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Industrial/Organizational Psychology-1

Running Head: Industrial/Organizational Psychology:

Understanding Human Behavior at Work

Industrial/Organizational Psychology:
Understanding Human Behavior at Work


Abhishek Gandhi
Ruth Rojas
Phyllis Jones
Rodrique Lee
Dominique Tolbert

Psychology 105
Professor Eric Farber
Strayer University
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Industrial /Organizational psychology is the study of human cognition and

behavior of employees at work. The "dual mission" of the psychologist in this field

is to improve employee well-being and organizational effectiveness through

research and practice.

Understanding human behavior at work can be broken down into six

distinctive categories - Selection, Training, Performance Appraisal, Work

motivation, Leadership and Teamwork. Each section describes, in detail, how to

hire the best person for the job, helping employees acquire relevant skills,

identifying employee strengths and weaknesses, encouraging employees to do

their best, from supervisor to CEOs, and the challenges of working with others.

The role every manager must fill in the workplace is leadership. Managers

often make the mistake of assuming that because they are the managers, they

are also the leaders and that their associates will automatically follow. In reality,

position only denotes title, not leadership. Peter Northouse (2001) defines

leadership as a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals

to achieve a common goal. To be an effective leader, the manager must

influence his associates in a positive way to reach the goals of the organization.

Furthermore, the transformational leadership approach can help managers

become exceptional leaders.

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Hiring the best person for the job:

To select the most appropriate person for the job, you should first, refer

back to your job specifications and duty accountability statements, and your

thoughts on the type of person you are looking for. Secondly, consider all the

information that has been gathered about the applicants in light of the job

vacancy. Finally, be conscious of prejudices, which may cloud your judgment.

When hiring the best person for the job, the following are some of the

questions that should be considered: Has the applicant been dependable and

productive, and has there attitude towards work, fellow workers, and supervision

been ok? Has the applicant had similar levels of responsibility in the past or can

they adapt to the position in question? Are they over-qualified? What are the

applicant’s strengths and weaknesses? Is the applicant likely to get along with

other workers?

You should also inquire if the applicant meets the requirements of the job

specifications and can show evidence that they can fulfill the requirements of the

duty and accountability. Other positive outlooks in hiring the right person for the

job require that the person have the right temperament, the experience required,

and that listed referenced can assure the applicant’s suitability.

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Helping employees acquire relevant skills

Most businesses don’t believe in on-the-job training as the employer

would rather hire experienced persons to cut the cost of on-the-job-training. Yet,

as effectiveness and efficiency have increased, so have the cost of developing

sophisticated training programs. Unfortunately, training professionals still have

little ammunition when they face skeptical managers who often weigh the cost of

doing nothing at all against what they view as the high-cost and unpredictable

results of formal training.

Hands-on training is truly low-cost with a high return in training. It is

teaching that works for most companies and their employees. It is used to help

new on-the-job training instructors get started, support your own instructor

training, or provide experienced instructors with a fresh perspective. In learning

about on-the-job training is to gain insight into the process of on-the-job training

and to learn from the experience of others who use training to unleash the power

of people. It is the single most used and misused of all approaches to training. It

happens whenever an experienced person shows an inexperienced person how

to do a job by sharing knowledge and experience of the job.

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Identifying employee strengths and weaknesses:

Performance appraisal is unpopular, yet essential because most

employees do enjoy it even though research shows that employees want to

receive feedback form their supervisors (Ashford, 1986). Also managers who do

express some similar dislikes, often bring some form of negative reactions from

those they do supervise (Waung & Highhause 1997). One I/O psychologist

studied performance appraisal most of his life, who is now doing it on a daily

routine as head of a department, described it as being equivalent to root canal

surgery: stating “it can be made relatively painless, but it is never really

fun”(Murphy,2006). Now this is so important because so many decisions depend

on the results of the appraisal. The performance appraisal system can be

considered the “hub” of many human resource practices showing that it plays a

central role in these activities. This information is also used as the bases for

determine raises. These are both evaluated purposes, as they serve to guide

important decisions that do matter to the employees. The performance appraisal

consists of, training program evaluation, employment, and compensation system

(e.g. raise’s) and promotion decisions. Other uses of the performance appraisal

information are more developmental in nature. Stating that their intent is to

provide employees with individualized feedback, in hopes of strengthening any

weak areas. So because of these important functions of performance appraisal, it

is very essential that the process be executed well. At this point employees are
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more likely to feel they have been treated fairly and that the organization has

good quality information on which to base important decisions.

Supervisors are Human, too: errors, biases and memory lapse in simplest

form of a good appraisal system. This is a psychology focus on the human side

of the equation rather than the construction of the appraisal form. Rating errors

have four of the most common errors. Leniency error is the tendency for a

supervisor to give employees ratings that are higher than their performance

merits. Another is severity error, which is the tendency for supervisors to give

employee ratings that are lower than their performance merits. Leniency error is

where a manager’s rating may suffer because of an intentional desire to avoid

unpleasant reactions from employees. Although this is an extreme example it

illustrates how a tendency has an inflate on the rating that can easily occur even

among managers that may be generally motivated to fair. Severity error could

possibly make a supervisor rate employees lower. In this case the supervisor

may have some unrealistic standards. This happens when supervisors tend to

use themselves as a comparison standard. When a supervisor gets a promotion,

they may remember what it was like to do the job they are now rating other

people for. At that point they may not remember how long it took them to achieve

this level of excellence, which may put the supervisor to give an unrealistic

standard of comparison to rate others who may be less experienced at the job.

Other types of errors are central tendency errors, which represents ratings

that hover around average. At this point supervisors who give ratings with this

error may be the ones who have not been diligent about observing their
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employees. This research indicated that employees with disabilities who are

below average are more likely to have their ratings adjusted in a more positive

direction. Those who are above average are more likely to have their ratings

adjusted downward (Lynch & Finkelstein, 2006). Halo error is to where the rating

error that represents a tendency to evaluate particular subordinates as “angels”

based on their exceptional performance along on dimension. In this case this

rating error is where these employees can see doing no wrong despite evidence

to the contrary. Basically “playing favorites”. Supervisors will play favoritism with

certain employees. Supervisors would pay close attention to the creativity

expressed be each subordinate, as far as they are concerned creativity is the key

to success. Managers may also do their rating based not only on creativity but

also on unrelated dimension, like punctuality and team work skills, regardless of

whether the employee is particularly not worthy of these dimensions. Favoritism

may be an intentional sense; it still results in one employee receiving a more

favorable evaluation than is deserved.

Ways and techniques these rating errors can be reduced is to developed

unambiguous appraisal form that would cover all of the relevant dimensions of

job performance would be an important step to reduce the rating errors. It is

important to understand the complex and often compete motives and goals

supervisors may have with regard to the appraisal process (Murphy et al., 2004).

Rating errors can also reduce simply by giving supervisors ample opportunity to

observe each subordinates over a period of time. This is not uncommon in this

day of virtual work environments and telecommuting, for supervisors not to see
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their subordinates much at all during any given week. Appraisal systems should

take into account the limits of human memory. Simply having supervisors keep a

record of relevant employees behaviors can serve as set of crucial retrieval cues

when the time comes to fill out the semiannual appraisal forms.
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TEAMWORK - The challenges of working with others

The key factor in deciding who should work with whom in a team

composition is to identify what mixture of individual characteristic results in the

most effective team functioning. Having a diverse group can have a very positive

impact on creative problem solving. Unfortunately, high diverse groups also tend

to have trouble retaining members (Williams & O’Reilly, 1998), with the person

who stands out being the one most likely to quit (Sacco & Schmitt, 2005).

Adding a new member to an existing team and bringing new ideas can have a

positive effect as the team becomes more creative and motivated.

Functional diversity, differenced that are based on training and expertise,

allows team members to learn from one another and can benefit over the long

term. In contrast, demographic diversity on teams (e.g., age, sex and race) can

often have negative effects on team performance and team member satisfaction.

Consideration of the ideal size of the team is also a factor as teams may get too

big and create difficulties in meeting times and places. It can also create more

social loafing, tendency to reduce one’s efforts when working in a group.

Once teams are created, there is the potential for task conflicts,

disagreement about how the team’s primary activity should be accomplished,

and interpersonal problems between individuals. In managing conflicts, the goal

of teamwork is to avoid Groupthink, a serious error in a group decision making

that result from a lack of dissent in the group. The importance of constructive

disagreement is so generally recognized now that organizational teams will often

appoint someone to voice disagreement to guarantee that dissenting arguments

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will be raised. Cooperation in teams can be encouraged by training teams to

work collaboratively and by creating reward systems that give incentives for

cooperation, rather than competitive, behavior.

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LEADERSHIP - from supervisors to CEOs

Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow.

Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and

nurtured if you look for the following character traits.

The Top 10 Leadership Qualities:

A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a

firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough

to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former

chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, "Good business leaders create

a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it

to completion."

A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that

cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and

passionately, as passion is contagious.

A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision

single-mindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team

toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer “analysis

paralysis” but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others

to do the same.

Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person

of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can

be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might

be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore
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must display integrity. Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled

emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of

integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by


Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to

accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing

whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an

excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs

on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.

Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader

ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the

company. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures.

This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves

and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a

hallmark of effective leadership.

Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than

other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries

to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does

not make them a god. Mahatma Gandhi is a role model for Indian leaders, and

he pursued a “follower-centric” leadership role.

Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not

conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment

while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that
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someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between

leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas

that can further its vision.

Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that

constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others

have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important

question that a leader can ask is, “What if … ?”

Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must

check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He or she

must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people

feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and


Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability

to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A

leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness

comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their

leader. Many leaders have difficulty striking the right amount of assertiveness,

according to a study in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and

Social Psychology, published by the APA (American Psychological Association).

It seems that being under assertive or overassertive may be the most common

weakness among aspiring leaders.

A sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to

defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers.
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Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment.

And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie.

Transformational Leadership

To use this approach in the workforce, one must first understand exactly

what transformational leadership is. In the simplest terms, transformational

leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals (Northouse,

2001). In other words, transformational leadership is the ability to get people to

want to change, to improve, and to be led. It involves assessing associates'

motives, satisfying their needs, and valuing them (Northouse, 2001). Therefore, a

transformational leader could make the company more successful by valuing its

associates. One such example is Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who often

visited Wal-Mart stores across the country to meet with associates to show his

appreciation for what they did for the company. Sam Walton gave “rules for

success” in his autobiography, one of which was to appreciate associates with

praise (Walton, 1996).

There are four factors to transformational leadership, (also known as the

“four I”): idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and

individual consideration. Each factor will be discussed to help managers use this

approach in the workplace.

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• Idealized influence describes managers who are exemplary role models

for associates. Managers with idealized influence can be trusted and

respected by associates to make good decisions for the organization.

• Inspirational motivation describes managers who motivate associates to

commit to the vision of the organization. Managers with inspirational motivation

encourage team spirit to reach goals of increased revenue and market growth

for the organization.

• Intellectual Stimulation describes managers who encourage innovation

and creativity through challenging the normal beliefs or views of a group.

Managers with intellectual stimulation promote critical thinking and problem

solving to make the organization better.

• Individual consideration describes managers who act as coaches and

advisors to the associates. Managers with individual consideration encourage

associates to reach goals that help both the associates and the organization.

Effective transformational leadership results in performances that exceed

organizational expectations. There is an “additive” effect of transformational

leadership because managers must pull together the components to reach

“performance beyond expectations” (Northouse, 2001).

Each of the four components describes characteristics that are valuable to

the “transformation” process. When managers are strong role models,

encouragers, innovators, and coaches, they are utilizing the “four I's” to help

“transform” their associates into better, more productive and successful

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individuals. Northouse (2001) states that in 39 studies of transformational

literature, individuals who exhibited transformational leadership were more

effective leaders with better work outcomes. This was true for both high- and low-

level leaders in the public and private sectors (Northouse, 2001). Therefore, it

can be very advantageous for managers to apply the transformational approach

in the workplace.

Because transformational leadership covers a wide range of aspects

within leadership, there are no specific steps for a manager to follow. Becoming

an effective transformational leader is a process. This means that conscious

effort must be made to adopt a transformational style. Understanding the basics

of transformational leadership and the "four I" can help a manager applying this

approach. According to Northouse (2001), a transformational leader has the

following qualities:

• Empowers followers to do what is best for the organization

• Strong role model with high values

• Listens to all viewpoints to develop a spirit of cooperation

• Creates a vision, using people in the organization

• Acts as a change agent within the organization by setting an example of

how to initiate and implement change

• Helps the organization by helping others contribute to the organization.

According to Hesselbein and Cohen (1999, p. 263), organizations that take the

time to teach leadership are far ahead of the competition.

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From charisma to consensus

Nearly 100 years ago the renowned German political and social theorist

Max Weber introduced the notion of “charismatic leadership” as an antidote to his

grim prognosis for industrial society. Without such leadership, he forecast, “not

summer’s bloom lies ahead of us, but rather a polar night of icy darkness and

hardness.” Since then, the notion of charisma has endured, alternatively

attracting and repelling us as a function of events in the world at large. In the

chaos following World War I, many scholars continued to see strong leaders as

saviors. But in the aftermath of fascism, Nazism and World War II, many turned

against the notion that character determines the effectiveness of leaders. Instead

scholars began to favor “contingency models,” which focus on the context in

which leaders operate. Work in the 1960s and 1970s by the influential social

psychologist Fred Fiedler of the University of Washington; for example,

suggested that the secret of good leadership lies in discovering the “perfect

match” between the individual and the leadership challenge he or she confronts.

For every would-be leader, there is an optimal leadership context; for every

leadership challenge, there is a perfect candidate. This idea has proved to be a

big moneymaker; it underlies a multitude of best-selling business books and the

tactics of corporate headhunters who promote themselves as matchmakers


In fact, such models have delivered mixed results, contributing to a partial

resurgence of charismatic models of leadership in recent decades. In particular,

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James MacGregor Burns’s work on transformational leadership in the late 1970s

rekindled the view that only a figure with a specific and rare set of attributes is

able to bring about necessary transformations in the structure of organizations

and society.

In the 1970s Henri Tajfel and John C. Turner, then at the University of

Bristol in England, performed seminal studies on how groups can restructure

individual psychology. Tajfel coined the term “social identity” to refer to the part of

a person’s sense of self that is defined by a group. As Turner pointed out, social

identity also allows people to identify and act together as group members—for

example, as Catholics, Americans or Dodgers fans. Social identities thus make

group behavior possible: they enable us to reach consensus on what matters to

us, to coordinate our actions with others and to strive for shared goals. Tajfel

and Turner’s original social identity framework does not refer to leadership

explicitly, but it helps to clarify why leadership requires a common “us” to

represent. Leadership theorist Bernard Bass of Binghamton University has

shown, for example, that leaders are most effective when they can induce

followers to see themselves as group members and to see the group’s interest as

their own interest.

The emergence of social identity helps to explain the transformation in the

strategies of rulers associated with the birth of modern nation states in the 19th

century. According to historian Tim Blanning of the University of Cambridge,

before national identities emerged European monarchs could only rule as

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autocrats, using power (rather than true leadership) to control people. But once

people identified with nations, effective monarchs needed to rule as patriots who

were able to lead the people because they embodied a shared national identity.

Monarchs such as Louis XVI of France who misunderstood or ignored this shift

literally lost their heads.

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Selecting the best person for the job is a systematic assessment of the

tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a job. Training is a systematic collection of

information done to identify which employees are most in need of training and

what they need to be trained to do. Performance Appraisal is so important

because evaluations of employees serve to influence many important human

resource decisions and practices, such as promotions and raised decisions.

Work Motivation is the term used to describe the internal process that activate,

guide, and maintain behavior directed toward work. Job satisfaction is the term

used to describe employees' attitudes toward their jobs. Leadership is a vital

role for effective managers because leader effectiveness determines the success

level of the organization. By encouraging leaders to adopt positive leadership

traits and earning the loyalty of employees, a company can go further in

achieving its goals. By becoming familiar with the transformational leadership

approach and combining the "four I", managers can become effective leaders in

the business world. Transformational leadership can be applied in one-on-one or

group situations. Using this approach, the manager (leader) and the associates

(followers) are “transformed” to enhance job performance and help the

organization being more productive and successful. Theories of effective

leadership styles come and go in and out of fashion, but effective leaders almost

always display certain characteristics and can transform themselves and their

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1) Hesselbein, Frances, and Paul M. Cohen. (1999). Leader to Leader.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

2) Northouse, Peter G. (2001). Leadership Theory and Practice, second

edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

3) Walton, Sam and John Huey. (1996). Sam Walton: Made in America: My

Story. Canada: Bantam Books.

4) Davis, J. R. and A.B. Davis. (2001). Hands on Training by Gary R. Sisson.

Berrett-Koehlef Publications, Inc.

5) Effective Training Strategies: A comprehensive Guide to Maximizing

Learning in Organizations, (1998), Sanfrancisco: Berrett-Koehlef

Publications, Inc.

6) HTTP://

7) Smith, B.N. Montagno, R.V. , & Kuzmenko, T.N. (2004). Transformational

and servant Leadership: Content and Contextual Comparisons. Journal of

Leadership and Organizational Studies, 10(4), 80-91

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