Strategies that will improve your non-verbal communication skills

Body language

Interest in non-verbal behavior or body language has grown rapidly in recent years, especially because in this fast-paced and time-poor world we’re constantly judged on first impressions (Borg, 2009). People are making snap decision to whether they trust, like, want to work with, or have a love affair with us – and much more. As research continually points out, words alone don’t provide the whole picture. It is the nature of the human condition that we communicate more through the body than merely through language (Borg, 2009).

To quickly define it, body language is a kind of nonverbal communication where thoughts, intentions, or feelings are expressed by physical behaviors such as facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space (Borg, 2009).

Body language is a two-way street. You need to be aware of your own body language – and the messages you are giving out. In addition, you need to know how to read the body language of others to determine the messages they are putting out.

There is no one size fits all on how to use your body language. What you do might be interpreted in several ways, depending on the setting and who you are talking to. You’ll probably want to use your body language differently when talking to your boss compared to when you talk to a girl or guy you’re interested in.

You can change your body language, but as with all new habits it takes a while. Behaviors like keeping you head up might take extra time to correct if you have spent thousands of days looking at your feet. What follows are 15 ways for you to start improving your body language. (Just don’t try and change too many things at once or it might become confusing and overwhelming!)

  1. Don’t cross your arms or legs – You have probably already heard you shouldn’t cross your arms as it might make you seem defensive or guarded. This goes for your legs too. Keep your arms and legs open.
  2. Have eye contact, but don’t stare– If there are several people you are talking to, give them all some eye contact to create a better connection and see if they are listening. Keeping too much eye-contact might creep people out. Giving no eye-contact might make you seem insecure. If you are not used to keeping eye-contact it might feel a little hard or scary in the beginning but keep working on it and you’ll get used to it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take up some space– Taking up space by sitting or standing with your legs a bit apart, for example, signals self-confidence and that you are comfortable in your own skin.
  4. Relax your shoulders– When you feel tense it easily winds up as tension in your shoulders. They might move up and forward a bit. Try to relax. Try to loosen up by shaking the shoulders a bit and move them back slightly.
  5. Nod when listening– nod once in a while to signal that you are attentive. But don’t overdo it and peck like Woody Woodpecker.
  6. Don’t slouch and sit up straight– but in a relaxed way, not in a too tense manner.
  7. Lean, but not too much – If you want to show that you are interested in what someone is saying, lean toward the person talking. If you want to show that you’re confident in yourself and relaxed lean back a bit. But don’t lean in too much or you might seem needy and desperate for some approval. Or lean back too much or you might seem arrogant and distant.
  8. Smile and laugh– lighten up, don’t take yourself too seriously. Relax a bit, smile and laugh when someone says something funny. People will be a lot more inclined to listen to you if you seem to be a positive person. But don’t be the first to laugh at your own jokes, it makes you seem nervous and needy. Smile when you are introduced to someone but don’t keep a smile plastered on your face, you’ll seem insincere.
  9. Don’t touch your face– it might make you seem nervous and can be distracting for the listeners or the people in the conversation.
  10. Keep your head up– Don’t keep your eyes on the ground, it might make you seem insecure and a bit lost. Keep your head up straight and your eyes towards the horizon.
  11. Slow down a bit– this goes for many behaviors. Walking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, it will also make you feel less stressed. If someone addresses you, don’t snap your neck in their direction, turn it a bit more slowly instead.
  12. Realize where you spine ends– many people (including me until recently) might sit or stand with a straight back in a good posture. However, they might think that the spine ends where the neck begins and therefore crane the neck forward in a Montgomery Burns-like pose. Your spine ends in the back of your head. Keep your whole spine straight and aligned for better posture.
  13. Don’t stand too close–one of the things we learned from Seinfeld is that everybody gets weirded out by a close-talker. Let people have their personal space and do not invade it.
  14. Mirror– Often when you get along with a person, as you develop a connection you will start to mirror each other unconsciously. That means that you mirror the other person’s body language a bit. To make the connection better you can try a bit of proactive mirroring. If he leans forward, you might lean forward. If she holds her hands on her thighs, you might do the same. But don’t react instantly and don’t mirror every change in body language, or weirdness will ensue.
  15. Keep a good attitude– last but not least, keep a positive, open and relaxed attitude. How you feel will come through in your body language and can make a major difference.

Take a couple of these body language bits to work on every day for three to four weeks. By then they should have developed into new habits and something you’ll do without even thinking about it. If not, keep on until it sticks. Then take another couple of things you’d like to change and work on them.

One suggestion is to practice in front of a mirror or video tape yourself on your phone or tablet. It might seem silly, but no one is watching you. This will give you good feedback on how you look to other people and give you an opportunity to practice a bit before going out into the world.

In addition, you may also want to observe friends, role models, movie stars or other people you think have good body language. Observe what they do and you don’t do. Take bits and pieces you like from different people. Try using what you can learn from them.


Borg, J. (2009). Body language: 7 easy lessons to master the silent language. FT press.






Why Teams Fail


A recent talk from Dr. Tan at Claremont McKenna College has got my wheels turning on how important teamwork can be not only in organizations, but also in sports or in a classroom. Teamwork in the workplace offers a company and its staff the opportunity to become more familiar and to learn how to work together. The incorporation of teams into the workplace has become a powerful organizational tool used by leaders. Organizations are now more networked, flexible, and dynamic as outsourcing, globalization, and competitive pressures force organizations to rely on work teams (Blanchard, 2005). This increase of teams has shifted organizational structures and operations, forcing leaders to evaluate their leadership strategies (Devine et al., 1999; Rousseau, 1997). Understanding elements of teamwork will assist in developing company policies geared toward encouraging team growth in the workplace, thus enhancing productivity and profitability.

Patrick Lencioni (2005) explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failure in his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” He focuses as well on the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to “row together.” What follows is a summary of these five dysfunctions:

  1. Absence of trust—unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. This is the most important and the foundation for any successful team. Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with one another, without filters
  2. Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate. Teams that trust one another are not afraid to engage in passionate dialogue around issues and decisions that are key to an organization’s success. They do not hesitate to disagree with, challenge, and question one another, all in the spirit of finding the best answers, discovering the truth, and making great decisions.
  3. Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization. Teams that engage in unfiltered conflict are able to achieve genuine buy-in around important decisions, even when various members of the team initially disagree. That’s because they ensure that all opinions and ideas are put on the table and considered, giving confidence to team members that no stone has been left un-turned.
  4. Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards. Teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decisions and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the team leader as the primary source of accountability – they go directly to their peers.
  5. Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success. Teams that trust one another, engage in conflict, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable are very likely to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus almost exclusively on what is best for the team. They do not give in to the temptations to place their departments, career aspirations, or ego-driven status ahead of the collective results that define team success.

Looking back now at teams you have been a part of, consider:

  • What behaviors – by their presence or absence – caused the failure in a team you have worked on in the past?
  • What factors contributed to some of your teams succeeding and others failing?


Blanchard, O. (2005). European unemployment: The evolution of facts and ideas. NBER Working paper series, 11750. Retrieved from

Devine, D. J., Clayton, L. D., Philips, J. L., Dunford, B. B., & Melner, S. B. (1999). Team in organizations: Prevalence, characteristics, and effectiveness. Small Group Research, 30, 678-711.


Patrick, L. (2005). Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team.

Rousseau, D. M. (1997). Organizational behavior in the new organizational era. Annual Review of Psychology, 48(1), 515-546.

Tan (2105). Why Teams Fail. Speech at Claremont McKenna College.


Distinguishing between Leadership and Management

Wheel and compass square

I just finished a conversation about the differences and similarities between leaders and managers. During the discussion, I brought up an analogy I have used in the past to describe them: A manager is the wheel of the ship and the leader is the compass, both are needed in order to get the ship in the right direction. Inspired by this discussion, I collected the concepts and comparisons of leadership versus management from the leadership literature.

Leadership is defined formally as the process by which an individual influences other in ways that help group and organizational goals (Greenberg, 2005; Yukl, 2012). From this definition, it may seem that leaders and managers are quite similar. Indeed, the two terms have often been used interchangeably. However, this is misleading insofar as they are conceptually distinct (Weathersby, 1999). The primary function of a leader is to create the essential purpose of the organization and the strategy for attaining it. By contrast, the job of a manager is to implement that vision. Managers are responsible for achieving that end and taking the steps necessary to make the leader’s vision a reality. The reason for the confusion is that the distinction between establishing a mission and implementing it is often blurred in practice.

That being said, many leadership scholars (e.g., Bass & Stogdill, 1990; Greenberg, 2005; Hickman, 1992; Kotter, 1988; Mintzber, 2003; Rost, 1993; Yukl, 2012) view leading and managing as distinct processes but they do not assume that managers and leaders have to be different people.  With this research in mind, I have outlined goals of and processes performed specifically by managers versus leaders (Kotter, 1990).

Leadership seeks to produce organizational change by:

1.) Developing a vision of the future and strategies for making necessary changes

2.) Communicating and explaining the vision.

3.) Motivating and inspiring people to attain the vision.

Management seeks to produce predictability and order by:

1.) Setting operational goals, establishing actions plans with timetables, and allocating resources.

2.) Organizing and staffing (establishing structure, assigning people to jobs).

3.) Monitoring results and solving problems.

Now that you have a better understand of some of the processes, it is important to note that management and leadership both involve deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of relationships to do it, and working to ensure it happens. However the two processes have some incompatible elements; strong leadership can disrupt order and efficiency, and strong management can discourage risk taking and innovation. Both processes are necessary for the success of an organization. For instance using strong management can create bureaucracy without purpose, and only using strong leadership can create change that is impractical. The relative importance of the two processes and the best way to integrate them truly depends on the situation at the time and the needs of the organization.


Bass, B. M., & Stogdill, R. M. (1990). Handbook of leadership. Theory, Research & Managerial Applications, 3.

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hickman, C. (1992).  Mind of a manager soul of a leader. University of Texas Press.


Kotter, J. P. (1988). The leadership factor (Vol. 10). New York: Free Press.

Kotter, J. P. (1990). Force for change: How leadership differs from management. New York: Free Press.

Mintzberg, H. (2003). The manager’s job: Folklore and fact. London: Routledge.

Rost, J. C. (1993). Leadership development in the new millennium. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 1(1), 91-110.

Weathersby, G. B. (1999). Leadership vs management. Management Review, p. 5

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.


Emotional Intelligence: How do you know if you have it?


Emotions are important on the job insofar as that people who are good at “reading” and understanding emotions in others and who are able to regulate their own emotions tend to have an edge when it comes to dealing with others. Recently, experts have come to recognize the importance of what is called emotional intelligence (EQ)– that is, a cluster of skills related to the emotional aspects of life, such as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among emotions, and to use such information to direct one’s thoughts actions (Greenberg, 2005; Goleman, 1988).

As you might imagine, people who have highly developed emotional intelligence in the workplace have an edge in many different ways. Consider entrepreneurs, for example. To be successful, individuals usually have to be able to accurately judge what other people are like and to get along with others well enough to craft successful business deals. Not surprisingly, several aspects of emotional intelligence are related to the financial success of entrepreneurs (Baron & Markam, 2005). Clearly, having high levels of emotional intelligence is a real plus when it comes to one’s success on the job (Jordan, Ashkanazy, & Haertel, 2003).

Specifically, people who are considered to have high emotional intelligence (those said to have high “EQ”) demonstrate four key characteristics:

– Skills in regulating one’s own emotions: High EQs are good at self-regulation; that is they are aware of their own feelings and display the most appropriate emotions. For example, people who can calmly discuss their feelings and do not yell at others at when angered exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence.

 Ability to monitor others’ emotions: People with high EQ’s are very good at judging how they are affecting other people and behaving accordingly. Such an individual would perhaps refrain from sharing bad news with a colleague who is already upset about something in his life. Instead, she would be inclined to wait for a more appropriate time.

– Interest in motivating oneself: There are times when many of us feel frustrated and lack interest in whatever we are doing and want to quit. This is not the case of people with high EQ’s. Rather, such individuals motivate themselves to sustain their performance, directing their emotions toward personal goals and resisting the temptation to quit.

– Highly developed social skills: People with high EQ’s also are very good at keeping a great number of relationships going over long periods of time. If you know people like this, realize that long-standing relationships are no accident. Such individuals are not only skilled at forming networks of relationships, but they are also able to coordinate carefully and work out ways to get along with others, even during difficult periods.



Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam.

Baran, R. A., & Markam, G. (2005). Social competence and entrepreneurs’ financial success. Journal of applied psychology.

Jordan, P. J., Ashkanazy, N. M., & Haertel, C. E. J. (2003). The case for emotional intelligence in organizational research. Academy of managment review, 28, 195-197.



Appreciative Inquiry: Making a positive impact


Elbert Hubbard said “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” With that quote in mind, I would like to introduce an Organization Development [“OD”] intervention that analyses the positive aspects of organizations. Although, Survey Feedback and Management by Objectives are highly regarded OD techniques, they focus on deficiencies, such as negative feedback and unmet goals. A more recent approach to organizational development known as Appreciative Inquiry helps organizations break out of this focus on negative dynamics by emphasizing the positive and the possible (Harigopal, 2001). Specifically, appreciative inquiry is an OD intervention that focuses attention away from an organization’s shortcomings and toward its capabilities and it potential (Greenberg, 2005). It is based on the assumption that members of organizations already know the problems they face and that they stand to benefit more by focusing on what is possible.

As currently practiced, the process of appreciative inquiry follows four straight-forward steps I have listed below:

1.) Discovery: The discovery step involves identifying the positive aspects of the organization, the best of “what is.” This is frequently accomplished by documenting the positive reactions of customers or people from the organization or other organizations.

2.) Dreaming: Through the process of discovering the organization’s strengths, it is possible to begin dreaming by envisioning “what might be.” By discussing dreams for a theoretically ideal organization, employees are free to reveal their ideal hopes and dreams.

3.) Designing: The designing stage involves having a dialogue in which participants discuss their ideas about “what should be.” The underlying idea is that by listening to others in a highly receptive manner, it is possible to understand others’ ideas and to come to a common understanding of what the future should look like.

4.) Delivering:  After having jointly discussed the ideal star of affairs, members of the organization are ready to begin instituting a plan for delivering their ideas. This involves establishing specific objectives and directions regarding “what will be.”

Because appreciative inquiry is considered a fairly new approach to OD, it has not been as widely used as other interventions. However, those organizations in which it has been used have quite pleased with the results (Bushe & Coetzer, 1995; Greenberg, 2005).


Bushe, G. R., & Coetzer, G. (1995). Appreciative inquiry as a team-developed intervention: A controlled experiment. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 31, 13-30.

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Harigopal, K. (2001). Management of organizational change: Leveraging transformation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage


Finding the Perfect Job: Person-Job Fit


As I begin my transition out of my graduate program and look for a new full-time job, I have been re-evaluating the question “What is my dream job?” Why is it that you decide to become a lawyer whereas your sister or brother is interested in being a doctor, a police officer, a musician, or a chef – anything but a lawyer? To a great extent, the answer lays in the notion of person-job fit, that is, the degree to which a particular job matches an individual’s skills, abilities, and interests (Greenberg, 2005). This was the basic idea of John Holland, a scientist who specialized in studying occupational choice. Specifically, he believed that a person’s occupational choice is based primarily on his or her personality (Holland, 1973). His research has established two important findings:

  • People from various occupations tend to have many similar personality characteristics.
  • People whose characteristics match those of people in a given field are predisposed to success in that field.

So, for example, assume for argument’s sake that successful lawyers tend to have certain characteristics in common: They are very inquisitive, detail oriented, and analytical – characteristics that help do their jobs well. According to Holland’s theory of vocational choice, you would be attracted to the field of law, because being a lawyer “suits you,” and you “have what it takes” to succeed at that field, you are likely to select that occupation.

With that in mind I would like to go over Holland’s theory of vocational choicewhich specifies that people are most satisfied with occupations that match their personalities. People are classified into any of six distinct personality types, each of which is associated with a particular work environment that best suits them. These pairings and the occupations that most closely match them are summarized below.

Traits Holland type Environments Occupations
Practical, shy, materialistic Realistic Work with hands, machines, or tools, focus on tangible results Auto mechanic, Assembly worker, Mechanical engineer
Analytic, introverted, reserved, precise, curious Investigative Discovering, collecting, analyzing and solving problems Systems analyst, Dentist, Scientist
Creative, impulsive, idealistic, intuitive, emotional Artistic Creating new products or ideas, especially in an unstructured setting Novelist, Advertising copy-writer, Sculptor
Sociable, outgoing, conscientious, need for affection Social Serving or helping others; working in teams Social worker, Counselor, Nurse
Confident, energetic, assertive, high need for power Enterprising Leading others, achieving goals through other in a results-oriented environment Manager, Politician, Stockbroker
Dependable, disciplined, orderly, practical, efficient Conventional Systematic manipulation of data or information Accountant, Banker, Actuary


Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Holland, J. (1973). Making vocational choices: A theory of careers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Gottfredson, G. D., & Holland, J.L. (1990). A longitudinal test of the influence of congruence: Job satisfaction, competency, utlization, and counterproductive behavior. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 37, 389-398.



Followership: Why is it important for Leadership?

Friends Playing on the Beach Trinidad and Tobago

Do you know when you are leading? The answer is by your followers. We have long known that followers are essential to leadership. Yet despite the abundance of investigations into leadership in organizational studies (Yukl, 2012), little attention has been paid to followership until recently (Baker, 2007; Bligh, 2011; Carsten, Uhl-Bien, West, Patera, & McGregor, 2010; Kelley, 2008; Sy, 2010). Furthermore, when followers have been considered, they are thought of generally as recipients of a leader’s influence. As the study of followers as a key component of the leadership process, through their enactment of followership, has been largely missed in the leadership literature (Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe, & Carsten, 2014), I have put the definition and the constructs of followership theory below.


Followership theory is the study of the nature and impact of followers and following in the leadership process (Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe, & Carsten, 2014). This means that the construct of followership includes:

  • A follower role (i.e., a position in relation to leaders)
  • Following behaviors (i.e., behaviors in relation to leaders)
  • Outcomes associated with the leadership process (i.e., performance)

If adopting a constructionist (process) approach, it also involves consideration of the co-constructed nature of the leadership process.

In addition to understanding the definition it is also important to establish clear boundaries for the study of followership (Bacharach, 1989; Cronbach & Meehl, 1955). Followership is the characteristics, behaviors and processes of individuals acting in relation to leaders. It is not general employee behavior. This means that the term follower is not the same as employee. For a construct to qualify as followership it must be conceptualized and operationalized in relation to leaders or the leadership
process and/or in contexts in which individuals identify themselves in follower positions (e.g., subordinates) or as having follower identities (Collinson, 2006; DeRue & Ashford, 2010).

Followership Constructs:

• Followership characteristics: characteristics that impact how one defines and enacts followership. Examples may include role orientations, motivations, intellectual and analytical abilities, affect, and social constructions of followers and/or individuals
identified as engaging in following behaviors.

• Followership behaviors: behaviors enacted from the standpoint of a follower role or in the act of following. Examples include the multiple expressions of overt followership including obeying, deferring, voicing, resisting, advising, etc.

• Followership outcomes: outcomes of followership characteristics and behaviors that may occur at the individual, relationship and work-unit levels. Examples include leader reactions to followers, such as burnout or contempt, follower advancement or dismissal, whether leaders trust and seek advice from followers, and how followership contributes to the leadership process, i.e., leadership and organizational outcomes.


Bacharach, S. B. (1989). Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 496–515.

Baker, S. D. (2007). Followership: Theoretical foundation for a contemporary construct. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 14(1), 50–60.

Bligh, M. (2011). Followership and follower-centered approaches. In A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Grint, B. Jackson, & M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Leadership (pp. 425–436). London: Sage.

Carsten, M. K., Uhl-Bien, M., West, B. J., Patera, J. L., & McGregor, R. (2010). Exploring social constructs of followership: A qualitative study. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 543–562.

Collinson, D. (2006). Rethinking followership: A post-structuralist analysis of follower identities. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(2), 179–189

Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological bulletin, 52(4), 281–302.

DeRue, S., & Ashford, S. (2010). Who will lead and who will follow? A social process of leadership identity construction in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 627–647

Kelley, R. E. (2008). Rethinking followership. In R. Riggio, I. Chaleff, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp. 5–16). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Sy, T. (2010). What do you think of followers? Examining the content, structure, and consequences of implicit followership theories. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 113(2), 73–84.

Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83-104.

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

What is Organizational Behavior and Why Does it Matter?

People abstract

Over the holidays and at the end of the year, many people find themselves with family and friends catching up and discussing what has happened over the past year. I have been asked, “What is a degree in Organizational Behavior?” With that in mind I would like to describe what Organizational Behavior is and why it is important in today’s business world.

Organizational Behavior: A Definition

Organizational Behavior is the multidisciplinary field that seeks knowledge of behavior in organizational settings by systematically studying the individual, group, and organizational processes (Greenberg, 2005).

Why Does Organizational Behavior Matter?

First, I would like to pose a question question that asks you to draw on your personal experiences: Have you ever had a job where people didn’t get along, nobody knew what to do, everyone goofed off, and your boss was, well, unpleasant?

If you have, I can’t imagine that you liked working in that company at all. Now, think of another position in which everyone was friendly. In such a situation, you are likely to be interested in going to work, doing your best, and taking pride in what you do. At the heart of these differences are all issues that are of great concern to Organizational Behavior scientists and practitioners – and, as a result, they are the ones that are covered in this blog.

“Okay,” you may be asking, “in some companies things are nice and smooth, but in others, relationships are rocky – does it really matter?” As you can see throughout this blog, the answer is a resounding yes!

Here are a few highlights of specific ways in which Organizational Behavior matters to people and the organizations in which they work.

  • Companies whose managers accurately appraise the work of their subordinates enjoy lower costs and higher productivity than those that handle their appraisals less accurately (Risher, 1999; Greenberg, 2005).
  • People who are satisfied with the way they are treated on the job are generally more pleasant to their co-workers and bosses and are less likely to quit than those who are dissatisfied with the way others treat them (Judge & Church, 2000; Greenberg, 2005).
  • People who are carefully trained to work together in teams tend to be happier and more productive than those who are simply thrown together without any definite organizational support (Hackman, Wageman, Ruddy, & Ray, 2000; Greenberg, 2005).
  • Employees who believe they have been treated unfairly on the job are more likely to steal from their employers and reject the policies of their organizations than those who believe they have been fairly treated (Greenberg, 2001).
  • People who are mistreated by their supervisors on the job experience more mental and physical illness than those who are treated with kindness, dignity, and respect (Benavides, Benach, Diez-Roux, & Roman, 2000; Greenberg, 2005).
  • Companies that offer good employee benefits and that have friendly conditions are more profitable than those who are less people oriented (Bollinger, 1996; Greenberg, 2005).

By now, you might be asking yourself: Who is responsible for Organizational Behavior in an organization? In a sense, the answer is everyone! Although Organizational Behavior is an area of study, it cuts across all areas of organizational functioning and can many times be housed in Human Resources and Organizational Development.

However, managers in all departments have to know how to motivate their employees, how to keep people satisfied with their jobs, how to communicate fairly, how to make teams function effectively, and how to design jobs most effectively.  In short, dealing with people at work is everybody’s responsibility on the job. So, no matter what job you do in a company knowing something about Organizational Behavior is sure to help you do it better.


Benavides, F. G., Benach, J., Diez-Roux, A.V., & Roman, C. (2000). How do types of employment relate to health indicators? Findings from the Second European Survey on working conditions. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 54, 494-501.

Greenberg, J. (2001). Promote procedural justice to enhance acceptance of work outcomes. In E. A. Locke (Ed.), A handbook of principles of organizational behavior. Malden, MA: Blackwell

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hackman, J. R., Wageman, R., Ruddy, T. M., & Ray, C. L. (2000). Team effectiveness in theory and practice. In C. A. Cooper & E. A. Locke (Eds.), Industrial and organizational psychology: Linking theory to practice (pp. 109-129). Malden, MA: Blackwell.


Judge, T. A., & Church, A. H. (2000). Job satisfaction: Research and practice. In C. A. Cooper & E. A. Locke (Eds.), Industrial and organizational psychology: Linking theory to practice (pp. 166-198). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Risher, H. (1999).  Aligning pay and results. New York: AMACOM.





What makes someone a transformational leader?


When considering great leaders throughout history, the names of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy are certain to come to mind. These individuals were effective at envisioning change in society and then bringing these visions to reality (Greenberg, 2005). People who revitalize and transform society or organizations are known as transformational leaders.  Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech inspired people to support the civil rights movement and President Kennedy’s shared vision of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth” inspired the “space race” of the 1960’s. For these reasons, they are considered transformational leaders. Although these examples are useful we must ask: Exactly what makes a leader transformational? After looking at the leadership literature, I have listed several key characteristics of transformational leaders (Greenberg, 2005).

– Charisma: Transformational leaders have a mission and inspire others to follow them, often in a highly emotional manner.

– Self-Confidence: Transformational leaders are highly confident in their abilities and judgment, and others readily become aware of this. Self-confidence can be built up from improving your self-efficacy.

– Vision: Transformational leaders have ideas about how to improve the status quo and do what it takes to changes things for the better, even if it means making personal sacrifices.

– Environmental sensitivity: Transformational leader are highly realistic about constraints imposed on them and the resources needed to change things. They know what they can and cannot do.

– Intellectually stimulating: Transformational leaders help followers recognize problems and show them ways of solving them.

– Interpersonal consideration: Transformational leaders give followers the support, encouragement, and attention they need to to perform their jobs well.

– Inspiration: Transformational leaders clearly communicate the importance of the company’s mission and rely on symbols (e.g. pins and slogans) to help focus their efforts.

– Morality: Transformational leaders tend to make decisions in a manner showing advanced levels of moral reasoning and ethical leadership.



Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.


Holiday Rush: Why your package may not make it to you as planned


With the rush of the holidays and our busy schedules, many of us order gifts online instead of going to a store. I would also venture to say that most of us expect them to be delivered as specified on the confirmed delivery date! During the holidays however, things may not go as expected. After a recent experience at UPS, where my package is somewhere in the Los Angeles facility, I decided it was critical to highlight the impact temporary employees can have on an organization’s effectiveness.  I have presented two possible explanations as to why your package may not make it to you in time for the holidays.

Lack of Organizational Commitment

Temporary workers do not have the same sense of commitment as permanent employees, and rightly so. Although managers cannot control the external economy, they can do several things to motivate employees to want to stay with the company – that is, to enhance effective commitment. Here are three methods from the leadership literature to develop organizational commitment:

  1. Enrich jobs: People tend to be highly committed to their organizations if once trained they are given autonomy in their job tasks and recognized for making important contributions (Greenberg, 2005). Both temporary and permanent employees should be about to feel like they have the autonomy to handle tasks. Lastly, recognition is important especially for temporary employees because it helps to integrate them in the culture of the organization, even if it is only for seasonal employment.
  2. Align the interests of the company with those of the employees: Employees, including temporary ones, are more likely to show higher commitment to their organization when they see that improving the company benefits their own situations as well (Greenberg, 2005).
  3. Recruit and select new employees whose values closely match those of the organization: Recruiting new employees is important not only because it allows the organizations to accommodate seasonal demands; it also provides an opportunity to find people whose values match those of the organization (Greenberg, 2005).

Inadequate Employee Training

To be effective, temporary employees must have the right blend of skills needed to for their team to be successful and this can be accomplished through the systematic acquisition and improvement of the skills and abilities needed to improve their job performance – that is, training (Greenberg, 2005). It was brought to my attention while at UPS that some of the temporary employees were still trying to get the hang of their job, which indicates that they may not have received enough orientation training.

  1. Participation: People not only learn more quickly but also retain skills longer when they have actively participated in the learning process. This applies to the learning of both motor tasks as well as cognitive skills.
  2. Repetition: If you know the old adage “practice make perfect,” you are already aware of the benefits of repetition on learning. Scientists have not only established the benefits of repetition on learning but also have shown that they effects are even greater when practice is spread out over time rather than lumped together. After all, when practice periods are too long learning can suffer from fatigue, whereas learning a little bit at a time allows the material to sink in most effectively.
  3. Transfer of training: As you might imagine, for training to be most effective what is learned during training must be applied to the job. In general, the more closely a training program matches the demands of a job, the more effective the training will be.
  4. Feedback: It is extremely difficult for learning to occur in the absence of feedback. Feedback allows employees to correct problems and improve performance with guidance (Greenberg, 2005; Ilgen & Moore, 1987)


Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Ilgen, D.R. & Moore, C.F. (1987). Types and choices of performance feedback. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 401-406.