Working Abroad- How to Help Employees Weather the Storm
More and more organizations these days are sending employees on international assignments. This can have many benefits for these organizations, and can be exciting for the individual.
But not everyone proves successful in integrating into foreign cultures, which affects their work and can ultimately lead to major losses for organizations.
The research paper under review looked at the relationship between work adjustment and performance. Interestingly, the researchers cite various authors who say that very little research has been done to examine expatriate experiences over time.
INITIAL ADJUSTMENT TO WORKING ABROAD
The researchers highlighted motivation and stress-related states as being important in the process of adjustment
Cross-cultural motivation (being able to adapt to other cultures, as well as taking an active interest in their customs) and psychological empowerment (including feelings of competence, freedom and purpose) were identified as being particularly important for high initial adjustment.
Psychological empowerment has a unique impact on motivation, helping expats adjust quicker. Highly motivated individuals seek out social support, are more proactive at work, and consequently show better initial coping skills and overall performance. But despite high initial levels of work adjustment, this group can experience a decline over time. Research suggests that this is because the workers recalibrate their efforts in line with their experiences.
THE STRESS TEST
Higher levels of early work adjustment have various outcomes over time, depending on other factors such as experiencing challenge or hindrance stressors.
These stressors reflect work conditions. But– as the name suggests– the challenge stressors are more positive, providing better outcomes (such as promotions or raises), which garner greater engagement and performance. Challenge stressors can actually help maintain high levels of adjustment over time.
Hindrance stressors such as work-related conflict or organizational unfairness, on the other hand, can derail and stifle an employee’s efforts at growth and achievement. Coping with such stressors takes away resources necessary for adjustment and high performance.
BENEFITS OF THIS RESEARCH
For organizations sending employees abroad, these findings could be very beneficial.
The results lend support to the idea of screening individuals for high cross-cultural motivation and psychological empowerment levels, which were some of the indicators for high work adjustment abilities. These findings could also help organizations target and improve these aspects within individuals chosen for international assignments so that they are empowered before they even begin working abroad.
This study can aid in the development of programs for those already working abroad to help them reach and maintain satisfactory levels of adjustment, and also help raise managers’ awareness to maintain initial motivation levels and perhaps re-design work tasks where necessary so as to lessen the influence of hindrance stressors.
Thriving At Work Rather Than Just Going Through the Motions
Are there times where you feel like you’re just “going through the motions” at work? If so, there’s good news: Instead of continuing with your daily tasks like a preprogrammed robot, you can thrive at work!
THRIVING AT WORK: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
A new study from T.A. Paterson, F. Luthans and W. Jeung examines thriving at work, which involves an employee’s experience of both learning and vitality in the workplace.
Specifically, this study looked at how supervisor support and employees’ levels of hope, efficacy, resiliency and optimism (i.e., psychological capital) ultimately influence their success in the workplace.
Additionally, these authors explored the influence thriving at work has on employees’ job performance and self-development.
EXAMINING THE RESULTS
The “Thriving At Work” study’s results revealed that employees who were more hopeful, efficacious, resilient, and optimistic at work were more likely to thrive, leading to employees who were more focused on their assigned tasks.
Similarly, employees with very supportive supervisors were also more likely to thrive at work and be more focused.
Furthermore, these employees who thrived at work engaged in more work-related self-development and had higher levels of job performance (as rated by their supervisors).
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR HR PROFESSIONALS
Collectively, these results indicate that employers and organizations should seek to promote “thriving at work” and not just “going through the motions” on a daily basis. Not only because employees who thrive at work perform better than their robotic coworkers, but also because the experience of thriving at work promotes employees’ self-development initiatives.
This discovery is especially important for organizations. Today’s workplace continues to evolve rapidly, and companies need employees who can easily adapt and develop along with the ever-changing work environment.
Therefore, organizations should strive to create supportive work environments, which provide employees with enhanced opportunities for thriving at work!
This post was brought to you in part by CIPHR an HR Intranet Software Provider
How Organizations Can Fast-Track Transitioning Leaders
New job roles can be a daunting prospect for anyone. There are contrasts with old responsibilities, new expectations, and all sorts of surprises that pop up along the way. Adjusting quickly to the demands of a new position is important for productivity. But how can organizations fast-track transitioning leaders to help them gain the knowledge and skills they need?
In “Show and Tell: How Supervisors Facilitate Leader Development Among Transitioning Leaders,” authors L. Dragoni, H. Park, J. Soltis and S. Forte-Trammell suggest that supervisors can play a key role in leadership development.
The study points towards the need for supervisors and mentors to not only tell transitioning employees how to lead effectively, but to show them how effective leadership looks in practice. This increases the chance of a smooth transition, and frees individuals up to focus on leading others.
“Telling” deals with effectively communicating the knowledge-based components of the job, which include areas of responsibility, reporting channels and the like.
By giving transitioning leaders this necessary information up front, you can reduce the potential for future mistakes and free them up to focus on other important aspects of the job.
The study suggests that leaving them to figure these things out on their own, through trial and error, will impact their overall job efficiency in the initial stages, as well as the quality of their leadership over others.
The study also suggests that the “showing” aspect of helping to develop new leaders is critical in their success.
Employees who have been lucky enough to work with a great leader may require less “show and tell.” When new leaders who have had this benefit in the past are paired with supervisors who don’t put in the proper time and effort in training, they bounce back better than those who haven’t ever worked with great leaders.
But don’t be despondent if the person you’re training has not had this benefit of working with a great leader before. The research shows that these employees often see the greatest gains from working with a “show and tell” supervisor.
WALK THE TALK
In conclusion, training that provides both showing and telling gives transitioning leaders the greatest chance for success. Showing without telling leaves the new leader navigating the occasionally rough waters of organizational structures and processes alone. Telling without showing often leaves the new leader struggling to figure out appropriate behavioral responses to organizational situations.
If you’re involved in training and developing leaders for a new role, the big take-away is that you need to spend time telling them the ins and outs of the job and showing them effective leadership in context. Be the leader you want them to be, and give them a head start by telling them inside information that will help them navigate their new job role. It will save everyone time, and allow them to focus their attention on the people they’re leading.
It’s Not All About the Money? The Role of Career Values in the Engagement of Recent College Graduates
As many college seniors wrap up their final year of college and prepare to enter the “real world”, many of them panic at the frequently asked question, “what are your plans for after graduation?” This question, which subsequently implies “do you have a job lined up after graduation?” presents an almost existential challenge. After all, who are we without school or work?
However, it is possible that sending out tons of resumes in the hopes of landing a job, isn’t the only thing new college graduates need to consider. The transition from college life to working life is also worthy of examination, particularly when it comes to identifying your career values before you land a job that may not be right for you. Recent research has examined the influence of college students’ career values and the fit of these values with the organization’s values on their subsequent work engagement once they enter the workforce.
Specifically, these authors were interested in examining how work engagement was affected by career values that were intrinsic (arising from inside the individual) versus extrinsic (arising from outside forces). Both intrinsic and extrinsic career values drive an employee’s motivation to pursue work goals. However, intrinsic career values are rewards that come from the actual experience of working, such as employees’ interest in their work, while extrinsic career values are rewards that arise from external work experiences, such as income. To explore the role of college students’ intrinsic and extrinsic career values in the transition from college to the workplace, this study followed individuals from their final years in college to their entry into the workforce, two years later.
The study revealed that intrinsic career values held by individuals in their final years of college were tied to their engagement in their work later on, while extrinsic career values that individuals’ held in college did not continue to hold much sway. When working within an organization with career values that fit well with their own, employees were more engaged than individuals whose career values fit poorly with the organization’s values.
This is exciting news. It means that organizations can and should turn their focus from extrinsic rewards, like salary and big offices, and instead focus more on rewards that motivate employees through intrinsic engagement in challenging tasks. Additionally, soon-to-be college graduates should focus, not only on finding a job when they graduate, but also on finding a job within an organization whose career values align with their own.
Be in Charge of Your Workplace Well-being
As working professionals, the better part of our days are spent at the office. Naturally then, workplace well-being plays an important role in the overall well-being of a working professional. So what does workplace well-being really mean, and what are the factors that influence it?
Unlike what most people believe, recent research reveals that workplace well-being is not solely dependent on conditions prevalent within an organization, such as policies and structure. This has profound implications. It suggests that workplace well-being is not controlled by management alone; instead, it is greatly affected by individual traits and behavior that can be nurtured to an organization’s advantage.
Well-being can be understood in terms of an interplay between individual characteristics (personality and behavior) and the organization. The rules within an organization will be well received, if an individual perceives a certain level of transparency. This will enable employees to be more open and involved in the overall well-being of the organization and also with each other. Some structural factors within an organization are related to employee satisfaction. Aspects like salary and job content contribute toward workplace well-being, but affect different individuals differently. Therefore workplace well-being is a product of both a good fit between an individual and an organization, and high quality relationships between colleagues.
Factors like organizational functions, physical environment, and communication are objective features that also affect workplace well-being and must be controlled in order to create a great place to work. However, it may come as a surprise to many that these are only the objective elements that we know affect workplace well-being. While more subjective individual characteristics, like being positive, good self-esteem, intrinsic motivation, openness, and resilience, among various other factors, greatly affect well-being overall.
The good news is that training programs can be designed to nurture these desirable traits and to control unwanted behavior, effectively complementing the organization’s positive features. With suitable training and development programs behavior can be molded, creating well-being by empowering each individual to seek positive attitudes and behaviors that guarantee greater success. Additionally, HR personnel can use this information for selection purposes, seeking out both the correct skill set for a position and a good fit between the candidate and the organization.
It is imperative that individuals working within an organization realize that they are as vitally responsible for the well-being of the firm, as any manager or company policy. However, despite these discoveries, management should remain responsible for creating an environment that will bring out the best in their employees.
So the next time you are sitting at your desk feeling blocked, trapped or stuck, do not resort to blaming factors like management and your office structure. Rather remember that you are largely responsible for your current situation, and you can change it by embracing the right characteristics to create well-being at your office.
Middle Skills Gap: Why are employers struggling to fill certain positions?
While Americans are searching high and low for work, knocking on every recruiter’s door, struggling to land a job, there are open positions right under their noses for which employers just can’t find enough qualified candidates. In fact, shortages of qualified applicants for “middle skills jobs” (jobs that require postsecondary technical training and education) are a growing problem the nation. Some companies have even resorted to contracting their work abroad – a solution with many logistical downsides.
What’s the best fix to this predicament? Instead of waiting for candidates with the appropriate skills to come along, organizations can develop training programs to fill this “middle skills gap.” Unfortunately many organizations hesitate to invest in such training. After all, what if competitors decide to save time and money by simply snatching these skilled employees away? Why invest in training and developing your workforce, if it makes your employees more attractive to other firms and enables your employees to jump ship, taking the skills you’ve taught them and the valuable human capital they’ve acquired at your firm to your competitor?
No need to panic just yet, Kochan, Finegold & Osterman have a couple of suggestions for employers tackling this difficult situation. For starters, employers and unions in the same regions and industries should band together and combine forces to train and produce top candidates. Also, a shift in the traditional approach to education must be made. Lessons should be taken from the classroom to the boardroom. Students need simulated work situations and opportunities like internships and cooperative degree programs, or “co-ops,” which allow them hands-on experience and real world application of the concepts they learn in class. Employers should partner with universities and institutions of higher education to not only show students what a career in these fields and at their firm would look like, but also to encourage these student to visualize this as their own future.
How valuable are co-ops and internships? Have you ever participated in a co-op or internship program? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
When women don’t reach the C-suite as often as men, benevolent sexism may be to blame
Topic: Gender, Discrimination, Development
Publication: Journal of Management (NOV 2012)
Article: Benevolent sexism at work: Gender differences in the distribution of challenging developmental experiences
Authors: King, E. B., Botsford, W., Hebl, M. R., Kazama, S., Dawson, J. F., & Perkins, A.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
Women are breaking the glass ceiling and entering higher levels of organizations. To be successful, women need to get the same developmental experiences as men, and both men and women seem to be getting about the same number of developmental experiences. But if this is the case, why then are there fewer women than men reaching the very highest levels of the organization?
Eden King and her colleagues recently conducted a series of studies in an attempt to answer this question. They found that although the number of developmental experiences is fairly similar between men and women, the types of experiences differ. Men are given more challenging experiences than women are, and this isn’t because women don’t want more challenging experiences. It’s because managers choose to give more challenging developmental experiences to men.
The findings from these studies seem to occur because some managers are benevolently sexist. For example, they may feel that they need to provide for and protect women, but not that they are any better than women. Men who held these beliefs about women tended to provide fewer challenging developmental opportunities to female subordinates, but men who didn’t hold these beliefs more often gave equally challenging opportunities to male and female subordinates. Women, regardless of their beliefs, also generally gave equally challenging opportunities to male and female subordinates.
These findings suggest that women who want to advance need to seek out challenging developmental experiences, because they may not be getting those experiences otherwise. Organizations need to ensure that both men and women are provided with equally challenging developmental opportunities, and managers must understand that even well-meant attitudes toward women may actually be discriminatory.
King, E. B., Botsford, W., Hebl, M. R., Kazama, S., Dawson, J. F., & Perkins, A. (2012). Benevolent sexism at work: Gender differences in the distribution of challenging developmental experiences. Journal of Management, 38, 1835-1866. doi: 10.1177/0149206310365902
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
The New Deal at Work: Breaking Traditional Organizational Development Boundaries (IO Psychology)
Topic: Development, Organizational Commitment
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior
Article: Protean and Boundaryless Career Attitudes and Organizational Commitment: The Effects of Perceived Supervisor Support
Authors: K. Ovgu Cakmak-Otluoglu
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood, M.S.
The last few decades have brought many changes to the world of work. For vocational scholars, one shift in particular has gained much recent research attention – the introduction, adoption, and popularity of the boundaryless career. In years past, organizations and their employees bought into the traditional career model which stressed early organizational entry, retention, upward mobility primarily based on seniority, tall organizational hierarchies, and great behavioral control, in order to foster perceptions of organizational support, satisfaction and therefore decrease turnover. In contrast, the boundaryless career mentality (also generally referred to as protean career mentality) is characterized by altered career trajectories and boundaryless organizational relations which emphasize life-long learning and skill development while offering high performing employees the promise of ‘employability’ across organizations rather than continued employment within one company. Although this new mentality has lead to greater flexibility, costs in terms of low organizational commitment, and therefore, shortened organizational tenure may result.
The current study sought to test just that: Does the trend in boundaryless career attitudes negatively impact organizational commitment? Boundaryless career attitudes were assessed by items tapping an employee’s degree of self-directed career management, desire for a value-driven career orientation, preference for organizational mobility, and the extent to which he/she possesses a “boundaryless” mindset. Three types of organizational commitment were assessed: affective commitment (i.e., feelings of organizational loyalty), continuance commitment (i.e., feelings that the costs of leaving the organization out-weight the perceived benefits), and normative commitment (i.e., feelings that it is right to not leave the company). Supervisor support for career development was also examined because if a supervisor takes an active role in identifying and developing their employee’s career goals, this action could possibility lead to feelings of increased organizational commitment on the part of their employees even when these employees hold high boundaryless career attitudes.
The study results show two main findings: First, generally speaking, all three types of organizational commitment are negatively impacted by employees holding boundaryless career attitudes. This means that employees who identify with a broader career development trajectory extending outside the functional walls of their organization and who make career decisions based on their own, personalized goals rather than internalizing the goals of the organization, in general, experience lower levels of commitment to their organization. Interestingly, however, the organizational mobility preference facet of boundaryless career attitudes was not found to be significantly related to organizational commitment suggesting that although boundaryless employees indicated a preference to change organizations, this does not seem to impact their commitment to their current organization. Secondly, although no support was found for supervisor career development support to assuage the negative effects of boundaryless career attitudes, higher supervisor support was linked to higher levels of employee organizational commitment (specifically, affective commitment and normative commitment).
With the trend in boundayless career attitudes quickly replacing the traditional career mentality, what can organizations do insure a commitment workforce? For one, employers should understand that just because an employee is trying to take their career development into their own hands, and thus, adopting a more boundaryless career attitude, does not mean that this employee will turnover. Supervisors should work to support the aspects of the boundaryless career mentality that in turn can benefit both the organization and the employee such as, providing performance-related feedback, supplying information about internal promotions, and supporting the employee’s educational and training endeavors.
source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Business_People_g201-MultiRacial_Business_Team_p66154.html
Want increased performance? Provide social support (IO Psychology)
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2009)
Article: An Intervention to Increase Social Support and Improve Performance
Authors: Paul Freeman, Tim Rees, and Lew Hardy
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.
Can social support improve performance? According to Rees and Hardy, the four types of social support are emotional support, which refers to listening and talking things through; esteem support, such as emphasizing the positives; informational support, which includes advice and feedback; and tangible support, such as money and resources.
In investigating the relationship between social support and performance, Freeman, Rees, and Hardy tested the efficacy of increased social support on the performance of three golfers. It was found that social support increased the performance of all of the golfers. Though this study had a very small sample size, the results may still be helpful. For example, if employers ask how their employees are doing, congratulate them after their successes, and encourage them after their failures, they may see an increase in the performance of their department and ultimately the company’s bottom line.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
To Praise or Not to Praise (IO Psychology)
Publication: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1998) Article: Praise for Intelligence Can Undermine Children’s Motivation and Performance
Authors: C. M. Mueller & C. S. Dweck
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.
Imagine that you are the head of a department and have nine employees that report to you. When one does well, do you praise him or her for performance or effort? Do you say, “Great work on closing that deal,” a type of praise focused on performance, or do you tell your employee, “Way to really work hard,” a praise focused more on effort. While you mull that over, consider a study of fifth graders. Though a school and business are different in the demographics of the population and the task of the organization, as the goal of a school is typically to educate while the goal of a business is to generate profit, they are similar in that they are both contexts in which there is a supervisor-type figure, a teacher in a school and a boss or manager in a business, that is responsible for the performance of his or her direct reports (i.e., students or employees). In their study that explored the relationship between praise and performance, Mueller and Dweck found that when children were praised for effort, they performed better than those who had been praised for ability. Children who were congratulated for their hard work solved more problems successfully than those who were told that they were smart. Further, it was also found that those praised for effort have learning goals (i.e., aspire to improve and learn more), high levels of task persistence and task enjoyment, and a tendency to attribute setbacks to a lack of effort. In contrast, those who were praised for being intelligent had performance goals (i.e., aspire to get perfect grades), low levels of task persistence and task enjoyment, and a tendency to attribute setbacks to a lack of ability. These results were found through six randomized-control studies that examined, among other variables, the goals, persistence, learning goals, task enjoyment, attribution of failure, theory of intelligence, and performance on a problem-solving task of hundreds of fifth graders. These results suggest that praising an individual for how hard he or she worked instead of what a great job he or she did has many benefits, including increasing performance. If these results hold and are applicable to adults in a business setting, managers and heads of departments may want to evaluate how they praise their employees.
Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 33-52. Author’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management