As a PM – Do You Care about Organizational Behavior?

I was fascinated by coordinated and structured efforts from ants when I was 6. On the other hand, I was baffled to see group conflict and unstructured behavior in the organization at 22 during my first corporate job. As a Product Manager, dealing with people is an inevitable part of the job. One of the biggest challenges for PMs is to influence engineers and negotiate with the business team. If that is the case, how PMs miss organizational pattern to understand engineers and business team behavior?

An organization is the group of people working towards the same purpose. However, we always see a conflict of interest between the engineering team and business team, and as a PM, your role is to connect both sides of an organizational spectrum. Today in any organization; as a PM, you work with engineering, support, marketing, sales, professional services, and finance department. It means PMs get an opportunity to work with people from diverse background, culture, and experience. As product managers spend more time with various teams, they need to understand personal behaviors, a key motivation of each team/individual and company objectives.

When founders start any organization, depends on their background and experience, they established certain methods, norms, or set of regulations to run a company and hire new people who fit into above bucket. Eventually, it becomes a culture or behavior of an organization. It is known as organizational behavior or organizational culture. Most of the time PMs face challenges due to lack of thinking from an engineering perspective or lack of customer oriented thought process or lack of understanding of organizational objectives. Thus as a PM, it is crucial to understand culture, behavior, and experience of an organization and individual team members.

Following parameters usually help us to understand organizational/individual behavior:

  1. Individual behavior
  2. Human relation and performance
  3. Personality
  4. Learning for self-management

Individual behavior
The American football coach Vincent Lombardi said: “The achievements of an organization are the result of combined efforts of each.” Individual behavior in an organization is a vital aspect to accomplish any task. Consider an example of Apple Inc. When Steve Jobs started it, every single person was dedicated to achieving the same vision, and Mr. Jobs make sure that he incorporated his vision among Apple employees. Behavioral scientist B.J.Kolasa described the organization as input and output system. In software terms to get an appropriate output, you need valid input and your system should handle it appropriately. In any organization, one must input accurate problem statement and vision to solve that problem. Every employee should understand behavioral pattern of other team members and work collaboratively to accomplish organizational objectives. Thus no organization will become successful only because of innovative ideas. It becomes successful because of people who execute those ideas. Thus, there are certain factors play a crucial role to comprehend individual behavior such as age, gender, marital status, values, thinking, and experience. The length of service in an organization is significant aspect when you understand another person. Heredity and emotional maturity add decisive factors when you examine individual behavioral pattern.

Human relation and performance
Human relation and performance are determining parameters, how one person has a relationship with other peers in an organization. We can purchase technology and resources, but we cannot buy leadership qualities, Negotiation skills, decision-making ability. Keith Davis described multiplication of ability and motivation is equal to possible performance, and it is responsible principal for organization behavior. How you perform in a team makes a huge difference in your behavior in an organization. Thus when you start working in a team, you need to understand relations between other team members as well as their role and impact during product development.

Individual thinking pattern, emotional feeling, and behavior towards other team members refer as personality. It reflects one’s temperament to handle any situation. It is one of the crucial factors in organization behavior. It confines you to make a decision in critical situations, or it expands your horizons to handle a similar situation next time. To understand personality and someone’s behavior American psychologist Joseph and Harri introduce the concept of Johari window. It states that it divides our mind into four different sections; open/free area – known to others and self, blind area – known to others but unknown self, hidden area – known to self but unknown to others, unknown area – unknown to self and others. This concept played an essential role in organization behavior. Johari window is a very elegant and potent model; it helps people to understand the most efficient way to optimize the value to people.

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Learning for self-management
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” Unless you understand your behavioral pattern, you are unable to understand organizational behavior. In psychology; self-management means an ability to direct yourself towards the achievement of objective using an appropriate method, skills, and strategies. In the organization, to manage other people; you need to learn self-management. Everything starts from inside; that’s how we experience the world. We experience the world through our mind. Thus, self-management always provides an edge to product managers while influencing to engineering team or negotiating with the business group.

In summary, as a product manager, one must care about organization behavior. PM collaborates with team members from a diverse background including engineering, support, marketing, sales, professional services, and finance. Each team has different thought process and objectives. Thus PM must understand peer’s natural thinking pattern. Human behavior is most fundamental part of everyone’s life. Every individual sees various emotions in daily professional life, and as a PM you are the key player who can wisely utilize these emotions to make a significant business impact. Thus product manager must understand organization behavior to drive a business forward.

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