Human Behaviour in Business
Managers studying skills and techniques of determining human resources can apply them to individuals in business. By learning human behaviour, managers can acquire the skills and techniques necessary to properly allocate human resources. As a manager, first of all you must learn about how people learn personality dimensions. Then you can determine people’s behaviour types, and apply them to different employee positions. Crucial to the grand scheme of things is that managers must learn that implementing particular behaviour sciences requires a good deal of patience, effort, and time. Suggestions for managers to be successful in management include examining the needs of jobs, and matching them to the principals of human behaviour.
HUMAN BEHAVIOUR: HOW PEOPLE LEARN
Understanding the basics of human behaviours are critical to the improvement of businesses and organizations. Most human behaviour is learned as we grow up, in a long process that begins when we are born. Many behaviours are learned from our parents, siblings, and close friends when we are younger. As we grow older, some of these behaviours can change as our peer groups influence us more than our family. As we mature, some of us drop bad habits, or pick them up, as the case may go. That being said, we can now see how people learn behaviours and can proceed with how we can learn and apply these behaviours.
Nowadays there are many behavioural tools provided to managers, each having different purposes. Managers have to use these principals by combing them through their own personality, style, and environment. Applying these principals, offered by behavioural scientists requires a good deal of effort, patience, and time. The better managers know enough not to apply multiple techniques simultaneously, and when to use the ones they deem important. Managers must also realize that with the abundance of new theories that have been developed, many of them are either based on illogical assumptions, or they are irrelevant when trying to actually apply them.
DETERMINING PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOUR TYPE
One way of determining people’s personalities, is the Myers Briggs Type indicator. The Myers Briggs is a test that gives the subject a series of questions on how they would react to a certain situation. From the 100 questions posed, experts have developed a way to classify these people into 16 personality types. These people are either extroverted or introverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, perceiving or judging. What this does is enables managers to match these people with jobs by determining what individuals enjoy doing and what positions are best suited for them.
Chris Argyris is a former professor at Yale University, and is known as the father of organizational learning. He looked at human behaviours that blocked learning in organizations. He believed that behaviour of organizations could create defensive routines that can prevent information from getting to the top. Thus, he believed in the actions of employees to learn hoe to overcome these defensive routines. If we can do this, then we have a better chance to improve an organization from feedback of all employees. Determining people’s behaviour is essential to choosing where employees fit into jobs. In order to determine what behaviour type a person is will look at several different personality traits. These are most valuable to managers as they analyze people’s control over their destinies, their need to achieve, self-esteem, their ability to self-monitor, risk-taking and personality type.
Analyzing a person’s locus of control can decide if people are internals or externals. Locus of control is the idea of having control over your own destiny. An internal person believes that they hold their own key to the future, while an external is someone who feels their life is mostly controlled by fate. On the whole, internals are better in business, however, this can differ by job. Internals are more willing to work harder to achieve their goals, while externals would be more apt to accept things the way they are.
An individual’s need to achieve (nAch) is easily understood. People that have high need to achieve continually strive to do things better. These people would perform better in situations that challenge their ability. So high nAch people would do better in sales and professional sports than low nAch.
Another area of behaviour that is important to business is self-esteem. People with high self-esteem will take more risks and choose those odd jobs that nobody else wants. Those with low self-esteem usually need someone to give them feedback on the job they are doing before they can continue with confidence.
A person’s ability to self-monitor is an important personality trait for business as well. Self-monitoring is the ability to adjust behaviour according to situational, external factors. Those with a high ability to self-monitor can act in accordance to the situations easily and consistently.
Risk-taking is another factor important to managers. It is the ability to take risks, and those with high-risk are more suited to jobs like stock market brokers.
Personality types, A or B, can also help managers decide who is better at senior executive positions, or at salesperson positions. Type A is the kind of person who tries to achieve as much as possible in the least amount of time. Type A’s are fast workers, but they can emphasize quantity over quality. Type B people, on the other hand are quite the opposite. They usually wiser decision-makers, and they are more creative than those who are just quick decision-makers.
ACKNOWLEDGING PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND CURRENT POSITION
In order to learn how to apply different behavioural principals, managers must have an idea of people’s needs in business, and where their current positions are. By analyzing these needs, managers can make assumptions of where their people want to go in business. Then they can apply different techniques of behaviour principals and decide what jobs best fit these people. Those types of people whose personalities fit top management positions, and who feel the need to achieve can then be closely taught to succeed in business. On the contrary, those people who are externals and don’t feel a need to achieve, would not be focussed on as much, or at all.
MAKING DUE WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: EVOLVING PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOUR
In today’s fast-changing world, people are constantly being asked to change along with it. From hi-tech software companies, to the way our groceries are rung in at the supermarket, technology is making new advances everyday. One of the implications of this is that people are being made to hone their skills now on a regular basis. These people need to be able to keep up, and not be intimidated if they want to keep their job. The example of the supermarket also makes it clear that no one is exempt from it. If your employees are intimidated by computers, you have 2 choices. You can either help them through their fear of machines, or they will have to be let go to make room for someone else who can fill their role.
This example may seem very simple, but it illustrates the point very clearly. Managers for the most part do not want to have to rehire a new staff every time they are required to upgrade their companies computer systems. This being said, if management can not get through to the workers on why and how to implement these changes, then rehiring staff will be their only option.
EMPLOYEE POSITIONS: 6 TYPES
Matching personalities with jobs may be one of the most effective ways to allocate human resources. If a person is properly suited to their position in relation to their personality, the chances of having a satisfied employee are greatly increased.
As seen in J. L. Holland’s personality-job fit model, different personalities fit better into different job positions. Holland developed 6 different types of personalities that characterize 160 different occupational titles. These personalities were then arranged in order of congruency.
These personalities, and their characteristics are as follows:
Realistic: prefers physical activities that require skill, strength, and coordination. Personality characteristics include being shy, genuine, persistent, stable, conforming, and practical.
Social: prefers activities that involve helping and developing others. Personality characteristics include sociability, friendly, cooperation and understanding.
Conventional: prefers rule-regulated, orderly, unambiguous activities. Personality characteristics include conforming, efficiency, practicality, unimaginative, and inflexibility.
These personality types are then situated in a hexagonal diagram that states that the closer 2 fields are in the diagram, the closer they are in compatibility. This also means that 2 types located diagonally from one another are most incongruent.
PUTTING PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT POSITIONS: HIRING TECHNIQUES
Different people excel at different jobs than others do. That is a well-documented fact. So, in order in order to put the right person for the job in that job, we need to understand what kind of person is needed to fill a particular role. Does this mean that doing a personality profile at the time of interview will
ensure the proper matchmaking?
Not exactly. But what it does is it greatly reduces the chances of putting for example a realistic type of person into a social type of job. Furthermore, doing this greatly reduces the risk of job dissatisfaction. Reducing job dissatisfaction or inversely increasing job satisfaction directly improves, but not cures job stability. This in turn, generally speaking of course, increases productivity, which is usually the bottom line to management.
The world today is smaller than it has ever been. Travel is now measured by hours, not days. But there is till a very distinct boundary when we talk about cultures. However, whether we are talking North-South, or East-West, cultural differences exist everywhere.
One of the main schools of thought is the Western, or “American” way of managing. But there are many different, and very affective theories out there that American style managers don’t put into practice. Should they? Here are some statistics that may answer this question. In the 70’s, the West had a growth rate of about 3%, while in South China, in the same period, they had a growth rate of 10%. That’s over 3 times as much as the West.
Was the increase the result of a new fad style of management? Actually, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Chinese management takes its basis form as far back as the days of Confucius (550-479B.C.) This fact alone stands out as a difference between East and West. The West is always on the look-out for new and exciting techniques, while history is the driving force behind China’s success.
Terms such as job-stability, company loyalty, and human relations and trust are slowly making their way back into Western business vocabulary again. But these terms are staples in the Chinese and Eastern way of managing, and have been for centuries.
There is even a whole section of Chinese management dedicated to the thoughts of Confucius that deal with morality. Not exactly the highest priority in the West’s “dog-eat-dog” world of competitive business.
So is cross-cultural business an impossible goal? Far from it. But what managers must keep in mind is simply that different cultures value different things more than others do. The subtle difference between America and Canada pail in comparison to the differences between America and Japan or China. The secret is for managers to be aware of these differences and act accordingly. What may be an accepted form of action or response in the West may be a great insult to someone from the East. Cultural differences must be accounted for in order to minimize tensions.
As you can see, the incentives to managers to learn human behaviour and apply it to their employees are overwhelmingly positive. If managers can match job candidates to their appropriate position in the company, a harmony is reached that would not otherwise be found without the use of behavioural techniques. Once a manager has learned about human behaviour, they can then apply what they know to job placement and the allocation of human resources, and help the company to boost productivity, which in turn will help increase profits, and make the job site an all around better place to work.
2. Fulmer, Robert M. (Autumn 1998). A conversation with Chris Argyris: The father of organizational learning. Organizational Dynamics v27 (pp. 21-32). New York.