Through the years, many management theories have tried to analyze, debunk and break down the ‘living beings as machines’ metaphor. Regarding human behavior as that of a machine affects how we perceive human resources. It may even impact how organizations deal with interpersonal relationships.

Machines can be understood as parts of a whole that work in synergy. Failure of even one part can result in a complete shutdown. But humans are more than just a sum of their individual parts. Behavioral change, adaptability and resilience are some attributes or qualities that set us apart from, well, machines.

The comparison isn’t new, it’s been making the rounds of the corporate world since the industrial revolution in the 18th-century. But in recent years, there has been a visible shift in this thought process. Modern workplaces have started making focused efforts on the ‘human’ aspect of human resources.

One of the reasons for this shift has been ongoing studies on the behavioral management theory. The theory identifies the individual employee as having more agency and authority than they were believed to have had before. Read on to learn about how behavioral approaches to management changed employee-manager relationships as we know them.

  1. What Is Behavioral Management Theory?

  2. What Were The Hawthorne Studies?

  3. Abraham Maslow: Theory Of Motivation

  4. Unwrapping The Connection Between Human Needs And Management

  5. Why You Need To Establish Trust

What Is Behavioral Management Theory?

‘A cog in the wheel’ is a common idiom you must have come across in your professional life. Not only does this phrase take away our agency as thinkers, creators and problem-solvers but also reduces us to machines.

Behavioral management uses a theoretical lens to study human relations in a professional context. Earlier, humans were measured in terms of their output. But now organizations pay more attention to employee relationships, learning and development and motivation.

Behavioral approaches to management led to a revolutionary change in the way human behavior was perceived at work. Teamwork, collaboration and communication slowly gained importance over putting in the hours to produce expected results.

Some of the key attributes of the behavioral approach to management are:

  • Employee motivation is directly linked to organizational culture and the general work environment

  • Employee needs can’t be overlooked if organizations want to increase productivity at work

  • A sense of belonging and community can encourage and inspire employees to deliver improved results

  • Managers are responsible for making employees feel valued and acknowledged so they can put their best foot forward

  • Efficiency is a result of several factors comprising a healthy work environment, trust-based relationships and growth opportunities

Organizational behavior is easily one of the most critical management studies. It tells us why it’s important to focus on employees as individuals and the way they interact with their immediate environment, that is, their organization.

Let’s learn more about different examples of behavioral approach to management to see how it’s more relevant than ever today.

What Were The Hawthorne Studies?

The classical theory of management was built on a hierarchical management structure where decision-making was concentrated in a hands of few. It was a proponent of centralized authority, output-based labor and focused on the financial needs of an employee.

Today, many organizations have moved to a modern management approach with decentralized control and flat organizational structures with a focus on an employee’s social needs. This shift, in part, is a result of the Hawthorne Studies conducted from 1924 to 1932.

These three studies were conducted at Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company by Elton Mayo and his team. The results determined how work conditions and environment had a role to play in the rate of productivity and results. Morale was high, which led researchers to conclude that internal motivation and job satisfaction were the driving factors behind employee motivation.

The first two studies determined the relationship between engineers and how their work environment impacted their productivity.

The third study followed five women working in a bank who were given the agency to make their own decisions, take breaks and self-manage their workdays.

Abraham Maslow: Theory Of Motivation

There are several examples of behavioral management theory that you may come across. This is a topic that has been widely researched owing to its relevance in the modern workplace. A shift from rigid, traditional organizational structures to a horizontal distribution of powers has been a result of these concerted efforts.

Another theory that plays into the behavioral approaches to management is Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Motivation.

In Maslow’s theory, the hierarchy of needs is as follows:

  • Physiological Need or the basic needs like food, water and well-being

  • Safety Needs or the need to feel safe, protected and free

  • Love And Belongingness Needs or the need to feel like a part of something to get a sense of belonging

  • Esteem Needs or the need to build self-esteem and self-confidence to be your best self

  • Self-Actualization Needs or the need to discover who you are, your strengths/weaknesses and achieve all you want

This hierarchy of needs isn’t exhaustive as Maslow’s theory underwent several modifications over the years that followed. However, one thing that’s relevant is how these factors actually impact the way we approach work, relationships and personal faculties.

Our needs are what motivate us to put in the work. We may be internally or externally motivated. But the need to feel like we belong, build meaningful relationships and job satisfaction are key motivators. This is a far cry from classical management theory. The behavioral management theory accounts for human beings as individuals who interact with one another and their surroundings to produce results.

Maslow’s theory is often adopted by leaders and managers to understand what motivates their employees. It’s important to build trust in the workplace to motivate employees to enjoy their work. If you feel like you’re valued and your effort is appreciated, you’ll likely want to perform well not just for yourself but for the larger objective of achieving organizational goals.

Unwrapping The Connection Between Human Needs And Management

Some of the buzzwords in the modern workplace are collaboration, communication and trust. Two-way feedback has become the cornerstone of strong organizational cultures. This isn’t possible in the absence of trust.

Managers must trust their employees to complete their tasks on time and efficiently without micromanaging them. In turn, employees must trust their managers and organization to support them by offering them a learning curve on the job.

This mutual, trust-based relationship is a result of behavioral approaches to management. The individual finally has their moment in the spotlight. It’s no longer just about how, as a group, the organization achieves its results. It’s a collective effort made by several people at once.

Here are some reasons why behavioral management is so grounded in human needs:

  • Humans are more than just cogs in a wheel, their needs are valid and that’s what makes a healthy organizational culture

  • Employees who are motivated by internal factors like job satisfaction will likely perform better at work, helping their teams succeed

  • Management is responsible for offering learning and development opportunities to its employees so they can grow in their roles and build required competencies

  • Employees must feel heard and seen in their organizations so they can confidently take action and be proactive

  • Performance and productivity are tied to a supportive and collaborative work environment

Behavioral approaches to management set the pace for how modern workplaces build an employee-friendly culture. You may prefer to work in an organization that supports your desire to learn and grow. Building trust in manager-employee relationships can lead to a healthier, conducive and impact-oriented environment.

Why You Need To Establish Trust

On the surface, it may appear that trust isn’t a factor when it comes to fulfilling your professional needs. But building a professional network to seek new opportunities within and outside your organization requires trust.

Managers must prioritize their team’s needs instead of focusing on getting results by any means possible. During a crisis situation, you should be able to trust your organization to come through for you. This will factor into your determination to deliver improved outcomes.

Now that we’ve discussed examples of behavioral management theory, Harappa’s Establishing Trust course will teach you all you need to know about trust-rich relationships. Credibility, honesty and openness are essential qualities in a team. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. If you’re a motivated and self-driven individual, you’ll likely help your team achieve its goals. The behavioral management theory sheds light on how we need collaboration and cooperation to succeed.

Key frameworks such as The Trust Equation and The Dominant Factor deep dive into how to build trustworthiness. Whether it’s overlooking your coworker’s mistakes, collaborating with others or becoming a reliable team player. A world-class faculty of industry veterans will guide you through each module with lived experiences, tips and examples to navigate a challenging business landscape.


Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Meaning Of Trustworthiness, What Is A Customer-Centric Approach, The Importance of Building Relationships and How To Establish Dependability At Work to build strong professional networks.

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