How do backup plans affect our ability to achieve goals? Sometimes, we’re just not sure whether we can achieve our goals, especially when it comes to important domains like getting a job, pitching a product to a potential client, or securing a loan to start a business.
Last month, I-O Psychologists met in California to share the latest cutting-edge research. The 31st annual conference of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) was a huge success. We’ve partnered with numerous SIOP presenters, and they’ve provided us with the nitty-gritty on some of the very best presentations, which we now offer to you in a multi-part series.
The American Dream symbolizes the opportunity for individuals from any social class or background to achieve occupational success via a “rags to riches” transformation. In fact, some of the most successful CEOs were born into very humble beginnings, including Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Ursula Burns (Xerox), and Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs).
Leader decision making is an important topic that affects all organizational leaders. Leaders are often faced with unique challenges that test their abilities to manage diverse teams and situations. They are forced to make hard choices involving satisfying the needs of the organization and those of the employees, which can sometimes cause conflict.
Evaluation of leaders is becoming an increasingly important workplace topic. This is especially so, because some research suggests that racial disparities within the US workforce have increased over the last decade, as some minority groups are greatly underrepresented in positions of management. There may be a number of reasons for this, but new research (Hernandez, Avery, Tonidandel, Hebl, Smith, & McKay, 2015) suggest that one reason could be biased appraisals of leaders (i.e. evaluations of performance, value and competence) that occur due to characteristics of individuals in the group. This means that the racial composition of the leader’s group, influences opinions of that leader’s effectiveness.
Unethical employees can plague a workplace, costing companies money as well as their reputations. But organizations don’t always have fool-proof ways to combat unethical behavior. New research by Kouchaki and Wareham (2015) has identified one type of workplace activity that may lead employees to increase unethical behavior. Using state-of-the-art equipment, they were able to measure physiological changes in certain employees that may have caused them to act unethically. So what is the culprit? What makes certain employees act unethically?
Whether we like it or not, emotions can be a powerful force when it comes to making workplace decisions. This tendency can be exploited when an argument is framed in emotional terms in order to persuade listeners. While this fact has been recognized for centuries, recent research has been investigating how emotional expression can shape or change others’ attitudes. For example, think of a disgruntled colleague expressing anger at a new policy change within the organization. Would this display of strong emotion affect your attitude and opinions? Recent research (Van Kleef, van der Berg & Heerdink, 2014) explored how emotional expressions influence attitude formation, and helped determine under which circumstances this could happen.
How powerful is feedback in the workplace? Did you know that it can affect the behavior of those in charge? In organizations, there are those who allocate resources and those who must accept what is allocated to them, be it office space, work assignments, or money. Past research paints a rather negative view of how those in charge (or “power-holders”) balance their self-interest with the interests of their subordinates. Previous research also seemed to show that those on the receiving end have little ability to affect outcomes.
We wouldn’t think that the purpose of meetings is to encourage employee participation. After all, meetings are held for a variety of specific work-related reasons. But the results of these meetings can vary incredibly. Productive meetings can include the successful collaboration of ideas, while unproductive meetings can result in decreased morale in employees. How can we do better? New research (Yoerger, Crowe, & Allen, 2015) investigated the relationship between participation in decision-making, or PDM, and employee engagement in the context of meetings.
Hiring professionals may often wonder, what is the best way to conduct a job interview? New research offers an important tip that may make applicant evaluations more accurate. During our first meetings with potential clients, investors, colleagues or romantic partners, our initial impressions and appraisal of their character influence the judgments we make about them. But at the same time we’re evaluating others, we’re often ”selling” ourselves, or making ourselves seem more attractive.
Many of us can’t imagine going a day without our caffeine of choice—coffee, energy drinks, tea, soda, or any number of others. A recent study cited in this article claims that 90% of Americans ingest some form of caffeine daily in order to overcome the effects of sleep loss. But did you know that caffeine could also help you maintain better self-control?
Research so far has concentrated on the existence of various influences that impact an individual in the workplace. To name a few: power, motivation, leadership, managers and even peers are known to have a substantial influence on employees. The current paper however, focuses on a new dimension of influence at work – ‘the self’. Authors V. K. Bohns and F. J. Flynn suggest that few individuals realize how much they influence their subordinates, fellow colleagues, and even supervisors. This has serious organizational implications.
In his recent interview in the Harvard Business Review, Ram Charan, noted author, renowned scholar, and trusted advisor to the corporate elite, shares his tips for effective decision making in the twenty-first century. As someone who has counseled senior executives and board members alike, he admits that “getting to the right answer is tougher these days.” Technological advancements and the rapid pace of change within organizations, as well as in the greater marketplace, have made strategic planning a more important but more challenging endeavor than ever before.
Entrepreneurial Leadership can loosely be defined as an approach combining a variety of tactics: acting, thinking, and creating blue prints of endless opportunities. These opportunities are created for the leader, the organization, and society at large. Every leader at some point in time has either consciously or unintentionally employed Entrepreneurial Leadership. So what really is Entrepreneurial Leadership, what makes it so powerful and how can it be acquired?
Deloitte Consulting is giving new meaning to the term “cross-selling,” a term in every consultant’s vernacular. In a nutshell, the traditional use of the word refers to the selling of additional products or solutions to existing clients.
Organizations are increasingly realizing the benefit of redefining traditional work roles and the standard nine-to-five workweek. (You can thank your local IO psychologist or HR practitioner for that!) In today’s fast paced marketplace, job responsibilities are more fluid and the nature of work and how it gets done is evolving. Flexible work practices (FWP) including flexible schedules (control over when to start and stop working), telecommuting (working outside the office), compressed workweeks (completing a week’s work in less than five days), job sharing (two employees responsible for performing one job) and part time work are more common than ever, and employees are happy to take advantage of the greater freedom these systems allow.
Among the many personnel-related processes that organizations engage in, downsizing is undoubtedly one of the most dreaded by everyone involved. The employees themselves who lose their jobs often face financial hardships, while the employees who remain employed by the organization may face an increased workload and pressure from management during the transition. Although it is clear that downsizing is an important process that can have major impacts on many people, research in I-O psychology has generally neglected to study the way in which downsizing decisions are actually made (i.e. how it is determined which employees will stay and which will be let go). However, a new study by Dale Dwyer and Morgan Arbelo has begun to shed some light on this area.
Topic: Culture, Decision Making
Publication: Administrative Science Quarterly (SEP 2012)
Article: Appeasing Equals: Lateral Deference in Organizational Communication
Authors: Alison R. Fragale, John J. Sumanth, Larissa Z. Tiedens, and Gregory B. Northcraft
Reviewed By: Susan Rosengarten
Lets face it. We’re all addicted to checking our email. How many of us can go more than a day or two without succumbing to the suspicion that we’ve received some highly critical, time-sensitive message in our inbox that requires our immediate attention? Writing emails has become so routine for many of us that sometimes it seems like our fingers automatically start typing before our brain gets a chance to catch up and tell us what to write.
Topic: Business Strategy, Decision Making, Evidence Based Management, Statistics
Publication: Harvard Business Review (APR 2012)
Article: Good Data Won’t Guarantee Good Decisions
Authors: S. Shah, A. Horne, and J. Capellá
Reviewed By: Megan Leasher
When we were in grade school, we learned that 1 + 1 = 2. We quickly realized and celebrated the immediate success in figuring out what came after the equal sign. This celebration built faith; blind faith that we should always believe in the result of an analysis.
Topic: Decision Making, Change Management
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (MAY 2012)
Article: Blind in one eye: How psychological ownership of ideas affects the types of suggestions people adopt
Authors: M. Baer, G. Brown
Reviewed by: Kecia Bingham
Remember that time your polite suggestion to your loving partner on how he/she could pare down their “funny story” was met with an exaggerated eye roll? Or perhaps there was a time you suggested to your partner that he/she add a certain ingredient to their signature recipe and to your surprise they did. This study sought to understand why people at times seem open to feedback, while at other times seem to resist it. The authors proposed that psychological ownership (feeling a material or non-material object, such as an idea, is yours and is part of your extended self) and the nature of the change attempt determines how people respond to suggestions for change.
Topic: Decision Making, Ethics
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (FEB 2012)
Article: Contemplation and conversation: Subtle influences on moral decision making
Authors: Gunia, B. C., Wang, L., Huang, L., Wang, J., & Murninghan, J. K.
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman
In the workplace, important decisions can hinge on the ethical strength of your decision makers. It may be more profitable to make an unethical or self-interested choice, but long term consequences can be dire (I’m lookin’ at you, Wall Street). When it comes to choosing between right and wrong, it is sad to think how easily employees can be swayed. Good news! It works the other way too! You can encourage your employees to make more ethical decisions with just a couple of simple actions. How? Oh, let me tell you!
Topic: Ethics, Teams, Decision Making
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2011)
Article: Thick as Thieves: The Effects of Ethical Orientation and Psychological
Safety on Unethical Team Behavior
Authors: M.J. Pearsall & A.P. Ellis
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Individuals faced with ethical dilemmas are always free to choose between their perceptions of right and wrong. But some situations are more complicated than that. What happens when an entire team must collectively decide what to do? What factors might sway the group decision in favor of acting unethically? According to research by Pearsall and Ellis (2011), certain types of groups are more prone to ethical violations than others.
Topic: Teams, Decision Making
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2010)
Article: A Multilevel Model of Minority Opinion Expression and Team Decision-Making Effectiveness
Authors: G. Park, R.P. DeShon
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Pop quiz, hot shot. There’s a meeting in a conference room. Your team seems to reach quick consensus, but with a flash of independent thought, you see through the group’s flawed logic and are baffled by their oversights. You must now decide if you should rock the boat and voice your minority opinion. What do you do?
In light of the continuing recession – an aftermath of the still recent 2008 crash – it seems appropriate to discuss corporate strategy. Companies have a lot to prepare for, rather than look forward to, in the coming decade. Some will react to weak growth and rising capital by retreating to the home market, using the word “global” to reference “economic slowdown” rather than true globalization. This reaction, however, could be a poor decision for firms that are based outside of the developed world. With low per capita incomes in developing countries, there is room for significant growth. Regardless of company location, it is imperative for managers to reevaluate strategy if they are to pursue a global strategy.
Topic: Decision Making
Publication: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Article: Knowing others’ preferences degrades the quality of group decisions (MAY 2010)
Author: A. Mojzisch, S. Schulz-Hardt
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague
Not too long ago I wrote a review about a technique for generating ideas called “brainwriting.” According to Heslin (2009), asking individuals to generate ideas independently before pooling them with a group is likely to improve the final quality of ideas (compared with traditional group brainstorming) – largely because this independent initial process eliminates social pressures associated with group decisions. A recent article by Mojzisch and Schulz-Hardt (2010) provides some support for these ideas.
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (May, 2010)
Article: The Role of Authority Power in Explaining Procedural Fairness Effects
Authors: M. van Dijke, D. De Cremer, D.M. Mayer
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Of course it always pays to be fair to your employees, right? Not always, suggests research by van Dijke, De Cremer, and Mayer (2010). They explain that there are distinct advantages to treating people fairly, but only if the supervisor possesses a high level of power.
Topic: Decision Making
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Article: Do we listen to advice just because we paid for it? The impact of advice cost on its use.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger
Now, presumably, expensive advise is really good advice, right? I mean, if a consultant charges big bucks, then she must know what she is doing, right?
I have never seen such a long article with no punch line. Taylor, Kan Shi, and Borman, armed with data from four different countries and elaborate theory-based hypotheses were at the beginning of a great rags-to-riches story (think the first 45 minutes of any Mighty Ducks movie). Unfortunately, the findings fell flat, at least in a world governed by the rule that p must be < .05. But that’s OK, the findings are still interesting!
Topic: Feedback, Decision Making
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Article: Use of absolute and comparative performance feedback in absolute and comparative judgments and decisions.
Blogger: James Grand
Few people missed Michael Phelps’ performance during this past Summer Olympics—8 gold medals in 8 races, setting 7 world records in the process (the one race he didn’t get the world record? He only set the new Olympic record…slacker).
Topic: Decision Making, Judgement
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Cognition, capabilities, and incentives: Assessing firm response to the fiber-optic revolution.
Blogger: Katie Bachman
Well, it’s sometimes good to confirm what we already know (lucky for this article). In this case the learning is that he (or she) who is in charge makes the rules. Looking at CEOs from 71 communications firms, Kaplan makes a link between the interest of these CEOs in new technology, and the likelihood of putting the new technology into place. Add to that a couple of mundane (and as one I/O AT WORK reviewer commented, obvious) hypotheses that firms with experience in the new technology will be more likely to adopt it and that positive incentives are important. Any kid who has ever sold lemonade knows that to be successful you need a willing market and the ability to actually make lemonade (or at least know where to buy it). The force that could keep this article from collapsing in on itself is around the interactions between CEOs and investment moderated by incentives and experience, but instead the author flopped around a little before proposing competing hypotheses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for exploration, but saying that it could be a positive or negative relationship is about as useful a hypothesis as saying it might rain or it might be sunny today.
Ceteris paribus—all else equal—is the economist’s favorite term. It covers all manner of sins because, as we know in psychology, nothing is ever equal or same or whatever. It is the assumption of no variance and it is the mark of an economics article, which is what I have to share with you today. When I first read the title of the article, “Resolving the Commitment Versus Flexibility Tradeoff…,” I was hoping for a spiffy little article on personality traits perhaps, or maybe managerial interventions. Instead, I read a paper on the economic principles of uncertainty and resource accumulation.