OB Mod in simple words can be defined as a technique for modifying the modifying or behaviour of the organizational members so that they are engaged in desirable undesirable behaviour and. replacing it with behaviour. It can be used for motivating the employees as well as for enhancing organizational effectiveness.
According to Stephen P. Robbins
“OB Mod is a programme where managers identify performance related employee behaviours and then implement an intervention strategy to strengthen desirable behaviour and weaken undesirable behaviours.”
According to Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn:
“OB Mod is the systematic reinforcement of desirable work behaviour and the non reinforcement or punishment of unwanted work behaviour. It includes four basic reinforcement strategies. Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction”
Steps in OB Modification
Fred Luthans and R. Kreitner developed and used OB Mod to represent a behavioural approach to the management of human resources for performance improvement.
The steps given by them in applying the OB Mod are summarized in the following figure:
The first step in the OB Mod is identification of performance related behaviours. First of all the behaviour should be identified as desirable or undesirable from the point of view of the organisation. Then in the next stage, critical behaviours, that have significant impact on the employees’ performance, should be given due attention. The critical behaviours can be identified through discussions with the particular employee and his immediate superior as both are closely intimated with the job behaviours.
Some of the critical behaviours which affect job performance are absenteeism or attendance, tardiness or promptness, complaints or constructive criticism, listening to or not listening to the instructions, etc. If such behaviours are modified, good results could be expected. Due attention should be given to the critical behaviour because they get repeated again and again.
After the critical behaviours of the employees have been identified, the next step for the manager is to measure the frequency of the critical behaviour over time. The measurement can be done by observation and by extraction of information from records. If the frequency is within the acceptable limit, it will require no action, but if it exceeds the acceptable limit,
it will need immediate attention. The measurement of behaviour will also help the managers in determining the success in changing the employees’ behaviour.
At the next step, the managers will have to do a functional analysis of the behaviour that requires modification. This analysis will determine what circumstances lead to a particular type of behaviour, what are the consequences of such behaviour etc. Contingent consequences of behaviour should be identified because these consequences have impact on subsequent behaviour. Moreover, some contingent consequences appear to be affecting the critical behaviour on the surface only, the functional analysis should try to find out the competing contingencies for every behaviour also.
Once the critical behaviours have been identified and the circumstances which cause such behaviours have been determined, the next step will be to develop an effective intervention strategy. There are several strategies that can be used at this stage. These include positive or negative reinforcement, extinction or punishment.
The use of a particular strategy will depend upon the type of situation faced. After developing and implementing a particular strategy, the frequency of resulting behaviour is measured. If a behaviour change has occurred in the right direction, the manager will select a reinforcement schedule that will maintain the desired behaviour.
The last stage in OB Mod is the evaluation whether the intervention strategies are working properly or not. The basic purpose of OB Mod is to bring change in undesirable behaviours so as to improve performance. Evaluation will reveal whether the undesirable behaviours have been substituted by desirable behaviour or not. If there has been a change in behaviour, whether it is permanent or just temporary.
Further, the evaluation will also show whether there is improvement in the performance or not. If there is a positive change, it suggests that the interventions are successful. However, if the change is not significant, it may call for adoption of alternate and more appropriate strategies.
Utilities of OB Modification
OB Mod has been applied successfully in many organizations, service as well as manufacturing, to improve organizational effectiveness and understand human behaviour in organizations. It is an important technique of human resource management.
The major strengths and utilities of OB Mod are as follows:
- Can be Put to Testing
OB Mod concentrates on a person’s external behaviour and this allows a manager to realistically observe and deal with outward manifestations of behaviour. Since it deals with observed behaviour it can be put to testing.
- Development of Employees
OB Mod presents a set of tools by which people can learn new behaviours and skills and thereby replacing undesirable behaviours. Positive reinforcement could be used to encourage desirable behaviour by the employees. Social learning theory can be of great use in the effective implementation of any training programme for the employees. Thus, OB Mod is a great technique of developing the employees.
- Control and Regulation of the Employees’ Behaviour
OB Mod provides various tools to the managers for effectively controlling and influencing the behaviour of employees in the organisation. Most behaviour in the organisation are learned, controlled and changed by the consequences. The managers can use operant conditioning to control and regulate the behaviour of subordinates by manipulating the reward system.
The behavioural consequences that are rewarding increase the probability of desired behaviour whereas aversive consequences decrease the probability of desired response.
- Easy to Understand and Use
The understanding of OB Mod techniques is comparatively easy. Managers can use these without many problems. OB Mod has received great attention from several organisations in the recent years. It is widely applied in large organisations in the areas of human resource management, executive development, motivation, introduction of change and organisational development.