Organizational Behavior Management (OBM): A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

November 16, 2021

Organizational behavior management is a great way to improve your workplace, increase employee satisfaction and grow productivity. It can also help you set attainable goals while keeping employees productive. Organizational behavior management can allow managers to improve their workplace through a deliberate approach to important data and necessary changes. In this article, we explain the ideas behind organizational behavior management and how to implement them in your workplace.

What is organizational behavior management?

Organizational behavior management is a theory that seeks to understand the behavior of individuals, teams and overall companies or organizations as a way of increasing productivity and encouraging a positive work culture. As a part of organizational behavior management, managers assess how individuals function in their positions, how they work within their teams, how teams perform and how all these pieces fit together to understand the effectiveness of the company as a whole.

Organizational behavior management evolved out of the field of applied behavior analysis and involves an understanding of disciplines like psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, economics and political science. Here's more about the specialties and different areas of organizational behavior management:

Specialties of organizational behavior management

The following is more information about the three specialties:

  • Performance management: In performance management, managers discuss and track behaviors through things like performance reviews and feedback to ensure employees have the information they need to do an effective job and are rewarded for good performance.

  • Systems analysis: Systems analysis places the emphasis on systems within a company to organize how work should be done and how employees and teams need to collaborate for maximum efficiency.

  • Behavior-based safety: With behavior-based safety, employees and teams are taught ways to act in a safer manner, rather than just relying on equipment to be safe.

Interventions in organizational behavior management

There are two primary interventions under organizational behavior management:

  • Antecedent interventions: In antecedent interventions, management addresses how to encourage desirable behaviors through positive encouragement. Examples of this would be goal setting, training, task clarification and job aids.

  • Consequence interventions: Consequence interventions are more focused on following up on behaviors and reinforcing desirable actions from employees and teams through positive feedback and rewards.

In general, both types of interventions should be used to encourage the behaviors management wants to see, and the approach should be positive to have the best results.

Advanced knowledge of organizational behavior management

While organizational behavior management is something that any employee can use, especially managers who can make changes within their workplace, there are analysts and consultants who specialize in this field. An organization that is unclear on how to proceed in order to meet its desired goals could consider working with a consultant or hiring an internal analyst focused on organizational behavior management.

You can also earn a degree in organizational behavior management if you're interested in pursuing a career in this field. You may find that studying this theory could make you a better manager, or you could pursue a job as an organizational behavior management consultant.

Related: 7 Ways Organizational Culture and Leadership are Connected

Why is organizational behavior management important?

Organizational behavior management can create a more positive, effective company or organization. There is some planning required to put organizational behavior management objectives in place, but it can lead to a happier, more productive workforce.

Many employers find that using the methods of organizational behavior management educates the whole company on ways to be productive and collaborative. By encouraging a positive culture and environment, employers may be more likely to retain employees and increase profits through productivity.

Related: Learn about Organizational Leadership

How to implement organizational behavior management

To craft a plan for organizational behavior management, you can use the following steps:

1. Define your goals

Before beginning any look into organizational behavior management, it's important to know what the desired outcome is. Effective goals are measurable, such as increasing productivity by 15% or reducing on-the-job injuries by 30%. You should clearly define these metrics so it's easier for everyone involved to know the specific steps they can take to help.

2. Clarify the target behaviors

At this stage, decide what behaviors and results can lead to the desired goals being achieved. If productivity is down due to a lack of organized communication on projects, perhaps researching ways to fix the communication issues would help increase productivity. To track the results necessary to increase productivity by the desired amount, you can decide how many projects need to be delivered per month.

3. Create metrics

Track your organizational goals with defined numbers. For example, to increase productivity by 15% in a year, you can set a specific number of meetings per month to keep projects on track, and at least five projects must be delivered on time per month. If you're trying to improve safety, you could focus on recognition among the staff for being particularly safe and responsible. This could include a goal of five commendations by employees for their coworkers per month, while also tracking metrics related to lowering injuries each month.

4. Understand the issues

Much of what occurs at work can affect day-to-day operations and the ability of staff to meet goals. If you are trying to improve your team with organizational behavior management, take a look at the data behind the issues you are trying to correct. Evaluate the four potential causes of problems:

  • Antecedents

  • Knowledge and skills

  • Equipment and processes

  • Consequences

For instance, if you want to improve safety, you could explore the current equipment and process procedures. You could find that there's a lack of employee training.

5. Craft a solution

In order to meet goals, it's important to understand how to solve the problems you've discovered at your company. If you discover through data that the inadequate training is leading to safety issues, it's possible to create a new training program that can correct that and create a more capable workforce. Similarly, if employees aren't being as productive as they could be due to being unaware of what's expected of them, improving communication can address that issue.

Related: 10-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Change Management Strategy

6. Evaluate metrics

Throughout this process, review the metrics established when you first started. It is most important to have data related to metrics at the start of the process, during any changes and when the changes are complete. That information can assist you in understanding how the changes being implemented affect the staff and organization. There are three areas of results that you can evaluate:

  • Behavior change results: Behavior change results are related to how employees and managers have responded to the changes being made. For instance, if there was an increase in meetings to communicate the status of projects, you can see how this change affected all the relevant employees. The data should include the correlation between the number of meetings, employee satisfaction and productivity numbers.

  • Treatment acceptability: Treatment acceptability tells you if team members accepted the changed and if they would be willing to accept more change. This requires an understanding of the feelings of all employees affected and an ability to evaluate the pros and cons of any new processes. If employees are happy with workplace changes, it increases their satisfaction and the likelihood they will follow new procedures.

  • Cost-benefit results: Cost-benefit results guide you on if the cost in money, employee time or other related costs are worth what you gain. Perhaps investing in new equipment could lower the number of employee injuries throughout the year. This could ultimately lower the cost of things like worker's compensation insurance claims, which could offset the cost of new equipment.

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