Organizational Behavior Modification (OBM)

Organizational Behavior Modification (OB Mod) is a sophisticated tool for improving the organizational effectiveness. Derived and developed from the concept of skinner’s operant conditioning, this technique is used to modify or eliminate undesirable behavior and replace it with behavior that is more compatible with goal attainment. Behavior modification concentrates on a person’s overt behavior and this allows a manager to realistically try to observe and deal with outward manifestations of behavior. It is built around the use of reward for observable behavior. OB Mod can defined as the techniques for modifying behavior of the organizational members so that they are engaged in desirable behavior. Robbins has defined OB Mod as follows:

OB Mod is a program where managers identify performance-related employee behaviors and then implement an intervetion strategy to strengthen desirable behaviors and weaken undesirable behaviors”.

Steps in OB Mod: Ob Mod is a tool and, therefore, managers have to go through certain steps to apply it in practice. These steps are presented in figure:  



OB Mod exercise begins with identification of critical behaviors relevant to organizational performance. These behaviors are measured, and if there is no discrepancy between desirable behavior and measured behavior, no further action is necessary. However if there is discrepancy, further steps of OB Mod are required. These steps are functional analysis of behavior, using intervention strategies for behavior medication, and finally evaluating whether the behavior has been modified in the light of desirable behavior after the use of intervention strategies. Thus, OB Mod goes through five steps in modifying the undesirable behavior. A discussion of these steps is presented below.

  1. Identification of critical Behavior : In order to apply OB Mod , it is necessary that critical behaviors which have significant impact on the performance outcome of the employees should be identified. Employees may be engaged in several behaviors in the organization. Out of these, some behaviors may be critical like absenteeism or attendance, tardiness or promptness, complaints or constructive crticims, and doing or not doing or not doing a particular task or procedure and some behaviors may not be critical like bad attitudes or goofing off. Crtitical behaviors may be identified through the discussion with the particular employee and his immediate superior as both are closely intimated with the job behaviors. A systematic behavior audit can also be carried on to identify such behaviuors. The audit would systematically analyze each job in question on the pattern of job analysis.
  1. Measurement of Behavior : After the critical behaviors are identified, these are measured in terms of the rate at which these are occurring. If the rate of occurrence is within the acceptable limit(for example, rate of absenteeism at the rate of one per cent), no action may be required. However, if it is more, it is required to be changed. Measured of behaviors can be through either by observing and counting or by extracting from exiting records.
  1. Functional Analysis of Behaviors : Functional analysis involves a detailed examination of present behaviors of the employees to determine what consequences each of the behaviors produces, what conditions lead to their occurrences etc. It pinpoints one of the most significant practical problems of using an OB Mod approach to change critical performance behaviors. Since only contingent consequences of bahavior have an impact on subsequent behavior, functional analysis often reveals that the contingent consequences are identified. Further, functional analysis often reveals that there are many competing contingencies for every organizational behavior, therefore the analysis must not be deluded by the contingent consequences that, on the surface, appear to be affecting the critical behavior.
  1. Intervention : Identification of certain behaviors to change and the factors that cause such behaviors will determine the development of an appropriate intervention strategy. Intervention is the action taken for changing the undesirable critical behaviors. Its main objective is to strengthen and accelerate desirable performance behaviors and/or weaken and decelerate undesirable behaviors. There may be many intervention strategies that can be used, but the main ones based on the principles of reinforcement. The strategies selected must be appropriate to the situation and should produce the desired result.
  1. Systematic Evaluation : The final step in OB Mod is the systematic evaluation whether the intervention strategies are working properly or not. Since the basic purpose of OB Mod is to bring change in undesirable behavior so as to improve performance, the evaluation must be made on this line. Changed behaviors can be compared with baseline behaviors and deviations can be noted. If there is positive change, its suggests that the strategies are successful. However, if the change is not significant, it may call for adoption of more appropriate strategies.