Human Behavior Is Critical to Organizations -- Term Paper

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Human Behavior is critical to organizations -- discuss the benefits of self-evaluation/self-assessment as it relates to leaders today 'Understanding human behavior is critical to organizations:'

Discuss the benefits of self-evaluation/self-assessment as it relates to leaders today 'Know thyself.' This principle is not only a vital cornerstone of philosophy and psychology -- it is very important in the world of commerce. Without self-knowledge, a business leader is unable to effectively lead others, particularly persons of different personality types or who come from alternate cultural worldviews. Without engaging in self-assessment, managers cannot understand the needs of subordinates or superiors, customers, or unexpected situational requirements. Self-assessments and self-evaluations, when properly conducted "can lead to the development of a strategic organizational plan with clearly defined short-term and long-term goals, measurable objectives, identified fiscal and personnel resources, and enhanced consumer and community partnerships" (Self-assessments, 2013, NCCC).

To better understand the need for self-assessments, examining an example of a common self-assessment tool is helpful. The DISC self-assessment classifies all workers according to three basic personality types: it determines, based upon a series of questions, if a worker is a dominant, influential, steady, or conscientious-style employee (DISC, 2013, Changing Minds). Dominant leaders thrive in an environment in which they can control others and tell others what to do: they are driven by a need for personal esteem. Influential personalities, in contrast, are 'people persons' who are focused upon interpersonal needs rather than tasks. They are primarily driven by the desire to please others, not to achieve results-oriented goals. Steady types are likewise person-focused, but in a more introverted manner. They are peace-keepers by nature, do not like telling others what to do, and do not like to 'rock the boat.' Finally, conscientious types are very task-oriented, but not focused upon self-aggrandizement to the same degree as influential personalities. Instead, they are primarily interested in logic and pursuing the most intelligent and reasonable course to achieve a goal (DISC, 2013, Changing Minds).

It is very easy to 'spot' these basic personality types in the workplace, although no one is a pure type and everyone manifests different character traits to some degree in different contexts. However, the dominant trait of the leader will inevitably influence his or her interpersonal style. For example, an influential type might use coaching and encourage workers to 'please' the leader, because this type of strategy would be very effective for him or herself. However, this is not necessarily the case of all employees: a conscientious type would certainly not be motivated by being encouraged to be a people-pleaser without a clear explanation of why what he or she needed to do was required by the task at hand.

Without an acute sense of self-consciousness of what motivates one's self, it is impossible to understand what motivates others and the differences between one's self and others. Being motivated primarily by the need for affiliation is not necessarily a bad thing, but when leading persons of a different mindset, it cannot be assumed they are exactly like one's self. This problem often arises when two departments at the same company must work together. Someone from human resources who is very influential in their style may struggle with the cutthroat 'me first' attitudes of a member of the sales staff or unintentionally alienate someone in IT who is very conscientious and cares very little about the human elements of the organization.

The DISC personality survey, of course, is only one form of personality typology amongst many. Another common method of assessing personality is that of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, which is based upon Jungian typology. According to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment method, everyone can be 'rated' on a scale of certain critical personality traits of introversion v. extroversion; thinking v. feeling; sensing v. intuiting; judging vs. perceiving. Once again, taking such an inventory can provide a clearer picture of one's personal orientation as an employee and one's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of others. "Much information about effective working style can be gleaned from the MBTI…an intuitive type has clearest visions of what is around the bend…extroverts develop their ideas through discussion" (Miles 2013). In contrast, introverts are mainly motivated by time spent alone and the ability to recharge their batteries by taking opportunities for self-reflection. An extrovert with an awareness that he or she is an extrovert is better able to understand the introvert who is not similarly driven by team-based meetings and requires some creative downtime to be productive. Once again, self-assessment helps the leader understand both him or herself and also other employees with different personality types. Understanding customers is also facilitated by the use of such self-assessments. Many companies must construct an ideal market 'profile' for the demographics of a new product. Again, it is important not to assume what motivates someone of a different worldview, gender, age, occupation, and lifestyle is the same as one's self.

Self-assessment in a less formalized manner can also be very useful in terms of goal-setting, an important component of career development. It is all too common to simply blunder through the workday without a clear sense of where one is 'heading' in terms of the next five or ten years. By clearly understanding what your goals are, it is easier to know what type of education and experiences are required to meet those objectives. Without goals, a worker is doomed to a sense of drifting and dissatisfaction.

Of course, one objection to this emphasis on self-assessment is that the process of self-assessment has been widely criticized as inaccurate, given the difficulty of truly 'seeing one's self. According to one researcher, "in general, people's self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance. The correlation between self-ratings of skill and actual performance in many domains is moderate to meager -- indeed, at times, other people's predictions of a person's outcomes prove more accurate than that person's self-predictions" (Dunning, Heath, & Suls 2004). There is a strong tendency to overrate one's performance and to have too much confidence in one's ability.

It is important to note, therefore, that personality inventories are far from foolproof and general self-assessments of personal competencies may be biased. However, self-assessments are seldom used in isolation and instead are viewed in conjunction with other performance evaluation methods. Even if they are not 'perfect' in their accuracy, the self-criticism called upon by the structure of the evaluation can be invaluable in emphasizing the divide between self and other, and may at very least mitigate the solipsistic tendencies inherent to human psychology.

Self-assessments are likely to be even more critical in the future, given the increasingly diverse nature of the modern workplace. Even more so than ever before, employees must deal with people who come from cultures with very different assumptions than themselves. Taking an inventory of one's cultural assumptions is a first step; the next is actively seeking to educate one's self of cultural differences between one's self and others. Instead of making the default assumption that someone is 'wrong,' self-assessment encourages a leader to take a step back, take a breath, and assess the other persons' behavior from a multicultural perspective.

For example, someone from a non-demonstrative, high-context culture such as Japan might not make much eye contact with his superiors. In the context of his cultural worldview, this might be considered a sign of respect; for an American this might be viewed as a sign of weakness. Americans and Northern Europeans tend to value individualism to a far greater degree than persons outside the region: once again, this is not something that is 'wrong,' rather it merely means that an awareness that the manners and mores of 'the self' are not universal. Empathy is required to get along more harmoniously within…[continue]

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