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Understanding Organizational Behavior

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Understanding Organizational Behavior

October 10, 2005

Understanding Organizational Behavior

The past 10 to 15 years has shown a change in how organizations view their employees and customers. Employee and customer satisfaction are key elements organizations need in order to survive the continuous changes happening today, and in the future. Having knowledge of and expanding on organizational behavior, diversity, effectiveness and strategy, and continued learning is a valuable asset for any organization and its managers trying to not only survive the changes they face, but to also bypass any competition.

Webster's dictionary defines organizational as "of or relating to an organization" (Webster's 2004 p874). Webster's also defines behavior as "1c) the response of an individual, group or species to its environment" and "3)..the way in which something functions or operates" Webster's 2004 p. 111). Our text defines organizational behavior as "The study of human behavior in organizations" and further states "...devoted to understanding individual group behavior, interpersonal processes, and organizational dynamics (Schermerhorn 2005 p 17). For an organization to adapt to the rapid changes in technology and customer needs, the organization must understand the culture and diversity of the employees.

"People are an organization's most important asset" and when an organization understands and shows its employees how important they are to the organization, the organization has taken its first step towards understanding its organizational behavior. (Schermerhorn 2005 p17).Without the continued support of the employees, an organization is sure to fail.

Today's manager must be able to adapt, learn and change. Years ago managers made decisions and implemented changes without involving the employees, disregarding the fact that it is the employee who is the one doing the work. Today, managers and supervisors have to realize and understand the fact that employees want to feel important and that their ideas and opinions do matter. Granted, there are many decisions that need to be made by management, however; decisions related to changes in processes can include ideas and opinions from the employees doing to the work. Allowing employees to voice their opinions gives them the feeling that they are involved.

Working in healthcare, we are faced with the many changes made by the government as it relates to Medicare and Medicaid. Efforts to try and keep up with the changes are at times exhausting and mind boggling. For the past three years, we have solicited the opinions of the employees doing the work, and simply guided them towards a final outcome that would benefit both the employee and management; we have become coaches and empowered them. Since taking this approach, we have found the employees will work harder and provide real feedback on how some of the changes we have implemented have impacted them. The employees have developed a sense of ownership when it comes to their accounts, and they want to ensure the accounts are satisfied by the payers timely and correctly; whereas in the past many of the employees did not care, which caused loss of revenue.

Four years ago we attempted to implement a change where we would consolidate billing areas, where a biller would have accounts they would be responsible for multiple hospitals, not just one. The decision to change was made by upper management and the employees were not involved in the decision. This turned out to be a disaster. The staff was expected to drastically change the way they work their accounts but did not understand why. They became frustrated and negative. All of these negative feelings were caused by lack of communication. The managers were so eager to have their plan work, they forgot a very important part of management, which was to listen and hear what each employee was saying. After 30 days, management dropped the project and the work flow returned to its original state.

Since then, 90% of the time, the views and opinions of the team leaders and the staff are taken into consideration whenever a change in process is thought of or proposed by upper management. We meet with the team leaders and supervisors and explain what our goal is, what it is we expect to accomplish. Collectively we brainstorm and try to come up with a plan to achieve this goal. Some of their opinions and ideas are utilized, some are not. The lesson we learned, to communicate and listen, is one we will never forget.

Diversity is defined in our text as "the presence of individual differences based on gender, race and ethnicity, age, able-bodiedness, and sexual orientation" (Schermerhorn 2005 p 25). This definition describes our organization. This diverse workforce brings with it diverse views and opinions. Last year our organization in recognition of our diverse workforce, held a "Cultural Diversity Day". The employees were allowed to pick a theme for their set of cubicles and decorate for the theme they collectively selected. The best part of this was watching the employees that were very diverse in their background and how they worked collaboratively to create a common theme. It created an atmosphere of camaraderie as they worked together towards having the best decorated area, they had a common goal.

This new found camaraderie, along with the feeling of empowerment, has improved productivity and efficiencies. Communication between departments and newly found brainstorming on "How can we do it better and quicker?" became the new topic at team meetings.

With diversity, we also have employees that have worked in healthcare for 10 or more years, and at times this group at times experience a difficult time adapting to the changes in healthcare.



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