Behavioral Extensions and Its Implications at Workplaces

Ray Titus

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The study of Behavioral extension involves investigating the source of an actual demonstrated behavioral action. According to Behavioral Extension belief, no action can be seen as a disconnected expression. Every action is a result of deep set embedded Behavioral sets that are almost unalterable. The unalterable Behavioral set is a result of rooted beliefs and/or prejudices built and integrated into the psyche as a part of growing up. This Psyche ends up dictating the very personality of a person. Most people on their part are not aware of their own personality construct. This awareness if existent is what is known as ‘Self Awareness’.

The study of Behavioral extension is important for any Human Resource Department. This function within any organization is responsible for the improvement of morale and productivity, and to limit job turnover. They also need to help the organization use the skill of its employees to the full measure and to provide training opportunities to enhance those skills, and boost employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions. This is a tall ask. More so because every employee brings a unique mindset to the workplace. Getting around to understanding that mindset is a laborious and humungous task. The behavioral extension belief guides the Human Resource Department in understanding individual mindsets. In an era that is characterized by stress at the workplace and pinning time pressures, the chances of ‘breakdowns’ at work are more than imminent. Most Human Resource functions fail to consider the employees as a ‘human’, tending to slot them as ‘resources’. The conscious effort always is to skill the employees from a technical point of view, so as to increase productivity. They fail to realize the link between an employee’s psychological makeup and his ‘productive performance’. All matters pertaining to ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’ meted out too, are guided by this narrow perspective. For example, how many employees are rewarded for their contribution to making a workplace enjoyable? Are there not some employees who as responsible for the ‘positive cheer’ seen in the workplace? Should they not be rewarded, even though they might not necessarily directly contribute to any tangible increase in productivity? Should not their indirect contribution to this increase be recognized? A 360 degree appraisal tends to address these dynamics of evaluation.

Understanding Behavioral Extensions helps recognition of the following factors –

1. The employee behavior at the workplace cannot be seen as a disconnected act. It emanates from a deeply ingrained mindset which is part of an unalterable behavioral set.

2. Managing the actions of an employee at the workplace will be accomplished better if the underlying psyches behind these acts are understood.

3. Unalterable Behavioral Sets can be dented or a change effected in them only through ‘psyche-altering’ experiences that are drastic, or might call for persistent and long term effort.

4. The measure of efficiency for any employee must not just be tangible increases in productivity; it must also include indirect contributions that have affected issues such as team dynamics.

5. For an organization to effect productivity increases, it must not just rely on imparting technical skills. It must also consider ‘emotional’ dynamics that are a prime reason behind performance.

6. Emotionally Intelligent employees are better contributors to the workplace, both in tangible and intangible terms.

Recognition of Behavioral Extensions

It is very important for personnel dealing with employees to possess capabilities of recognizing behavioral extensions. This helps prevent judgmental branding of an employee and also opens up for better interaction with the person that can lead to building of trust. This in turn will lead to candid revelations that can help the HR personnel understand the makeup of an employee.

Behavioral Extensions can be better recognized through -

1. The ability of empathy - That is, the ability to view an exhibited act from the perspective of the person who has engaged in that act.

2. The ability of Self-Awareness – To recognize extended behaviors in others, first and foremost a person must be aware of his own mental makeup.

3. The ability of Self Regulation – The Human Resource personnel must in turn be able regulate their own actions and not be provoked into premature responses as a result of an exhibited behavior.

4. The ability of Cognition – The ability to analyze and interpret an act is paramount to understanding the source of the act. A combination of Intelligence and Emotional Stability increases the ability of cognition.

Behavioral Extension at the Workplace

The behavior exhibited at the workplace is an extension to the behavior exhibited at the place of habitation, but, customized to the set of constraints that are applicable at the place of the work.

Behavioral Extensions can also proceed from the workplace to the place of habitation too. The set of constraints that are applicable at the place of habitation are less formal than those applicable at the place of work and therefore can prompt stronger extensions. The behaviors exhibited at the workplace are ‘curtailed’ extensions.

A demonstration of this can be seen in a person who is affected by feelings of insecurity. The reasons behind the ingrained insecurity could be familial issues, for example, of restricted finances at home which could have been the result of financial mismanagement on the part of the person’s parents. The affected person exhibits his insecurities at work too, just that, the bureaucratic constraints might not allow for a full blown expression of this insecurity. On the other hand, the home environment, being less bureaucratic, more informal, might end up providing for a better avenue for a full blown act prompted by the ingrained insecurity. This sense of insecurity is so strongly ingrained into the psyche that, getting over it, or being able to manage it, requires at first, recognition of the problem. Most people do not allow for this recognition, instead tend to disregard or skirt the issue. This has to be followed up by guidance from experts, in understanding the scale and magnitude and measures needed to manage the same. Such issues cannot be tided over in a short period of time and end up requiring persistent efforts over a considerably long period.

Prof. Ray Titus is a faculty Member at the Alliance Business Academy, Bangalore, India. He specialises in the area of Strategic Management. He also actively trains and consults for the Industry.

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