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Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company - An Application of MARS Model


Evan Pathiratne

Semester I-First half , March, 2012

Course: Lectures:

MBA - Organizational Behaviors Mr. Dr. Dr.

Faculty of Management and Finance

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company

Today managers play a decisive role in inspiring and leading people in business. They need to understand, predict, and modify human behavior. Organizational behavior is about understanding, predicting, and modifying individual and team behavior in organizations. Today general knowledge is replacing hardware and infrastructure. Ethics, values and leadership are replacing old school command and control management. On this basis of thought a case study of company XYZ is studied herewith. It is currently facing a multitude of problems ranging from low motivation, work place conflicts and sales declines. There are many publications and research that has been done in the knowledge area of organizational behavior. The issues currently faced by XYZ is critically analyzed using this knowledge to identify and evaluate why these issue happen and what are the best possible actions to take to remediate these issues and prevent unwanted emotional ,legal and financial blowback that would be caused if employee lay off plans are initiated.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


To summarize the predicament XYZ Company is facing, it has being grouped as below.

Figure 1- Current Issues at XYZ

Though the nature of XYZ business is not mentioned the role of a sales department is essential to any companys long term survival. There can be many reasons associated with sales declines, some of which may be due to reasons beyond the control of XYZ. But when one looks at the issues at XYZ at a holistic organizational view it is understood that issues related to low motivation, stress and leadership has had a direct or indirect effect on the sales operation. A study published in Journal of Organizational Behavior in 2012 also provides evidence of performance degradation absenteeism, lateness, tardiness of sales staff caused by multiple sources of incivility to the employees. Even though the management hierarchy or organizational structure of XYZ is not mentioned it is understood that work sabotage if occurring is a serious cause of alarm, and this means that the chain of command has faltered in some way which has led to subordinates loosing respect for their corporate leaders and managers. It can be deduced at the current state the whole XYZ organization seems to be falling apart when looking at observations such as stress induced anger and conflicts at work place, low motivation which has a direct impact on the productivity of XYZ. Some employees who cant take the stress is being absent without any prior notice. In the next chapter, the issues will be carefully analyzed to ascertain what might be its causes. Such a study will be the building block for affectivity enforcing mitigation steps that has to be laid out in the future.
Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


Stress is an adaptive response to a situation that is perceived as challenging or threatening to a persons wellbeing (McShane, 2010). When looking into work stress according to Hostile Work Environment Guide (2012) they are different causes as listed below.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Demands at work become too extreme or excessive There is disproportion between the workload and the abilities of the employees Fear for security of employment as a result of massive layoffs Ineffective management which makes employees feel they are in a dead end Dealing with workplace bullies Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace Information overload which causes mental stress A poor physical working environment Employees who fear they will be declared as redundant When a company fails to inform employees about changes in their business

Also based job stress according to (McShane, 2010) categorized into four areas. Category of Job Stress Extra-organizational stressors Organizational stressors Group stressors Individual stressors A Typical Scenario at XYZ The sales staff cant keep up with competitors sales prices Lack of leadership ,lack of trust among XYZ staff Lack of cohesiveness and social support Sales staff with type A personalities

Also the emotions of employees pay a vital role in shaping the organizational outlook. According to McShane (2010) emotions are Physiological, behavioral, and psychological episodes experienced toward an object, person, or event that create a state of readiness. The same authors explains three kinds of emotions, those are explained relative to the case scenario at XYZ below. Category of Emotion A Typical Scenario at XYZ Beliefs These are your established perceptions XYZ employee might be thinking a manager should about the attitude objectwhat you believe to be be like a leader and friend not a goal oriented true. manager. Feelings Feelings represent your positive or XYZ employee might not have had proper negative evaluations of the attitude object. feedback from his manager making him have a bad perception of the manager. Attitudes The cluster of beliefs, assessed XYZ employee might think that he is wasting time feelings, and behavioral intentions toward a working in the current job. Conflicts with the person, object, or event managers.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company

Selye (1956) referred to as the father of stress research documented the stress experience, referred as the general adaptation syndrome shown below in figure 2.

Figure 2- The stress experience, general adaptation syndrome Source: McShane (2010)

At XYZ some of the employees are at stage 3, they are at job burnout they have had enough and not even coming to work. Some employees are fighting back (employees in stage 2); they are having conflicts with their bosses and coworkers. And also there might be some set of employees at stage 1 as well. As a remediation action one should look at preventing the stress levels to increase from stage 1 to stage 2 or stage 2 to stage 3. At stage 2 a common harmful action to XYZ may be work sabotage and in stage 3 employees may even quit their jobs or even worse move to a competitor to work in. But there are variances from the standard model of stress related employee behavior. For example Google VP Marissa Mayer was quoted saying "I don't really believe in burnout. A lot of people work really hard for decades and decades, like Winston Churchill and Einstein. Burnout is about resentment. It's about knowing what matters to you so much that if you don't get it that you're resentful." Even though as Google's 20th employee she was regularly pulling all-nighters and working 130 hours a week, she says she never got tired of it. (,2012)

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


This chapter concentrates our attention on the role of the individual in organizations. We begin by presenting the MARS model, which outlines the four direct drivers of individual behavior and results. Next, we introduce the most stable aspect of individualspersonalityincluding personality development, personality traits, and how personality relates to organizational behavior.

Figure 3- MARS Model of Organizational Behavior Source: McShane (2010)

According McShane (2010) Motivation represents the forces within a person that affect his or her direction, intensity, and persistence of voluntary behavior. Motivation exists within individuals; it is not their actual behavior. Thus, direction, intensity, and persistence are cognitive (thoughts) and emotional conditions that directly cause employees to move.

Figure 4- Three Elements of Motivation applied to XYZ Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company

There are three theories that are widely accepted to describe the motivational needs of human beings. They are Maslows Hierarchy of needs theory; Alderfers ERG needs theory and Herzbergs two factor theory. The three theories have some common ground as shown in figure 5 below.

Figure 5- Relationship between the three Motivation Theories

A fallback of Maslows needs theory is that a gratification of one need level does not necessarily lead to increased motivation to satisfy the next higher need level. Alderfer(1972) developed the ERG theory to overcome the problems with Maslows theory. ERG theory groups human needs in to three categories as shown above. Existence needs correspond to Maslows physiological and safety needs. Relatedness needs refer mainly to Maslows Belongingness needs. Growth needs correspond to Maslows esteem and self-actualization needs. Herzbergs theory is closely related to Maslows Theory. The hygiene factors are roughly equivalent to Maslowss lower-level needs. Those needs when met prevent dissatisfaction, but they do not lead to satisfaction. According to Acord (2009) Abraham Lincoln to keep his soldiers motivated in battle frequently used visit them in camps and communicating with them fulfilling their need for relatedness. A subordinate at XYZ might not be that motivated to work for his/her boss if there is no relatedness. As Daft R.L. and Marcic D (2006) mentioned if the managers are having a certain we are of a different class mindset that will prevent some staff members to actually work as a cohesive group to achieve organizational goals. An employee of XYZ to have direction, intensity to work and persistence to keep it up might need to have fulfilled their basic needs through their job. This can be a good salary, medical insurance and annual bonus etc. that would have fulfilled the Maslows Physiological needs, Herzbergs Hygiene needs and Alderfers growth needs. Once those needs are met the employees have a solid platform to be motivated and reach towards the other higher levels of satisfaction shown in the above figure 5. The level of motivation is directly related to the level of satisfaction one attains on the fulfillment of needs. Some needs are organizational driven (ex- sales targets achievement) while others are self-driven (ex-to get promoted). The leader of XYZ needs to identify such needs within the XYZ staff and align both of these factors so that not only the organizational targets are achieved but the employees individual goals are also achieved.
Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company

Employee abilities make a difference in behavior and task performance. Ability includes both the natural aptitudes (natural born talent that help an employee to complete a task better than others) and the learned capabilities (skills that are learned through on the job application and experience) required to successfully complete a task. Luthens (2008) defines competencies as Skills, knowledge, aptitudes, and other personal characteristics that lead to superior performance. They can be divided in to three groups, 1. Technical competencies ( Better applied as an operational level worker) 2. Human competencies (Better applied in a role of leader or HR manager) 3. Business competencies. (Better applied in roles such as PR, sales and marketing) Phillips (1993) explains how Abraham Lincoln as appointed president in a civil war torn country first took inventory of the skills and competencies of the current political and military leaders before making any new appointments. As leader or manager of the company it is necessary to identify employees competencies and assign them jobs based on them. Different tasks can be assigned for employees based on their competencies and aptitudes. (Ex- some function of the XYZ like sales need strong and energetic staff, whereas for some functions at XYZ need are more concerned cognitive abilities like in auditing and accounting jobs). When looking at the situation at XYZ, even though a sales executive is highly motivated if he/she doesnt possess the adequate skills required in that profession there will be workers dissatisfaction. A manger may look into a globally accepted skillset required of salesmen such as described by Harvard Business Review (2011) or by Mayer and Greenberg (2006) and see if the sales staff has those skills. If not training them to gain those competencies is an option. According to Goldsmith (2010) at McDonald's USA annual checks are done of employees based on their competencies as per the format given below.

Figure 6- McDonalds Competency Framework ,Source Goldsmith(2010) Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


This is the extent to which people understand the job duties assigned to or expected of them. According to McShane (2010) role perceptions concept has three components. Component of Good Role Perception A typical Good practice for XYZ Employees have accurate role perceptions All employees have documented job descriptions when they understand the specific tasks which they sign off on upon taking on the job. This assigned to them allows them to be accountable for tasks at given to them, and let them know where they fit in in the whole organizational goal setting process. People have accurate role perceptions Sales staff can be assigned specific quarterly or when they understand the priority of their monthly targets.(Quantitative) various tasks and performance Sales staff can be given specific regions or client expectations accounts to focus on (Qualitative)

Understanding the preferred behaviors or Periodic performance review process will provide
procedures for accomplishing the assigned employees with feedback that will allow them to identify which areas they did wrong and what they tasks did right. This will enable the employees to identify which are the correct modes/ways of action required to complete the job given to them A reason for manager- subordinate conflicts may be because the workers dont have clear ideas about what they should be doing, and may be they know what they should do but they dont know what is the best way to do it.


Situational factors include conditions beyond the employees immediate control that constrain or facilitate behavior and performance (Bacharach and Bamberger, 1995). Situational factors such as market demand, political and economic conditions originate from the external environment and are beyond the employees and organizations control. But situational factors such as time, people, budget, and physical work facilities are controlled by the organization. Google Inc. is a breeding ground for creativity and innovation in an industry known for providing out new ideas. This organization depends on collaborative projects and free flows of information that encourage employees to share ideas. Google CEO Eric Schmidt says Staffers devote 20% of their work time to special projects of their own design, an inventive and effective policy that is at the core of its innovation efforts. Mckinsey Quarterly (2008) It is difficult to identify the current situational factors affecting XYZ, but it can be understood that forces affecting the situational factors such as time, people, budget, and physical work facilities will have to be more employee friendly because this is a key factor that has an effect on all voluntary workplace behaviors and their performance outcomes
Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


Recalling my personal experience as a business development manager, the IT Company which I work in (representing around 500 software developers and which has been one of the leading IT solutions providers in Sri Lanka for around 25 years) has around 20 staff of sales people.

Figure 6-MARS Model Application, personal experience

Similar concepts if enforced within the XYZ Company will infuse motivation and drive within its sales staff. Tharenou et al. (2007) research indicates that training has a strong influence on individual performance and organizational effectiveness therefore even the lack of certain competencies of staff doesnt mean employees has to be fired. Proper training and guidance coupled with the other good practices to manage all elements of MARS model will ensure individual behavior is modified according to a companys overall business strategy and goals.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company



Self-concept refers to an individuals self-beliefs and self-evaluations. This includes self-enhancement, self-verification, self-evaluation, and social identity. Components Explanation A Typical Scenario at XYZ Self-Enhancement The desire to feel valued Employees are not feeling that they are important to the organization. They are trying to make themselves noticed by sabotage and creating conflicting workplace situations. Self-Verification Verify and maintain their existing self- Workers are standing up to concept superiors to show that they also are capable of doing things. Self-Evaluation Self-esteem the extent to which This is generally low because of the people like, respect, and are satisfied low morale environment currently with themselves. at XYZ. Self-efficacy refers to a persons belief that he can successfully complete a task. Locus of control -A persons general belief about the amount of control he has over personal life events. Self-concept in terms of the persons unique characteristics (personal identity) and membership in various social groups (social identity).

Social Identity

This is again generally low because of the low morale environment currently at XYZ.


There are few examples given below that highlight organizational ethics and values as well as the whole culture it embodies. It can be understood that ethics and values are different form each organization but they form a valuable ingredient in defining what a company actually stands for and hopes to achieve. Ernst & Young (E&Y) Although the financial world has become very rule-based, the rules still leave gaps where ethical missteps can occur. To minimize this risk, E&Y invests heavily in values-based ethics training. (Whitney, 2007) Ethics training and value training are about providing all of our people with a clear message and some guiding principles about what to do when the rules dont address a situation or area" -Michael Hamilton, E&Ys Chief Learning and Development Officer for the Americas

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


Whirlpool Our values that we drive, teamwork across the organization are very much embedded in all of our performance tools. Its a culture of teaming, its a culture of winning, its a culture of pay for performance. We have a highly differentiated pay for performance system that allows the best performers in the company to earn well above market pay. Its a very values based culture. -David Binkley, Chief Human Resource Officer, Whirlpool (Whitney, 2011) EMC A Fortune 500; USD 20 billion worth IT storage Company takes it a step further. Employee learning and development is structured as a partnership between development experts and business leaders. (Prokopeak,2011) The business people taught the learning people how to be better aligned and how to meet audience requirements; it was really a teamwork approach. - Tom Clancy VP Education Services and Productivity, EMC Toyota According to McShane (2010) Toyotas culture also emphasizes humility. Even as it rises to the top of the auto industry, Toyotas leaders are hesitant to talk up their successes. Were paranoid against arrogance -Ray Tanguay, VP Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America ICICI Bank The company relies on GEs storied performance curve, in which a small percentage of staff receives generous rewards while the bottom 5 percent are cut from the payroll. Growth happens only when there are differential rewards for differential performers - ICICIs head of human resources. (McShane,2010) Looking at the scenario at XYZ, the culture is at chaos. The employee seems to have no code of ethics that are practiced. Leadership issues have arisen and subordinates are behaving the way they want to. There is no guidance or proper theme to the whole organization. A culture will give organization a sense of direction and purpose. If XYZ had a value based culture of humility based one such as E & Y or Toyota employees would have embodied a sense of respect to their superiors, co-workers as well as the whole organization. XYZ employees are committing sabotage because they feel as if the organization is an entity that is not close to them. According to (Schein,2010) Leaders are entrepreneurs and the main architects of culture, Once cultures are formed they influence what kind of leadership is possible, If elements of the culture become dysfunctional, it is the leader's responsibility to do something to speed up culture change. A mismatch between the two will lead to inefficiency. The sales manager needs to assign the job responsibilities keeping in mind the skill set, abilities of the sales representatives.
Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company



Two people exposed to the same stressor may experience different stress levels depending on their own self-concept (as explained under 2.3). According to McShane(2010) there are many interventions /options available for XYZ to manage work-related stress, such as Path of Action Remove the Stressor Possible Action Items 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Flexible and limited work time. Job sharing Telecommuting Personal leave Child care support How it will help XYZ XYZ employees can work parttime in jobs that are naturally designed for full-time responsibilities. It will reduce the time and stress of commuting to work and makes it easier to fulfill family obligations Opportunities for XYZ employees to recover from stress and reenergize for future challenges.

Withdraw From the Stressor

1. Vacations 2. Holidays

Change Stress Perceptions

Receive Social Support

ex- McDonalds Corp. has had paid sabbaticals for the past 40 years, offering employees eight weeks of paid time off after every 10 years of service. McShane(2010) 1. Annual Parties Humor and fun tasks can 2. Sports events improve optimism and create positive emotions by taking some psychological weight off the situation Social support occurs when co-workers, supervisors, To buffer an individuals stress family members, friends, and others provide experience emotional and/or informational support

At XYZ each manager can look into their subordinates and understand their situation first. Afterwards all the managers should provide a summary report of his staff to the top management of XYZ. Thereafter XYZ top management based on the feedback should look into corrective and well as preventative remediation actions. They may look into and evaluate options based on provided action items above.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company



There are three main strategies that can increase the motivational potential of jobs: job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment. Below describes several ways to implement this. Strategy Job Rotation Possible Action Items Multiskilling Employees learn several jobs How it will help XYZ Can reduce the boredom of highly repetitive jobs.

Job Enlargement

Job enrichment

Adds tasks to an existing job where skill Increase in XYZ staff job variety is combined autonomy will make them feel more empowered. Give more responsibility for planning their Promote self-leadership within work. (Ex- Let the sales men identify XYZ. potential target markets they can sell better Establishing client relationships rather than let management decide it for also increases task significance them) because employees see a line-of Putting employees in direct contact with sight connection between their their clients rather than using the supervisor work and consequences for as a go-between customers

Coupled with these Job Redesign strategies financial rewards can also be considered, if some of the employees are not fulfilling their basic hygienic needs as explained by Herzberg; XYZ staff will still be dissatisfied and demotivated even though the above job redesign strategies are in place. Financial rewards have certain limitations and drawbacks, as with the case in UBS (a Swiss global financial services company) according to Reed (2008) suffered a $37 billion loss in one year because its bonus system rewarded staff for short-term revenue without imposing any penalties for buying high-risk securities to generate that revenue. But reward effectiveness can be improved in a number of different ways. Organizational leaders should ensure that rewards are linked to work performance, rewards are aligned with performance within the employees control, and team rewards are used where jobs are interdependent, rewards are valued by employees, and rewards have no unintended consequences. (McShane,2010) This together will knowing what the employee goals are and what their strengths and weakness are will allow XYZ to properly identify job roles for the employees to undertake, if they do what they like that will be the best source of motivation for the staff at XYZ. The below quotation holds true to an organization context, Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Confucius

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company



According to McShane(2010) there are different styles for conflict handing based on the problem.

Figure 7- Conflict Handling-Styles

Source: McShane (2010)

Problems at XYZ may be due to various reasons ranging from the subordinates dont get attention/feedback, weak leadership, employees dont like the job etc. The ideal solution for XYZ company managers is to have a one-to-one meeting with each of their subordinates and identify what they think are required to increase their input to work, or may be ask them what they think are the areas of improvement they see in the business. Depending on the feedback the managers receive based in figure 7 they can decide which path of action they can take. Ideally the managers should have established goals for their subordinates and has to invent options for mutual gain. Let them work to make them feel that they are improving their life while actually their improving the company. Actions mentioned under 3.2 related to motivation together with action mentioned here will combine give a great value addition to the whole organization, a company should take measures to hire and keep the best staff, and always keep them motivated. Managers should show mutual respect to all their subordinates and practice humility. The more they act like a mentor and leader the more the subordinates will feel like working with them.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company



The company sales decline as explained in chapter 1 can be due to many reasons. When focusing on employee behavior and how it relates to improvement of a sales operation the action steps that XYZ managers can take are given below. Identify if the sales staff has the correct ability. This can be done by the sales manager of XYZ to have a small status update with each of the sales staff individually. If the manager sees the person is lacking some skills further training them is an option. Check if they have a proper role perception as to what is required from them as a salesperson and also as an employee of XYZ. Motivation can be given to the sales staff by giving them targets to achieve as well as assign a sales team group target. Sales staff management principles explained from my personal experience stated under 2.2.5 can also be considered for XYZ. Provide situation factors such as a working environment instilling confidence among the sales staff. For example a manager might not be concerned if the sales person doesnt achieve the target for 1 quarter if he/she can achieve the given annual target. Proving them autonomy and empowerment will allow them to work on their own.

Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


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Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company


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Critical Evaluation and Proposed Solution for Behavioral Modification within XYZ Company