How Can a Manager Shape Employee Behavior?


The success of a business depends on a wide range of intertwined factors. Ranging from business feasibility to effective management, there is no doubt that managers play crucial roles in setting performance pace of any business organization. The truth of the matter is that no business can thrive and attain its pinnacle performance without a successful management. From the basic definition of a manager, he or she is always charged with the responsibility of overseeing one or a group of other employees and ensuring that they carry out all their assigned duties effectively.

This therefore follows that the role of a manager depends on the nature and size of the business organization (Patricia 1). It is worth noting that among all management roles, the influence of a manager is quite outstanding and plays a pivotal role in determining business performance. Managers shape the behavior of employees in a myriad ways and this goes a long way in enhancing good manager-employee relationship and ultimate success of the business. This research paper synthesizes the various ways in which a manager shapes employee behavior.

Employee behavior

Employee behavior is determined by several elements which could be independent or related in various ways at any work place. Normally, employees are shaped with two major factors: their nurtured culture and the culture of a given organization. The interplay between these factors impact employees differently and they have to be harmonized to augment individual employee performance and the overall success of the organization (Patricia 1).

These factors further influence the manner in which employees communicate among themselves and with the management. The beliefs of employees shape their business ethics and their ability to integrate ethical responsibility in performing their assigned duties and responsibilities. In enhancing good behavior, business experts and analysts argue that good communication is a major tool which has to be adopted by the entire management. In this regard, it suffices to allude that managers have the most significant role in shaping and nurturing employee behavior.

Employee Behavior management

The overall success of a business highly depends on employee morale, productivity and customer satisfaction. However, these three factors rely on how employees at every level are being managed by individual managers in the line of production. Employee behavior management can therefore be described as a continuous management process as long as there is deviation from company or business standards. It follows that, behavior management is aimed at ensuring that all employees observe and maintain company principles in working towards the success of the business (Patricia 1).

There are cases when employees fail to meet core company standards like high quality work or products, positive interaction with others and adhering to company procedures and policies. In addressing the concept of employee management, it is important to appreciate the fact that there are several ways of shaping the employees’ behavior and have them do what is expected of them. In general, there is always a likelihood that a person’s behavior can change when the right actions are taken within a conducive working environment.

Shaping the behavior of employees is important in increasing predictability as everybody understands what is expected of him or her. The level of certainty among employees can therefore be increased by shaping their behavior as dictated by the company’s principles. Additionally, this behavior shaping process can be essential in influencing the behavior of superiors and peers (Elston 1). This process later translates into a predictable environment in which the entire workforce understands what is expected by the management as acceptable employee behavior.

One of the best ways to be used by managers to shape the behavior of employees is by use of rewards. It has been noted that most employees are willing to engage in behavior which they are positively recognized and appreciated by the management. In order for managers to increase the likelihood of a particular behavior being repeated, they need to reward those employees who demonstrate and adhere to set standards and behavior (Patricia 1).

The principal of rewarding behavior change among employees is that managers are supposed to know the individual employee and what they value most. In other words, a reward that has no value translates into no meaning in exchange of good behavior observed by an employee. However, the main challenge in recognizing employees with good behavior is meeting the needs and preferences of all the employees across the board.

Rewards for behavior change may take different formats and could be financial or non-financial. Financial rewards include bonuses and salary increment. On the other hand, non-financial rewards entail verbal praise, new parking space or dinner that may be organized to recognize good behavior demonstrated by employees. With regard to this, reward schedules may vary depending on various factors. For instance, intermittent behavior rewarding is always more preferred compared to continuous rewarding which focuses on acknowledging individual change responses.

Random rewarding has the power of impacting an employee for long and such behavior is not easily lost. Rewards ensure that employees get hooked to them even though they cannot be satisfied by their value. Long-term use of rewards makes people to get hooked to them and remain purposefully committed towards demonstrating behavior at workplace. Nevertheless, behavior that is not rewarded by the managers usually has low impact and may extinguish it (Martin and Fellenz 146).

In cases where rewards are ineffective in shaping the behavior of employees, some managers resort to punishment. It has however been noted that punishment is commonly overused by managers and misunderstood by employees. Some managers turn to punishment in shaping the behavior of employees when all possible options have been exhausted.

Although punishment has several drawbacks, it can be appropriately used to distinguish between good and bad behavior. The message behind punishment is usually to tell employees that a particular behavior is wrong. Unlike other approaches applied in shaping the behavior of employees in a company, punishment does not offer an alternative to be adopted as the most preferred behavior (Daft and Lane 378).

Because of its ability to attract attention, punishment could also be viewed as a reward. As such, punishment gains attention despite the fact that it may be negative attention. Directions on how punishment is administered are usually enshrined in rules and regulations of most organizations. Progressive punishment is equally important and managers have to ensure that the proposed punishment suits a particular crime. Consistency in punishment administration is also essential. For this to be effective in shaping behavior, what is viewed as unethical and unacceptable has to have the same description tomorrow and in subsequent days to come. Inconsistent use of punishment may send mixed reactions to the entire workforce.

Another way of shaping the behavior of employees is by ignoring the unwanted conduct. Although a manager may feel irritated and disturbed about a certain behavior, silence is usually adopted to avoid pitfalls associated with administration of punishment to those who deviate from recognized business behavior. Such behavior is extinguished over some time without interfering with manager-employee relationship.

Additionally, the ability of managers to set standards in any workplace has been known to shape the behavior of employees. Besides performing their management roles in the organization, managers ought to be fulltime role models to all employees (Watson 1). By so doing, employees get influenced through emulation. Being a role model encompasses a variety of approaches which converge at the success of the business. Moreover, managers who are role model promote organizational culture and influences new and old employees who may not understand how certain things are like, punctuality, dress code and communication skills among others.

Talking about behavior and general behavior of employees is also imperative in shaping employees’ behavior. What may be assumed as common sense may be irrelevant to some employees or the entire workforce (Watson 1). It is therefore necessary for managers to spend quality time with their employees and discuss certain aspects of conduct considered as acceptable by the management. This can be done through organized seminars and workshops.


As described above, managers have a key role in shaping the behavior of employees in any working environment. There exists a wide range of approaches which can be adopted in promoting good behavior within the entire workforce. Notably, managers can only influence employees’ change of behavior if they have mastered the expectations of the organization. This allows them not only to serve as managers but also as role models. In general, managers shape the behavior of employees in a myriad ways and this goes a long way in enhancing good manager-employee relationship and ultimate success of the business.

Works cited

Daft, Richard, and Lane Patricia. Management. Stamford, Connecticut, U.S: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Elston, Mary. “Managing the Passive Aggressive Employee, Approaches to Take.” Management Secrets, 2010.

Martin, John, and Fellenz Martin. Organizational Behavior & Management. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning EMEA, 2010. Print.

Patricia, Buhler. “The keys to shaping behavior.” AllBusiness Inc., 2011.

Watson, Steven. “Guide staff behavior by setting a good example.” TechRepublic, 2003.