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Q.Why is it important for managers to have a working knowledge of perception and attribution?

Manager:
A Manager is a person who is responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individuals, monitoring their work and taking corrective action when necessary. Role of Manager:
Before go further to discuss why managers should have knowledge of perception and attribution, it is important to understand the Role of manager in an organization which usually they don’t know exactly. Broadly, the role of manager is divided in two parts: 1. Objective Part 2.Subjective Part

The Objective part is concerned about business to run effectively to increase profitability of an organization, whereas the Subjective part is more about employees to understand their nature, skills and experience for long time future success of an organization. A Manager should pay more attention on this subjective part of the role which is all about identify ,groom and motivate employee from all spectrum of the organization into a future business leader. This can be done successfully by keeping aside your liking and disliking and judge employee on the basis of their interests, caliber of learning new competencies, ability to work in a team or as an individual and understanding organization culture. Perception and Attribution plays a key role in organizational behavior because all decisions and behaviors in an organization are influenced by how people interpret and make sense of the world around them and each other.

Perception and attribution explain how and why people behave in organizations and why they react to behavior of others. It is therefore very important that a Manager should have knowledge of perception and Attribution to make the correct decisions, motivate workers and to understand behavior of others. Perception can be defined as a cognitive process that enables us to interpret and understand our surroundings (book).Perception may cause disagreements among people, because each person sees things differently. It is quite normal that two people see something and perceive it differently (understanding perception). The process of perceiving involves noticing, selecting and organizing information in order to respond. Below Figure shows perceptual process:

Social perception is used in our daily life. It goes on all the time in organizations and it helps us to understand the people around us. It is the process, through which individuals attempt to combine, integrate and interpret information about others to gain an accurate understanding of them. The most important part of the social perception is the first meeting of a person. Suppose ,when a manager meet a new applicant ,he will make an image in his mind that gives a brief overview of an individual about his dressing, personality, communication skills and the way he stands or sits. Although this process does not provide in depth characterization of the applicant but it allows Manager in a job interview to make quick decisions that will either be positive or negative for both the Manager and the applicant[Wikipedia]. Three Factors affecting Perception are:

The perceiver (Characteristics of the perceiver that can affect our perception are attitude, mood, familiarity with target etc). The target (Characteristics of the target that can affect perception involves its physical appearance, interest, verbal communication, age, sex). The situation (in which this interaction takes place also affect perception…).

Attribution is the process of determining the cause of behavior. It is used extensively by managers, especially in evaluating performance. Whenever we observe the behaviour of an individual, we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused. Internally caused behaviours are those that are believed to be under the personal control of the individual or have been done deliberately by him. Externally caused behaviour is seen as resulting from outside causes, that is the person is seen as having been compelled to behave in a particular way by the force of the situation, and not because of his own choice. The determination of internally or externally caused behaviour depends on the following three factors: ? Distinctiveness which refers to whether an individual displays different behaviour at different situations. If the behaviour (say being late in the class on a particular day) is unusual, we tend to give the behaviour an external attribution; and if it usual, the reverse. ? Consensus refers to the uniformity of the behaviour shown by all the concerned people. If every
one reports late on a particular morning, it is easily assumed that there must be a severe traffic disruption in the city and thus the behaviour is externally attributed. But if the consensus is low, it is internally attributed. ? Consistency is the reverse of distinctiveness. Thus in judging the behaviour of an individual, the person looks at his past record. If the present behaviour is consistently found to occur in the past as well (that is being late at least three times a week), it is attributed as internally caused. In other words, the more consistent the behaviour, the more the observer is inclined to attribute it to external causes. People make attributions every day. However, these attributions are not always correct. One common problem in assigning cause is called the fundamental attribution error. This is the tendency of a person to overestimate the influence of personal factors and underestimate the influence of situational factors when assessing someone else’s behavior. That is, when observing behavior, a person is more likely to assume that another person’s behavior is primarily caused by them and not by the situation. In the workplace, this may mean that managers are more likely to assume that employees’ poor performance is due to a lack of ability or effort rather than to task difficulty or luck. The fundamental attribution error, while prominent in North America, is not as common across the rest of the world. In other cultures, such as in India, the fundamental attribution error is the opposite; people assume that others are more influenced by situation than by personal factors. Thus, while one can assume this error to be present in American managers’ perceptions, this may not be the case for managers from other cultures. Attribution theory was developed to explain how people understand the causes of human behavior, be it their own or someone else’s. Managers often act based on their attributions and may act inappropriately if attributions are not valid. Managers who are aware of the attributional process, the types of internal and external attributions, and the presence of the fundamental attribution error and the self-serving bias can better understand their own and others’ behavior. Some points that manager should have to be good manager are: Have a high level of self awareness,positive attitude and energy. Education and hard work,self image and self reformation.

Seek information from various sources to confirm or diconfirm personal
impressions of a decision situation. Be empathetic-that is be able to see a situation as it is perceived by other people. Avoid inappropriate attribution and concern about diversity management.

Hence from above description we can say it is important for manager to have a working knowledge of perception and attribution.

References:
1.Attribution Theory – organization, manager, type, workplace, Attribution process and the causes of behavior.htm and class slides 2. Information processing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm 3. http://www.slideshare.net/

4.http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6522729/Perception-Attribution-Personality-and-Motivation