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What is Organizational Citizenship Behavior? [Types, Examples]

 

Part 1

What is Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB)?

Most employees understand that their primary duty is to do the work that is assigned to them, stay away from behaviors that could be deemed troublesome, and deliver work that is acceptable and beneficial to the organization.

Organizational citizenship behavior deals with the actions and behaviors that are not required by workers. They are not critical to the job, but benefit the team and encourage even greater organizational functioning and efficiency.

This is typically categorized as a worker “going above and beyond,” or “giving their all.” They look at their job as more than just a paycheck and strive to do all they can to make their work environment run smoothly; even if it has a minimal connection to their current duties.

Usually, these behaviors are seen as positive by managers and business leaders, and the importance and impact of these behaviors should be noted.

According to a study done in Procedia Economics and Finance, researchers found a correlation between the organization’s age and three primary principles: altruism, courtesy, and conscientiousness.

These personality characteristics were cited as having a high link to an employee’s tendency to engage in OCB. These behaviors were also tied to job satisfaction, justice, transformational leadership, and organizational support. OCB has also been shown to be vital for employee retention.

Part 2

What Are the Upsides to Organizational Citizenship Behavior?

  • A Sense of Purpose

    Workers feel a more significant sense of purpose and work meaningfulness. This means that employees feel their work is essential and useful to the company.

  • Feeling in Control

    Organizational Citizenship Behavior allows employees to feel they have greater control over the work they do, and how they do it. Workers get the opportunity to decide what they want to put more time into and how they want to accomplish it.

  • A Renewed Sense of Vigor

    When employees feel they are doing good for others or think that they are engaging in work that means something, it prevents feelings of burnout. Employees can become re-energized and have a new sense of purpose so they can continue to do work that furthers company goals.

  • Clear Up Role Ambiguity

    If a job has not been defined by superiors, leaders can use this as an opportunity to make the employee’s position fit with work goals and add in elements that encourage Organizational Citizenship Behavior. As time goes by, roles need to be redefined or changed to reflect a worker’s skill set better. If leaders are savvy they can work with employees to work in OCB elements.

  • Increased Job Performance

    A 2014 study revealed that Organizational Citizenship Behavior led to more significant job performance which leads to high-quality work and increased productivity for employers. It also came with the bonus of higher interpersonal relationships, a reduction in conflict, and lower time costs.

  • Engage Early-Career Workers

    The same study also showed that workers who did not have a lot of work experience (but had high amounts of intelligence) were open to jumping into Organizational Citizenship Behavior. They were not set in their ways and were looking for ways to become engaged in the organization. Encouraging them to get involved in other ways that promote OCB is a good idea.

Potential Disadvantages?

There are not many disadvantages cited for OCB. The consensus by many sources is that these behaviors benefit the organization and the employees. However, there was a 2007 research study that examined the effects of organizations that incorporate a formal way of dealing with OCB, and those that include an employee’s engagement in OCB as part of performance appraisals and job reviews. Two primary issues could arise.

The first is that employees might miss out on the behaviors. Many times, employees engage in actions or duties that are not always witnessed by influencers or leaders making decisions. If employees are assessed on these other behaviors, then this can be problematic. The other issue is that a greater emphasis on Organizational Citizenship Behavior can cause employees to experience job-related stress and work-life balance issues. Behaviors that were considered voluntary and are now mandated to become a part of the position takes away the aspect of Organizational Citizenship Behavior that can increase engagement.

Part 3

Organizational Citizenship Behavior Types and Examples

There are various ways the employees can show organizational citizenship, but there are five agreed upon types and principles that employees can exemplify when engaging in OCB. They are related to some of the common links from an earlier cited study. Each one also includes an example of how a worker could utilize this principle in their workday.

  1. Altruism

    This type of Organizational Citizenship Behavior is when a person decides to help someone else without expecting anything in return. In a business setting, this would likely take the form of a worker choosing to help a co-worker finish a project or a set of tasks even though the work does not necessarily relate to what they need to get done in their regular workday.

  2. Courtesy

    This is when a worker is considerate or polite to those they work with. This could look like a worker taking care to watch their noise levels if they need to speak on the phone with clients or checking in with co-workers about a troubling personal issue that could impact their performance.

  3. Sportsmanship

    This principle means an employee decides to stay in good spirits even when something does not go their way, or when something that creates a considerable amount of annoyance or frustration. In a regular business setting, this could be exemplified by a worker refraining from complaining or gossiping about a rejected project proposal.

  4. Conscientiousness

    When employees go above and beyond, the quality of conscientiousness is likely at work. Coming into work early to finish a project, working to ensure team goals are exceeded for the quarter, developing a new way to approach a process or procedure even when this duty is not outlined in their job description are all ways that workers can exemplify this trait.

  5. Civic Virtue

    This is when a worker represents the company they are associated with in a positive light. This could occur within or outside of the business. It encourages a sense of community and strong interpersonal ties between co-workers. Employees could engage in this type of Organizational Citizenship Behavior by speaking favorably about the organization to those outside of it, participating in charity projects the company participates in, and planning or attending company-sanctioned social events.

Part 4

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors: Best Practices

Leaders are always looking for employees who inhibit the behaviors and principles that makeup Organizational Citizenship Behaviors. However, managers and leaders can help to encourage these behaviors which should have a positive impact on culture and engagement.

  • Set an Example

    Leaders need to exemplify the types of behaviors they want employees to take on. Cultures are established at the top, and if workers see leaders being considerate, jumping in to help when they can, participating in events outside of work, helping to plan charity events sponsored by the organization, then workers will have a frame of reference for engaging in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.

  • Encourage Teamwork

    OCBs have been cited for their significant impact on interpersonal relationships and strengthening co-worker bonds. If a culture of collaboration and cooperation is established early on, workers will see themselves playing a vital role in supporting who they work with. If goals and objectives are explained in a way that encourages workers to look out for the team than qualities like altruism and courtesy can take hold.

  • Connect the Qualities of OCBs with Company Goals

    Each principle of Organizational Citizenship Behavior: altruism, courtesy, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, and civic action should be connected with company goals and values. They do not have to be named the same or referenced directly, but the qualities these characteristics reference should be included in any verbiage that relates to company goals or objectives. This will help encourage a culture represented by OCBs.

  • Don’t Over-Regulate

    There is some argument as to whether Organizational Citizenship Behaviors should be regulated or considered a part of the job. However, what makes them so valuable to leadership is that the number of OCBs that workers engage in can tell leaders how productive or engaged employees are. It also takes away the voluntary nature of OCBs which reveals an element of choice. When presented with the opportunity, workers need to have the freedom to decide to be altruistic, show courtesy, be conscientious, have sportsmanship, or engage in civic action.

 

Effective leadership is all about communicating effectively.

Status.net is a cloud solution for effective leadership communication. It brings a more light-hearted tone to messaging making it easily digestible, and makes it easy for leaders to provide and receive updates regularly.

How to use status.net to encourage teamwork

  1. Build trust and improve leadership communication by sharing regular updates and reasoning behind your decisions.
  2. Create a status feed to regularly post company goals and objectives.
  3. Implement status updates for your team by creating a team-wide status feed with a question like “How did you contribute to the team’s goals this week?”. Common practice is to set up a weekly recurrence (usually Fridays). Status.net will send automated reminders.
  4. Establish a culture of collaboration and cooperation by improving transparency.
    Each status update has a separate section for comments, which is used by team members to clarify information, including upcoming goals, and by leaders to provide feedback and coordinate better without micromanagement, post congratulations and acknowledge job well done.
  5. Use status updates for future reference and decrease time and efforts spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
  6. Optionally, enrich reports with the latest updates automatically added from web apps your team uses (such as project management tools, version control systems, support systems, financial applications, CRM, etc.) by connecting these apps to your status feed.
  7. Spend less time on meetings by making them more productive because everyone is on the same page at all times.
  8. Sharing: Status updates can be either— exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
    — shared with manager online; or
    — shared online as company-wide or team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other.

How to configure status updates:

Step 1:

  • Create a “Status Update” feed and set up a recurrence.
  • Configure who will write and read status updates by choosing the “Participants” tab and then clicking the “Cog” button near “Feed Participants” title.
how to create status updates status feed

Options:

  • Set the status feed as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s status updates.
  • Alternatively, you can allow access to status updates for certain participants only (such as yourself if you’re a team lead). In this case, turn “Team-wide” mode OFF and restrict viewing by unchecking “View” properties for other participants. Team members with the “View” checkbox unchecked will only be able to view their own status updates.
  • If you’re a manager and you don’t plan to share your status updates with your team, uncheck “Update” for yourself – in this case, you won’t receive reminders.
  • The Recurrence setting configures how often participants receive email reminders to fill in their status updates. This feature is optional and can be turned off.
  • You can add, remove, and assign new team members at any time.

Step 2: The text of the status update should be added to the “Update” field of status feed.

how to add an update to status report

As soon as a new status update is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time when they log in to their accounts. They will also automatically receive emails with the full text of status updates.

Done!

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