Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

What Does Organizational Behavior Management Have to Offer Social Service Organizations? an OBM Primer for ABA'ers

Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

What Does Organizational Behavior Management Have to Offer Social Service Organizations? an OBM Primer for ABA'ers

Article excerpt

The credentialing of behavior analysts has launched a new group of professionals into the work force. As the behavior analytic profession grows and the number of workers in the area continues to multiply, more behavior analysts will form their own companies or enter into other companies and move up the corporate ladder. As we do so, we will bring our unique way of conceptualizing problems into the social service industry. Thus it becomes important to know how our science, commonly called Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), conceptualizes and empirically solves organizational problems. This article aims to introduce readers to some of the basic concepts and empirical data that OBM has to offer.

OBM answers questions at the organizational level of analysis. Some questions that will be critical for certified behavior analysts with management responsibilities are: a) How do we attract workers during this time of a worker shortage? b) How do we organize what workers do? c) How do we assess and become responsive to various stakeholders? d) How do we go about building successful partnerships with other agencies? e) How can we consult to other social service and mental making them more efficient, improving quality, and increasing worker satisfaction?

Additional concerns needing attention include: a) With top executives within our industry is moving further and further from the actual level of intervention with our clients, how do we ensure training is in touch with the contingencies of the workers? b) How do we set objectives which allow measurement of worker performance? c) How do we create flexible organizations so that our workers can advance and we can learn from them? d) How do we help agencies to manage employees from different cultures and with different values? e) Given tight budgets, how should companies decide where to allocate resources such as time, money, and personnel? All of the above are considered management questions. I begin by exploring the way behavior analysts reconceptualize management.


Management is the acquisition and use of resources. Behavior analysis presents unique ways to manage human resources. OBM redefines management from control of the person to control of the context/environment in which the person works. It has developed powerful techniques for a range of management areas. This article will address these concerns under the following headings: a) Job analysis and design; b) Interviewing and hiring potential employees; c) Setting performance goals; d) Retention of employees; e) Merit pay and other reward systems; f) Creating flexible organizational structures; g) Performing functional analyses; and h) Training and managing diversity. You will notice two common themes throughout these areas: making feedback bi-directional and trans- forming managers into good coaches.

Job Analysis and Design

Task and goal analyses are critical to the design of any job. When writing a job description, one needs to pinpoint the tasks essential for the position. Just as with clinical patients, you must break down the content of the job into discrete behavioral steps. The question in task analysis is: What must be known in order to perform the task?

When one is not at the point of being able to identify clear tasks, goal analysis is more appropriate. In goal analysis, one begins with the more general goals of the position. In OBM, this is referred to as "management by objectives." Here, the position's goals are seen as the "tasks" of the employee. For example, a goal may be "a good supervisor." So, one would begin to explore which behaviors are critical for good supervisors. The question in this analysis is: What tasks will achieve the goal? Once a goal analysis is completed, one is now ready to do a task analysis for each of the clarified goals/objectives.

Of course the above represents an oversimplification of the process. …

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