Case Studies: A strategic management paper on Wal-mart
Running Head: Individual Behavior
Individual Behavior and Communication
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Individual Behavior and Communication
Individual behavior and communication are two big parts of an organizations culture. The way one corresponds with each other through our behavior and communication forms our organization culture and allows for positive work environment. Individual behavior alone goes way beyond heredity and personality traits; individual behavior is influenced by many other elements as well. These elements also help to determine how one relates to others in an organizational workplace.
Ethical responsibility is important to many organizations. Companies often train employees how to act in ethical manners. Ethical responsibility is a huge liability for companies to act unethically. With unethical practices, there can be consequences. Among these consequences are jail time, going out of business, and public backlash. Recent examples include WorldCom and Wal-Mart. The CEO of WorldCom was recently sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for his involvement in inflating the company’s profits. Wal-Mart was recently targeted for using sweatshops overseas to produce the goods they sell here in the United States. Wal-Mart has launched an ethical responsibility program to ensure that ethical standards are being upheld and adhered to in all operations throughout the world.
Individual behavior plays a big role in ethical responsibility. Organizations communicate their ethical standards to their employees through training and policies. In addition to policies, organizations also use both positive and negative reinforcement to control the way that individuals behave. In order for these standards to be upheld, these standards are communicated to the employees effectively. Those two elements, individual behavior and communication are crucial to the survival of ethical responsibility within any organization.
Organizational DiversityOrganizational diversity is also an important element that affects individual behavior and communication. In the modern business world, many companies do business throughout the world. This means that they have customers of many different racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. For this reason, organizations need to be diverse. Employees can then relate to and identify with customers.
Individual behavior towards diversity may be a little apprehensive at times. People do not always embrace or appreciate differences. One way organizations can unite his or her employees is by putting them on teams with one another. By teaming up people of different backgrounds with common goals, they truly become united. Diversity can improve individual behavior by changing our perceptions, or misperceptions of other people. Many companies also offer diversity training. Diversity training is aimed at changing the way we, as employees, think. Individual behavior and communication need to be appropriate and effective in order for diversity to work.
Beliefs, Attitudes and ValuesA person’s beliefs, attitudes and values have a considerable impact on the individual behavior displayed in an organizational environment. These three aspects of a person go hand in hand with each other. “Social adaptation theory describes values as a type of social cognition that facilitates an individual’s adaptation to the environment. Values, the most abstract of the social cognitions, reflect the most basic characteristics of adaptation. They serve as the basis from which attitudes and behaviors are created” (Fritzsche & Oz, 2007). Values and beliefs are often instilled in children from the time they are able to talk. These values and beliefs impact a person’s daily experiences which in turn create the attitude with which future experiences are approached.
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Attitudes in the workplace can make all the difference in the organization. Negative attitudes towards each other create friction and conflict, which can alter the effectiveness of production. This friction between coworkers can also have a negative impact on the customer service provided. If the customers are not happy with the service that is provided, the customers will not return which will have a harmful effect on the organization. In contrast, positive attitudes create positive customer experiences. Good customer service is the key to success for businesses.
PerceptionsPerception in the business world can have a positive or a negative impact on the organization. According to Huseman (1973), “To understand how differences in perception can develop and lead to conflict, one must be aware of the process of perception, that is, the process of recognizing and identifying things in our environment. He cites three major elements in the perception process - ‘the situation in which the person to be judged is embedded,’ the person ‘apart from the situation,’ and ‘the perceiver.’ Not all of the information about the situation and the person to be perceived even reaches the perceiver. Factors such as past contact, frequency of contact, and the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived may limit what is seen.”For example, at the bank, customer service surveys are examined for wait time and welcoming. When reviewing wait time with the employees, customer perception is often discussed. If five people are standing behind the teller line with only two of those taking deposits and a customer is waiting, it might not matter to the customer standing in line that the other three employees are taking care of other pressing matters. To the customer in this situation, a two minute wait time could be perceived as 10 minutes if the customer feels like somebody else should have been assisting them. Many times simple eye contact can make all the difference in a customer’s perception. Organizations need to be cautious of this customer perception, and make sure that all employees are aware of customers around them.
Demographic DifferencesDiversity has to do with the individual human characteristics that comprise the differences among individuals (Pace, 2005). The characteristic differences of demographics are age, gender, sexual-orientation, race and ethnicity, and religion. Demographic differences can create discrimination and stereotypes in the workplace and can impact individual behavior.
Today’s management in the workforce is composed of all types of people versus 30 years ago when white males held a majority of upper-management positions in companies. These positions are now held by a mixture of ethnic back grounds and women who hold just as many if not more management positions then men. Just by looking at the changes in management, the changes show how important demographics are for people to understand cultural competency in the workplace. Managers and supervisors must understand the characteristics of a diversity mature individual. They also need to be able to articulate the differences between affirmative action, managing diversity, understanding and valuing diversity to build skills that transforms awareness into productive and supportive workplace behaviors.
With many different characteristics of a diversity mature individual, the most important characteristic occurs when a person accepts diversity management responsibility. The person will need to understand the different types of ethnic backgrounds in the organization, and the different types of techniques he or she will have to use to motivate the staff. He or she will also understand how to treat everyone equal no matter what differences arise.
Leadership Communication ResponsibilityIn all organizations, jobs cannot be adequately accomplished, goals cannot be met, sales orders cannot be filled, and problems cannot be solved without communication. It takes a certain flow of communication between authority figures and their associates to achieve set goals. All authority personnel such as managers, leaders, and bosses must communicate with their crew, associates, or lower level employees in order for jobs to be performed and completed effectively. Higher levels of management must communicate to achieve organizational goals to the associates who are expected to achieve them. Most jobs have set requirements that insist on coordination with others in the organization, and coordination requires communication. In fact, communication is such an important part of a manager’s job that managers spend between 50 and 90% of their time at work communicating (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn, 2005). Managers’ duties consist of digesting information, shaping ideas, coordinating tasks, listening to others, and giving instructions. No decisions and policies are of any value unless they can be totally understood by the people who must implement them. Leadership, the motivation of subordinates, and the exercise of power and influence are all based on communication.
Communication BarriersBarriers in an organization‘s communication process can be very dangerous. Miscommunication can cause destruction in an otherwise productive and stable organization. These barriers can include information overload, noise, time pressures, and breakdowns in the communication network, information distortion, and cross-cultural challenges. Information overload usually happen when changes in an environment cause uncertainties or an overload of information due to the organization’s structure. In addition, noise and time pressures are usually caused by idol employees who do not take their job or duties seriously. Noise is consider any abrupt or disruptions that can interrupt the communication process. Noise can be either an organizational-level barrier or an individual-level barrier. It may occur at any step in the communication process or within any element, and it may occur in many forms. Though deadlines are common, they always cause stress, pressure, and constraints on individuals. All these negative factors hinder an employee’s ability to communicate. Most large organizations have disruptions in their communication network because of the flow of information frequently passing through many different people in the organization. This gives the information more chances for it to be changes and distorted. Distortion can be a direct reflection of the prior dilemma discussed such as time pressure and noise. With the increasing factor of globalization, communication is a major link in the process. Cross-cultural and bilingual communication is almost necessary. The financial success of international organizations is dependent on the communication between different cultures. For example, many of our products that are used in the United States are manufactured in Asian countries like Japan, China, and Malaysia. If there was no prevalent communication being established one would not be enjoying some of our normal everyday luxuries.
Differences between Effective and Efficient CommunicationEffective managers must have a good understanding of the different ways in which people communicate with each other. Communicating effectively with coworkers allows for the benefits of training and encouraging others to show those same communication skills. Communicating effectively will then enhance a healthy working environment.
Businesses are becoming more competitive and challenging than ever before. Effective communication is relevant to be successful. Effective communication helps to manage employees, deal with customers, and present ideas. When managing employees, effective communication is vital to the success of the organization. Many types of people are in today’s work environment. To communicate effectively, one must adapt to the different races, languages, and cultures. Sun Tzu said, “Know the enemy, know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat.” Though intercultural communication is not a battle, intercultural communication is very essential to know both yourself and the target culture because the communication is favorable for us to achieve a better understanding (Bin & Fu-quan 2007). When dealing with customers, effective communication is important. Employees are in a controlled environment whereas customers are not. So customers are accustomed to employees to adapt to their needs and wants. Customers may become hostile depending on their wants at a certain time, so one must take caution and approach differently. Speaking in a softer voice might help to alleviate tension and could make the customer more reasonable. By changing the approach one can effectively take control of the situation. Businesses grow by initiating ideas that help for the future goals of the organization. Ideas are sometime difficult to communicate effectively, but knowing how to move the ideas into words can be beneficial to any organization.
As for efficient communication, businesses need to reach out to other individuals and organizations. In order for businesses to run efficiently, there must be good communication. External communication, internal communication, and open communication are some of the different methods of communication. External communication refers to communication that occurs outside of the organization. External communication involves customers along with other businesses. E-mail, television, advertisements, and magazines are some of the ways external communication is delivered. Internal communication refers to communication that exists inside the organization. It refers to communication between staff members and the different sections of the business. Oral, phones, e-mail, and message boards of some ways of internal communication. With open communication, every channel of communication is available to help resolve any attention that is needed.
Nonverbal Communication“Nonverbal communication is broadly defined as a process in communication of sending and receiving messages by means other than words” (Wikipedia, 2007). Nonverbal communication plays a central role in individual behavior and nonverbal communication is important to recognize that communication frequently involves more then a verbal message. 80% of communication is nonverbal which increases the significance of nonverbal communication in any organization. As demonstrated, nonverbal communication in clinical studies, has provided more information compared to that of verbal communication. With respect to a person’s state of mind, and when a discrepancy exists between verbal and nonverbal communication, nonverbal communication is a truer barometer.
Michael Argyle, an expert studying nonverbal communication, found the emotional state is found in the meaning of a nonverbal signal. With respect to a receiver of a message, the nonverbal signal is found in the interpretation of the message. Most scholars studying communication will limit the definition of nonverbal communication. Handwriting and sign language, even though not technically spoken, are considered verbal because they form words. Ironically, sounds being sang (wordless songs or notes) are considered nonverbal forms of communication. Sight, sound, smell, touch, or tastes all have opportunities to be considered nonverbal communicators.
Some forms of nonverbal communication, relating to someone expressing openness or confidence, are open hands (palms up), unbuttoning or removing a jacket (men), making eye contact, smiling and leaning forward in a relaxed manner, standing up straight with the feet slightly apart. Signs of cooperation or readiness are standing up with hands on hips, starting a conversation with a welcoming handshake, or smiling and making eye contact. All these signs of nonverbal communication say something about a person’s demeanor or attitude without requiring verbiage.
Gestures may seem to be small when compared to that of speaking, but they are very powerful when communicating, especially within an organization. While none of us are perfect, improving people’s nonverbal communication skills is always a good thing to do. While speaking, attempting to maintain a clear audible voice (not too soft or loud), making sure feet and legs do not act as a barrier (keeping them unobtrusive), and keeping facial features looking pleasant and genuine; when appropriate, smiling.
Individual behavior contributes to every person’s activities within the workplace, hence why the determining factors of individual behavior, ranging from beliefs, attitudes, communication practices, and perceptions are so valuable. As mentioned previously, all factors determining individual behavior share a high importance. Without one aspect of the individual behavior determining factors, a person’s individual behavior would not be easily identified and lack information. More so, any one determining factor would cause the individual behavior of any one person to change dramatically as well, exemplifying the importance each determining factor holds. Individual behavior is a complex aspect of a person and as long as it takes to create an individual behavior in someone, behavior can not be changed easily or adjusted if problematic. Each organization must recognize the diverse individual behaviors existing in his or her establishment and remain ethical and sensitive in their approaches to not only better each individual but also the company itself.