Posts by Commitment

Redesigning work debunking the myths about hierarchy

June 8th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Redesigning work debunking the myths about hierarchy”
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This study was motivated by what researchers saw as a disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality in management theory and practice concerning hierarchy.

The view that hierarchies are the enemy of new ideas seemed misguided in light of past research suggesting that hierarchies were unavoidable in groups and that they actually served important functions.

The researchers’ goal was to provide an overview so that managers and consultants could question popular negative assumptions about hierarchies. Hierarchies are often seen as obstacles to innovation. However, a growing body of research shows that the right kind of hierarchy can help teams become better innovators and learners.

Experts, academics and experienced innovators frequently espouse the virtues of eliminating hierarchies to make sure every idea is heard and to unlock innovation. As intuitively appealing as this view is, it does not stand up to scrutiny. In fact, a growing body of research shows that the right hierarchy can help teams become better innovators and learners.

Researchers have also seen what happens when teams insist upon being flat. They often become unfocused, tumultuous, and inefficient because their pursuit of perfect equality prevents the more expert team members from resolving conflicts and playing leadership roles in group learning and innovation.

Research on social species shows that hierarchies are important for group functioning. Human beings also have a tendency to think and act hierarchically. When a group has a chain of command, disagreements can be more easily resolved so that the group can take coordinated action. Coordinated action improves the odds of survival.

In fact, hierarchies can be found in virtually every human group, from children on the playground to executives in the boardroom. Depending on the circumstances, hierarchies can be formally designated or emerge naturally. And while the idea of hierarchies may go against democratic instincts and beliefs, they can and do play useful roles.

Hierarchies help teams of people innovate much the same way they help animals survive in the wild. They keep teams moving in the same direction even when strong disagreements threaten to keep the teams from progressing or even tear them apart.

Specifically, researchers found that hierarchies help teams generate, identify and select new ideas by performing three critical functions (and then getting out of the way): bounding solutions, converging ideas, and structuring processes.

Bounding Solutions

During idea generation, hierarchies set the parameters and goals of innovation. A paradox of creativity is that people are more innovative when they have clear constraints (such as time, budget, customer requirements, etc.) within which their solutions must fit.

But teams aren’t very good at establishing constraints on their own. Team members with influence can accelerate the learning process by clearly setting the boundaries for innovation and then giving the team wide latitude to explore within those boundaries.

Converging Ideas

In the early stages of innovation, teams come up with a large assortment of ideas and possibilities. Ultimately, however, some ideas are more promising than others, in part because they better align with the company’s capabilities and resources. Hierarchies can assist here by helping teams decide which ideas have promise and should be pursued, which ideas should be put on the back burner, and which ideas go on the waste pile.

To transition from generating to refining and implementing ideas, teams need to develop mechanisms for deciding which ideas to hone in on. This can be easier said than done because different team members may be emotionally attached to different ideas. By helping teams converge in a single direction, hierarchies keep teams from getting lost in aimless exploration.

Structuring Processes

Finally, effectively going through the learning process requires members to use their specialised knowledge to propose potentially wild ideas and challenge potentially sacred beliefs. These behaviours are interpersonally risky in that they open up members to ridicule and social sanctions.

As a result, teams must have norms and processes in place that lower those risks so that team members are able to engage in the learning process. Hierarchies can actually help here, too, by creating ground rules that enable and encourage members to speak up. Research has shown that brainstorming groups struggle without a hierarchy to provide structure to what can be a haphazard process.

How can we make hierarchies work?

People are suspicious of hierarchies for a reason – they sometimes stifle good ideas and the learning process that leads to good ideas. So, how can organisations foster learning and innovation? Here are three things leaders can do to leverage the power of hierarchy on teams yet avoid its pitfalls.

Have a clear chain of command

The study found that hierarchies work best when there is no confusion about who defers to whom. Teams with a clear chain of command (clarity and agreement about who defers to whom) were less likely to get bogged down in conflicts and stalemates than teams where influence was more cyclical.

Create a performance-based culture

A clear chain of command means that some team members will defer to others who are “higher up” in terms of status or respect. Group hierarchies in performance-based cultures are more likely to be based on expertise and less likely to be based on others characteristics.

Use team feedback

Another way to improve the way hierarchies function is to encourage those at the top to act in ways that support the group rather than acting in their own best interest: hierarchies promoted learning and performance when goals and feedback were group-oriented, but they stifled learning and performance when goals and feedback were individually oriented.

Group goals and feedback encourage higher-ups to use their advantaged position to encourage members to collaborate through information sharing, experimentation, and reflection. Individual goals and feedback keep people focused on their own tasks and outcomes.

Adapted from an article by Bret Sanner, assistant professor of management at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. J. Stuart Bunderson, George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance and codirector of the Bauer Leadership Center at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. – MIT Sloan 201804

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Promoting an emergent discovery culture

May 25th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Promoting an emergent discovery culture”
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Having the right mindset, culture and leadership behaviours is essential to practise emergent discovery. With these three things in place, you can make it acceptable to broach the unthinkable

Almost by definition, breakthroughs in their embryonic stages defy existing theories, principles, and bounds of experience. As such, they should be considered leaps of faith. So to foster emergent discovery in your organisation, you need to make it acceptable to consider the seemingly impossible. 

Early in the process, leaders and team members must be willing to suspend disbelief and to reserve judgement about whether a hypothesis is true or not. Common (and very reasonable) questions such as “Why do you believe that’s true?” and “How do you know that’s the right thing to do?” tend to shut down the process of inquiry. 

Instead, ask questions like “What experiment could you run to test that hypothesis?” and “If your hypothesis is correct, what are some possible areas where we might create value?” The way leaders react to early hypotheses heavily influences whether the most creative ideas are snuffed out or have a chance to evolve into something impactful. 

Leverage your critics’ insights to make your ideas even better. Breakthrough innovations typically challenge prevailing dogma, the set of collectively held beliefs about what is possible and what is acceptable. Challenging dogma also means challenging the people (the “leading authorities”) who have built their reputations around its veracity. History tells us that people who challenge conventional wisdom are often subject to accusations of recklessness, incompetence, or worse. Leaders must make it acceptable to defy dogma. Consider the common practice of engaging external experts to vet internally generated ideas or to perform due diligence on proposed investments. 

In principle, having such external input is a good idea. But too often, these experts become defenders of conventional wisdom. A better approach is to use them to improve the new ideas by identifying a critical assumption that should be tested, for example. If we engage sceptics and can tolerate their sometimes scalding critiques, we can learn a lot about what we need to do to move our ideas forward.

Make it about ideas, not personal ownership. Emergent discovery explicitly recognises that ideas are built over time with contributions from many people. One person’s ill-formed idea last month might be the essential building block for someone else’s step forward this month. The two are equally important to the process. Pursuing emergent discovery in your organisation requires a culture where ideas are not “owned” by individuals but are considered part of the intellectual commons of the enterprise. 

Disconnecting ideas from people also means that a failed idea is not a personal failure. Accordingly, emergent discovery works better if the teams involved in an effort have shared incentives and rewards.

Leading emergent discovery

The notion that breakthrough innovation is a random, chaotic process largely dependent on the visionary powers of gifted geniuses makes many organisations hesitant to embrace it as a core element of strategy. 

That is unfortunate given the massive value that breakthroughs produce for society and the companies that create them. But there is nothing mysterious or magic about the process. Breakthrough innovation can emerge through a rigorous and disciplined process of intellectual leaps, iterative search, experimentation, and selection. 

Emergent discovery is a repeatable process that can be learned.

Mastering it, however, requires more than understanding the mechanics of the process. It requires an organisation in which the people, particularly the leaders, adopt the right mindset and behaviours. 

They must be willing to consider seemingly unreasonable ideas and suspend judgement early in the discovery process. They must embrace learning through rigorous experimentation and failure and prioritise collective contributions over the personal ownership of ideas. Ultimately, whether an organisation adopts these habits depends critically on the behaviours of its leaders. Pursuing breakthrough innovation is as much a leadership challenge as it is a technical one. 

If the Covid-19 catastrophe has taught us anything, it is that the world can change dramatically in short order. Looking ahead, all companies must build the capacity to leap beyond existing comfort zones. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who can drive breakthrough innovation. 

Adapted from “What Evolution Can Teach Us About Innovation” by NOUBAR AFEYAN, co founder and chairman of Moderna Therapeutics, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering and GARY P. PISANO Jr. Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean at Harvard Business School. – Harvard Business Review 202110 

Does your business need a human rights strategy?

May 20th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Does your business need a human rights strategy?”
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Companies must be prepared to meet their moral and business obligations when operations bump up against labour abuses or worse. That’s why it’s critical for companies to have a human rights strategy and proactively consider when and how to take the action needed to fulfill their moral obligations; meet shareholder, customer, and employee expectations; and keep other stakeholders satisfied. Authors of new research looked at business ethics and sustainability, including discussions with managers and human rights groups, and how businesses have addressed these issues in the past. They created a framework to help companies develop a business and human rights strategy that is applicable to their situations. The framework offers tools to help companies gauge their vulnerabilities, and identify approaches and tactics that will assist them in meeting their social and commercial responsibilities.

Three categories of human rights violations

In their research, the authors observed three broad areas where human rights issues ariseand that companies must consider when developing a strategy.

Abuse in the way a company’s products or services are made and delivered. 

This includes abuse by suppliers or contractors or within a company’s own operations. Managing human rights risks in the supply chain is becoming increasingly complicated as geopolitical environments change, supply chains become more complex, and human rights defenders leverage digital media to highlight abuses occurring right under our noses in areas that were previously unseen. Sometimes a job such as picking tomatoes, making clothes, or working on a construction site, may appear to be normal.

What might not be seen is the way people are being controlled through intimidation, inescapable debt, the removal of passports, or threats of deportation. A 2019 investigation in the U.K. revealed a slave ring involving more than 400 trafficked Polish workers who were being held in appalling conditions. The labourers were receiving a pittance to work on farms and in factories that supplied major supermarket and building supply chains, including Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Homebase, Travis Perkins, Argos, and Wickes. Unsurprisingly, the companies were unaware of the conditions their suppliers’ workers were subjected to. 

In fact, most companies today are vocal in announcing policies to weed out forced labour in their value chains. However, the prevalence of modern slavery in global supply chains has become so entrenched that sadly most multinational companies benefit from it somewhere, often very far down the chain, where they have little visibility or leverage.

Abuse in the way a company’s products or services are used. 

While companies may not knowingly create products that violate human rights, they could find themselves complicit when customers employ their products or services to do so.

Even if not legally complicit, then they are at least guilty in the court of public opinion. Caterpillar, a long-standing supplier of heavy machinery to the Israeli army, found its reputation at risk when evidence emerged of its equipment being used to demolish Palestinian houses and orchards.

Abuse by regimes where the company operates. 

It is difficult to identify a country where human rights abuses of one kind or another do not take place, whether in the form of forced labour, suppression of free speech, racial / cultural / gender discrimination or unlawful incarceration. The issue is nuanced, and countries differ in their views on what constitutes basic human rights. Companies can benefit from working closely with governments, but when a regime violates human rights, they can get embroiled in scandal. 

Three key decisions for your human rights strategy

The insights gleaned while assessing a company’s exposure to human rights issues can also be used during the development and execution of a response. To help business leaders work through this, we’ve created a decision tree that highlights the key choices that could be made and their potential consequences.

DECISION 1: Exit, Speak up or Stay silent

The first decision a company must make is whether to get involved. Based on the conclusions reached using the exposure matrix, business leaders must decide whether the issue requires further attention and possibly action. 

Is it serious enough to warrant divesting operations and/or possibly leaving the country? If not, what other options are available? Deciding on the best option is not always straightforward, nor is flight always the most appropriate action: pulling out of a country can not only seriously impact a business’s bottom line but also harm the communities in which it operates, such as by eliminating local jobs or ending prosocial initiatives the company has taken. 

If a business makes the choice to continue operating and to work to address systemic human rights abuses within its environment, it needs to develop a nuanced strategy and be very deliberate about how and with whom it interacts.

DECISION 2: A Collective or Individual Approach? 

If a company chooses to stay and take action, it must decide whether the issue is best addressed by the company individually or should be undertaken collectively with other organisations or stakeholders. An individual approach can be most effective when companies are influential and when time is of the essence. 

DECISION 3: Which Actions and Tactics Should Be Chosen? 

Having decided on a collective or individual approach, companies are faced with the question of whether to take direct action to stop human rights violations or whether more can be done by indirectly influencing the institutional settings in which they operate.

Adapted from an article by N. Craig Smith, Markus Scholz, Jane Williams 

Why a closed approach to strategy-making is not good for your business.

May 13th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Why a closed approach to strategy-making is not good for your business.”
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Formulating and executing sound organisational strategy is difficult work. Strategy is often made by elite teams and thus can be limited by their biases about competitors, customer needs, and market forces and it can be an uphill battle convincing stakeholders across the company to channel money, time, and energy in a new and unproven direction.

Hence making strategy behind closed doors is a prescription for failure when disruptions are coming from all directions. The authors’ solution to both the strategy formulation and execution challenges is radical: open up your strategy process now!Open strategy offers leadership teams access to diverse sources of external knowledge that they wouldn’t otherwise have, while also making individual leaders aware of their

biases and helping them build the buy-in needed to speed up execution.

 

This approach is particularly valuable when companies face disruptive threats and contemplate transformational change. It’s much easier to master disruptions when you’re forging strategy in concert with others who view the world through a different lens than you do. Progress and innovation depend less on lone thinkers with exceptional IQs than they do on diverse groups of people working together and capitalising on their individuality, as social scientist Scott E. Page has shown.

In short, diversity of perspective matters a lot.

Involving people from  outside your company in strategy-making not only provides a wellspring of fresh ideas but also mobilises and galvanises everyone involved. All this can happen without a loss of control over the strategy-making process.

Why does a Closed Approach to Strategy-Making have its limits?

 

According to a 2018 Bain survey, strategic planning is the most popular tool available to managers. Yet, too often, the results of that planning are under-whelming. 

 

Studies find that somewhere between 50% and 90% of the strategies devised by leaders don’t work. A 2018 survey of 201 American and European executives found that 52% of their strategic initiatives over the previous three years had underperformed.

These disappointing outcomes are particularly surprising considering the resources companies pour into strategy-making. Each year, they spend more than $30 billion on consultants, tapping their knowledge of industries, competencies, and business models, and CEOs spend over 20% of their working hours, on average, focusing on strategy.

At the core of this problem is the very process by which strategy is crafted. Companies have little hope of charting a reliable path forward if they limit strategic deliberations to a small group of senior executives. They can’t get the best ideas that way, nor can they effectively connect strategy to execution. Yet, strategic planning as practised today is a tightly closed, secretive, and bounded process. Executives presume that keeping strategy to themselves keeps the company safe from employees or external contributors who would inject unschooled or unruly thinking, and from competitors who would steal their ideas. But they are wrong: The hoarding of strategy isn’t helping their companies. It’s killing them, in several distinct ways.

Isomorphous strategies

Have you ever noticed that a great deal of strategic thinking in an industry sounds the same? You’re not imagining it. It’s due to a phenomenon that organisational theorists call isomorphism.

In essence, it means that in the process of adapting to our surroundings, we behave in increasingly similar ways. The same is true for companies, particularly as benchmarking and best practices have become central elements of strategy-making. 

Unimaginative strategies

It’s tough to get ideas to cross-fertilise in corporate settings. Departments and individuals compete with one another for resources or prestige, and even when leaders mandate cooperation and silo-busting, the ideas still don’t flow freely. 

Biased strategies

One of the underlying culprits was what cognitive psychologists sometimes call the status quo trap, the tendency to favour what already exists and information that confirms that choice. Other common biases that can torpedo strategies include the sunk cost trap (the tendency to irrationally support past choices that are failing), loss aversion (the tendency to give greater weight to potential losses than potential gains) and the overconfidence trap (the tendency to believe in the accuracy of overly optimistic forecasts). 

All of these biases represent dangerous blind spots for strategists who work alone or in small groups, where the pressure to conform can lead people to ignore negative information and disparage those who bring it up.

Adapted from an article BY CHRISTIAN STADLER, JULIA HAUTZ, KURT MATZLER, AND STEPHAN FRIEDRICH VON DEN EICHEN – MIT Sloan Management Review Spring 2022

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Infusing strategy with soul: six daily practices to elevate our working lives.

May 2nd, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Infusing strategy with soul: six daily practices to elevate our working lives.”
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Can strategy be reframed so that companies can thrive in the face of our current and future challenges?

In 50 years of researching companies both in the U.S. and in Japan, the authors’ view of the organisation has evolved from an information processing machine to a living organism continually creating new knowledge.

Advances in neuroscience research in recent years have shed light on the biological factors driving humans’ sense of purpose. We now know that the most basic need we are compelled to meet is social connection.

Neuroscientists have also found that the human brain exhibits a predisposition to seek the common good. As human beings we share the ability to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, and we can imagine together how we might create a better world.

Considering these findings, the question is: “How should companies use both souls and brains so that strategy becomes relevant to the world we live in?”

Here are six recommended practices that may help you infuse strategy with soul. An ancient Japanese tradition says that doing the ordinary things in life a little bit better every day elevates individuals. In the same way, doing the ordinary things a little bit better every day in our jobs such as working hard, making ethical choices, being kind, practising self-reflection and self-discipline, being humble and being thankful, elevates our work lives. 

This builds culture at the organisational level and character at the personal level. These behaviours have to be practised every day so that they become a way of life. Similarly, as we have learned over decades of studying organisations, companies can adopt six daily practices to turn this strategy into a way of life:

  1. Cope with complexity.
  2. Adapt to change.
  3. Embrace dynamic duality.
  4. Empathise with everyone.
  5. Tell stories.
  6. Live with nature.

This set of practices helps organisations connect to the goal of building better lives and futures for company stakeholders, members of society and employees, and helps define and pursue business goals that support the common good.

COPE WITH COMPLEXITY

The growing complexity of our world and its many interrelated systems is widely acknowledged. To solve our most pressing problems, we must tap into diverse perspectives and sources of expertise across multiple domains because no single approach or field of study will provide the answers. 

Likewise, we must bring all of our own diverse capabilities to bear: The ability to sit with a complex problem and use both analytical and intuitive thinking to address it is increasingly crucial to organisations.

ADAPT TO CHANGE

The rapid rate of change of the modern world, driven largely by accelerated technological progress, demands that leaders and organisations anticipate and adapt to new circumstances at a pace unprecedented in human history.

EMBRACE DYNAMIC DUALITY

In the West, an intellectual tradition of dualistic thinking (drawing sharp distinctions between mind and body, self and other, humanity and nature) has led business executives to neatly divide knowledge into two categories: explicit knowledge, which can easily be articulated and shared, and tacit knowledge, which is more intuitive and gained from lived experience. 

They often value the former more highly than the latter. In contrast, the intellectual tradition in Japan has stressed oneness of body and mind, of self and other, of humanity and nature. Tacit and explicit knowledge form a dynamic duality interacting with, and interchanging into, each other to create something new through life experiences.

EMPATHISE WITH EVERYONE

Human survival has always depended on our ability to organise in mutually supportive groups for food and protection, which is why social connection is our top priority. At the root of connecting with others is empathising with them. Facing today’s crises, political and business leaders should unite, using this unique quality that we humans have. 

To empathise on a deep level, we need to develop a keen understanding of others’ perspectives and cultivate compassion in our hearts.

TELL STORIES

Effective business leaders understand the power of using stories to communicate the essence of their beliefs and ideals and to help the organisation internalise strategy.

LIVE WITH NATURE

Complex natural systems such as the Earth’s climate predate humans by more than 3 billion years, and we have been living with them since our species first appeared.

The Japanese tradition of “oneness of humanity and nature”, also practised by many indigenous cultures around the world, has taken on new relevance as humankind seeks to repair the damage to our natural environment caused by industrialisation.

SURVIVING THE FUTURE

These six practices must become a way of life for companies to survive in this day and age of “unknown unknowns.” They must also become the modus operandi in the life of a strategist who seeks to meet the unprecedented challenges facing businesses and humankind. Observing leaders who consistently do these things has taught us the following lessons about strategy. First, strategy must be driven by human beings. 

Strategy is as fundamental as thinking good thoughts, doing the right thing, and practising self-reflection and self-discipline in everyday life. Those six practices represent the authors’ philosophy of doing business: work with soul. Customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders want to know whether you have a soul, if you want to build mutual trust and connection. 

Second, strategy is driven by wisdom and it is about future-making. The future is hazy and unpredictable, which is why leaders need to tell stories about where they are headed, it allows others in the organisation to follow. 

Narratives illustrate a set of beliefs about what the company stands for and what kind of legacy it wants to leave behind for future generations. These stories bind the organisation together and help strategy become a way of life for all employees.

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Do you know how to evaluate people the right way?

April 20th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Do you know how to evaluate people the right way?”
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Most companies still use traditional, unstructured interviews to make a global evaluation. The interviewer accumulates information about the candidate and then reaches a conclusion. Unfortunately, a vast amount of evidence indicates that unstructured interviews lead to biased evaluations that have very little predictive value. It occurs because the interviewer usually forms a mental model of a candidate, a process that psychologists have shown has three specific limitations:

Excessive coherence

Mental models are usually simpler and more coherent than the reality they aim to assess. As interviewers, if we assume, for instance, that a particular candidate is an extrovert, we tend to ask questions that confirm this hypothesis.

A “quick and sticky” quality

We form our mental models rapidly, often on the basis of limited evidence at the start of the process, and we alter our models slowly as new facts emerge. That explains why, as common sense would suggest (and research has confirmed), first impressions have a disproportionate effect on the assessments we make of people in general and on the outcome of job interviews.

Biased weighting

Our mental models often don’t give each pertinent fact the weight it deserves. We may discount important bits of information or, in contrast, give great weight to factors that should be entirely irrelevant. For example, an interviewer may wrongly perceive that a male candidate has great leadership qualities just because he is tall and has a deep voice. For those reasons, we do not expect all interviewers to agree on one candidate and we often compensate by averaging several interviewers’ viewpoints.

Dozens of studies on personnel selection have shown conclusively that decisions are more accurate when interviews are structured rather than unstructured. Therefore, a growing number of organisations, especially those that put a high premium on the quality of the talent they hire, have adopted structured interviews.

In a structured interview, the interviewer must rate several key traits before making a final evaluation. Scores on each attribute serve as mediating assessments: intermediary ratings, produced in a predetermined, standardised manner in order to be as fact-based as possible. The final evaluations are then derived from these ratings.

An early form of structured interviewing was developed in 1956 by Daniel Kahneman while he served in the Israeli Army, where he observed that holistic ratings given by interviewers were poor predictors of the future success of recruits. 

He replaced these ratings with separate scores on six attributes: sense of duty, sociability, energy level, punctuality, capacity for independent thought, and what was then called “masculine pride.” 

A simple average of these scores proved to predict overall performance more accurately than did an intuitive evaluation based on an unstructured interview. An intuitive prediction made after these separate structured interview ratings were assigned was also useful. The combination of the two was the best performance predictor of all.

Adapted from “A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions” BY DANIEL KAHNEMAN, DAN LOVALLO, AND

 

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Rethinking your approach to employee benefits: the human experience

April 7th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Rethinking your approach to employee benefits: the human experience”
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Human resource leaders commonly assume that for a company to stand out as a great place to work, it must deliver competitive material benefits

However, new research finds that this view is outdated: engagement and retention don’t correlate with benefits because nowadays employees look beyond material offerings and instead they assess how they feel about the company they work for. Fortune 500 companies spend more on benefits and perks than ever, almost $2,500 a year per employee, on average.

But a study by the research and advisory firm Gartner, comprising global surveys of 5,000 employees and more than 150 HR leaders, reveals that employee engagement has been flat since 2016.

Carolina Valencia, a vice president in Gartner’s HR practice and one of the study’s authors says “Companies have been engaged in an arms race to offer the best perks. But once basic needs are met, people are more powerfully motivated by feelings than by material features. Employees today want to be treated as people, not just workers.”

Benefits managers should change their approach in order to offer a human deal that will make workers feel valued, supported and cared for financially, physically and emotionally.  Researchers suggest following this advices:

Connecting with employees’ lives outside work.

Companies usually don’t care about employees’ non-work issues, in part because of privacy concerns, but researchers underline that the boundaries have blurred during the pandemic so workers don’t pretend that their work lives and outside lives are separate. 

Ensuring autonomy

Many organisations allow remote work at least some of the time. But they should go further, aiming for radical flexibility in which employees ideally decide with whom, on what, and how much to work.  Far from providing cover for loafers, Gartner finds, the adoption of radical flexibility raises the number of employees defined as high-performing by 40%.

Promoting personal growth

Most organisations offer programs to foster professional growth. But employees want opportunities for personal growth as well, such as career coaching, community service or language lessons. 

Instilling shared purpose

Employees want to feel invested in their organisation’s purpose, including the ways in which it interacts with the larger world. Leaders may hesitate to highlight their activism for fear of alienating employees with dissimilar views, but such concerns appear to be overblown. Research says that workers prefer their leaders to take a stand on societal issues they care about. Researchers also suggest instituting regular meetings to discuss emerging issues with the whole company.

Providing holistic well-being offerings and helping people use them

Most large firms offer a variety of well-being programs but few employees take advantage of them because needs change from person to person and over time.  Companies could encourage employees to assess their well-being and talk candidly about mental health and provide managers with a direction to follow.

Adapted from “Rethinking Your Approach to the Employee Experience” – Harvard Business Review 202202

Feedback Sharing vs Feedback Seeking

March 16th, 2022 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Feedback Sharing vs Feedback Seeking”
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Managers are often advised to seek feedback on their performance and reviews from team members.

But researchers found instead that sharing critical managerial feedback had greater positive effects on team dynamics.

During their studies, researchers divided over 100 team leaders into four groups:

  • Leaders in the first group were told to ask team members for feedback on their performance
  • Leaders in the second group were told to discuss development areas from their own performance reviews
  • Leaders in the third group did both 
  • Leaders in the fourth group did neither

After a year, teams whose leaders had shared negative feedback about themselves reported significant improvement.

Leaders initially felt anxious and employees were sceptical and largely remained quiet. But as leaders continued to share, vulnerability was normalised, allowing feelings of safety to grow.

When leaders asked for feedback, by contrast, employees tended to speak up but leaders sometimes reacted

defensively, because they felt judged and were not ready to make a public commitment to vulnerability

The feedback often concerned things that were not very useful or controllable for leaders. So for these teams, employees went on saying less and less to their leaders, while the leaders became more and more unresponsive.

Researchers concluded that leaders who asked their team for performance feedback actually compromised team dynamics, while sharing feedback with the team helped employees to concentrate on issues that were really important.

Adapted from HBR 202202 – “Taking Your Team Behind the Curtain: The Effects of Leader Feedback-Sharing and Feedback-Seeking on Team Psychological Safety,” by Constantinos G.V.

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How to restore your mental energy

December 22nd, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “How to restore your mental energy”
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In her book  “The Happiness Track” Emma Seppala reminds us of a saying attributed to Confucius: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Now, she says,The problem is that we can’t always choose to do what we love. However, we can choose how we approach our work so we can enjoy it more”. Rather than thinking of work as work, we can reframe it by thinking of what we love about it. Here are a few research-backed suggestions reported by Dr. Seppala.

 

Remember the Big Picture

Focus on the why, rather than the how, of a task or job. Understanding how your work connects to what you care about and to your values will restore your energy. You can think about how the device or product your company sells is helps people to fulfil their needs.

Adam Grant, Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business studied a call centre in which employees made calls to raise money for financial aid. After Grant brought in one of the student recipients to explain what a big difference the aid had made in his life, there was a steep increase in productivity at the centre. Why? Because the centre workers were personally moved when they saw the impact their work was having.

 

Turn what you’re doing into something you want to be doing

What happens if you have a job that you don’t particularly like and that is not related to your happiness? In that case, think about how it is indirectly related to your passions. Remembering how your job allows you to indulge your passions will help you to appreciate the job rather than experience it as a burden.

Remember why you care about the work you’re doing. As a consequence, you’ll start to want to do what you are doing, rather than thinking you have to do it. 

 

Practice Gratitude

Research has shown that feeling grateful helps you replenish your energy in the face of fatiguing tasks. Maybe you don’t feel motivated. However, there are always things that warrant being grateful: You have a job when many others don’t. You enjoy the company of some of your colleagues. You experience positive emotions when you accomplish a goal.

Feeling grateful both increases positive emotion and helps you see the big picture.

 

Detach from Work When You’re Not Working

Psychological detachment from work is particularly difficult when the job’s your workload and time pressure are high, so many people take work home with them at night or do it during their time off.

Sabine Sonnentag, Professor at the University of Mannheim, has found that people who do not know how to detach from work during their off time experience increased exhaustion over the course of one year and are less resilient in the face of stressful work conditions.

Sonnentag has found that psychological distance from work is the fastest path to recovery (total absorption in a non-work-related activity) and leads, surprisingly perhaps, to increased productivity. “From our research, one can conclude that it is good to schedule time for recovery and to use this time in an optimal way.”

“Manage energy is done by cultivating calm” says Dr. Seppala. The result? Less stress, a clearer mind, and sharper focus to get your work done. “You get the same amount of work done, but you remain balanced and enjoy the process. Because you are able to think more clearly, you do a far better job. The best part, of course, is that because you are not as tired, your energy levels remain high. As a result, you are happier and more successful.”

Adapted from Emma Seppala. “The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success”. HarperCollins

formiche

Get rid of the ANTS in your mind

December 9th, 2021 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Get rid of the ANTS in your mind”
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shani Tsadik, in his book “A Quick Guide To Happiness” says that all the people in this world, including us, deal with unhelpful thoughts every day, whether they are aware or not. 

These thoughts hold us back from developing and fulfilling our full potential. Some of them can even bring down our self-esteem and affect our identity and the way we perceive ourselves.

“Every time we allow these kinds of thoughts to be our truths, we put ourselves in situations where we attract negative situations, other than the ones that life throws at us. It creates a domino effect and makes us cope through unhealthy ways”, writes Tsadik.

We definitely need to know more about our negative thoughts and how they affect us.

In this article, we will get acquainted with these thoughts that Dr. Daniel Aman, a psychiatrist and brain health expert, calls ANTS – Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) . Here are the nine most common ANTS and some examples of our unhelpful self-talks:

 

Black or White

Thinking in terms of a dichotomy: things are good or bad, right or wrong. All the thoughts that view things at the extremes and with no middle ground or nuance.

Example: “I made so many mistakes! If I can’t do it perfectly, I might as well not bother fixing it at all.”

 

Negative filtering

These are the thoughts that make us concentrate on the negative side while ignoring the positive events or any other information that contradicts our negative view of the situation.

Example: “My boss said most of my submissions were great, but he also said several mistakes had to be corrected. He must think I’m hopeless.”

 

Negative fortune teller

Anticipating an outcome and assuming that our prediction is a fact. These expectations can be self-fulfilling. Predicting our actions based on past behaviors may prevent us from seeing the opportunity to change our situation.

Examples: “I’ve always been like this. I’ll never be able to change. I know it’s not going to work out, so there’s no point in trying.”; This relationship is going to fail again, for sure.”

 

Magnification

A tendency to exaggerate jokes and empty words. Even though it was a joke, we accept it as if the person really meant it. We just spiral down and make a big deal out of it.”

Example: “You look so wimpy today!”

 

Emotional Reasoning

Feelings are mistaken for facts. It refers to every lie about ourselves that we believed to be true because they feel real.

Example: “I feel like a failure, therefore, I am a failure. I feel ugly, so I must be ugly. I feel hopeless, so does my situation.”

 

Blame

Blaming ourselves, knocking down the motivation, and creating false beliefs about ourselves.

Examples: “It was all my fault”; “I shouldn’t have said that”; “I always ruin the beautiful things”;. “Why do I always bring bad luck?”

 

Personalization

Taking offense or feeling upset with what people say or do, thinking that their remarks are directed at us.

Example: John was in a terrible mood and didn’t notice you in the hallway. You took it the wrong way and thought, “It must be something I did. It’s obvious he doesn’t like me, otherwise, he would’ve said ‘hello.’”

 

Mind-reading

Making assumptions about other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without checking the evidence, i.e., “John is talking to Molly, so he must like her more than me. Maybe he thinks I was stupid.”

 

Labeling

Generalizations and labels we give to ourselves as if it’s an innate characteristic or a burden we carry in our pocket.

Example: “I’m the black sheep wherever I go.”

 

As Plutarch said, “What we change inwardly will change outer reality.” Acknowledge these negative thoughts and getting rid of them is the first step to happiness. 

Adapted from  Tsadik, Shani D. “A Quick Guide To Happiness: Life Changing Tools and Techniques to Transform Your Life Immediately”, Ses Ventures

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