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Behavioural Issues in Organisations

An introduction to the capsule on
Executive Effectiveness
for the participants from the
International Cooperative Alliance

M.J. Arul

The cooperative organisations of the kind you come from are purposeful social units, where a number of people perform various roles and tasks to achieve the overall objective of realising attractive returns for the members, on a sustainable basis. To facilitate efficient achievement of this overall objective, various roles and tasks are organised into several functions or departments, each to handle a specific set of responsibilities. In order for the total enterprise to be effective, the various departments and their variegated activities ought to be so orchestrated as to enable adequate individual and sectional performance in an atmosphere of interdependence among the various functions. The responsibility of such orchestration falls, in varying degrees, on the chief and other executives of the organisation.

Executive effectiveness, besides requiring some general appreciation of the technical expertise obtaining in the organisation, calls for directly executable skills of coordination, which involves dealing with human beings. Like any job, the job of coordination has its own set of problems and occupational hazards. Pause for a moment to reflect on the various components of your job and try to recollect the typical problems you face in carrying out your responsibilities as an Executive. (... pause ...) You may have noticed that your inventory of day-to-day problems are predominantly related to dealing with people -- both within and outside the organisation.

Dealing with people involves interpersonal behaviour, which is integral to human life, both on the job and off the job. A case of on-the-job interactions between a supervisor and a subordinate is included in your reading material as a start-up. You might find the particularities of the case somewhat unfamiliar or the context the case deals with may, in varying degrees, differ from the one you work in, but the essence of the case is sure to ring a bell in your mind. A good understanding of this case can shed light on the internal dynamics of people's interpersonal behaviour, most of which normally remains outside the realm of one's awareness -- except when conscious attempts are made to introspect.

Some of the available behavioural science concepts can help systematic introspection as well as facilitate understanding of others' behaviour. Why do people behave the way they do?

Psychologists say we do whatever we do in order to fulfill certain needs. If that be indeed so, then a clear understanding of our needs should help us understand (and thus be in a position to predict and, perhaps, influence) our behaviour. Following this logic, psychologists have advanced a number of theories of motivation to help understand human behaviour. The short note on Motivation, included in your course material, will familiarise you with some of the theories. A critical understanding of these theories will help in using the concepts of needs and motivation to understand human behaviour in your context.

"Needs influence behaviour", says the psychologist. Psychologists also say that needs need not be objective to influence behaviour! Behaviour, they say, is influenced by needs as perceived. That is, we do whatever we do, depending on how we perceive the situation or need. Motivation, in other words, is influenced by perception. Is that true? The reading on Perception provides some food for thought here. Your perception of yourself and your role as well as your perception of others and their needs influences your behaviour. Similarly, others' perception of you and your actions will influence their behaviour towards you. You may check this out by examining your personal experiences and the various scenes of the film, The Eye of the Beholder, in the light of the reading.

Your job as a manager has to do with influencing people. To influence is to use power. Authority is only one of the ways of acquiring and using power. The power needed to influence people in your favour can arise from sources other than your formal authority, which is often less than what you require or wish you had. An involved discussion of the note on Powers of Power can help you appreciate the various sources of power available to you. The reading, entitled Managerial Skills, presents a summary of discussion on the importance of certain skills, relative to the higher, middle and lower levels of management.

As you scan the managerial skills, you may notice that the need for effective communication runs across all levels of management. Although communication is too vast a topic to be confined to a couple of classroom sessions, you can certainly benefit from discussing and doing some exercises on Clarity of Expression, Giving & Receiving Feedback and Metaverbal Messages.

As you read, reflect and discuss the course material, your attempt should be to relate the concepts to situations that you face on your job. It would also help to bear in mind the purpose or goal for which your organisation exists. Ask yourself: What can I do to make myself more effective in striving to achieve the real objectives of my organisation and enhance my sense of self-worth? What guidelines can I take from here?

Go to: Next reading.