The pandemic has changed the way we work, perhaps forever. Only in the next 5 to 10 years will we be able to fully map how and to what effect the workplace landscape has changed. While staff have scrambled to set up home offices and adapt to zoom meetings and other virtual parameters, there’s something missing that nobody’s talking about that is having a far-reaching impact.
Our teams are missing the proverbial water cooler. Every workplace has always had a space or a time for some chit-chat. It used to be a smoke break and now it often takes place at the nearby coffee shop where the barista remembers everyone’s "usual" orders. It’s that time to decompress and talk about something other than work. Small talk.
Small talk has sometimes been the subject of some anxiety for staff. Some people don’t enjoy the superficial banter before a meeting comes to order. For some, it feels fake and a waste of their time. For those...
No matter where you work or in which industry, there’s always something that is expected of you, but nobody trains you in it, and it’s rarely spoken of. You’re just expected to know how to be professional.
You’re expected to have learned it on the job, in your first job, any job, maybe back when you were scanning groceries or flipping burgers at 16. So you’ve made up your version of professionalism as you’ve gone along through your career, probably through trial and error and observing others. Maybe you picked up some pearls of wisdom even earlier than that from your parents or a favorite teacher about how to do a job well or take pride in your work.
There are some aspects of professionalism that may be codified within an organization like policies on social media use or a dress code. However, much of what constitutes professionalism are the unwritten norms of company culture. And because it’s dependent on social norms, professionalism is an...
Certainly, the goal for most organizations in 2021 with a range of organizational psychology tools at our disposal would be to avoid conflict as much as possible. Except avoid is not the right word. Rather, through selecting the right team, practicing empathy, effective communication, and psychological safety, organizations can make good headway in mitigating conflict. They can minimize negative conflict by helping staff to address the way they react and interact while at the same time maximizing the kind of conflict that leads to better outcomes for the team and organization. In addition, making people feel safe at work goes a long way to breaking defensive and attacking patterns that are often fed by underlying insecurities.
So there’s a lot we can do to minimize conflict and make workplaces look less like kindergartens and more like highly functioning clusters of adults cooperating and collaborating effectively.
But arguably, even if...
There are always personal differences in leadership style, but leadership, in general, has irrevocably evolved from its strict and detached past. It’s not just proficiency in your field that qualifies you to be a leader. That might have been the case at one time, but all industries now appreciate that leadership is as much about your people skills as your professional proficiency. To be a leader in your industry you need to be able to work well with others and lead a team to success. Your individual success as a leader is inextricably bound to the success of your people.
• Coercive/Commanding: “Do what I tell you.”
• Authoritative/Visionary: “Come with me.”
• Affiliative: “People come first.”
• Democratic: “What do you think?”
• Coaching: “Try this.”
• Pacesetting: “Do as I do, now!”
A key skill for modern leaders is the ability to model...
Back in 2013, Adam Grant published a seminal book called ‘Give and Take’. An organizational psychologist and one of Wharton’s top professors, Grant was already a New York Times best selling author when he penned ‘Give and Take’ which was named one of the best books of the year by Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, as well as one of Oprah’s riveting reads and the Washington Post’s books every leader should read.
In ‘Give and Take’, Grant proposes that the focus on performance in workplaces should be less directed to the individual, and more to the team. He suggests we should be looking closely at employee interaction - most specifically, their willingness to help. Grant’s research showed that organizational success is increasingly dependent on interaction and that in the workplace, people tend to either:
It’s always a pleasure to celebrate wins with your team and praise them for a job well done. Positive feedback, which reinforces exemplary behavior is not often something team leaders have a problem with. Most team leaders understand the importance of affirmation and encouragement although some need reminding. Sometimes giving positive behavioral feedback is a matter of making it routine - writing yourself a post-it note to remind yourself to take every opportunity to dish out some positive reinforcement.
It’s the difficult conversations we have problems with. The other two types of behavioral feedback are constructive and effective feedback. Constructive is where you’re addressing a type of behavior you’d like the team member to change. Effective feedback is related to a specific incident. Effective feedback could be positive when you’re really happy with the way your team has adapted to the pressures of the pandemic, for example. The...
Central to highly functioning teams is team members and leaders who make themselves available to help others. A culture of giving is an important one to generate for staff to thrive. As a team leader, you need to develop your capabilities to mentor, coach and nurture your staff, giving them the support and clarification they need, ideally before they even need to ask for it. For effective collaboration, staff need to be able to share knowledge and be of service to their colleagues wherever possible.
However, there is a flip side to giving. As much as teams need to be willing to offer help, they have to be just as willing and capable of asking for help. People are often more generous than we give them credit for, and a greater problem facing organizations is the unwillingness or missing capability to ask for help.
There are a myriad of reasons why staff don’t ask for help, and even why leaders don’t consult other leaders. As usual, the main general reason is...
So you’ve got a rock in the pit of your stomach. You know what needs to be done and it can’t be avoided any longer, for everyone’s sake. But how are you going to get through this?
It’s time to let someone go. But how do you do it with empathy and compassion? How do you let someone go with their dignity intact and the motivation to seek out new opportunities, to grow and learn and find the company fit that is right for them?
How are you going to get through that difficult conversation? What are you actually going to say?
If any of these thoughts are running through your head, this article is here to guide you through some considerations and strategies you can employ to get through it as smoothly as possible.
The best leaders are just as good at getting people out of the wrong seat on your team as they are at putting them in the right one.
Even if there haven’t been any errors in the hiring process, things change along...
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you, your kids or grandkids would have grown up with the movies, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Inside Out and The Incredibles.
The studio behind all these hits, Pixar, has been heralded as a game changer in animation and in business, under the fierce leadership of now retired co-founder, Ed Catmull. Since Toy Story was released in 1995, Pixar has produced 23 feature films, won 20 Academy Awards and 9 Golden Globe awards. Not only are their films well known and loved, but they are also box office successes, which is what makes them really special in an industry where only about 50% of films return a profit, let alone achieve nearly universal critical success.
Amy Edmondson cites Pixar as an example in her latest book, The Fearless Organization, as being adept at creating psychological safety. Psychological safety means that employees are willing to admit their mistakes without a fear of retribution or ridicule....