Tag Archives: Training & Development

The Power of Praise and Recognition on Organizational Success

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

In this video Chester Elton, co-author of The Carrot Principle, talks about how to use the power of carrots (praise & recognition) to motivate your employees and maximize business results.

In “The Carrot Principle” Gostick and Elton maintain that unlike the latest leadership fads, principles don’t go out of style. A principle is “not a program [or] an activity” (p. 192), but a constant.

Drawing from more than 200,000 interviews, the book highlights the relationship between recognition (carrots) and individual and organizational manager success (Gostick & Elton, 2009).

The authors created a recognition model based on 4 elements: Goal Setting, Communication, Trust, and Accountability. Next, the model introduces recognition as an “accelerator,” increasing supervisor relevance and employee engagement leading to improved business results (Gostick & Elton, 2009).

Gostick & Elton (2009) assert that in order to boost engagement and create organizational results, recognition should have two things:

(1) Alignment (“recognizing what matters most”) – which is what matters most in your organization. This includes the desired objectives, values, and culture.

(2) Impact (“recognizing people the right way”) – which is having inclusive programs that are clearly understood and meaningful to the employees and making sure that it is based on performance.

“Recognition accelerates business results. It amplifies the effect of every action and quickens every process. It also heightens your ability to see employee achievements, sharpens your communication skills, creates cause for celebration, boosts trust between you and your employees, and improves accountability” (Gostick & Elton, 2009, pp. 192-193).

Reference

Gostick, A. & Elton, C. (2009). The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance. New York: Free Press.

Job Insecurity and Employee Health

The New York Times ran an article (Luo, 2010) that talked about job loss and adverse impacts on health. What’s most intriguing were the health studies mentioned in the article linking layoffs to poor health and life expectancy. The article also mentioned a 2009 study finding persistent perceived job insecurity to be a strong predictor of poor health and even more damaging than actual job loss.

Occupational Health Psychology Quiz

  1. Did you know that layoffs more than doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke among older workers compared to those who continued to work (Gallo, Teng, Falba, Kasl, Krumholz, & Bradley, 2006)?
  2. Did you know that a person who lost a job had an 83 percent greater chance of developing a stress-related health problem (e.g., diabetes, arthritis or psychiatric problems) (Strully, 2009)?
  3. Did you know that even people who lost their jobs but became reemployed still faced increased risk of developing new health conditions (Strully, 2009)?
  4. Did you know that insecurity about one’s job can also create health problems, and in some cases be even more damaging on health than actually losing a job (Burgard, Brand, & House, 2009)?

References

Burgard, S.A., Brand, J.E., & House, J.S. (2009). Perceived job insecurity and worker health in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 69(5), 777-785. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.06.029

Gallo, W.T., Teng, H.M., Falba, T.A., Kasl, S.V., Krumholz, H.M., Bradley, E.H. (2006). The impact of late career job loss on myocardial infarction and stroke: a 10 year follow up using the health and retirement survey. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(10), 683-687. doi: 10.1136/oem.2006.026823

Luo, M. (2010, February 25). At closing plant, ordeal included heart attacks. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/us/25stress.html

Strully, K.W. (2009). Job loss and health in the U.S. labor market. Demography, 46(2), 221-246. doi: 10.1353/dem.0.0050

Coping With Fear-Lessons for Business and Life

In his book, Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber talks about one of the rules in his book: When things get tough.

Rule #1: When the going gets tough, the tough relax.

In crisis management, I teach people that fear is normal and natural. In fact, what matters most is our behaviors in these stressful, frightening situations that strongly determine the difference between a safe or disastrous outcome. If it weren’t for our ability to experience fear, we would not be able to survive for too long in this world. Just think about the number of times your own fears warned you of impending dangers (a car coming dangerously close to yours on the freeway, a stranger who seems a bit creepy, etc.). Most of us are familiar with the “fight-or-flight response,” which experts describe as a physiological arousal response in which the body prepares to fight or escape a real or perceived threat (Donatelle, 2009). Although this instinctual response is designed to help us, if overused, it can actually damage our bodies.

Simply stated, although it’s normal to be afraid, if you live a life based on fear, you will hurt yourself and those around you.

In Webber’s case, his fear was of failure, of being embarrassed, or appearing to ask a stupid question. The person he was scheduled to interview, Helmut Schmidt (a former German chancellor), was “notoriously difficult.” It was completely understandable that Webber was fearful of this guy “dismissing my questions as stupid” (Webber, 2009, p. 3).

However, rather than letting his fear get in the way, Webber decided to jot down some notes to himself on a yellow legal pad. On it he wrote: “Relax! Smile! This is a blessing, a treat, and an honor. It’s not a punishment to be endured.” After all, “[h]ow many people get to sit across from a world leader and ask him questions?”

Webber’s advice, applicable to business and life, is this:

“Anytime you approach a task with fear you are at least a double loser. First, you color the work with fear and increase the chances of failure…Second, you guarantee that you won’t enjoy the experience. Whether you succeed or fail, wouldn’t you like to remember the experience as one you enjoyed, not one you suffered through?” (Webber, 2009, p. 5)

“Don’t let fear undermine your chance to do that one thing you’ve wanted to do.” -Alan M. Webber

References

Donatelle, R. (2009). Health: The basics (8th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

Webber, A. M. (2009). Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing Your Self. New York: HarperCollins.

The 4 Character Strengths of a Leader

My wife often tells me about her late father. Because he passed away long before I ever met her, I never had the honor to meet or know him. The stories she shares about her memories of him are priceless and each one of her stories has left an indelible mark on my heart and mind.

The other evening, she told me of an employee who came to work for her dad. My wife’s father was both an electronic engineering professor in Japan and president of his own electrical systems design company. He hired a young man who came to Tokyo right after junior high. Without much education under this young man’s belt, the professor took the boy under his wings and began teaching and mentoring him about the electrical systems design business.

Far from the perfect employee, the young lad accidentally burned a customer’s house and an entire floor of a new building in the same year! While the young man was panic-stricken, the professor was a patient teacher who modeled self-control in crisis situations. He took the employee aside and calmly talked to him. He then, as president of the company [formally called “daihyo-torishimariyaku” or 代表取締役 or informally called “shacyou” or 社長], would apologize to the customer and pay for the cost of the repairs. If this had happened today, the employee would have been fired or sued or both.

He knew that even though this young boy didn’t have the highest level of education, he was a hard worker and because the company president valued hard work, he paid this young man (who had no high school or college education) a salary higher than that of someone with a college degree! The company president went above and beyond his role as boss and even helped pay for a portion of this young man’s new house. Some might think this foolish to be so generous and place such trust in someone so inexperienced and uneducated. But, I believe the professor and shacyou had the character strengths that allowed him to nurture this boy’s growth and development, as an employee and a human being.

When my wife’s father died, the employee shared that his heart was broken. Many loyal students and employees attended the funeral. To this day, many years after the professor’s death and about 40 years from when he was hired as a 15 year old boy, this employee still works for the family business. Now that’s loyalty.

In “Leading with Character,” John J. Sosik talks about the character strengths that leaders must develop in themselves and others to create and sustain organizational growth and performance. Sosik mentions the 23 character strengths (grouped under six virtues) that are foundational to good character: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.

The president of the company [“daihyo-torishimariyaku” or 代表取締役 or “shacyou” or 社長] exemplified FOUR character strengths that modeled leadership and created employee loyalty at its finest:

Humility: Most people never knew about all of the professor’s awards and recognitions until they visited his home, only to be pleasantly surprised by the numerous accolades under his name.

Forgiveness & Self-Control: He possessed forgiveness and self-control by not going ballistic when the employee destroyed an entire floor of a brand new building (the second incident within a year).

Kindness: The professor and company president demonstrated, through his kindness, that his employees matter much more than the tasks that he asked of them. This was evident in the respectful way he treated the employee who burned down a customer’s house.

We often read or hear about leaders who are mavericks, with personalities and egos to match. But how many business owners or leaders do you know who display the character strengths of humility, forgiveness, self-control, and kindness?

“Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.” -Democritus, 460-370 BC, Greek philosopher

Reference

Sosik, J.J. (2006). Leading with character: Stories of valor and virtue and the principles they teach. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

There Are Simple Answers

Ronald Reagan was known for his communication skills. In fact, his nickname was the “Great Communicator.” I came across part of the quote below in Weiss’ (2006) book and really like what former President Reagan said about simple answers.

“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.” -Ronald Reagan

As a consultant and trainer with experience in education, mental health, crisis management, and training & development, I have encountered difficult and complex situations. But, no matter how confusing or overwhelming the problems may sometimes seem, I have always believed that the answers were not. NASA astronauts and brain surgeons have jobs that are complex. Most jobs, however, are not. You either do it or you don’t. You move ahead or stand still. You make a decision or don’t. And yet, people tend to add an unnecessary layer of complications to sometimes uncomplicated problems or issues.

From my experience, I think many of us already know what we need to do (at home and in the workplace). It is the FEAR that keeps us from following through with actions. For instance, I have talked to people who were unhappy about certain aspects of their lives. Some, for example, lament how unhappy they were to be where they’re at in life. They complained that they hate this or that, and yet as much as they complained they never actually did anything to change their circumstances.

In our microwave mentality, we sometimes want it and want it now. We turn to self-help or leadership books and read blogs (like this one) for answers. The bottom line is that the “answers” are sometimes quite simple. The toughest part is not figuring out the “answers,” but rather, mustering up the courage to act.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” -Confucius

Reference

Weiss, J. (2006). The quotable manager: Inspiration for business and life. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith.

Motivating Your Employees

How do you motivate your employees? Harvard Business Review’s Answer Exchange offers some nice tips:

  • Make pay fair and competitive. Your incentive system should align your organization’s desired performance with the rewards that employees value.
  • Demonstrate trust in your employees. Remove some controls. For instance, ask employees to create their own plans or schedules. Or put an employee in charge of something you would normally handle. By trusting employees to do their jobs well, you inspire them to meet your expectations.
  • Introduce challenges. People often can handle tasks that are more complex and demanding than their job descriptions require—and than you expect. When presented with tougher assignments, employees usually rise to the challenge.
  • Encourage some people to become experts in subjects that interest them and that provide real value to the organization.
  • Eliminate fear from the workplace. Encourage open communication and information sharing.
  • Preserve employees’ dignity. A little respect and forthright communication go a long way. For instance, handle critiques of employees’ performances with tact; avoid humiliating them at all costs.
  • Reform or remove slackers. Disgruntled or otherwise disengaged people can put a damper on the enthusiasm and creativity that every company and every team needs to improve performance. Give them coaching, move them into more suitable positions, or dismiss them.
  • Empower people and avoid micromanaging. Give employees what they need to succeed and don’t get involved unless necessary.

Reference

Originally posted on HBR Answer Exchange (now defunct); Adapted from the book chapter Motivation: The Not-So-Secret Ingredient of High Performance, Harvard Business Press

Leadership, Southwest Airlines, and Malice in Dallas

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

This is a hilarious video (watch his aerobic workouts) produced by Southwest Airlines for its Employees about “Malice in Dallas,” the legendary charity arm wrestling match between “Smokin'” (he was literally smoking and curling Wild Turkey liquor) Herb Kelleher and Stevens Aviation’s “Kurtsey” or “Killer” Kurt Herwald to settle a dispute over Southwest’s “Just Plane Smart” slogan. The match was held on March 20, 1992 at the now-demolished Dallas Sportatorium. In this video, Herb’s and Herwald’s training regimens are detailed.

This classic video and the “Malice in Dallas” story epitomize leadership that is genuine and personal. The video’s humor mirrors the same zany quality of Herb himself and, in my opinion, is what made him such a magnetic leader. I could not stop laughing watching his workouts.

Below is a short article I wrote two months ago. I wrote it because I was curious about Southwest Airlines and about Herb Kelleher. I also wanted to research and write about Southwest Airlines because its headquarter is in Dallas, Texas and I’m from Dallas. Most of all, it gave me a sense of pride to learn more about a well-respected company in my own hometown.

Overview: Leadership at Southwest Airlines

The co-founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher (now Chairman Emeritus), led Southwest Airlines to success. Beneath his fun-loving persona is a hard-working, empathetic and determined leader.

Significance

Southwest Airlines is remarkable because it is the only airline to maintain a profit every year for 31 years. In “The Southwest Airlines Way,” Jody Gittell says this record is unparalleled in the airline industry.

Leadership Style

Kelleher’s hands-on leadership style earned him the respect and admiration of employees, according to the book “Essentials of Management.” He made people feel important by remembering their names and sending out birthday cards. In “Lasting Leadership,” Peter Cappelli, a management professor, says that Kelleher was great at boosting employee morale, an ability that’s rare in a top executive.

Misconceptions

Although known for his crazy antics, like appearing in public dressed as Elvis and the Easter Bunny, Kelleher is “as regimented and determined as an army general,” one who is competitive and “deadly serious about success,” states “Essentials of Management.”

Fun Fact

The authors of “Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders” tell an amusing story about 63-year-old Kelleher arm-wrestling with 38-year-old Kurt Herwald (in the “Malice in Dallas” arm-wrestling match), the weightlifting CEO of an aircraft maintenance company. They were battling for the rights to use the slogan, “Plane Smart.” After his defeat, Kelleher joked that had it not been for his wrist fracture, cold and athlete’s feet, he would have won.

[“NUTS! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success,” by Drs. Kevin & Jackie Freiberg, has a detailed account of the arm-wrestling match. You can also read the “Malice in Dallas” story on the Freibergs’ website.]

Expert Insight

In “Lasting Leadership,” Mukul Pandya and Robbie Shell attribute Southwest Airlines’ success to Kelleher and his belief that, “employees come first [and] that a company with happy and productive workers will have happy, paying customers.” As Kelleher said, “You can buy an airplane and a terminal, but you can’t buy the spirit of the people.”

References

  • “Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders: What the Airline Industry Can Teach Us about Leadership”; Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria and Mark Rennella; 2009
  • “Essentials of Management: An International Perspective”; Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich; 2008
  • “Lasting Leadership: What You Can Learn from the 25 Most Influential Business People of Our Times”; Mukul Pandya and Robbie Shell; 2005
  • “Fortune” magazine: “Is Herb Kelleher America’s Best CEO? Behind his Clowning is a People-wise Manager Who Wins Where Others Can’t”; Kenneth Labich and Ani Hadjian; May 2, 1994
  • “The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance”; Jody H. Gittell; 2003
  • “NUTS! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success”; Drs. Kevin & Jackie Freiberg; 1996

Leadership and Life Lessons from John Wooden

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.” -John Wooden (Wooden & Jamison, 2007, p. 33)

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

John R. Wooden, a well-respected, much beloved basketball coach, died June 4, 2010. He was 99 years old. His record ten NCAA national championships in 12 years while at UCLA is unparalleled by any other college basketball coach. Perhaps more than being remembered as one of the greatest coaches of all time (not only just in basketball) he was remembered as a great person. One thing he says he wanted to be remembered for is someone who is considerate of others.

This post showcases two great videos featuring coach John Wooden. The first video (at top), highlights Wooden and his life as a devoted husband and man of strong convictions.

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

In this second video (above) with Dr. Mick Ukleja of LeadershipTraQ.com, coach John Wooden shares his views on life and leadership. Recounting the lessons from his dad, he shares the important life and leadership lessons he’s learned over the years.

Referring to coaching as “teaching,” he says a coach is a teacher. “You’re teaching more things than just the subject matter.”

Coach Wooden says one of the most important things he learned at a young age was to never try to be better than someone else, but always try to be the best you can be.

  • Focus on those things you have control.
  • Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal.
  • No whining, no complaining, don’t make excuses.


A Few of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

  • Self-Control – keeping your emotions under control so you can execute whatever it is that you’re doing.
  • Poise – being yourself
  • Adaptability – realizing that situations change and you must change accordingly
  • Intentness – keeping focus on your objectives
  • Cooperation – being considerate of others and know you’re not alone in anything and that there are others with you
  • Skill – Being able to execute properly and quickly
  • Alertness – observing the things around you and knowing the things to do and not do.

“The greatest responsibility is to teach those under me the value of an education. Sport is meaningful for only a short part of your life.”

Coach John R. Wooden was a humbled man and a consummate coach and teacher of life.

“[M]y success comes not from championships, but from the knowledge that I did everything possible to be the best teacher, coach, and leader I was capable of being. The quality of that effort is where I found—and continue to find—success. Those championships were a ‘by-product.’” – John Wooden (Wooden & Jamison, 2005, p. 57)

Reference

Wooden, J. & Jamison, S. (2005). Wooden on leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Wooden, J. & Jamison, S. (2007). The essential Wooden: A lifetime of lessons on leaders and leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Video: Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

In this video, Patrick Lencioni author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” talks about behaviors that derail teams.

Summary of the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (from PDF on Lencioni’s website):

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results
Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren’t held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.

Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Note: If you have trouble viewing the video, you can watch it on YouTube.

I want to thank WorkplacePsychology.Net reader Chris Webb for sending me a link to this video about Dan Pink’s book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

What’s so impressive are the visual illustrations done by the artist (also called a “graphic facilitator”) at Cognitive Media to visually capture what the author is trying to verbally communicate about motivation.

The video is a great complement to two earlier posts, 3 Primary Goals of People at Work and What Really Motivates Employees.

If you are like me, someone who loves to “think visually,” you’ll love this video. Thanks again Chris!

The Mechanic in the Organization


In “Organization Development: The Process of Leading Organizational Change” (2010), professor Donald Anderson talks about a model of organizational consulting called “Mechanic Model.” Imagine your car causing you problems (e.g., making a strange noise, surging and stopping, has trouble starting, etc.). So you take it into the nearest car shop (or one you trust) and ask the mechanic to troubleshoot the problem or problems and then fix them. As a consumer relying on the mechanic’s expertise, you don’t care about the technical or detailed explanations of how or why something works or doesn’t work (and you really don’t want to get your hands dirty), you simply want it fixed.

“The mechanic is responsible for figuring out what is wrong and fixing it. If the repair does not successfully solve the problem, the responsibility is the mechanic’s, not ours” (Anderson, 2010, p. 86).

When organizational clients have neither the time nor the patience to deal with problems, they often look for mechanic model solutions. But, Dr. Anderson cautions, this is not a good role for consultants to put themselves in because it’s rarely successful.

Why? Dr. Anderson says that this mechanic model gives consultants such wide latitude and responsibility over both the “problem” and the “solution” to the point that the clients (i.e. the organizations) “relinquish both accountability and responsibility for the problem” (p. 86).

By not getting their hands dirty (i.e., involved), organizations do not recognize their role in the problem and thus fail to gain the “insight into the process of assessing and implementing solutions” (p. 86).

This is a more complex way of saying that they never learn to “fish for themselves” by relying on others.

When I worked overseas consulting to education professionals, I sometimes found myself in this mechanic role. As a young and eager crisis management consultant, I wanted to do all that I could to help the schools, the administrators, educators, and students. However, after several months of repeating, re-teaching, and/or re-implementing strategies I finally realized the limitations of this Mechanic Model mentality.

By being the “go-to guy” or the “specialist,” I inadvertently made the system and employees dependent on an outsider to solve or fix their problems. In psychology, we say this is enabling. It’s a strange predicament to be in because, on the one hand, you want to be recognized for your skills. On the other hand, however, you also want to work to make things better so that when the time comes for you to move on (in my case I relocated back to Dallas to be closer to my elderly parents), the people and organizations are still able to firmly stand on their own without relying on assistance.

Thus, what you want to do is: Work to empower and not to enable.

It took listening, insight, and collaboration with a very capable team of professionals to start the process of empowerment and then later implementing change strategies. I think consultants before me failed to recognize this systemic mindset and found themselves in the mechanic role (just like I initially found myself in).

But the difference between how I eventually succeeded, and others did not, were these things:

  1. Understanding the difference between empowering and enabling.
  2. Believing in those who will take over the helm. Your consulting role is to help people and organizations guide their own ships.
  3. Equipping people with the right tools for their roles within the organization.
  4. Never accepting “I can’t” as an excuse.
  5. Showing people that you care about and respect them.

If I were to pick the top two reasons I believe change occurred, they are: (1) respecting people and taking an interest in their well-being, and (2) giving them the right tools they need to succeed.

Reference

Anderson, D. (2010). Organization Development: The Process of Leading Organizational Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

6 Steps to Guide Employees Through Change

In a previous post titled, “Implementing Change and Overcoming Resistance,” I talked about Kotter’s 8-Stage Process to Creating Major Change.

In this post, I’ll pass along another gem from Harvard Business Review’s Answer Exchange and the suggestions for creating a guiding vision to help employees through change.

6 STEPS TO GUIDING EMPLOYEES THROUGH CHANGE:

  1. Describe a desirable future, one that people would be happy to have right now if they could. Include specifics about how the change will improve the business and how the improvements will benefit employees.
  2. Make the vision compelling. The benefits of the change must be clear and the vision must be better than the status quo so that people will gladly undertake the effort and make the necessary sacrifices.
  3. Ensure that the vision is realistic. It must be perceived as achievable.
  4. Focus on a manageable and coherent set of goals.
  5. Build in flexibility so that if the circumstances change, the vision can change, too.
  6. Make sure the vision is easy to communicate. Managers at all levels of the organization need to be able to communicate the vision to their people.

Though some items on this list are similar to those on Kotter’s 8-Stage Process to Creating Major Change, it’s still a nice summary.

Reference

Originally posted on HBR Answer Exchange (now defunct); Adapted from the book Managing Change: Pocket Mentor Series, Harvard Business Press

Do All Employees Want a Challenging Job?

In their classic text, Organizational Behavior, Robbins & Judge (2009) posed and answered an interesting question about employee motivation. The professors asked in a blurb titled, “Myth or Science: ‘Everyone Wants a Challenging Job?’”

In response to this question, Robbins & Judge (2009) say the answer is FALSE! While many employees do seek and desire challenging, engaging work, some employees do not. It might surprise some to read this because it certainly sounds contrary to what we often hear from the media and even some academics. Instead, Robbins & Judge (2009) contend that “some people prosper in simple, routinized work” (p. 219).

But what exactly is it that explains those who prefer challenging work and those who prefer simple, routinized work? Robbins & Judge (2009) maintain that the “strength of an individual’s higher-order needs” is the key. They assert that “[i]ndividuals with high growth needs are more responsive to challenging work” (p. 219).

No current data exist but an older study from the 1970s estimate roughly 15% of employees seek higher-order need satisfaction (i.e. challenging, engaging work). “Even after adjusting for technological and economic changes in the nature of work, it seems unlikely that the number today exceeds 40 percent” (p. 219).

“Many employees relish challenging work. But this desire has been overgeneralized to all workers. Organizations increasingly have pushed extra responsibilities onto workers, often without knowing whether this is desired or how an employee will handle the increased responsibilities” (Robbins & Judge, 2009, p. 219).

Reference

Robbins, S.P. & Judge, T.A. (2009). Organizational Behavior (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

6 Steps to Manage Resistance to Change

6 STEPS TO MANAGE RESISTANCE TO CHANGE:

Understand why people are resisting the change. Reasons may include:

  1. They believe the change is unnecessary or will make things worse.
  2. They don’t trust the people leading the change effort.
  3. They don’t like the way the change was introduced.
  4. They are not confident the change will succeed.
  5. They feel that change will mean personal loss — of security, money, status, or friends.
  6. They’ve already experienced a lot of change and can’t handle any more disruption.

Encourage employees to openly express their thoughts and feelings about the change program.
Listen carefully to their concerns, explore their fears, and take their comments seriously.
Engage them in the planning and implementation processes.
Identify those who have something to lose, and anticipate how they might respond.
Help them find new roles either in your group or somewhere else in the organization—roles that represent genuine contributions and mitigate their losses.

Reference

Originally posted on HBR Answer Exchange (now defunct); Adapted from the book Managing Change: Pocket Mentor Series, Harvard Business Press

3 Primary Goals of People at Work

In “The Enthusiastic Employee” authors Sirota, Mischkind, and Meltzer (2005), working under Sirota Consulting, surveyed 2.5 million employees in 237 organizations in 89 countries about what they want from their jobs.

Contrary to wide and unsubstantiated claims made about worker attitudes, the authors found through their research that the overall satisfaction of workers with their work is strong and consistent across a wide variety of industries, occupations, and cultures. Furthermore, these researchers maintain that there is no evidence that younger workers are any more or less disenchanted than older workers.

The majority of the responses fall into three factors. The authors call this the Three Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace. They are: equity, achievement and camaraderie.

  1. Equity: To be treated justly in relation to the basic conditions of employment. These basic conditions include physiological (e.g., safe work environment), economic (e.g., job security, fair pay), and psychological (e.g., treated respectfully & fairly).
  2. Achievement: Employees are enthusiastic working for organizations that provide them with a clear, credible and inspiring organizational purpose – “reason for being here.” There are four sources of employee pride. In essence they reflect the idea of excellence:
    • Excellence in the organization’s financial performance.
    • Excellence in the efficiency with which the work of the organization gets done.
    • Excellence in the characteristics of the organization’s products such as their usefulness, distinctness and quality.
    • Excellence in the organization’s moral character.
  3. Camaraderie: Employees want to work collaboratively. They get the greatest satisfaction from being a member of and working on a team to achieve a common goal. In fact, the authors assert that cooperation, and not job descriptions or organizational charts, is the unifying force holding the various parts of an organization together.

Sirota, Mischkind, and Meltzer (2005) say that one key to overcome conflict and encourage cooperation is to build partnerships. The parties involved do this by collaborating to work toward common goals.

However, they caution that in order to build partnerships within and throughout the organization,

“[A]ction must begin with, and be sustained by, senior management” (p. 283).

It is only when senior leadership has the foresight to see what can be, not just what is, along with the perseverance and hard work to translate philosophy into concrete daily policies will partnership organizations emerge. Above all, it requires “seeing and treating employees as genuine allies in achieving change” (Sirota, Mischkind, & Meltzer, 2005, p. 301).

Reference

Sirota, D., Mischkind, L.A., & Meltzer, M.I. (2005). The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Publishing.