How to Address Changing Attitude in Organizational Behavior

In this post, we’ll learn how to analyze and address changing attitude in organizational behavior. 

Attitudes are one of several factors that can impact organizational behavior, employee productivity, and organizational performance, among other things. 

Understanding attitude’s role in organizational behavior is a prerequisite for solving attitude changes that may interfere with employee performance and organizational performance. 

More fundamentally, it is necessary to understand why attitudes are changing in the first place.

How to Address Changing Attitude in Organizational Behavior

Here is a top-down overview of employee attitudes, how attitude impacts organizational behavior, and how to address any issues that might arise.

Organizational Behavior: A Definition

Organizational behavior is the business discipline dedicated to analyzing how groups – specifically groups of employees – interact and behave in an organization.

This discipline focuses on areas such as:

  • Organizational culture
  • Group dynamics
  • Office politics
  • Leadership
  • The behavior of individuals
  • The work environment

Factors such as these can influence behavior at all levels of the organization. As we will see below, understanding these dynamics is important to improving both attitudes and behaviors.

Why Organizational Behavior Matters

Since behavior impacts productivity and performance, improvements to behavior will positively impact key business metrics, including:

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee productivity
  • Workplace efficiency
  • Team cohesion and team dynamics
  • Organizational performance

With the proper tools and approach, managers in every area of the business, from change managers to HR officers, can positively impact organizational performance.

Factors that Influence Employee Attitudes

The interplay between individuals, groups, the work environment, and the business all help to shape employee attitudes, as mentioned above. 

While it is also important to recognize that some aspects of an employee’s attitude cannot be controlled – after all, individuals are ultimately responsible for how they react to circumstances.

That being said, employers can and do have the ability to manage the work environment. And to the extent that that environment shapes behavior, employers can influence employees’ attitudes.

Here are just a few examples of factors that influence employee attitudes:

  • The digital skills gap
  • Organizational leadership and management
  • Whether employees find meaning in their work
  • The employee experience
  • The alignment between the workforce and the corporate culture
  • Individual personalities
  • Team dynamics

Influencing employee attitudes boils down to assessing the current state of the workplace, understanding what is causing attitude changes, then designing solutions.

How to Assess Attitudes

Employee surveys are one of the most useful tools for assessing workplace sentiment and attitudes, especially if managers observe widespread attitude changes.

Surveys can, for instance, ask targeted questions about a particular issue, if there is a suspected source for the attitude change. Managers who suspect that a new business process or organizational change is the source of attitude problems will want to ask specific questions about that change.

Open-ended questions – such as those that ask if employees have any concerns they would like to discuss – should also be included. These can offer insight into employee mindsets that may not otherwise have been noticed.

With the information gained from these surveys, managers can then tie those attitudes into behavioral and performance outcomes.

For this step, other information can be useful, such as employee metrics, HR analytics, and software analytics.

Addressing Attitude Changes at an Organizational Level

Once assessments and analyses of employee attitudes and behaviors have been completed, that information can be used to make improvements at scale.

Solutions will naturally vary depending on the circumstances and the causes underlying the attitude shift.

Here are just a few examples of what these solutions can look like in the real world:

  • The adoption of new software increases complexity in the digital workplace and creates frustration among employees – to solve this, managers use digital adoption platforms (DAPs) to streamline digital training
  • A workplace has become fully remote, and this drastic change has begun to decrease morale and motivation, which results in lower productivity – to address this, leaders implement new policies that include regular online social interaction, strict work routines, and standardized communication protocols
  • New leadership has entered the workplace, creating a rift between the current and previous management styles, which reduces trust among workers creates friction in the workplace – leaders address these issues by stepping up their communication with frontline employees, staying visible, and proactively embodying the changes they are seeking to create

Ultimately, changes in attitudes requires organizational changes.

Organizational changes, in turn, require change management.

How to Manage Change

Change management is the business discipline dedicated to overseeing organizational change projects and business transformation initiatives.

This discipline tends to focus on two areas: change at the individual level and change at the organizational level.

Organizational change management focuses on high-level logistics, planning, oversight, and administration.

Individual change management focuses on the often delicate and tricky matter of managing people.

Among other things, this side of the discipline addresses:

  • Employees’ attitudes towards change
  • The skills and abilities needed to enact change successfully
  • Project management
  • Organizing and supervising change teams
  • Reviewing and reinforcing the change once it is complete

Change management is, in short, useful for managing changes designed to solve attitude shifts – and at the same time, this discipline contains a valuable toolbox that managers can use to understand and manage organizational behavior.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.