased productivity, and (c) Readiness for change and greater responsibility, etc.
F. Managing Organization Change
It has been said that “nothing is certain in the world except the change.” Managers must be prepared to introduce organizational change – a compulsion, not a choice. This has always been a concern, but the rapid, constant environmental change faced by businesses today has made change management even more critical.
Challenges: Organizations have to apply many different programs like the reorganization of departments, disposal of poor performing units, downsizing, employee outsourcing and the like. So, managers and employees must prepare themselves flexible enough to cope with the change.
Opportunities: The study of OB can provide important insights into helping the managers to better understand the continual change. They can learn how to overcome resistance to change, how best to create an organizational culture that thrives (works) on change, etc.
G. Improving Ethical Behaviour
Another important challenge facing managers in the workplace is ethics. It is the individual’s personal beliefs regarding what is right and wrong or good and bad. Members of organizations are increasingly finding themselves facing ethical dilemmas (contradiction), in which they are required to define right and wrong conduct. But the problem is what is ethical in one organization, time or place may not be so in another organization, time or place.
Challenges: It is being realized throughout the world that the level of ethics is in a declining trend. The major reasons for it are the six critical behaviour issues explained above. Likewise, Ethics has become the greatest standing problem to modern managers.
Opportunities: What constitutes (really mean) good ethical behaviour has never been clearly defined. To solve this problem, managers are writing and distributing codes of ethics to guide employees behaviour. They are offering seminars, workshops, and similar training programs to try to improve ethical behaviours.