Drivers of Behavior

Defining Attitude

An attitude is generally defined as the way a person responds to his or her environment, either positively or negatively.

Learning Objectives

Define attitude within the context of behavioral norms for employees in an organization

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • An attitude could be generally defined as a way a person responds to his or her environment, either positively or negatively. The precise definition of attitude is nonetheless a source of some discussion and debate.
  • Work environment can affect a person's attitude.
  • Some attitudes are a dangerous element in the workplace, one that can spread to those closest to the employee and affect everyone's performance.
  • Attitudes are the confluence of an individual and external stimuli, and therefore everyone is in a position of responsibility to improve them (managers, employees, and organizations ).
  • A strong work environment is vital for an effective and efficient workplace.

Key Terms

  • attitude: Disposition or state of mind.


An attitude could be generally defined as the way a person responds to his or her environment, either positively or negatively. The definition of attitude is nonetheless a source of some discussion and debate.

When defining attitude, it is helpful to bear two useful conflicts in mind. The first is the existence of ambivalence or differences of attitude towards a given person, object, situation etc. from the same person, sometimes at the same time. This ambivalence indicates that attitude is inherently more complex than a simple sliding scale of positive and negative, and defining these axes in different ways is integral to identifying the essence of attitude. The second conflict to keep in mind is the degree of implicit versus explicit attitude, which is to say subconscious versus conscious. Indeed, people are often completely ignorant of their implicit attitudes, complicating the ability to study and interpret them accurately.

The takeaway here is to be specific when discussing attitudes, and define terms carefully. For a manager to say that somebody has attitude, or that somebody is being negative or positive about something, is vague and nonconstructive. Instead, a manager's job is to observe and to try to pinpoint the possible causes and effects of a person's perspective on something.

Attitudes in the Workplace

Everyone has attitudes about many things; these are not necessarily a bad thing. One aspect of employees' attitude is the impact it can have on the people around them. People with a positive attitude can lift the spirits of their co-workers, while a person with a negative attitude can lower their spirits. Sometimes, though, this principle works in reverse, and attitudes are often more complex than positive or negative. Attitudes may affect both the employee's work performance and the performances of co-workers.


Attitude: A person's attitude can be influenced by his or her environment, just as a person's attitude affects his or her environment.

Can Management Change People's Attitudes?

Some attitudes represent a dangerous element in the workplace that can spread to those closest to the employee and affect everyone's performance. Is it a manager's responsibility to help change the person's attitude? Should the employee alone be responsible? The answer is that attitudes are the confluence of an individual and external stimuli, and therefore everyone is in a position of responsibility.

Still, a manager may be able to influence a employee's attitude if the root cause relates to work conditions or work environment. For example, employees may develop poor attitudes if they work long hours, if the company is having difficulties, or if they have relationship issues with the manager or another employee. Similarly, if employees feel believe there is little chance for advancement or that their efforts go unappreciated by the organization, they may develop a negative attitude. To the extent they are able, managers should strive to remedy these situations to encourage an effective work environment.

A strong work environment is vital for an effective and efficient workplace. Employees who are in a positive, encouraging work environment are more likely to seek solutions and remain loyal, even if the company is having financial difficulties. Even so, employees have some responsibility to alter their own attitudes. If management does everything in its power to create a positive environment and the employee refuses to participate, then managers can do little else to help. At times, attitudes are beyond the reach of the business to improve.

How Attitude Influences Behavior

Attitudes can positively or negatively affect a person's behavior, regardless of whether the individual is aware of the effects.

Learning Objectives

Explain how differing attitudes can have a meaningful effect on employee behavior

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Attitudes are infectious and can affect the people that are near the person exhibiting a given attitude, which in turn can influence their behavior as well.
  • Understanding different types of attitudes and their likely implications is useful in predicting how individuals' attitudes influence their behavior.
  • Daniel Katz identifies four categories of attitudes: utilitarian, knowledge, ego-defensive and value -expressive.
  • Organizations can influence a employee's attitudes and behavior by using different management strategies and by creating strong organizational environments.
  • As people are affected in different ways by varying influences, an organization may want to implement multiple strategies.

Key Terms

  • behavior change: Any transformation or modification of human habits or patterns of conduct.

Individual Attitudes and Behaviors

Attitudes can positively or negatively affect a person's behavior. A person may not always be aware of his or her attitude or the effect it is having on behavior. A person who has positive attitudes towards work and co-workers (such as contentment, friendliness, etc.) can positively influence those around them. These positive attitudes are usually manifested in a person's behavior; people with a good attitude are active and productive and do what they can to improve the mood of those around them.

In much the same way, a person who displays negative attitudes (such as discontentment, boredom, etc.), will behave accordingly. People with these types of attitudes towards work may likewise affect those around them and behave in a manner that reduces efficiency and effectiveness.

Attitudinal Categories

Attitude and behavior interact differently based upon the attitude in question. Understanding different types of attitudes and their likely implications is useful in predicting how individuals' attitudes may govern their behavior. Daniel Katz uses four attitude classifications:

  1. Utilitarian: Utilitarian refers to an individual's attitude as derived from self or community interest. An example could be getting a raise. As a raise means more disposable income, employees will have a positive attitude about getting a raise, which may positively affect their behavior in some circumstances.
  2. Knowledge: Logic, or rationalizing, is another means by which people form attitudes. When an organization appeals to people's logic and explains why it is assigning tasks or pursuing a strategy, it can generate a more positive disposition towards that task or strategy (and vice versa, if the employee does not recognize why a task is logical).
  3. Ego-defensive: People have a tendency to use attitudes to protect their ego, resulting in a common negative attitude. If a manager criticizes employees' work without offering suggestions for improvement, employees may form a negative attitude and subsequently dismiss the manager as foolish in an effort to defend their work. Managers must therefore carefully manage criticism and offer solutions, not simply identify problems.
  4. Value-expressive: People develop central values over time. These values are not always explicit or simple. Managers should always be aware of what is important to their employees from a values perspective (that is, what do they stand for? why do they do what they do?). Having such an awareness can management to align organizational vision with individual values, thereby generating passion among the workforce.

Organizational Attitudes and Behaviors

Attitudes can be infectious and can influence the behavior of those around them. Organizations must therefore recognize that it is possible to influence a person's attitude and, in turn, his or her behavior. A positive work environment, job satisfaction, a reward system, and a code of conduct can all help reinforce specific behaviors.

One key to altering an individual's behavior is consistency. Fostering initiatives that influence behavior is not enough; everyone in the organization needs to be committed to the success of these initiatives. It is also important to remember that certain activities will be more effective with some people than with others. Management may want to outline a few different behavior-change strategies to have the biggest effect across the organization and take into consideration the diversity inherent in any group.

Defining Values

Values are guiding principles that determine individual morality and conduct.

Learning Objectives

Define values in the context of organizational ethics and organizational behavior

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Personal values are people's internal conception of what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, etc.
  • Values such as honesty, hard work, and discipline can increase an employee's efficacy in the workplace and help them serve as a positive role model to others.
  • Employees should not impose their own values on their co-workers.
  • Management must take values into consideration when hiring to ensure that employee values align with the company's, as well as those of other co-workers.

Key Terms

  • values: A collection of guiding principles; what an individual considers to be morally right and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.


Personal values can be influenced by culture, tradition, and a combination of internal and external factors. Values determine what individuals find important in their daily life and help to shape their behavior in each situation they encounter. Since values often strongly influence both attitude and behavior, they serve as a kind of personal compass for employee conduct in the workplace. Values help determine whether an employee is passionate about work and the workplace, which in turn can lead to above-average returns, high employee satisfaction, strong team dynamics, and synergy.

How Are Values Formed?

Values are usually shaped by many different internal and external influences, including family, traditions, culture, and, more recently, media and the Internet. A person will filter all of these influences and meld them into a unique value set that may differ from the value sets of others in the same culture.

Values are thought to develop in various stages during a person's upbringing, and they remain relatively consistent as children mature into adults. Sociologist Morris Massey outlines three critical development periods for an individual's value system:

  • Imprint period (birth to age seven): Individuals begin establishing the template for what will become their own values.
  • Modeling period (ages eight to thirteen): The individual's value template is sculpted and shaped by parents, teachers, and other people and experiences in the person's life.
  • Socialization period (ages thirteen to twenty-one): An individual fine-tunes values through personal exploration and comparing and contrasting with other people's behavior.

Values in the Workplace

Values can strongly influence employee conduct in the workplace. If an employee values honesty, hard work, and discipline, for example, he will likely make an effort to exhibit those traits in the workplace. This person may therefore be a more efficient employee and a more positive role model to others than an employee with opposite values.


Hard work: A strong work ethic is a personal value.

Conflict may arise, however, if an employee realizes that her co-workers do not share her values. For example, an employee who values hard work may resent co-workers who are lazy or unproductive without being reprimanded. Even so, additional conflicts can result if the employee attempts to force her own values on her co-workers.

Hiring for Values

If the managers of a business create a mission statement, they have likely decided what values they want their company to project to the public. The mission statement can help them seek out candidates whose personalities match these values, which can help reduce friction in the workplace and foster a positive work environment.

Skills-based hiring is important for efficiency and is relatively intuitive. However, hiring for values is at least as important. Because individual values have such strong attitudinal and behavioral effects, a company must hire teams of individuals whose values do not conflict with either each other's or those of the organization.

How Values Influence Behavior

Values influence behavior because people emulate the conduct they hold valuable.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the positive relationship between meaningful corporate and employee values and behavior in the workplace

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Values are an important element that affects individuals and how they behave towards others.
  • Companies can influence a person's behavior with codes of conduct, ethics and vision statements, ethics committees, and a punishment -and-reward system.
  • A gap sometimes exists between a person's values and behavior. Organizational strategies, such as a reward system, can close that gap.
  • Culture is also largely relevant to how values shape behavior, as a given organizational culture can create camaraderie and social interdependence.

Key Terms

  • behavior: The way a living creature acts.


Values are defined as perspectives about an appropriate course of action. If a person values honesty, then he or she will strive to be honest. People who value transparency will work hard to be transparent. Values are one important element that affects individual character and behavior towards others. The relationship between values and behavior is intimate, as values create a construct for appropriate actions.

Values and Behavior in the Workplace

A work environment should strive to encourage positive values and discourage negative influences that affect behavior. All individuals possess a moral compass, defined via values, which direct how they treat others and conduct themselves. People who lack strong or ethical values may participate in negative behavior that can hurt the organization. While a company cannot do anything about the influences that shape a person's values and behavior before hiring, the organization can try to influence employee behavior in the workplace.

Means of Encouraging or Discouraging Behavior

Training programs, codes of conduct, and ethics committees can inform employees of the types of behavior that the company finds acceptable and unacceptable. While these efforts will not necessarily not change an individual's values, they can help them decide not to participate in unethical behavior while at work. Managers must emphasize not only an employee's responsibilities, but also what the organization expects with respect to values and ethics. Ethics statements and vision statements are useful tools in communicating to employees what the company stands for and why.

A system of punishments and rewards can also help foster the type of values the company wants to see in its employees, essentially filtering behavior through conditioning. If people see that certain behaviors are rewarded, then they may decide to alter their behavior and in turn alter their values. In addition, a gap sometimes exists between a person's values and behavior. This gap can stem from a conscious decision not to follow a specific value with a corresponding action. This decision can be influenced by how deeply this value affects the person's character and by the surrounding environment.

Culture is also largely relevant to how values shape behavior, as a given organizational culture can create camaraderie and social interdependence. Conforming to the expectations and values of the broader organization is a common outcome of organizations with strong ethos and vision. Such an organization promotes passion and positive behavior in their employees. Of course, a company's culture can work in both directions. Some industries are inherently competitive, valuing individual dominance over other individuals (for example, sales, stock trading, etc.). While some may view such a culture as objectively negative, it is subjectively useful for the organization to instill and develop these values to create certain behaviors (such as hard work and high motivation).

Defining Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is the level of contentment employees feel about their work, which can affect performance.

Learning Objectives

Define job satisfaction in the context of the driving forces in organizational behavior

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Job satisfaction can be influenced by a person's ability to complete required tasks, the level of communication in an organization, and the way management treats employees.
  • Measuring job satisfaction can be challenging, as the definition of satisfaction can be different for different people.
  • If an organization is concerned about employee job satisfaction, management may conduct surveys to determine what type of strategies to implement. This approach helps management define job satisfaction objectively.
  • Superior-subordinate communication, or the relationship between supervisors and their direct report(s), is another important influence on job satisfaction in the workplace.

Key Terms

  • job satisfaction: The level of contentment a person feels regarding his or her work.

What Is Job Satisfaction?

Job satisfaction is the level of contentment a person feels regarding his or her job. This feeling is mainly based on an individual's perception of satisfaction. Job satisfaction can be influenced by a person's ability to complete required tasks, the level of communication in an organization, and the way management treats employees.

Job satisfaction falls into two levels: affective job satisfaction and cognitive job satisfaction. Affective job satisfaction is a person's emotional feeling about the job as a whole. Cognitive job satisfaction is how satisfied employees feel concerning some aspect of their job, such as pay, hours, or benefits.

Measuring Job Satisfaction

Many organizations face challenges in accurately measuring job satisfaction, as the definition of satisfaction can differ among various people within an organization. However, most organizations realize that workers' level of job satisfaction can impact their job performance, and thus determining metrics is crucial to creating strong efficiency.

Despite widespread belief to the contrary, studies have shown that high-performing employees do not feel satisfied with their job simply as a result of to high-level titles or increased pay. This lack of correlation is an significant concern for organizations, since studies also reveal that the implementation of positive HR practices results in financial gain for the organizations. The cost of employees is quite high, and creating satisfaction relevant to the return on this investment is paramount. Simply put: positive work environments and increased shareholder value are directly related.

Some factors of job satisfaction may rank as more important than others, depending on each worker's needs and personal and professional goals. To create a benchmark for measuring and ultimately creating job satisfaction, managers in an organization can employ proven test methods such as the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) or the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ). These assessments help management define job satisfaction objectively.

Important Factors

Typically, five factors can be used to measure and influence job satisfaction:

1. Pay or total compensation

2. The work itself (i.e., job specifics such as projects, responsibilities )

3. Promotion opportunities (i.e., expanded responsibilities, more prestigious title)

4. Relationship with supervisor

5. Interaction and work relationship with coworkers

Management and Communication

In addition to these five factors, one of the most important aspects of an individual's work in a modern organization concerns communication demands that the employee encounters on the job. Demands can be characterized as a communication load: "the rate and complexity of communication inputs an individual must process in a particular time frame." If an individual receives too many messages simultaneously, does not receive enough input on the job, or is unsuccessful in processing these inputs, the individual is more likely to become dissatisfied, aggravated, and unhappy with work, leading to a low level of job satisfaction.

Superior–subordinate communication, or the relationship between supervisors and their direct report(s), is another important influence on job satisfaction in the workplace. The way in which subordinates perceive a supervisor's behavior can positively or negatively influence job satisfaction. Communication behavior—such as facial expression, eye contact, vocal expression, and body movement—is crucial to the superior–subordinate relationship.

How Job Satisfaction Influences Behavior

Job satisfaction can affect a person's level of commitment to the organization, absenteeism, and job turnover.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the way in which job satisfaction reflects upon work behaviors in an organization

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • If people are satisfied with the work they are doing, it feels less like work, thus motivating a more positive attitude and higher levels of passion.
  • Individuals who are committed to their job will likely be more willing to work longer hours or take on additional responsibilities without an increase in pay.
  • Satisfaction can be improved through effective management strategies. Managers are responsible for understanding what motivates employee satisfaction and creating a positive work environment conducive to it.

Key Terms

  • job turnover: The number of employees who leave an organization of their own free will and need to be replaced.
  • job description: An outline of the tasks and responsibilities in a post within an organization.

The Influence of Job Satisfaction on Behavior

Job satisfaction can affect a person's level of commitment to the organization, absenteeism, and job turnover rate. It can also affect performance levels, employee willingness to participate in problem-solving activities, and the amount of effort employees put in to perform activities outside their job description. When people are satisfied with the work they are doing, then their job feels less like work and is a more enjoyable experience. Those who are satisfied in their jobs usually do not find it difficult to get up and go to work.


Job satisfaction: Job satisfaction can affect relationships.

Job satisfaction also reduces stress, which can affect job performance, mental well-being, and physical health. Stress can also affect decision-making—possibly leading to unethical or nonstrategic choices. Satisfied employees, on the other hand, maintain a more positive and carefree perspective about work. This positive outlook often spreads to co-workers and can have a positive experience on everyone's performance. There are some indications that job satisfaction is directly tied to job performance; nonetheless, feeling less stressed can positively affect a person's behavior.

Methods for Increasing Job Satisfaction

To determine if employees are actually satisfied with the work they do, organizations frequently conduct surveys to measure employees' level of job satisfaction and to identify areas—on-boarding, job training, employee incentive programs, etc.—for improvement and job enrichment. Because job satisfaction varies for each individual, management teams employ several different strategies to help the majority of employees within an organization feel satisfied with their place in the company.

One proven way to enhance job satisfaction is rewarding employees based on performance and positive behavior. When employees go above and beyond their job description to complete a project or assist a colleague, their actions can be referred to as organizational citizenship behavior or OCB (see Bommer, Miles, and Grover, 2003). Bommer, Miles, and Grover state:

Social-information processing is predicated on the notion that people form ideas based on information drawn from their immediate environment, and the behavior of co-workers is a very salient component of an employee's environment. Therefore, observing frequent citizenship episodes with in a workgroup is likely to lead to attitudes that such OCB is normal and appropriate. Consequently, the individual is likely to replicate this ‘normal' behavior.
These positive changes in behavior show that people learn from their environments and that corporate culture plays a large part in creating job satisfaction. Managers are tasked with managing this positive culture and understanding how each employee is affected by cultural influences in the workplace. No two people are the same; this is where managers come into play. Managers must be insightful and observant, identifying what motivates high levels of job satisfaction in each individual and ensuring employees get what they need. In some ways, a manager's customers are their subordinates. Understanding this dynamic is an important component of the role of management.

How Emotion and Mood Influence Behavior

Emotion and mood can affect temperament, personality, disposition, motivation, and initial perspectives and reactions.

Learning Objectives

Describe the importance of employee moods and emotions on overall performance from an organizational perspective

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The poor decision -making effects of a given mood can hinder a person's job performance and lead to bad decisions that affect the company.
  • Emotion is a subjective lens on an objective world; decision-making should discard emotion whenever possible. This is particularly important for managers, who make significant decisions on a daily basis.
  • As emotion is largely a chemical balance (or imbalance) in the mind, emotions can quickly cloud judgment and complicate social interactions without the individual being consciously aware that it is happening.

Key Terms

  • mood: A mental or emotional state.
  • emotions: Subjective, conscious experiences that are characterized primarily by psycho-physiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.

Emotions in the Workplace

Emotions and mood can affect temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. They can affect a person's physical well-being, judgement, and perception. Emotions play a critical role in how individuals behave and react to external stimuli; they are often internalized enough for people to fail to notice when they are at work. Emotions and mood can cloud judgment and reduce rationality in decision-making.


All moods can affect judgment, perception, and physical and emotional well-being. Long-term exposure to negative moods or stressful environments can lead to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and ulcers. The decision-making effects of any kind of bad mood can hinder a person's job performance and lead to poor decisions that affect the company. In contrast, a positive mood can enhance creativity and problem solving. However, positive moods can also create false optimism and negatively influence decision making.


Emotions are reciprocal with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Emotions can be influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and seratonin. Dopamine can affect a person's energy level and mood, while seratonin can affect critical-thinking skills. As emotion is largely a chemical balance (or imbalance) in the mind, emotions can quickly cloud judgment and complicate social interactions without the individual being consciously aware that it is happening.


Plutchik Wheel: Emotions are complex and move in various directions. Modeling emotional feelings and considering their behavioral implications are useful in preventing emotions from having a negative effect on the workplace.

The implication for behavior is important for both managers and subordinates to understand. Workers must try to identify objectively when an emotional predisposition is influencing their behavior and judgement and ensure that the repercussions of the emotion are either positive or neutralized. Positive emotions can be a great thing, producing extroversion, energy and job satisfaction. However, both positive and negative emotions can distort the validity of a decision. Being overconfident, for example, can be just as dangerous as being under-confident.

Organizational Implications

By encouraging positive employee management relationships and employee dynamics, an organization may be able to balance a person's mood and emotions. Improving the level of job satisfaction for employees is another way that a company can influence an employee's mood. If a person is satisfied at work, that condition may reduce levels of stress and help influence motivation and disposition. Job satisfaction can affect a person's mood and emotional state. Providing organizational benefits, such as a company gym, meditation classes, or company retreats, can likewise influence a person's emotions. An active lifestyle has been shown to produce an increased level of dopamine, which can enhance energy and mood.

Managers are tasked not only with monitoring and controlling their own moods and emotions, but also with recognizing emotional issues in their subordinates. Managers should strive to balance the emotions of their subordinates, ensuring nothing negatively affects their mental well-being. This can be a difficult role for management, as many people display their emotions in different ways (and most tend to hide them, particularly at work). Managers must be both perceptive and strategic in ensuring a mental balance at work.

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