workplace privacy

Workplace Privacy is a Growing Need

Workplace privacy is not something we think of often, but a new review by Congdon, Flynn, and Redman (2014) has highlighted this interesting and important topic. First, the review points to a growing percentage of US workers who are concerned about workplace privacy, say they can’t concentrate at their workstations, and don’t have access to quiet places where they can focus on getting work done. Why is this happening?

One of the reasons they suggest for this rise in the concern for privacy is social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. Large amounts of personal information are available on social media sites, which may make people feel vulnerable. Combine this with a workplace where there is no privacy, and employees may feel as if they are being watched the whole time. This may be causing people to crave more alone time.


career setbacks

Back to the Drawing Board: Surviving Career Setbacks

Career setbacks can be pretty brutal. When everything seems to be going right, sometimes we are faced with unexpected challenges that change the course of our careers and our lives. So what do you do if you’re laid off, didn’t get promoted, or didn’t make the cut? A new article by Marks, Mirvis, and Ashkenas (2014) has highlighted three scientifically supported steps that you can take:


Taking Feedback to Heart: How To Find the Coaching In Criticism

We all know that constructive feedback is necessary for personal growth and development. Simply put, you can’t improve your performance if you don’t know what you need to work on.

But, with that being said, at times feedback can be a little difficult to swallow. After all, no one likes hearing that they’re doing something wrong, or having their weaknesses pointed out.

So how can you become a stronger person, and learn to take feedback without becoming defensive or getting your feelings hurt? The following six steps suggested by authors Sheila Heen & Douglas Stone (2014) will teach you how to “find the coaching in criticism.”


Managing Your Emotions: Four Simple Steps to Success

Fact: All people think negative thoughts from time to time.

We may feel sad or gloomy, or find ourselves in a funk that’s hard to shake. We’re human; it happens. Attempting to suppress such feelings (or even worse, buying into them) can leave a person feeling drained.

Strong leaders know that it’s okay to think undesirable thoughts on occasion. But being a strong person means keeping things in perspective and not letting these thoughts take over. Managing your emotions is a key skill that can benefit everyone, both personally and professionally.


3 Tips for Effective Decision Making from the Expert

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.


How to Increase Your Productivity: Setting Priorities

How many of us frequently find ourselves with a never-ending to-do list, wishing there were more hours in a day? We want to achieve our goals and increase productivity, but there’s just no way to get it all done. Well, the trick to boosting your productivity is not necessarily having more time to accomplish your tasks, but instead simply making the most of what time you do have by setting priorities.


Genuine Leadership: How sincerity is the key to successful organizational leadership

By now surely everyone knows that the key to successful organizational leadership is sincerity. Genuine Leadership — that is, leadership by individuals who make an effort to be open and honest in their dealings — has become the gold standard for successful team building and a basic expectation for professional advancement. No one wants to work for someone who is cold or aloof. Master networkers and business leaders earn their titles by being authentic and real. However, there’s a fine line between being genuine, on the one hand, and over-sharing or talking about yourself in a self-deprecating manner, on the other. If you ever hope to be seen as a credible source, you want people to be able to trust in you and take you seriously. That means you must be able to walk a tightrope between the two extremes. Not an easy task. Fortunately, the authors, Rosh and Offerman (2013), have explored this issue and bring us new information regarding leadership psychology that provides some helpful tips and advice on how to balance along that line.


HR 101: Human Resource Management isn’t as simple as it looks

When people think of Human Resources, they usually think of those pesky reminders that flood their inbox nagging them to fill out paperwork, or perhaps they think of performance appraisals. In my experience, it’s usually one or the other. Many employees see HR as ‘the fuzzy side’ of the business. To most of us, it’s the department that deals with people-related issues no one else wants to get involved in and that everyone else pretends are not there. Of late HR has a gotten a pretty bad rep, but as line managers increasingly begin to take on traditional human resource management and development tasks, they’ll find that there’s more to human resource management than meets the eye.


Company Culture: Does Your Organization Measure Up?

Much like finding a great deal online or getting out of a speeding ticket, designing a company culture that enables employees to do their best work is more of an art than a science. Managing internal and external demands to ensure that your people strategy aligns with your business strategy is not easy, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach that guarantees success.

However, Goffee and Jones (2013) provide some guidance for those looking to create and foster a work environment where employees do more than just achieve their given targets: they push the envelope, demonstrate thought leadership, exceed expectations, and thrive.


How to Become Indispensable

If you’re early in your career and anything like me, you’re probably eager for advancement and seeking opportunities to gain experience with and proficiency in your intended line of work. Or, for those of you who are seasoned professionals, you may be wondering how you can become indispensable in your company or an expert in your field.


Leave a Penny, Take a Penny: Effective Giving

You don’t have to be an I/O psychologist or HR professional to have observed that there are people in the world who are “givers” and others who are “takers.” Givers provide support and assistance to their colleagues, friends, and family expecting nothing in return. They’re classic ‘do-gooders.’ Then you’ve got the takers; the people who take what they can and rarely reciprocate.


Clueless Leaders Need Warmth and Competence

What makes for a successful leader? It’s an ongoing, circular debate. One day you hear that leaders are born, not made, then the next day you are invited to a training seminar on the top ten leadership tips to practice. I cannot even imagine the number of books out there about how to be a great leader… (it may exceed the number of times Cher says “As if?!” in Clueless. That many. Whatever.)

In, “Connect then Lead” the authors take findings from social psychology research and apply them to leadership effectiveness. The authors identify two key leadership attributes that people are first drawn to when judging others: warmth and competence. They suggest that warmth and competence are not only the primary factors in how we judge others, but these two attributes alone account for a vast majority in the impressions we form of others.


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.


Keeping Your Business Model Afloat Before It Goes Under Water

At some point in our lives we’ve all had that nagging worry of being replaced or displaced by someone younger, smarter, better looking, or more talented. Well, navigating the business world is much the same. You’ve got to be vigilant and constantly on the lookout for new products or services that come to market and threaten to steal your client base.


Good Stats Make Us Uncomfortable (IO Psychology)

Topic: Organizational Performance, Statistics, Strategic HR
Publication: Harvard Business Review (OCT 2012)
Article: The True Measures of Success
Authors: M. J. Mauboussin
Reviewed By: Megan Leasher

Down2In striving for profitability, companies often rely on key indicators of organizational performance.  Common indicators like sales growth, customer loyalty, and earnings per share often guide strategy decisions and resource allocation.  But sometimes key indicators may not be that “key” after all.  They may have little or no true connection to profitability.


Give ’em the One-Two Punch!

Topic: Business Strategy, Change Management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (DEC 2012)
Article: Two Routes to Resilience
Authors: Clark Gilbert, Matthew Eyring and Richard N. Foster
Reviewed By: Susan Rosengarten

PR_009-_SI_-_14_03_12-390Strategists at every organization worry about keeping their companies’ products and services relevant for the twenty first century. With new electronics brought to market before you can say the word “i-phone,” its no wonder companies are finding it harder to compete and maintain market share, yet alone dominate their industries. What’s the secret to not just staying afloat, but flourishing in this economy? Well, Gilbert, Eyring and Foster have the answer for you in their article “Two Routes to Resilience.”


Take the Lead!

Topic: Business Strategy, Change Management, Leadership
Publication: Harvard Business Review (JAN/FEB 2013)
Article: Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills
Authors: Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Steve Krupp, and Samantha Howland
Reviewed By: Susan Rosengarten

imagery_09_11_08_000051Whether you set your sites on becoming CEO or simply want to take your lemonade stand to the next level, there are a couple of essential skills you’ll need to have. According to Schoemaker, Krupp and Howland, mastery of these six skills will help you navigate the murky waters of the 21st century and become a strategic leader in your own right.


Job Redesign: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (IO Psychology)

Topic: Talent Management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (JAN/FEB 2013)
Article: Redesigning Knowledge Work
Authors: Martin Dewhurst, Bryan Hancock and Diana Ellsworth
Reviewed By: Susan Rosengarten

TR_PR_7_30_10_09_-_290More and more organizations are finding ways to outsource busy work, enabling employees to focus their time on tasks that require specialized knowledge and expertise.

Skilled laborers like engineers, scientists and salespeople are harder to find these days, and according to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, a talent shortage in these areas is going to get worse in the coming years. Therefore, organizations are redesigning high-value knowledge job roles and contracting external firms to take care of routine operations so employees can focus their attention and efforts on work only they can perform. This not only helps to address talent shortages but according to Dewhurst, Hancock, and Ellsworth it also lowers costs and increases job satisfaction.


Managing Change for the Twenty-First Century

Topic: Business Strategy, Change Management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (NOV 2012)
Article: Accelerate!
Author: John P. Kotter
Reviewed By: Susan Rosengarten

Organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of consumer, industry and worldwide change. Technological advancements as well as cross-cultural integrations have allowed for tremendous economic opportunities. At the same time though, the stakes are much higher, and the threats more real. Today’s leaders feel progressively more pressure to carefully consider how their investments in new ventures and R&D to remain competitive in changing markets will impact stakeholders’ perceptions and affect their bottom line.


Inviting the Inquiry of Science into Strategic Planning (IO Psychology)

Topic: Business Strategy, Creativity, Strategic HR
Publication: Harvard Business Review (SEPT 2012)
Article: Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy
Authors: A. G. Lafley, R. L. Martin, J. W. Rivkin, and N. Siggelkow
Reviewed By: Megan Leasher

Strategic planners sit down once a year.  They pride themselves on their scientific rigor in how they analyze and shoot down every idea they generate.  They then proceed with a less-than-stellar, not-so-innovative idea, and they wonder why the organization doesn’t swoon with delight?  Lafley and colleagues (2012) assert that a key component of science is missing in these proceedings: the inquiry.  They argue that the scientific method must first begin with the brainstorming of novel hypotheses, then proceed into the design and testing of these hypotheses.  The authors detail a series of steps that incorporate the inquiry of science into strategic planning to achieve a more creative, successful, and efficient direction.


Using data to make smart decisions: 1 + 1 = It’s Not That Simple

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.


Making an A-Team? (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Selection, Talent Management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (JAN 2012)
Article: Gilt Groupe’s CEO on Building a Team of A Players
Author: Kevin Ryan
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

In a recent article by the CEO of the flash sales company the Gilt Groupe, Ryan (2012) discusses what makes a company truly successful. (Hint: it’s something we focus on the most!) According to Ryan, a business idea is worth next to nothing – without the right people to implement it.


Creating Happiness at Work! (IO Psychology)

Topic: Culture, Employee Satisfaction
Title: The Science Behind the Smile
Publication: Harvard Business Review (FEB 2012)
Author: Gardiner Morse
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

In a recent interview with psychologist Daniel Gilbert, Morse (2012) examines new research into an investigation of happiness from a scientific perspective.  Happiness, long considered to be a topic better suited for philosophers or writers, is now moving into the realm of data analysis and scientific query, and Gilbert fills us in on what this new work might mean for our understanding of happiness.


How Much Do Pronouns Matter Anyway? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Personality
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Your use of pronouns reveals your personality
Author: Pennebaker, J.
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

Do function words – words like pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions – matter? And if so, what do they tell us?  James Pennebaker, chair of the Psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin, has spent a considerable amount of time investigating those exact questions.  In a recent Harvard Business Review IdeaWatch, we get to learn more about Pennebaker’s research, and what it might mean for us.


Should We Get Rid of the Managers? (Human Resources)

Topic: Human Resources
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: First let’s fire all the managers
Author: Gary Hamel
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

There are some fundamental problems with top-heavy management. Managers spend excessive amount of time supervising employees’ work and add considerable overhead. A top-heavy management hierarchy also seems to encourage large-scale mistakes in decision making, with important decisions resting in the hands of few people at the top. In addition, a management hierarchy with multiple levels means wasted time when it comes to decision turnaround – actually getting anything done may require a dozen approvals.


Making the Most of an Internal Move (Job Performance)

Topic: Development, Job Performance
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Title: Get ready for your next assignment
Authors: K. S. Milway, A. G. Gregory, J. Davis-Peccoud, and K. Yazbak
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

How do we make the most of an internal move? While most managers and executives know about internal role changes long before that actually take effect, few actually take advantage of their time leading up to the transition to prepare well. According to Milway, Gregory, Davis-Peccoud, and Yazbak (2011), this is a serious missed opportunity. Viewing role transitions as important steps in one’s career is essential to success in the new position – success that could have lasting impact, and building a knowledge base to help in these transitions is imperative. The authors identify three steps for building knowledge capital in order to thrive in new roles: phase zero, learning tour, and affinity groups.


Are You Managing Your High Potentials? (Selection)

Topic: Selection, Human Resource Management
Journal: Harvard Business Review (OCT 2011)
Title: How to hang on to your high potentials
Authors: Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Boris Groysberg, Nitin Nohria
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

Does your company have a succession plan? If a top executive were to walk out tomorrow, would you have someone to fill those shoes? Well, if you’re like roughly 85% of North American companies, the answer here is a resounding no. Or perhaps you use a common method – a program that targets “high potential” employees. Programs like these create a steady stream of talent to ensure effective leadership.


Liberty, Justice, and…an Equal Chance at a Promotion for All?

Topic: Gender, Mentoring
Publication: Harvard Business Review (SEP 2010)
Article: Why men still get more promotions than women
Author: H. Ibarra, N. M. Carter, and C. Silva
Reviewed By: Liz Brashier

We’re constantly hearing about the advances that organizations are making in corporate gender diversity. Women are being promoted, paid well, and mentored in the workplace! Right? According to Ibarra, Carter, and Silva (2010), the answer might be closer to “yes and no.”


Maximizing your stakeholders’ experiences in product creation

Topic: Business Strategy, Creativity
Publication: Harvard Business Review (OCT 2010)
Article: Building the co-creative enterprise
Authors: V. Ramaswany, F. Gouillart
Reviewed By: Liz Brashier

We all know that companies care about their customers – especially when it comes to the customer experience with products. After all, where would any company be without customers? Ramaswamy and Gouillart (2010), however, challenge us to consider other stakeholders (i.e., employees, distributors, etc.) who have a tremendous impact on the customer experience.


A Fresh Look at Strategy

Topic: Decision Making, Judgement
Publication: Harvard Business Review (MAR 2010)
Article: Finding your strategy in the new landscape
Authors: P. Ghemawat
Reviewed By: Liz Brashier

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.