Organizational behavior is one of the core organizational components that define the success and effectiveness of an organization. An institution’s organizational behavior determines the impact its members will have in the organization; it defines the human behavior of the members, their motivation and perception of their tasks, the group dynamics, and teamwork. This paper reflects on the aspects of organizational behavior that resonate the most with the service-learning project I undertook which involved organizing a charity event for fundraising purposes. The paper will identify the aspects of organizational behavior as exhibited by the community partner engaged, how their understanding was improved and how the knowledge acquired will be helpful in my future career endeavors. The paper will also reflect on the areas of organizational behavior I reckon I have grown and those that I am yet to grasp. Analysis indicates that the most important aspect of organizational behavior is teamwork and group dynamics; without which synergetic benefits cannot be experienced. Regardless of the number of organizational aspects that are correctly appropriated the organization cannot experience synergy if the different groups and persons are not effectively coordinated to achieve a common objective.
The service learning project I undertook involved making an observation on how organizations arrange a fundraising event. Specifically, I observed how the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a community partner, arranged a charity basketball game to raise funds for the homeless. The project is an initiative of Georgetown University and has been ongoing for an upward of a decade now. In this year’s event, the charity basketball game raised US $600,000 demonstrating the effectiveness of its organization and subsequent sourcing of funds.
The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless exhibited a number of important organizational behavior aspects. Their exemplary implementation resulted in a successful fundraising event. One of the major aspects of organizational behavior I found extremely vital in the event was team and group dynamics. The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless exhibited commendable teamwork spirit. Despite its having numerous teams handling a diverse spectrum of tasks, they worked seamlessly to ensure the goal of the occasion was met. The group of volunteers that undertook to plan the charity basketball game was not merely a grouping but a team. A team, as an aspect of organizational behavior, is a group of people with a common purpose undertaking complex, interdependent tasks (French, 2011; Mullins, 2010). For teamwork to be exhibited, the efforts of the different components of the team must be complementary and not contradictory (Griffin & Moorhead, 2011). In this instance, there were several groups of volunteers, each with a distinct task, but all of which were geared towards raising funds to address the homelessness crisis in Washington. For instance, there was a publicity group that was tasked with the design and production of publicity materials such as posters, fliers, leaflets, pamphlets, and t-shirts among others; there was also another group tasked with arranging to secure the venue, sourcing for the public address systems, contacting the teams that were to participate in the charity basketball match and even sourcing for the prize for the match winner. Other teams arranged for security concerns, while others sourced for corporate sponsors. Essentially, each team had tasks that were distinct from the others but were still interrelated in the sense that they were aimed at successfully arranging the charity basketball match to raise funds for the homeless people.
A team is more than a collection of groups or people (French, 2011). The organizational behavior of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, in my opinion, demonstrated that the item that underscores teamwork is the presence of mutual commitment towards the attainment of a common objective. As Mullins (2010) observes, it is the mutual commitment of the distinct organizational components that brings about synergetic benefits. The benefits that accrue to an organization that coordinates its distinct departments to operate as a team outweigh the sum of individual contribution made independently by the organization’s members. Research studies, for example Geer-Frazer (2014), conducted on the relationship between organizational behavior and performance, have established that the appropriation of teams is directly proportional with increased effectiveness of the organization. Organizations that did not promote teamwork and team learning had significantly lower performance and member job satisfaction (Daft, Murphy & Willmott, 2010). In this instance, the exemplary coordination between the different teams ensured that the charity basketball match was successfully held, raising the largest amount ever contributed since the inception of the annual charity event.
However, it is crucial to note that despite the effectiveness exhibited by team, its effects can also be detrimental if the teamwork efforts are not mutual and honest (Mullins, 2010). In this instance, I observed that some of the organization’s members were not happy and did not feel satisfied with some of the directives given by the team leader who at times demanded that they improvise where they experienced shortage of funds during the planning phase. In some instances, the volunteers used significant amounts of time and money to source for publicity materials and were never reimbursed. In other instances, the volunteers were given targets of fliers to distribute per day and if they fail they risked being sidelined from their volunteering groups. In essence, the teamwork increased the organizational performance but it also resulted in job dissatisfaction. As French (2011) warns, while the adverse effects of dissatisfaction may not become apparent then, they may affect the organizational efficiency in the long run. Therefore, teamwork efforts should not be induced by peer pressure or peer surveillance that brings an aspect of worker exploitation (Griffin & Moorhead, 2011). I have learnt that for the team efforts to bring about synergetic benefits, they must be voluntary.
Another important aspect of organization behavior that I observed as important in enhancing organizational effectiveness was motivation. Motivation refers to the processes that arouse and maintain an interest to achieve an objective (Mullins, 2010). Motivation is the unique process that inspires and stimulates one to persist in a task despite the adverse occurrences discouraging or otherwise stalling progress (French, 2011). Motivation is one of the core aspects of organizational behavior that directly and significantly influences the organizational performance. The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless volunteers exhibited incredible motivation to successfully plan and hold the charity basketball match. Since there were no financial rewards that accrued to the volunteers, I reckon the motivators were intrinsic. Most of the volunteers were motivated by the need to make a positive impact in the lives of the marginalized and disadvantaged in the society. In this instance, my observation was that the volunteers were motivated by the need to reduce the adverse effects of poverty and homelessness. Motivators that originate from within the person are often stronger than those that originate from without (French, 2011). Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory establishes that there are various factors that may act as motivators while others act as de-motivators (Mullins, 2010). The positive motivators result in job satisfaction while the de-motivators elicit job dissatisfaction. I hypothesize that the majority of the volunteers at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless were intrinsically motivated to help other human beings and derived satisfaction from the same. If the volunteers were not intrinsically motivated they could have easily given up and deserted the cause given the immense sacrifices and financial difficulties they had to navigate in the process of arranging the charity basketball match.
Leadership also resonated quite strongly with me during the service learning project. The charismatic leadership of the projected provided the direction and motivation required to successfully arrange a charity basketball game. The leadership style was largely innovative. The groups were assigned different tasks for instance publicity, refereeing the game, and securing the venue among others. Each group was then allowed the space to become innovative and design own interventions to meet their group objectives. Innovative leadership is apt where there is the space to act independently (Geer-Frazer, 2014). Organizations that have strict, rigid organizational structures cannot employ innovative leadership because the members are very afraid to make mistakes and bear the consequences of their actions. Innovative leadership, on the other hand, exhibits a combination of democracy, minimal bureaucracy and efficiency in innovation (Geer-Frazer, 2014). It especially appropriates a charismatic leader who sells the objectives and dreams of the organization to the members who then execute the mandate to its fruition. Since all the volunteers for this event were people motivated by the need to make a positive change in the society, in my considered opinion, the innovative type of leadership used was apt. The volunteers became creative in their pursuit to raise the much-needed funds to enable the hosting of the charity event. However, providing space for creativity and innovation does not suffice. For optimization of organizational efficiency, the provision of space must be complemented by the resources to boost innovativeness (Daft, Murphy & Willmott, 2010). In this instance, the volunteers were at times asked to dip into their pocket, which was discouraging at times. Innovative leadership should ensure that the followers not only carry and implement the dream but also that they are empowered to do the same.
The last major aspect of organization behavior I found extremely important in the service learning project was conflict and its management. Conflict is one of the aspects of organizational behavior I found to be the most challenging. It was rather fascinating that there was immense conflict even in a noble task such as raising funds for the homeless. At the individual level there were individuals who wanted to use the event to advance their careers instead of participating for the benefit of others. Such individuals were keen to stay at the fore to get noticed in their volunteering work. At the organizational level, some of the partner organizations intended to make the event about them, portraying it as a corporate social responsibility. Other organizations wanted to supply water and other beverages to be used in the event while others conditioned their support on the availability of advertising space provided at the basketball gymnasium. It would not have been the first time that a corporate organization had usurped the objectives of a charity event and made the event about the selfish organization. During the ice bucket challenge, MacMillan stole the limelight from the cause to help cancer patients and made the event about it, and was heavily criticized as a result. To avoid conflicts, organizations must have clearly defined goals, objectives and the methods of implementation to achieve them (Griffin & Moorhead, 2011). I have learnt that organizational behavior can and should be shaped through defining of parameters.
Upon careful consideration, I reckon the service-learning project has significantly assisted me to deeply understand organizational and group mechanisms. I have established that teamwork is the most essential aspect of organizational behavior. The closeness and intimacy of the group members determine the information flow in the organization which, in turn, directly influences the task performance and the effectiveness of the performance (Daft, Murphy & Willmott, 2010). I have ascertained that in organizational performance, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, organizations ought to develop frameworks that promote interdepartmental collaboration and coordination to achieve organizational goals and objectives. With regards to the link between organizational leadership and performance, I now understand that the style of leadership determines the degree of space afforded to employees to become innovative and deviate from the norm for the benefit of the organization (Geer-Frazer, 2014). Innovative style of leadership is apt in organizations that have flatter organizational structures with clearly defined yet flexible organizational goals and objectives. The enhanced understanding should be helpful in my future volunteering work. I reckon the areas of organizational behavior I feel I have grown the most are in leadership and teamwork. I have learnt how to leverage exemplary leadership and teamwork skills to experience synergetic benefits. However, I still need to grow in conflict and perception management, and hope to do so in future as I continue my volunteering work in other organizations.
In conclusion, it is evident that organizational behavior is a core component of an organizational success and operational effectiveness. Successful management of the different aspects of organizational behavior such as team, leadership, group dynamics, power, personality and ethics among others, will bestow immense benefits to the organization. Of these, I established that team and leadership are the most important aspects. Teamwork, on the one hand, leverages the potential of the different people and groups in the organization enabling it to experience synergetic benefits. Leadership, on the other hand, provides the enabling environment for the organization’s members to carry the dream and implement it in a manner that promotes the attainment of organizational goals. Organizations should explore the different aspects of organizational behavior to optimize organizational effectiveness and consequent profitability.