Six sources of power

By definition, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get what you want. According to Bauer and Erdogan (2009), there are six sources of power:

Six sources of power

  • Legitimate power is power that comes from one’s organizational role or position. For example, a manager can assign tasks to his subordinates, a policeman can arrest a citizen, and a teacher assigns grades to his students. Others comply with the requests these individuals make because they accept the legitimacy of the position, whether they like or agree with the request or not.
  • Reward power is the ability to grant a reward, such as an increase in pay, a perk, or an attractive job assignment. Reward power tends to accompany legitimate power and is highest when the reward is scarce. Anyone can have reward power in the form of public praise or giving someone something in exchange for their compliance.
  • Coercive power is the ability to take something away or punish someone for noncompliance. Coercive power often works through fear, and it forces people to do something that ordinarily they would not choose to do. The most extreme example of coercion is government dictators who threaten physical harm for noncompliance.
  • Expert power comes from knowledge and skills. Technology companies are often characterized by expert, rather than legitimate power.
  • Information power comes from the ability to access to specific information. For example, knowing price information gives a person information power during negotiations. In organizations, a person’s social network can either isolate them from information power or serve to create it.
  • Referent power comes from the personal characteristics of the person such as the degree to which we like, respect, and want to be like them. Referent power is often called charisma—the ability to attract others, win their admiration, and hold them spellbound.

Legitimate, Reward, Coercive and Information power can be categorized as “organizational bases of power”, which are derived from organizational position and organizational policies. On the other hand, Expert and Reference power are “personal bases of power”, which are derived from personal characteristics.

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Common traps in decision making

In the previous post, we have discussed about different types of decisions as well as different decision making models. However, no matter which model is used, there are some common traps that we can fall in while making decisions. The purpose of this post is to introduce those traps and suggest how to avoid them.

Decision making traps

According to Hammond, Keeney and Raiffa (2006), there are six psychological traps that are particularly likely to undermine decisions:

1. The anchoring trap
The anchoring trap refers to the tendency for us to rely too heavily on the first information we receives. It is very common that initial impressions, estimates, or data can anchor our subsequent thoughts and judgments.

For example: When we are asked these two questions in sequence: “Is the population of Turkey greater than 35 million?” and “What is your best estimate of Turkey’s population?”, it is very likely that the number 35 million in the first question will influence your answer for the second question. To be more precise, your answer for the second question will be likely around 35 million, even though this number may not be in the reasonably accurate range.

Here are several ways to avoid or minimize the impact of the anchoring trap:
  • Always view a problem from different perspectives.
  • Think about the problem on your own before consulting others.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Be careful to avoid anchoring your advisers and consultants.
  • Be particularly wary of anchors in negotiations.

2. The status-quo trap
By nature, people resist to changes and therefore, decision makers usually have a strong bias toward alternatives that prolong the status quo.

For example: When people inherits shares of stock that they would never have bought themselves, most of them don’t sell the shares and put the money into a different investment. Even though selling those shares is a straightforward and inexpensive alternative, people usually find the status quo comfortable and they avoid taking action that would upset it.

Here are several ways to avoid the status quo trap:
  • Always remind yourself of your objectives and examine how they would be served by the status quo.
  • Never think of the status quo as your only alternative.
  • Ask yourself whether you would choose the status-quo alternative if, in fact, it weren’t the status quo.
  • Avoid exaggerating the effort or cost involved in switching from the status quo.
  • Remember that the desirability of the status quo will change over time.
  • If you have several alternatives that are superior to the status quo, don’t default to the status quo just because you are having a hard time picking the best alternative.

3. The sunk-cost trap
The sun-cost trap refers to the tendency that we are likely to make choice in a way that justifies past choices, even when the past choices no longer seem valid. This happens because we are unwilling, consciously or not, to admit to our past mistakes.

For example: We may have refused to sell a stock at a loss, forgoing other, more attractive investments. Or we may have poured enormous effort into improving the performance of an employee whom we knew we shouldn’t have hired in the first place.

Here are several ways to avoid the sunk-cost trap:
  • Seek out and listen carefully to the views of people who were uninvolved with the earlier decisions and who are hence unlikely to be committed to them.
  • Examine why admitting to an earlier mistake distresses you.
  • Don’t cultivate a failure-fearing culture that leads employees to continue their mistakes.

4. The confirming-evidence trap
The confirming-evidence trap refers to the bias that leads us to seek out information that supports our existing instinct or point of view while avoiding information that contradicts it. The confirming-evidence bias not only affects where we go to collect evidence but also how we interpret the evidence we do receive, leading us to give too much weight to supporting information and too little to conflicting information.

For example: An CEO of a company may have a concern that US dollar may appreciate against other currencies. Before making the decision to adjust the company’s plan to adapt to that assumption, he calls up an acquaintance, CEO of another similar company to check her reasoning. She presents a strong case that other currencies are about to weaken significantly against the dollar. If the CEO makes his decision right after being confirmed, he may fall into the confirming-evidence trap.

Here are several ways to avoid the confirming-evidence trap:
  • Avoid the tendency to accept confirming evidence without question.
  • Get someone you respect to play devil’s advocate, to argue against the decision you’re contemplating.
  • Ask yourself if you are really gathering information to help you make a smart choice or you are just looking for evidence confirming what you would like to do?
  • Do not ask leading questions that invite confirming evidence when seeking advice from others.

5. The framing trap
The framing trap refers to the tendency of decision makers to be influenced by the way that a situation or problem is presented.

For example: When making a purchase, customers tend to prefer a statement such as “90% fat free” as apposed to “10% fat” even though those two options are actually the same.

Here are several ways to avoid the framing trap:
  • Always try to reframe the problem in various ways and look for distortions caused by the frames.
  • Try posing problems in a neutral, redundant way that combines gains and losses or embraces different reference points.
  • When others recommend decisions, examine the way they framed the problem and challenge them with different frames.
6. The estimating and forecasting traps
This type of traps can be split into three:
  • The overconfidence trap refers to the tendency that individuals overestimate their ability to predict future events.
  • The prudence trap takes the form of overcautiousness, or prudence: When faced with high-stakes decisions, we tend to adjust our estimates or forecasts “just to be on the safe side”.
  • The recallability trap refers to the tendency that we can be overly influenced by dramatic events in the past, those that leave a strong impression on our memory.

Example for the overconfidence trap: 82% of the drivers surveyed feel they are in the top 30% of safe drivers and 86% of students at the Harvard Business School say they are better looking than their peers.
Example for the prudence trap: Engineers design weapons to operate under the worst possible combination of circumstances, even though the likeliness of those circumstances is actually very rare.
Example for the recallability trap: People usually exaggerate the probability of rare but catastrophic occurrences such as plane crashes because they get disproportionate attention in the media.

Here are several ways to avoid the estimating and forecasting traps:
  • To reduce the effects of overconfidence in making estimates, always start by considering the extremes, the low and high ends of the possible range of values.
  • To avoid the prudence trap, always state your estimates honestly and explain to anyone who will be using them that they have not been adjusted.
  • To minimize the distortion caused by variations in recallability, examine all your assumptions to ensure they’re not unduly influenced by your memory.

Hammond J. S., Keeney R. L. and Raiffa H., 2006. The Hidden Traps In Decision Making. Harvard Business Review, January 2006, pp.118-126.

Understanding decision making

1. Introduction
Decision making is a mental process of making choice among alternative courses of action, which may also include inaction. In organizations, decision making is a very popular activity that can happen at all levels. The purpose of this post is to provide some basic understandings about decision making as as different types of decisions and the four decision-making models. More practical discussion about decision making will be provided in later posts.

Decision making

2. Types of decisions
In general, decisions can be categorized into two types:
  • Programmed decisions: This type of decisions is straightforward and occurs frequently enough that we develop an automated response to them. Example of this type is the decisions of what to wear, what to eat, and which route to take when we travel between our home and the office.
  • Non-programmed decisions: This type of decisions is unique and important that requires  conscious thinking, information gathering, and careful consideration of alternatives. Decision of which job offer to take or which business model to follow is a good example of this type.
In organizations, decisions can be classified into three categories based on the level at which they occur:
  • Strategic decisions: are made by top management team and set the course of an organization.
  • Tactical decisions: are made by managers and are about how things will get done.
  • Operational decisions: are made each day by employees to make the organization run.

More details about the three categories of decisions can be found in the following table:

Three types of decisions in organization

3. Decision-making models
According to Bauer and Erdogan (2009), there are four models of decision-making:

Rational decision-making model:
This model describes a series of steps that decision makers should consider if their goal is to maximize the quality of their outcomes:


The disadvantage of this model is that it involves a number of unrealistic assumptions. It assumes that people know all the available choices, that they have no perceptual biases, and that they want to make optimal decisions. Research shows that this model does not represent how decisions are frequently made within organizations.

Bounded rationality model:
According to this model, individuals knowingly limit their options to a manageable set and accept the first alternative that meets their minimum criteria without conducting an exhaustive search for alternatives. This model helps us to make “good enough” decisions.

Intuitive decision-making model:
This model refers to arriving at decisions without conscious reasoning. This model is usually used under challenging circumstances such as time pressures, constraints, a great deal of uncertainty or changing conditions. In this model, only one choice is considered at a time and if it does not meet the criteria then it is discarded and a new choice is tested until a workable one is found.

Creative decision-making model:
This model refers to the generation of new, imaginative ideas and it has five steps:


  • Problem recognition: The need for problem solving becomes apparent.
  • Immersion: Consciously thinks about the problem and gathers information.
  • Incubation: Sets the problem aside and does not think about it for a while. At this time, the brain is actually working on the problem unconsciously.
  • Illumination: The insight moment when the solution to the problem becomes apparent, sometimes when it is least expected.
  • Verification & application: Verifies the feasibility of the solution and implements the decision

The following table suggests which decision-making model to use in a particular situation:

Decision making models

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

Tips for negotiating a higher salary

Every employee wants a higher salary, either when he is offered a new job or when he has been working for a company for a certain duration. But should we negotiate for a higher salary? The answer is Yes for both cases:
  • 58% of hiring managers say they leave some negotiating room when extending initial job offers.
  • Many hiring managers agree to a candidate’s request for a higher salary.
  • People who routinely negotiate salary increases will earn over $1 million more by retirement than people who accept an initial offer every time without asking for more.
  • The fact that an employee is doing a good job does not mean he will automatically get a raise because his boss may believe the employee is satisfied with what he is getting.

Salary negotiation

So, research supports the idea that you should negotiate for a higher salary if you think that you deserve it, either with the new job or the existing one. Here are the tips suggested by Bauer and Erdogan (2009) that you can use when negotiating salary:
  • Overcome your fear: Don’t be afraid of angering the boss if you think you deserve a higher salary. The boss may not know your contribution or he believe you are satisfied with your current salary.
  • Get the facts: Do some background research before the negotiation. Check within your company or the market to see if your expected salary is appropriate or not.

Salary negotiation

  • Build your case: Make a list of your contributions to the company and be sure to focus on the contributions that your boss values most. If another company has shown interest in you, mention that as a fact but do not use this as a threat unless you are prepared to take the other offer.
  • Know what you want: Set your expected salary based on your research and figure out:
    • What will happen if you can not get the expected salary? Will you quit or take offer from the other company?
    • What are the alternatives (such as higher title, more vacation, training …) that you can accept besides salary raise?

Salary negotiation

  • Begin assertively: Start the negotiation with your boss friendly with the list of your contributions to the company.
  • Don’t make the first offer: Instead, let’s your boss name the figure first. If your boss offer a range then ask for the high end. In case you are insisted to provide the figure, ask for the most that you can reasonably expect to get. This will leave some room for negotiation.
  • Listen more than talk: The more you listen, the better the boss will feel about you. People tend to like and trust people who listen to them.

Salary negotiation

  • Look for the future: If you can’t get a raise now, get your boss to agree to one in a few months if you meet agreed-upon objectives.

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.


1. Introduction
Negotiation is a process in which two or more parties work toward an agreement. Negotiation can occur everywhere: in business, in organizations, between nations as well as in personal situations such as marriage, divorce, shopping and everyday life. In addition, negotiation is also a common way to deal with conflict. The purpose of this post is to provide some basic knowledge about negotiation such as:
  • The five phases of negotiation
  • The two approach for negotiation
  • Some common mistakes in negotiation
  • Third-party negotiation techniques


2. The five phases of negotiation
A typical negotiation process usually includes five phases:

Five phases of negotiation

  • Investigation: In this phase, information related to the negotiation process should be gathered. Here are a few questions that the parties can ask themselves in this investigation phase: What are my goals? What do I want to achieve? What would I concede? What would I absolutely not concede? What is the other party likely to want? Which aspects could be changed and which could not?
  • Determine BATNA: BATNA is an acronym for the “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement”. In this phase, we need to know what our alternatives are. It should be noted that the party with the best BATNA has the best negotiating position, so the more possible  alternatives we can explore, the better it is. Here are some good practices when determining your BATNA:
    • Brainstorm a list of alternatives
    • Identify the most beneficial alternative to be kept in reserve as a fall-back
    • Keep revising the BATNA since they may evolve over time
    • Don’t reveal the BATNA to the other party
  • Presentation: In this phase, the parties assemble the information they have gathered in a way that supports their position.
  • Bargaining: In this phase, each party discusses their goals and seeks to get an agreement. A natural part of this process is making concessions, which means giving up one thing to get something else in return.
  • Closure: In this phase, either the parties have come to an agreement on the terms, or one party has decided that the final offer is unacceptable walked away from the negotiation. This phase is also a chance to learn why a deal can not be reached in case the negotiation fails.
3. Negotiation strategies
There are two approaches when negotiating:
  • Distributive approach: In this approach, negotiators see the situation as a pie that they have to divide between them. Each party tries to get more of the pie and “win”. This is also called the “win-lose” approach.
  • Integrative approach: In this approach, both parties look for ways to expand the pie, so that each party gets more. This is also called a “win–win” approach. This approach require cooperation, listening and trust between the parties.


4. Common mistakes in negotiation
According to Bauer and Erdogan (2009), there are five common mistakes in negotiation:
  • Accepting the first offer: Some people are taught to feel that negotiation is a conflict situation, and these individuals may tend to avoid negotiations to avoid conflict. However, research shows that those who accept the first offer without negotiating usually receive less than those who are willing to negotiate. Research also reveals that more women usually make this mistake than men.
  • Letting your ego get in the way: If we are thinking only about our own needs, it is very likely that the deal can not be made. People usually don’t accept a deal that doesn’t offer any benefit to them so it is very important to help the other party to meet their own goals while achieving ours.
  • Having unrealistic expectations: Setting reasonable goals that address each party’s concerns will decrease the tension in negotiation and will improve the chances of reaching an agreement.
  • Getting overly emotional: Research shows that those who express anger negotiate worse deals than those who do not. However, research also shows that those with more power may be more effective when displaying anger.
  • Letting past negative outcomes affect the present ones: Research shows that negotiators who had previously experienced ineffective negotiations were more likely to have failed negotiations in the future. In other words, there is actually a tendency to let the past repeat itself and being aware of this tendency allows us to overcome it.
5. Third-party negotiations
Sometimes, it is more effective to have a specially trained, neutral third party involved in the negotiation process, especially for challenging problems. There are several approach for third-party negotiations:
  • Mediation: In mediation, an outside third party (the mediator) enters the situation with the goal of assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. The mediator can work with both parties to facilitate, suggest, and recommend but does not represent either side. The mediator’s role is to help the parties share feelings, air and verify facts, exchange perceptions, and work toward agreements. This approach should be used when:
    • The parties are unable to find a solution themselves.
    • Personal differences are standing in the way of a successful solution.
    • The parties have stopped talking with one another.
    • Obtaining a quick resolution is important.
  • Arbitration: In arbitration, the parties submit the dispute to the third-party arbitrator. It is the arbitrator who makes the final decision.
  • Mediation – Arbitration: This approach starts with mediation and then followed by arbitration. At the beginning, the third party will play the role as the mediator to facilitate the negotiation process. After that, the final decision will be made by the arbitrator.
  • Arbitration – Mediation: In this approach, both parties formally make their cases before the arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes a decision and places it in a sealed envelope. Following this, the two parties work through mediation. If they are unable to reach an agreement on their own, the arbitration decisions will be applied.

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.

The iceberg of conflict

According to Cloke and Goldsmith (2011), conflict is like an iceberg. What we see or understand is only a portion of what is really happening:

The iceberg of conflict

The portion that we see on the surface is just the issues. In fact, conflict may have different layers and each of the layers may adds weight and immobility to our arguments when we are in conflict:
  • The difference in personalities between the two parties
  • The emotions of the two parties
  • The difference in interests, needs and desires of the two parties
  • The difference in self-perceptions and self-esteem of the two parties
  • The hidden expectations of the two parties
  • Unresolved issues from the past between the two parties

By exploring the unsurfaced layers of the iceberg, this conflict iceberg model can be used to uncover the root cause of the conflict in order to resolve it properly.

Cloke, K. and Goldsmith, J., 2011. Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job. 3rd ed. Jossey-Bass

Understanding conflict at workplace

1. Introduction
By definition, conflict is a process that involves people disagreeing when they are different in interests, perceptions and preferences. Within organizations, conflict can be categorized into three types:
  • Relationship conflict (or Personal conflict): Involves disagreements based on personalities and issues that are not directly related to work.
  • Task conflict: Involves disagreements about the work that is being done in a group.
  • Process conflict: Involves disagreements about task strategy and delegation of duties and resources.

It should be noted that conflict is not always bad. Research shows that moderate amount of conflict can actually be healthy and necessary for organizations. The following chart shows the relationship between performance and conflict:

relationship between performance and conflict

In general, “bad” conflict is relationship or personal conflict because it can cause stress and may reduce the performance of individuals. On the other hand, task conflict can be good in certain situation, such as in the early stages of decision making because it stimulates creativity and innovation. Organizational culture actually has a dimension called “Conflict Tolerance” and high level of this dimension is actually good in type of organization, such as a startup software company.

2. Causes of conflict
According to Bauer and Erdogan (2009), there are six potential root causes of conflict at work:
  • Organizational structure: Conflict can happen in organizational structure where one employee reporting to two managers (usually in matrix structure) or where employees have overlapped roles and responsibilities.
  • Limited resources: Conflict can happen when two parties compete for limited resources such as money, time and equipment.
  • Task interdependence: Conflict can happen when one party’s goal requires reliance on others to perform their tasks.
  • Incompatible goals: Conflict can happen when the goals of the two parties are mutually exclusive. Comparing to other causes of conflict, this is rarer but it sometimes happen.
  • Personality differences: Conflict can happen when people have different ways of thinking and acting. This is a quite popular cause of conflict.
  • Communication problems: Conflict can happen due to miscommunication or lack of communication. This is also a common cause of conflict.

six causes of conflict at work

3. Outcomes of conflict
As mentioned before, conflict can have both positive and negative consequences:

Positive consequences:
  • Lead to new ideas
  • Stimulate creativity
  • Motivate change
  • Surface of assumptions that may be inaccurate
  • Result in greater understanding of issues and individuals
  • Help individuals and groups establish identities
  • Make values and belief system of the organization more visible and concrete
Negative consequences:
  • Increase stress and anxiety among individuals, which decreases productivity and satisfaction
  • Lack of trust between team members
  • Increase hostility and aggressive behaviors
  • Increase turnover
4. Conflict management
Bauer and Erdogan (2009) suggest five common ways to manage conflict:
  • Change the structure: If the structure causes dysfunctional conflict then changing it can solve the conflict.
  • Change the composition of the team: Sometimes it is best to separate team members who have severed personal conflict.
  • Create a common opposing force: Conflict can be mitigated by directing the two parties to a common enemy, such as the competitor.
  • Consider majority rule: Sometimes conflict can be resolved by voting.
  • Problem solve: In problem-solving mode, the individuals or groups in conflict are asked to focus on the problem, not on each other, and to uncover the root cause of the problem.
5. Conflict handling styles
Different people have different styles of handling conflict. Here are the five common styles:
  • Avoidance: People with this style seek to avoid conflict altogether by denying that it is there.
  • Accommodation: In this style, one party gives in to what the other wants, even if it means giving up his personal goals.
  • Compromise: One party has some desire to express his own concerns and get his way but still respect the other’s goals.
  • Competition: People with this style want to reach their goals regardless of what others say or how they feel.
  • Collaboration: This is a strategy to use for achieving the best outcome from conflict. Both sides argue for their position, supporting it with facts and rationale while listening attentively to the other side. In general, this style aims for a win-win solution.

The following graph shows the degree of cooperation and assertiveness of each conflict handling styles:

five conflict handling styles

Generally speaking, there is not absolute “right” style to handle conflict, usually it depends on the situation. However, the Collaboration style has been proven to be the most effective one in many different situations.

Bauer, T. and Erdogan, Berrin., 2009. Organizational Behavior. 1st ed. Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Bess, D., 2012. Conflict, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished.

The passive-agressive organization

Among the seven types of organization, the Passive-Aggressive is one of the unhealthy types of organization but unfortunately, it is also the most popular one. Research shows that approximately 27% of organizations are passive-aggressive, where “everyone agrees but nothing changes”. The purpose of this post is to list the symptoms of  passive-aggressive organizations as well as to suggest some “treatments” for this type of organization.

According to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (2009), here are the symptoms of passive-aggressive organizations:

Inability to execute:
  • The organization is extremely resistant to change
  • Reaching consensus is easy, but actions are not implemented
  • Employees often ignore strategic edicts from management
  • Lack of ownership and accountability leads to inaction or irresponsible behavior
Ineffective decision making:
  • In centralized organizations, line managers second-guess headquarters decisions
  • In decentralized organizations, senior managers micromanage their subordinates
  • Decisions are often ill-considered, because accountability is unclear
  • Key decisions are often ignored/overlooked because decision rights are not well defined
Information disconnect:
  • Line managers and senior managers are rarely “on the same page” regarding key business indicators
  • Line managers make suboptimal choices because they do not understand their bottom-line impact
  • Headquarters is not apprised of important competitive information and, thus, is slow to respond
  • Different divisions/functions/regions operate as silos
  • Poor horizontal communication leads to inefficiencies and conflicting messages to the market
Inconsistent or conflicting motivators:
  • Incentives do not promote the best interests of the firm
  • The firm frustrates strong performers and fails to weed out poor performers
  • Firms fail to attract and retain talent
  • Complacency takes hold because career advancement and compensation are not closely tied to performance
  • Ineffective appraisals result in individuals’ advancing beyond their capabilities

Do nothing

It should be noted that an actual passive-aggressive organization is not necessary to have all of the symptoms listed above. You can also check what type of organization yours is using this quiz.

So if your organization is a passive-aggressive one then what should you do? Here are some suggested “treatments” for passive-aggressive organizations (Neilson, Pasternack and Van Nuys, 2005):

  • Bring in new blood: Outsiders send an unmistakable signal to the existing employees that “things are so badly broken we can’t fix them ourselves anymore”. In addition, outsiders bring new standards they expect the organization to meet.
  • Leave no building block unturned: Change everything at once, so that the magnitude of the problem, and of the effort that will be required to fix it, cannot be denied.
  • Make decisions, and make them stick: Allocate and clarify firm “decision rights.” These rights should be delegated to those equipped with enough information and most able to effect the desired outcome, which often means front-line employees.
  • Spread the word and the data: Everyone in the organization must have access to the relevant information and be clear about which issues deserve the highest priority.
  • Match motivators to contribution: Motivators must be designed correctly so that they actually promote contribution.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., 2009. The Passive-Aggressive Organization: Converting Consesus Into Action.
Neilson, G. L., Pasternack, B. A. and Van Nuys, K. E., 2005. The Passive Aggressive Organization. Harvard Business Review, October 2005, pp.82-92

What kind of organization is yours?

According to Neilson, Pasternack and Van Nuys (2005), organizations can be classified into seven major types:

1. Resilient
  • Inspires both awe and envy because everything seems to come so easily to it: rewards, talent, respect
  • Is flexible, forward looking, and fun
  • Can attract team players easily
  • Is the healthiest type of organization
2. Just-in-Time
  • Demonstrates an ability to “turn on a dime” when necessary, without losing sight of the big picture
  • Has a “can-do” attitude
  • Has “one-hit wonders,” rather than a reliable source of advantage
  • Does not have consistent, disciplined structures and processes
  • Is not always proactive in preparing for change
3. Military Precision
  • Employees know their roles well and implements them diligently
  • Is hierarchical and operates under a highly controlled management model
  • Does not deal well with events for which it has not planned
4. Fits-and-Starts
  • Has smart people with enthusiasm and drive but they do not often pull in the same direction at the same time
  • Does not have strong direction from the top and a solid foundation of common values below
  • Is an overextended organization and almost out of control
5. Outgrown
  • Expands beyond its original organizational model
  • Power is closely held at the top
  • Top-down direction and decision-making is strictly enforced
  • Reacts slowly to market developments and often finds it can not get out of its own way
6. Overmanaged
  • Has multiple layers of organizational hierarchy
  • Managers micro-manage their subordinates
  • Is bureaucratic and highly political
  • Is not very suitable for self-starters and results-oriented individuals
7. Passive-Aggressive

+ Achieves consensus easily, but struggles to implement agreed-upon plans
+ Underground resistance from field operations routinely defeats headquarters initiatives

Among these seven types of organization, the healthiest one is Resilient, followed by Just-in-Time and Military Precision. The other four (Fits-and-Starts, Outgrown, Overmanaged and Passive-Aggressive) are all unhealthy. The following diagram shows the popularity of each type of organization:

Seven types of organization

The following quiz will help you to find out what kind of organization yours is. Please click here to do the quiz.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc, 2012. The Seven Organization Types, [online] Available at:<> [Accessed 18 December 2012].
Neilson, G. L., Pasternack, B. A. and Van Nuys, K. E., 2005. The Passive Aggressive Organization. Harvard Business Review, October 2005, pp.82-92

The seven motivators

One limitation of the Acquired-Needs Theory (or the Three Needs Theory) is that it recognizes only three types of needs. In fact, research has proven that there are totally seven types of needs by which the vast majority of employees are motivated. Since different people are motivated differently depending on their needs, each type of needs is corresponding to one motivator. The purpose of this post is to introduce the seven motivators, how to recognize them and suggested treatment that managers should have for each motivator.

Seven motivators

The following table shows details about the seven motivators:

Motivator Description Might be heard saying Suggested actions
Achievement These employees want the satisfaction of accomplishing projects successfully. They want to exercise their talents to attain success. They are self-motivated if the job is challenging enough. “I’d like to take on more responsibility” – Assign challenging tasks that stretch their skills
– The “right” assignment is essential
Power These employees want satisfaction from influencing and controlling others. They like to lead and persuade, and are motivated by positions of power and leadership. “Bob, you take this task. Jim. you complete that task. Send me an email at the end of each day with your progress” – Provide the change to make decisions and direct projects
– Assign a mentor
Affiliation These employees gain satisfaction by interacting with others. They tend to be highly social and they enjoy people and find the social aspects of the workplace rewarding “Let’s get the team together to talk about next steps” – Provide opportunities to interact with others such as teamwork projects, group meetings, brainstorm sessions
Autonomy These employees seek freedom and independence. They like to work and take responsibility for their own tasks and projects “Ill take this task and report progress in two weeks” – Allow to set own schedules and work independently
Esteem These employees seek recognition and praise. They dislike generalities, so the praise should be for specific accomplishments and it does not necessarily to be public. This motivator is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “Would you take a look at this and tell me how it looks?” – Recognize and praise often, both in private and public
– Show that you respect their efforts
Safety and Security These employees seek job security, a steady income, insurance benefits and a hazard-free work environment. This is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “How does that impact my job?” – Provide clear and predictable salary, benefits and vacation policies
Equity These employees want to be treated fairly. They tend to compare work hours, job duties, salary and privileges with those around them. They will become discouraged if they perceive inequities. This is also mentioned in the Equity Theory “Peter always seems to get the good assignments and I get the ones with all the problems” – Address equity issues immediately
– Answer the questions that are asked honestly
– Demonstrate fair and consistent treatment

Please also note that one employee can have multiple motivators at the same time. As a result, multiple actions can be combined together to motivate an employee appropriately.

Bess, D., 2012. Seven Motivators, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished
Pathways, 2007. The Essential Seven Motivators, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2012]