Goal Orientation: Helping Team Performance or My Own Performance?


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology, (Advanced Online Publication, 2015)
Article: Outperforming Whom? A Multilevel Study of Performance-Prove Goal Orientation, Performance, and the Moderating Role of Shared Team Identification
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Not all people are motivated by the same things, and goal orientation is one way that psychologists classify what makes people tick. You might think of goal orientation as the basic underlying goal that explains what you do and why you do it. New research (Dietz, van Knippenberg, Hirst, Restubog, 2015) shows how a certain type of goal orientation can only sometimes help performance, depending on the situation.

 

GOAL ORIENTATION AT WORK

Researchers have classified several types of goal orientation that are relevant to the workplace. Employees with a learning goal orientation are moved to achieve personal mastery, while those with a performance-avoid goal orientation are motivated by a fear of negative evaluations from other people. This study focused on performance-prove goal orientation, which is when people feel the need to prove themselves to other people via achievement or even one-upmanship. Being that this type of motivation increases competition, it’s not surprising that past research has found an association with individual performance. In this study, the authors wanted to know how this dynamic affects teams.

 

TEAM IDENTIFICATION AND PERFORMANCE

The authors studied sales professionals and students, and found that having a high performance goal orientation is only sometimes beneficial to performance; it actually depends on the extent to which people on a team see themselves as being “one” with their team. This strong sense of cohesiveness, or “team identification”, changes what happens when employees feel the need to achieve and beat the competition. When team identification is strong, people may see the team as an extension of themselves, and their need to compete inspires them to help their team compete against other teams. If team identification is weak, people who need to compete will see team members as competition, and may compete against them. This can be detrimental to overall team performance.

 

RESULTS OF THE STUDY

The authors separately investigated team performance and individual performance of people on those teams. When it came to team performance, a high degree of team identification was associated with better performance when people had a performance goal orientation. In other words, with strong team cohesiveness, people who feel the need to compete will help direct the team to compete against other teams. This improves team performance.

Results were very different when it came to individual level performance. People who had a performance goal orientation performed better when team identification was low. In other words, with low team cohesiveness, people who need to compete will compete against fellow team members. This improves their own personal performance.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

This study shows that performance goal orientation (or “need to achieve”) is only sometimes beneficial. People with performance goal orientation need to compete, but the level of team cohesiveness and camaraderie will determine how these people choose to compete. When team cohesiveness is strong, efforts are directed at improving the team; when team cohesiveness is weak, efforts are directed at improving the self.

There are important managerial implications here. In the business world, and specifically in high-competition industries like sales, employees are often selected for their high-achieving inner drive. While this might be good for individual performance, modern organizations are increasingly relying on teams to get work done. In the absence of team cohesiveness, these competitive employees will look out for themselves by competing against other team members. Organizational leaders may have to consider if this is truly what they want, especially if team goals are compromised.

On the other hand, when team cohesiveness is high, competitive employees will use their “inner fire” to bolster team performance in competition with other teams. Clearly, there is an advantage to team cohesiveness. This is something organizational leaders and managers might want to remember when they attempt to improve team performance.

How to Survive Toxic Work Relationships by Thriving


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Destructive de-engergizing relationships: How thriving buffers their effect on performance
Reviewed by: Kayla Weaver

 

How can we possibly survive toxic work relationships? After all, the workplace is replete with human interaction and relationships: employees actively communicate with coworkers and supervisors in both one-on-one and team settings to complete tasks and projects. However, not all workplace relationships are positive; some are downright de-energizing. A relationship is characterized as de-energizing when it is both negative and draining, and this type of relationship can have serious implications for employees.

 

THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF DE-ENERGIZING RELATIONSHIPS

When employees engage in de-energizing interactions they use up valuable cognitive and emotional resources that may in turn affect their work-related activity. Individuals may dread interacting with a de-energizing coworker, ruminate about the interaction, and carry over these negative reactions into other work tasks and interactions. In addition, employees may spend excessive amounts of time thinking about their de-energizing relationships, which may lessen their cognitive processing abilities, such as ability to recall or comprehend information.

Even more concerning is the recent finding that de-energizing work relationships are also related to lower job performance (Gerbasi, Porath, Parker, Spreitzer, & Cross, 2015). Employees in the information technology (IT) department of a global engineering firm were asked to report the number of energizing and de-energizing relationships they had within their department. The results of the study show that employees who report more de-energizing relationships had poorer work performance than employees with fewer de-energizing relationships. Thus, de-energizing relationships may negatively affect employees’ job performance.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that all de-energizing work relationships can be remedied, which means employees may have to find mechanisms to reduce the negative effects brought on by de-energizing relationships.

 

THRIVING AT WORK

Thriving is a relatively new psychological idea that is characterized as something that people do to “navigate and change their work contexts to promote their own development” (Spreitzer, 2005, p. 537). Individuals who are thriving maintain their own personal energy stores that may be used to help counteract the deleterious effects of draining relationships. To test this relationship, the researchers conducted a second study involving 535 senior associates and principals at a management consulting firm.

Consistent with the findings from their first study, the researchers found that employees who reported a higher number of de-energizing relationships were less likely to ‘meet or exceed expectations’ on their performance evaluations. In addition, when employees’ levels of thriving increased, so did the probability that they would ‘exceed expectations’ on their performance evaluations. These findings suggest that de-energizing relationships can harm performance while thriving may be related to improved performance.

However, the most interesting finding came from individuals with both high numbers of de-energizing relationships and high levels of thriving. Individuals who experienced multiple de-energizing relationships and reported high levels of thriving had a greater probability of meeting or exceeding expectations on their performance evaluations than individuals who had multiple de-energizing relationships but reported low levels of thriving. As a result, the study shows that thriving may help to buffer against de-energizing relationships so that performance does not suffer. Thriving individuals may be more resilient than non-thrivers, allowing them to endure repeated interactions with de-energizing coworkers.

 

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

Given the negative consequences associated with de-energizing relationships, organizations should aim to improve workplace relationships among coworkers. But this task may prove to be challenging, and might require multiple interventions. For example, the authors suggest that organizations can implement 360-degree feedback processes to identify possible problems. In addition, employees who cannot avoid de-energizing relationships can try to limit these interactions, develop their level of thriving, and engage in energy management exercises throughout the workday. Finally, organizations can train and coach employees to engage in positive, collaborative behavior rather than de-energizing behavior. Coaching employees on conflict management, problem solving, and communication strategies may eliminate behavior that is perceived as de-energizing, and as a result, improve work relationships.

Organizational Newcomers: Conflict Can Lead to Worse Performance


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology, (Advanced Online Publication, 2015)
Article: Breach of Belongingness: Newcomer Relationship Conflict, Information, and Task-Related Outcomes During Organizational Socialization
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Organizational newcomers are those employees who are “just off the boat” and are still trying to figure out how work is done at their new organization. Sure, HR-led orientations may be useful for some things, but there are certainly job-related specifics that require more detailed information from people already doing the job. A newcomer’s ability to acquire this information may be the difference between good and bad job performance. New research (Nifadkar & Bauer, 2015) helps us understand what can go wrong in this process.

 

RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT AND INFORMATION SEEKING

The research was conducted longitudinally (over several different occasions) and found several relationships that explain the process of how new employees seek and receive information that is valuable to learning how to do their job. The first finding is that interpersonal or “relationship” conflict with coworkers can lead new employees to avoid asking these coworkers for the valuable information they need. The authors explain that the feeling of conflict leads to social anxiety, which makes asking for help seem risky. It makes sense, right? If I think you might put me down or yell at me, I’d probably be less likely to ask you for help.

When poor relationships with coworkers make seeking information from them more difficult, newcomers instead turn to their supervisors to seek the much needed information. According to the theory used by the authors (“belongingness theory”) people have a natural desire to establish good relationships or feel like they belong. If employees feel distant from co-workers, they may feel more drawn to supervisors, and therefore identify these supervisors as a good source of obtaining information.

 

LACK OF INFORMATION LEADS TO POOR PERFORMANCE

The authors also found that when newcomers have bad relationships with coworkers, the newcomers end up seeking less information and eventually obtain an inadequate amount of information. This is despite the fact that they may be drawn to seek this information from supervisors. It seems there is no true replacement for the type or quantity of information that can come from people working alongside of you. Results show that the overall lack of seeking and getting information led these newcomers to worse task-performance at their jobs, as measured by supervisors and by self-evaluations.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

This study shows that organizational newcomers are negatively affected by conflict with coworkers. When conflict occurs, newcomers seek less information and get less information. Ultimately their job performance suffers because of it. For this reason, say the authors, organizations may want to pay special attention to finding ways to shield newcomers from conflict. While we can’t expect relationship conflict to be eliminated entirely, we need to recognize how damaging it can be to employees who are still finding their way in the organization.

Also, say the authors, organizations need to make sure that coworkers are involved in the socialization of newcomers. Corporate organization-wide orientations have their place as far as explaining certain company policies, but there seems to be an element of job information that is uniquely gained from coworkers. This knowledge, if passed along to newcomers, can result in better job performance. Finally, when newcomers avoided their coworkers, they instead sought information from supervisors. If conflict is occurring in the workplace, managers and leaders should recognize the added role of information provider that they need to take on. This might lessen the harmful effects of relationship conflict, and help newcomers adjust and learn.

Do Telecommuters Have Better Job Performance?

 

With the dawn of the technological age upon use, telecommuters are employees who are able to work in remote locations, such as home, outside of the traditional work setting. Rather than commute into work every day, technology enables people to work virtually and perform tasks while physically apart from their colleagues and supervisors.

One of the challenges with this flexible work arrangement is that companies cannot be assured that their remote workers, or telecommuters, are performing tasks or contributing positively to the work environment compared to workers that are in the office. In fact, managerial concerns about telecommuting include the lack of face time, which might be perceived as a lack of commitment, and perceptions that employees will shirk their duties without supervision. Given that some companies—such as Yahoo—are banning telecommuting arrangements, it is critical to examine whether virtual work is actually harmful to employee performance and the general work environment.

A new study conducted with employees and their supervisors (Gajendran, Harrison, & Delaney-Klinger, 2015) provides evidence for the performance benefits of telecommuters compared to office workers. The authors found that telecommuting is associated with an increase in two types of performance: task performance and contextual performance. Task performance includes how well employees complete their job requirements and tasks, and is typically measured by supervisor ratings. Contextual performance, or organizational citizenship behaviors, are activities that contribute to the social and psychological environment of the organization and can include both interpersonal facilitation (considerate and helpful acts that benefit colleagues) and job dedication (such as working hard, taking initiative, and self-discipline).

 

WHY IS TELECOMMUTING AN ADVANTAGE?

The authors theorized that telecommuting enhances autonomy, a psychological resource that counteracts the difficult demands or strains of the job. Through perceptions of autonomy, telecommuters can reinvest their surplus resources into their work performance. In addition, several psychological theories state that the feeling of autonomy can increase intrinsic motivation and job engagement.

The authors also used various psychological theories to explain that there are negotiated agreements between employees and employers that are mutually beneficial, known as idiosyncratic deals (also called “i-deals”). From these i-deals, telecommuters feel obligated towards the person that approved their flexible work arrangement, or their supervisors, and would be motivated to work harder or more cooperatively for their supervisor. Likewise, telecommuters may feel obligated to reciprocate for the additional responsibilities that the in-office workers must assume when their colleague works remotely. In order to reduce the resentment that office coworkers may feel, telecommuters will make extra effort and go above and beyond to prove that they are assets to the office.

 

QUALITY OF EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP

In addition, the authors found that the quality of the employer-employee relationship influenced the task and contextual performance of telecommuters. Employees who had a relationship of trust and professional respect with their managers did not have as great of a performance boost when telecommuting. On the other hand, employees that had a low quality relationship with their manager, which is characterized by distrust and close monitoring, revealed a greater positive change in performance when telecommuting.

The authors also found that the difference in task performance between in-office and telecommuting employees is greater when telecommuting is less of an office norm. In other words, when telecommuting is a common practice in the office, it is seen as less special and workers are not as motivated to perform. But when telecommuting is only approved for a select few in the office, then it is viewed as more of a privilege.

 

BOTTOM LINE FOR ORGANIZATIONS

In conclusion, telecommuting did not result in worse task performance or contextual performance. In fact overall, telecommuting is associated with better performance. In some scenarios, such as when employee-employer relationships are poor, or when telecommuting is not considered the workplace norm, telecommuting may increase job performance even more. Overall, the specialness and freedom of telecommuting can motivate employees to be better workers.

Manager Personality Can Lead to Organization-Wide Performance


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Taking It to Another Level: Do Personality-Based Human Capital Resources Matter to Firm Performance?
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Is personality related to job performance? This classic I-O psychology question is still debated today, and thanks to the latest research, clearer answers are emerging. A new study (Oh, Kim, & Iddekinge, 2015) shows that the manager personality is related to important organization-wide outcomes. This finding has clear implications for selection of organizational leaders.

Past studies considered the relationship between personality and job performance at the individual level. For example, a study might investigate if outgoing or extraverted people perform better at their jobs. These studies only advance the field so far, say the current authors, because job performance is typically measured with supervisor ratings. Even when associations are found—say that extraverted people have better performance—there is room for organizational leaders to be skeptical: Even if extraverted people receive better ratings, will that really impact my company’s bottom line and make us more successful? An astute I-O psychologist would present a utility analysis showing the predicted financial gain for hiring each extraverted employee, but this might still be dismissed as confusing and overly speculative.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL PERSONALITY MEASUREMENT

This current study does better than simple individual level-analysis, and instead measures many managers within the same organizations. This allows the researchers to ascertain two important facts. The first is the average level of a personality trait that the organization’s managers have, and the second is an estimate of the typical range (or “variance”) of that personality trait in managers within the organization. Once these two metrics are evaluated, researchers can determine if organizations with certain types of employees do better than others. For example, do “extraverted organizations” fare better than “introverted organizations”?

The researchers surveyed 6,709 managers in 71 different companies. Results indicate that when organizations had managers with high levels of emotional stability, extraversion, and conscientiousness, their organizations had higher levels of managerial job satisfaction and had higher levels of labor productivity (measured by revenue per employee).

When the average levels of personality traits were considered along with the variance or “typical spread” of the personality trait, several interesting findings were reported. Organizations with higher emotional stability had higher levels of job satisfaction, labor productivity, and financial performance (measured by return on equity), and this effect was even more pronounced when there was less variance among managers (in other words, managers were more similar on emotional stability).

Additionally, higher extraversion was associated with higher financial performance, and this effect was also more pronounced when managers were more similar on extraversion.

Openness to experience and agreeableness were related to labor productivity and financial performance, respectively, and these effects were more pronounced when there was more variance, in other words managers were more spread out on the respective personality trait.

 

 

ORGANIZATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

This study shows that personality is related to organizational level success, specifically when managers are emotionally stable, extraverted, and conscientious. Results generally show that homogeneity is preferable, in other words results were better when managers had similar levels of the personality trait. This means, say the authors, that organizations might want to consider selecting employees who have these traits, and also try to create a singular organizational profile, which might encourage desired employees to initially join the company and subsequently stay as long as possible.

This study also advances the general theory and plausibility of selecting employees based on personality type. The evidence in this study may be more convincing than studies that investigate individuals and focus on performance ratings. By using aggregated organizational-level personality traits and connecting them with the most tangible measures of organizational success, the current authors make personality-based selection a more alluring proposition.

Ethical Leadership Inspires Trust and Employee Success


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Ethical Leadership: Meta-Analytic Evidence of Criterion-Related and Incremental Validity
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Ethical leadership certainly sounds like a good idea, but I-O psychologists will require scientific evidence before being convinced. Is ethical leadership something different from other effective leadership styles or behaviors, and does ethical leadership lead to anything positive in the workplace? New research (Ng & Feldman, 2015) has answered this question. Results show that ethical leadership is a real, distinct idea, and it can indeed lead to positive workplace outcomes that extend beyond the effects of other leadership styles.

 

STUDYING ETHICAL LEADERSHIP

This study was a meta-analysis, meaning it statistically combined results from many previous studies. The philosophy of meta-analysis is that combining results from many studies provides a more accurate estimation of reality than a single study in a single situation.

The researchers explain that ethical leadership occurs when leaders display appropriate and morally expected behavior in all situations. They interact ethically with the people they supervise, as well as demonstrate ethical behavior when interacting with other types of people such as their supervisors or customers. When ethical leadership is demonstrated, results show that subordinates feel more satisfaction with the leader, perceive that the leader is more effective, and have greater trust in the leader.

The authors also found that ethical leadership is related to many positive organizational outcomes, including increased job satisfaction, increased motivation, better task performance, more citizenship behavior (this is when employees go beyond formal job descriptions) and lower counterproductive work behavior (i.e. rudeness or sabotage).

Ethical leadership was also associated with lower job strains (or elements of a job that cause stress), increased commitment, increased organizational identification, and lower turnover.

 

ETHICAL LEADERSHIP LEADS TO TRUST

The authors found a factor that explains why all of the positive outcomes listed above were associated with ethical leadership. The authors used advanced statistical models to show that ethical leaders cause their subordinates to trust them more. For example, imagine a leader admits to making a mistake and marginalizing the work of an employee. The leader says that she will not make the same mistake in the future. Because the leader is seen as an ethical leader, the employee will be more likely to trust her and continue to have positive attitudes about the job and continue working hard. If the leader isn’t trusted, the employee might immediately make negative behavioral changes. The bottom line is that ethical leaders inspire trust, which inspires good work on the job.

Finally, the researchers show that ethical leadership can be can used to predict all of the positive outcomes we’ve mentioned, even when similar psychological traits are also being used in prediction. That is to say, there is something unique about ethical leadership that isn’t covered by other positive leadership styles. As an example, transformational leadership, or when leaders inspire followers to believe in some greater purpose, has also been associated with positive organizational outcomes. Yet organizations are not maximizing positive outcomes by merely hiring transformational leaders. Ethical leadership predicts some significant aspect of positive performance that is not covered by transformational leadership or other similar research-supported concepts. Ethical leadership also predicts some aspect of good performance beyond what is caused by an overall ethical organizational environment. Direct supervisors need to be ethical, not just the organizational higher-ups, say the authors.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

This study uses an impressive amount of data to show that ethical leadership is a unique concept that has very positive organizational outcomes. This means, say the authors, that organizations benefit from either training managers to display ethical leadership, or hiring ethical leaders from the start. Positive leadership in other regards will not be a substitute for this, but can work in tandem with ethical leadership to allow organizations to maximize positive outcome such as increased performance and lower turnover. Because this study identified trust as the mechanism that allows ethical leadership to work, organizations can better appreciate and focus on the importance of this interpersonal element when training leaders.

What Does Job Security Have to Do With Organizational Citizenship Behavior?


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Job Insecurity and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Exploring Curvilinear and Moderated Relationships
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Researchers have been trying to figure out if job security and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) are related. Job security is something we’ve probably all thought of, and OCB refers to workplace behavior that goes above and beyond the call of duty and helps the organization, like helping a co-worker or taking on extra responsibilities without extra compensation. Do people who have more job security perform more or less OCB? Some researchers have found that they perform more OCB, some have found that they perform less OCB, and some have found that it doesn’t matter either way. So who is right?

 

JOB SECURITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL CITIZENSHIP BEHAVIOR

Well, we have great news, because researchers Lam, Liang, Ashford, and Lee (2015) finally answered the question! They found that there is a “U-shaped” relationship between OCB and feelings of job security. It’s called U-shaped because if we plotted the data on a graph, it would look like a big letter U. As an example, there might be a U-shaped relationship between time in the workday and how energetic you feel. In the morning you feel great because you are well-rested, in the middle of the day you feel lethargic after your all-you-can-eat pasta and breadsticks lunch, and at the end of the day you feel good again because you are excited about the end of the day. Your daily experience would look like the letter U on a graph.

In this study, people who felt that their jobs were secure also performed more OCBs. The reasoning is simple: if you feel appreciated by your organization, you will also feel the need to reciprocate by going beyond your formal job obligations. As employees started to feel some insecurity about the future of their jobs, they also lowered their performance of OCB. These employees feel less appreciated, and therefore feel less of a need to reciprocate. As employees started experiencing a high level of job insecurity, fearing greatly for their jobs, they actually started increasing their performance of OCB back to a high level once again. Fearing the worst, it seems these employees were actively trying to give their employers a reason to keep their jobs.

 

THE ROLE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPITAL AND “GUANXI”

The researchers also found that there were two factors that made this U-shaped relationship even more pronounced. The first is psychological capital, which refers to having confidence, resiliency, and optimism. The second is called “guanxi”, which is a Chinese concept (this research was conducted in China) basically referring to an interconnected social network of people capable of being relied upon for assistance. In general, when job insecurity is at a medium level, people performed less OCB because they felt less of a need to reciprocate to their employers. This effect was more pronounced when employees had lower social capital and less guanxi with their supervisor.

In general, when employees felt very insecure in their jobs, they resumed higher levels of OCB, to try to save their jobs. This effect was also more pronounced among people with lower social capital and lower guanxi with their supervisors. It seems these types of people may be especially fearful of job loss and felt a greater need to compensate by performing OCB.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

This research is important because it helps organizations understand a little more about what inspires people to perform above and beyond their job descriptions. It also helps organizations understand how performance is impacted when job security is not guaranteed, an unfortunately common theme in today’s world economy. Based on these findings, employers can see the importance of increased social capital and reciprocity-based workplace relationships. These factors can limit the slide of OCB in the face of moderate job insecurity. The authors encourage use of training sessions to help employees boost resiliency and self-confidence. They also encourage social retreats or events that can help boost the quality of relationships between employees and supervisors. These changes can help workplaces functions more smoothly in times of uncertainty.

Intelligence Testing: Is It Always the Smartest Thing to Do?


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between General Mental Ability and Nontask Performance
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

Smart employees tend to be better at doing their jobs. This is considered one of the most important findings in the history of I-O research. Meta-analysis, which is a method of compiling results from many different researchers and studies, has shown that intelligence (or general mental ability) is associated with better job performance for basically any job. But there are other important components that make organizations successful besides narrowly-defined task performance (parts of a job that are in the job description). New research (Gonzalez-Mulé, Mount, & Oh, 2014) investigates whether intelligence can also predict other measures of workplace success.

Intelligence Testing: CWB vs. OCB

The authors conducted a meta-analysis to determine if intelligence is related to two major measures that are important to organizations:

  • Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) is anything that employees do that breaks organizational norms or expectations. This behavior can be directed at a coworker (i.e. bullying or harassment) or at the organization (i.e. stealing from the employer or unnecessary absences).
  • Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) refers to anything that employees do that is not formally recognized in their job description. For example, helping out a coworker or suggesting a new way of doing things that can help the organization save resources.

The Results: Intelligence Associated More with OCBs

The meta-analysis found that intelligence was associated with more OCBs, meaning that smarter employees also went beyond their job descriptions more frequently. The authors explain that smarter people are typically better at seeing the big picture, for example they may understand that helping a coworker has benefits for the organization in the long run. Also, smarter employees may sometimes have greater capacity to help out others. They may be the only ones who are capable of devising a solution to a problem that eventually helps out the organization.

However, when it came to CWBs, there was no real relationship with intelligence. The authors had predicted that smarter employees would engage in less bad behavior because they are more readily capable of seeing the dangerous outcomes such as harming the company or harming themselves by getting caught. But the data didn’t support this conclusion.

Intelligence Testing vs. Personality Testing

The authors also compared intelligence testing with personality testing to see which was generally more useful for predicting success on the job. As predicted, intelligence testing predicted better than personality testing when the outcome was task performance, or the parts of a job that are listed in a job description. When using the other outcomes of job success (OCBs and CWBs), the authors found a different story. First, when it came to organizational citizenship behavior, intelligence and personality were about equally useful in predicting which employees will go above and beyond. When it came to counterproductive work behavior, personality was actually a better predictor than intelligence.

What Does This Mean for Organizations?

This study supports the idea that the best predictor of job success is general intelligence, specifically because it has the ability to predict good old fashioned task-performance. It pays to hire smart employees, but that’s not the entire story. The conclusions here also indicate that intelligence isn’t the be-all and end-all of how to hire employees. Organizations should also have the foresight to care about extra effort and misbehavior at work. If you want employees who strive to make the workplace better for everyone, intelligence testing may still help, but it is not any better than personality testing. But if you want employees who don’t misbehave, personality testing may be the way to go.

What Type of Happy Employees Can Benefit Organizations?


Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: Putting Your Best “Face” Forward: The Role of Emotion-based Well-being in Organizational Research
Reviewed by: Winnie Jiang

 

We tend to think that organizations with happy employees are more likely to be successful. Happier employees tend to have better performance and are less likely to leave their companies. However, when asked what happy employees are like or what it means to be a happy employee, chances are people would not give consistent answers. Are happy employees those who receive higher salaries or those who enjoy higher job and life satisfaction? If both types of employees are considered happy, which type is actually beneficial to organizations?

 

A recent review by Wright (2014) uses existing research to provide insight on the definition of happiness and on which type of happy employee benefits organizations. The article reviews four dimensions of happiness and suggests that the emotion-based dimension plays the most important role in predicting favorable organizational variables such as job performance and employee retention.

 
FOUR DIMENSIONS OF HAPPINESS

The author adopted the happiness model from Cropanzano and Wright (2014), which says that there are at least four dimensions of happiness. The first one is objective life conditions. This dimension suggests that happiness is based on objective facts regarding quality of life, including wealth, health, clean and safe living environment, and so on.

The second is called eudaimonic well-being. This dimension originates from Aristotle’s view of happiness and it suggests that happiness comes from whether a person sees meaning and a sense of purpose in life.

The third dimension is life satisfaction. Happiness of this dimension is based on a person’s overall satisfaction about life or satisfaction about a specific domain such as a job or relationship.

 

EFFECT OF HAPPINESS ON INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL OUTCOMES

According to the author, despite the increasing interest in employees’ happiness, there has been limited research examining the effects of the first three dimensions of happiness on organizational outcomes. Therefore, the question of whether there are direct relationships between the first three categories of happiness and organizational outcomes such as performance and retention rates is still unclear.

However, the fourth dimension – emotion-based happiness – has been found by many studies to positively affect favorable individual and organizational outcomes. At the individual level, these outcomes include being more outgoing, having higher self-esteem, higher motivation, better job performance, less likely to be depressed or pessimistic, less likely to turnover, and less likely to suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. At the organizational level, these outcomes include higher performance and retention rate.

 

IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

So what type of happy employees benefit organizations? This article answers that employees who are emotionally happy or those with more positive than negative feelings are the ones who can benefit organizations. Because, as the author suggests, results from existing research have shown that emotionally happy employees have a direct positive effect on organizations, it is organizations’ best bet to focus on enhancing employees’ positive feelings and emotions and trying to lower their negative feelings and emotions. Possible ways to foster employees’ positive feelings and emotions at work include promoting smiling and praising, having regular happy hours, and encouraging managers to care about each employee on a personal level.

Employee Sleepiness is Harmful for the Workplace


Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Sleepiness at Work: A Review and Framework of How the Physiology of Sleepiness Impacts the Workplace
Reviewed by: Ben Sher

 

Sleepiness is what happens when people feel a strong biological urge to sleep. Unlike fatigue, which usually occurs when becoming exhausted by hard work, sleepiness has several different causes. These causes include poor sleep quantity (not getting enough sleep), poor sleep quality (waking up often while trying to sleep or not achieving a deep level of sleep), a disruption to the circadian rhythm (a person’s natural sleep cycle), or through drugs or disorders that affect the central nervous system. A new review by Mullins, Cortina, Drake, and Dalal (2014) shows why organizations should care about employee sleepiness.

 

WHAT CAUSES SLEEPINESS?

The authors mention two major work-related factors that can eventually lead to sleepiness for employees. Job demands are elements of the job that require effort. When these job demands are excessively high, employees may experience reduced quality of sleep and reduced quantity of sleep. For example, employees may be under enormous pressure to make a deadline or to complete a project. This might lead employees to work later and have less time for sleep, or to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

The second major work-related factor that can lead to sleepiness is irregular work-schedules. We’d probably consider a normal work-schedule to be “nine-to-five” for five days a week, or something similar to that. But some employees work nights, weekends, or long shifts that may last 24 hours at a time. These schedules can wreak havoc on the body’s circadian rhythm, or natural sleep cycle. This can cause employees to receive an inadequate amount of sleep or an inadequate quality of sleep.

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EMPLOYEES GET SLEEPY?

Employees who experience sleepiness experience two major physiological changes. They become worse at information processing, and their feelings are affected. Information processing is the “brain power” that employees need to get their jobs done. When sleepiness occurs, people can’t think as fast, can’t remember as well, can’t learn as effectively, and can’t pay attention as long. Concerning feelings, employees who are experiencing sleepiness will experience less positive emotion and more negative emotion. Additionally, they will have poor emotion recognition and processing, meaning they might incorrectly interpret the mood of a fellow employee or fail to handle an emotional situation sensitively and tactfully. It’s easy to see how these deficiencies can cause negative outcomes at work.

 

HOW DOES SLEEPINESS AFFECT THE WORKPLACE?

The authors note several examples of research supported outcomes of workplace sleepiness. First, sleepy workers are less productive. They react more slowly, make more mistakes, and forget to do things. Second, sleepy employees have worse adaptive performance. This means that they will not be able to figure out how to handle changing situations and novel challenges, things which are becoming increasingly common in the modern workplace. Additionally, they will have trouble multi-tasking or quickly switching between different tasks, also common elements of the modern workplace.

Next, sleepy workers have worse contextual performance. Contextual behavior is anything done to help improve the work environment, and can include praiseworthy interpersonal behavior or simply going above and beyond job requirements. When employees are suffering from sleepiness, they are more likely to mismanage or misinterpret an interpersonal exchange, which can lead to poor communication or arguments. Also, sleepy employees tend to experience a greater range of feelings, including exposure to more negative feelings. It’s easy to see why someone in that state will have trouble contributing to the work environment in a positive, healthy manner.

Finally, sleepy employees are more accident prone, engage in more deviant behavior such as absenteeism, and exhibit more withdrawal behavior, which is when employees try to avoid things that they consider unpleasant. These too have the potential to greatly impact workplaces and organizations in a negative way.

 

WHAT CAN ORGANIZATIONS DO?

Hopefully by now you are convinced that employee sleepiness is highly detrimental in the workplace. But how can you prevent it? One strength of this article is that they identified several things that can eventually lead to sleepiness, including job demands and irregular work schedules. Asking employees to do an increasingly heavier load of work may seem to have short-term benefits for the organization. However, if the employee experiences sleepiness as a result, the ultimate effect could be negative for the employee and the organization. Similarly, organizations who are forced to use shift work or other irregular schedules should seek out ways to ensure that scheduling allows employees to maximize their ability to get adequate sleep.