Organizational Behavior: An Inside Look





Organizational Behavior: An Inside Look

In the wake of the financial crisis, organizations recognized that technical excellence in isolation was not sufficient to usher a company to success. The integration of human aspect was necessitated. In my position as an accountant intern in State Street, I was able to discover the essence of people skills in forging a company’s organizational behavior. I traced the inconsistencies in between strategic goals and outcomes to a breakdown in the communication infrastructure of the given company. The failure to compensate employees exposes them to ethical dilemmas that they often fail to overcome. The experience helped me to understand the various aspects of one’s culture and their influence on a person’s decision-making. My perspective as a novel employee gave me a fresh outlook on the organization that revealed a myriad of discrepancies in the otherwise progressive organization. The organization was a paradox with disparities between intent and outcome. The organization aspired to halt discrimination concomitantly stimulating it. Gender parity is promoted while discrimination based on age, gender, and race persists. State Street has an efficient leadership model that elevates the importance of teamwork. Decision making in their leadership style has provisions for input by all employees within group frameworks. The tendency to make assumptions is not beyond any organization even ones with ideal leadership models. Organizational culture is dynamic. The leadership tactics should accommodate the volatility of human nature. Man rather the unstable external environment should take precedence in the creation of predestined strategic goals. My tenure at State Street reiterated the essence of making a proper transition after downsizing employees especially in regards to motivating the workers that remain. Cross-generational interactions with senior employees helped me to correct prior misconceptions I harbored about the elderly especially concerning productivity. It also illustrated the essence of upholding traditional values despite the volatility of external environment embodied by the financial sector. To analyze the essence of organizational behavior of a given company properly, one must initially remove themselves from their activities subsequently integrating themselves to the organization’s operations to gain a holistic perspective.

State organizational culture facilitated female employees’ rise to positions of upper management. The glass ceiling for female employees is a global phenomenon. I t follows that the presence of female in upper management set State Street apart as a pioneer in gender equity. Ms. Alison Quirk managed to transcend the stereotypes of a successful manager by drawing on her unique perspective on life (Beal III, Stavros, and Cole 3). Normally, for a female manager to be successful they must exhibit masculine traits of assertiveness and competitiveness. Alison Quirk utilized a more holistic approach that is characteristic of females in the workforce. Rather than leverage resources to incentivize subordinates, she aspired to challenge every worker to actualize their full potential. Work was not a mere tactical execution as the department heads had directives from her to explain to their members the positive effect their contributions had on the entire organization. Nonetheless, it was visible that Alison Quirk had to make some sacrifices in her personal life. She was a professional with the responsibilities of a mother and wife. She had to perform a balancing act between her social and managerial obligations. She appeared to extrapolate her motherly qualities to the organization. It became her second family where her nurturing instinct became alive. Every interaction with her had that homely feel even though my relationship with her was mainly on the online platform. My previous encounters with male managers were removed of the human aspect, relegated to transactions between robots punctuated with the condescending tone if the outcome was not at par with his standards. It was evident that majority of her male subordinate thought they would do a better job given the chance. Their reasons were driven by personal ambitions and male prejudices rather than professional competency (Beal III, Stavros, and Cole 8). Managing to enter a leadership position at State Street without sacrificing her identity, as a woman was is a great feat. Her leadership style was a clearly departure from paternalistic way used back at home. Owing to the power distant in China, the authoritative style was embraced devoid of dissent. The subordinates were given targets and challenged to reach them. The management’s decision was final. As earlier mentioned there was a conspicuous absence of females in leadership positions.

Her leadership strategy reiterated the importance of teamwork towards achieving the organization’s vision. Her background as a sports enthusiast having been active in her youth provided her with constant supply of analogies. The proverbial “no I in team” was a mantra that was in frequent use, every member of the organization had different competencies of equal importance in actualizing the organization’s vision (Beal III, Stavros, and Cole 10). We were divided into groups to brainstorm solutions of a particular problem. In my role, we had to brainstorm revenue streams to the new businesses beyond the traditional methods like advertisements. She elaborated that approaching challenges from different perspectives subsequently coming to a consensus, was the faster and more inclusive option. The alternative unevenly unburdened a few individuals reducing their overall productivity. From an organizational outlook teams possess collective knowledge, resources, and skills that are harnessed to resolve a task efficiently. The leader pointed out that everyone should leverage the social networks they had however insubstantial to achieve the predestined strategic goals. The organizational structure facilitated intergenerational mix in each group. The company focuses on the employees’ skills rather than their job title. The wealth of knowledge of older employees and the disruptive innovation of the youth had to be concerted.             There was an innate reverence for the age at State Street that at times became problematic; differing with the experienced employees, who automatically took leadership of the team, became problematic. The trend appeared to be constant across all cultures. My group in particular, was at times inclined towards groupthink to maintain consensus. Challenging the status quo often came with a cost, the veterans perceived it as disrespect. Given my novelty and desire to keep the peace, I often withheld deviating opinions until I had properly gotten the lie of the land. My collectivism-based roots also informed my inclination towards maintaining group cohesion (Robbins and Judge 43). Alison Quirk recognized the individual differences brought by each employee. The above acknowledgment informed her strategy that maintained embracing as opposed to impeding diversity with rigid structures. She had to draw into the employees’ values in order to align them with the organization’s objectives. It follows that success in State Street is inextricably intertwined to one’s contribution to the team and their interpersonal skills within the group structure. The management of State Street aspired to give its employees a perception of freedom. Towards this end, it gave the team members autonomy in making small decisions devoid of consultation with upper management. Furthermore, the supervisors were detached from the teams to prevent the Hawthorne effect. If the employees were aware they were being monitored they would have modified their behavior to align with the prevalent norms. The above discourages risk-taking tendencies in turn impeding disruptive innovations that are crucial for survival in the volatile financial industry. Their involvement was limited to online supervision that is relatively detached working in tandem with weekly in-person briefs by the group representatives. The above briefs were meant to ensure there was equilibrium between informal agreements and formal decision-making towards maintenance of the organizational structure.

My role as an intern in Accounts comprised of routine jobs that would with time become mundane. It follows that the leadership made it a point to punctuate my work with ad hoc projects that transcended my job description (Robbins and Judge 56). I was allowed to participate in the company’s social responsibility projects that entailed determining the amount of money to go to specific charities according to need as well as strategic importance. The latter entailed a specific charity’s potential to inspire positive pubic feedback towards strengthening brand recognition. The above was crucial especially with declining confidence by the public in financial institutions. The essence of involving employees in CSR aimed to align their personal values to the organizations objectives concomitantly giving meaning to their work. The organization aimed to build employees commitment by illustrating that the organizations activity moved beyond profit maximization that it had an overarching purpose. While the organization refrained from giving women preferential treatment, it attempted to facilitate a work-life balance for nursing mothers. There was an internal childcare station and future plans for a preparatory school within the organization’s compound.

My relationship with my immediate superior and mentor was instrumental in decoding State Street’s organizational culture. The said mutually beneficial relationship was with a Black American woman who like majority of her kin had volunteered to the Crown Colony Branch with promises of career mobility. Initially, we appealed idiosyncratic similarities to give our relationship bearing. We were both females of minority group descent in an organization dominated by White males. Upon recognizing that our interests moved beyond our biographical features, the relationship progressed from surface–level diversity to deep level diversity (Robbins and Judge 67). We had common religious faith and love for travel. Our relationship matured into a friendship beyond the confines of the office space. She started using analogies that were in sync with our hobbies to simplify my comprehension of otherwise intricate concepts. The pairing of my mentor Mrs. Halima Zany and I was not a coincidence; it was a strategy employed by State Street’s human resource department. For instance, a fellow intern Rickey Rivalto who was a Polynesian was paired with a Native American mentor. The efficacy of the above strategy was high garnering critical acclaim from all employees. The pairing was for mutual benefit enabling the novel member to easily integrate into the company while the veteran employees became acquainted with nascent trends. The interns were helped to put their theoretical knowledge into a practical context. My past work experience gave me an edge over my peers as I could compare the financial tactics utilized in the organization to my former workplaces. Zany, my mentor elaborated on the need to be discrete in dealing with office politics. For instance, she counseled me if I overhear secrets especially about senior personnel, gossip or otherwise, I should act deaf ignoring it. She claimed the above ethic preserved her employment when majority of people of her race were being downsized. During the global financial crisis majority of the subordinate staff were retrenched. The Black Americans and Black Britons occupied majority of those positions. Discrimination appeared to be internationalized as I previously thought it was a phenomenon was would be absent in Britain. I observed that discretion was quintessential in avoiding office conflicts that eventually lead to disintegration of many groups. Alternatively, the group may persist but the change in its dynamics undermined the team’s productivity. Zany told me that one of her colleagues, assured of work at a different company, intentionally sabotaged their efforts to meet deadlines tarnishing the group’s credibility in the management’s eyes.

The organization recognized its tendencies towards discrimination and had biannual programs to guide employee behavior on the subject. Unfortunately, their efforts seemed to produce opposite effects. The organization assumed that a one-off lesson on the vice could stimulate permanent behavior change (Xerri and Brunetto 3168). For actual change to manifest a program’s implementation should be consistent throughout the year rather than being a two-time event. The discrimination in the organization was subconscious even the perpetrators did not recognize their folly. It is manifested in jokes that went overboard. The failure of majority of employees to the implications of their words implied the underlying issue was cultural insensitivity.

Zany’s lesson on discretion laid a stable foundation for the ethical accountancy practice of confidentiality. One of my roles had me engaging with the clients. It was my onus to protect the sanctity of their information from dissemination through irregular channels or without necessary authorization. Often customers that were aware of my novelty in the organization perceived me as vulnerable (Xerri and Brunetto 3174). It follows they attempted to exploit my vulnerability by bribing me to get undue access to other clients’ portfolios. The above instance was prevalent among alienated family members that did business with the same company. The temptation to compromise ethics was very real with lucrative compensation. Where my self-control wavered, I requested my mentor, Zany to keep me accountable. Given the payment cuts that followed the financial crisis, the susceptibility of the lower grade employees was high. Subsequently, the employees would strive to reduce their cognitive dissonance by rationalizing their actions. They claimed to be reciprocating the theft that was rife in the echelons of power. Furthermore, the job insecurity that was felt by majority of the employees was not reduced by the leadership’s attempt to increase job involvement. Unethical practices were often carried out towards ensuring that the employees have an exit strategy. Another attitude that proved detrimental to the organization was their perception that the company was hypocritical. The aggrieved parties claim that the company should not insist of social responsibility initiatives when their employees are inadequately reimbursed. To them, charity had to start at home. It follows they believed they deserved any money they got regardless the means. The aggrieved were afraid to raise their concerns as the financial crisis showed them clearly that everyone was dispensable. Avenues of airing dissent were available albeit not anonymous. It follows that employees were afraid of being victimized. Flagging unethical transaction had to be done with discretion lest one becomes a social pariah.

State Street’s strategy that consolidated their belief was the leadership’s insistence on job rotation. There was a proliferation of new recruits with account skills; State Street wanted skills beyond the routine balancing of ledgers. It valued fluidity of roles as it acknowledged change was a constant given the instability of financial markets (Xerri and Brunetto 3170). The said instability demanded management to be prepared for the difficult eventuality of downsizing. The way a company handles this tumultuous period distinguishes between its management into a dichotomy, good or bad management subsequently defining its longevity. State Street’s management failed to assist the organization recover from the post-retrenchment effect. Unfortunately, majority of the upper management ignored the signs rather they attempted to go back to business as usual. Majority of the employees were alive to temporariness of their profession thus were perpetually looking for alternative employment. Outward looking employees present liability to any organization. Four members of my group were planning to go fully into entrepreneurship after acquiring relevant experience in the financial field. The primary shortcoming of the management was ignoring monetary incentives as an aspect of job satisfaction. While it was on the right track in improving personal development and the job environment, it assumed that money was a non-factor in the presence of the other motivators. Though money is not the main factor leading to job satisfaction is should be addressed. Money matters up to a level after which it becomes redundant. Majority of the lower workers at State Street had not reached said level. There appeared to be a breakdown in communication between the upper management as it suggested theoretical strategies to improve worker motivation that had little practical significance.

State Street organizational culture valued youth. It was a vibrant company with an average age of thirty-five. Their lack of foresight saw them force early retirement upon their veteran employees whose benefits had accrued (Xerri and Brunetto 3174). They perceived them as draining necessary funds the organization required to weather the financial storm. The elderly were the only employees that were inclined towards permanency in the firm. Downsizing in of itself was a difficult but necessary choice. The problem arose from their prejudiced criteria. Their criteria for elimination were productivity and adaptability. The latter element held a level of truth. The management argued that the employees were too enshrined to their traditional thinking when the company required fresh perspectives to survive. The former aspect of criteria was founded on unsubstantiated generalizations. The management believed that young employees are energetic thus more productive than their elderly counterparts. Research shows that the elderly are often more productive than the youth due to growth in intellectual capability, experience fortifies subtle elements of strategy. It similarly showed that they had lower incidences of avoidable absenteeism than their young colleagues.

Organizational behavior entails critical analysis of an organization’s leadership structure, its culture, and the individual and group interactions of its members. State Street failed to gauge the impact of the elderly had on their organization opting for a less committed younger workforce. Despite efforts to eliminate discrimination, lack of effective strategies will perpetuate it. State Street’s female empowerment led to better leadership model that promoted inclusiveness in the organization. Contemporary workforce values work-life balance than job security. Nonetheless, job security helps to shield employees from unethical practices. Employees aspire to have forums where they can air their concerns without fear of repercussions. An organization should aspire to create job satisfaction by observing all the steps, from monetary incentives to improving the working environment. The elders have essential insights an organization hence should be valued. The myth of youth translating into productivity is erroneous. Females have a challenge of transcending stereotypical concepts of how they should behave in a work setting as well as leadership position. A person’s cultural traits inform their business decisions both intentional and inadvertent. The ability to remove one’s self from the organization’s activities helps improve their objectivity in their analysis. In order to align one’s self with the prevalent organizational culture, it is essential to find a mentor to assist you in deciphering the formal and more importantly informal code of conduct. Human behavior is unpredictable and the leadership’s strategy should take that into account. A company’s management of the post retrenchment period will make or break of that organization. Encouraging input from employees helps them feel valued. Women in positions of leadership are unevenly burdened as success is expected of them from both the social and managerial fronts. Majority of male subordinates hope their female leaders to fail in order to validate their erroneous misconceptions. Aligning interns with employees that have similar interests increases the productivity of their induction period. Being a part of an organization exposes one to the ethical dilemmas inherent to the profession giving them a pragmatic perspective.


Works Cited

Beal III, Loyd, Jacqueline M. Stavros, and Matthew L. Cole. “Effect of psychological capital and resistance to change on organizational citizenship behavior.” SA Journal of Industrial Psychology 39.2 (2013): 01-11.

Robbins, Stephen P., and Tim Judge. Essentials of organizational behavior. Boston: Pearson, 2012.

Xerri, Matthew J., and Yvonne Brunetto. “Fostering innovative behaviour: the importance of employee commitment and organisational citizenship behaviour.” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24.16 (2013): 3163-3177.

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