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Organizational Newcomers: Conflict Can Lead to Worse Performance

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.


Abusive Supervision may have Roots in Childhood

Abusive Supervision may have Roots in Childhood

Supervisor anger is a common workplace problem. This can include a supervisor who is angered too easily or a situation when the supervisor’s anger is disproportional to the situation at hand. This study explores the true reasons behind this anger, hypothesizing that a history of family aggression is the root of angry reactions and abusive supervision.


The Downside to Monitoring Web-based Trainings

There is a real, measurable downside to monitoring web-based trainings. E-learners who are having their performance monitored become goal oriented in a way that affects their level of apprehension. That apprehension, in turn, affects their ability to acquire new skills, according to a study by Watson, Thompson, Rudolph, Whelan, Behrend, and Gissel.


Practice makes perfect: The harder you practice, the better you play

Let’s imagine that you are learning a new skill, and in honor of the end of summer, let’s say that skill is sunbathing. Assuming that you want to be an expert sunbather, your path to greatness will depend on the type of practice that you do. If you spend 15 minutes by the pool with heavy cloud coverage, your practice intensity would not be as high as someone baking for six hours under direct sunlight during a day that is nearly 100 degrees. Which person, the former or the latter, will be Mr. or Mrs. Hawaiian Tropic? If you said the latter, as in the person who puts in six hours of intense and difficult practice, then you’d be correct. This observation – that the intensity and difficulty of practice relate to performance – was empirically supported by a study by researchers from the University of Oklahoma, though their subjects were learning how to play a video game instead of sunbathing.


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.


Does Asking For Help Lead to High Performance? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Learning, Personality, Job Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2012)
Article: The Impact of Help Seeking on Individual Task Performance: The Moderating Effect of Help Seekers’ Logics of Action
Authors: D. Geller, P.A. Bamberger
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

Help, I need somebody! When employees get stuck trying to complete a task, asking for help seems to be the surest way to solve the problem. But does asking for help lead to better job performance? According to Geller and Bamberger (2012), the answer is that it depends on who you are and why you are asking for help in the first place.


Do you learn more if you trust your mentor? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Mentoring, Learning
Publication: Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (AUG 2011)
Article: Trust as a moderator of the relationship between mentoring and knowledge transfer
Authors: Fleig-Palmer, M. M., & Schoorman, F. D.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Mentoring is widely considered to be an effective way of transferring knowledge and skills, but is it really effective? And does the protégé’s trust in the mentor affect how much the protégé learns? Fleig-Palmer and Schoorman (2011) conducted a survey in a health care organization to answer these questions.


Increasing Training Transfer (I/O Psychology)

Topic: Training, Learning, Motivation
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology EC 2011)
Article: Influencing learning states to enhance trainee motivation and improve training transfer
Authors: Weissbein, D. A., Huang, J. L., Ford, J. K., & Schmidt, A. M.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

How many times have you heard about or participated in a training program but the information or skills learned didn’t get retained or used after the training ended? This transfer of training problem is common and frustrating to those who develop or pay for training programs.

In this paper, Weissbein, Huang, Ford, and Schmidt (2011) conducted a study in which they gave undergraduates a pretraining intervention before the participants received interpersonal negotiation training.


Joining Teams and Going Overboard!

Topic: Teams
Publication: Academy of Management Review
Article: Multiple team membership: A theoretical model of its effects on productivity and learning for individuals and teams
Authors: M.B. O’Leary, M. Mortensen & A.W. Woolley
Reviewed By: Jade Peters

A team is a set of individuals, bound to work together towards a shared goal or outcome. The number of teams an employee is involved in and the variety of the teams are important factors when addressing the employee’s learning and productivity


Learning to learn: aim high and believe in yourself!

Topic: Training, Goals, Learning
Publication: Psychological Bulletin (MAR 2011)
Article: A meta-analysis of self-regulated learning in work-related training and educational attainment: What we know and where we need to go
Authors: T. Sitzmann, K. Ely
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

When people self-regulate, they monitor their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in order to obtain some sort of goal. Self-regulated learning refers to when people attempt to monitor and control their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in order to attain a learning or achievement outcome. The authors of this article reviewed numerous theories of self-regulated learning and conducted a meta-analysis to better understand the extent to which self-regulated learning processes affect learning.


Practicing What You Preach: The Relationship Between Communication Style and Leadership Style

Topic: Leadership
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (SEP 2010)
Article: Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes
Authors: R.E. de Vries, A. Bakker-Pieper, and W. Oostenveld
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

There are many marks of a great leader: strength, vision, and communicative abilities among them.  But, despite the similar attributes effective leaders may share, their communication styles can differ substantially.  For instance, while some leaders primarily serve to delegate tasks and oversee the work of their teams, other leaders take a more interpersonal approach, expressing warmth and support for their subordinates.  According to a study by de Vries et al. (2010) shows, leaders’ different communication styles may even predict the type of leader one will become.


Who Reports Transferring Skills that Weren’t Trained?

Topic: Training
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (DEC 2010)
Article: Transferring more than learned in training: Employees’ and managers’ (over)generalization of skills
Authors: D.S. Chiaburu, K.B. Sawyer and C.N. Thoroughgood
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Given the extensive costs associated with training a workforce, assessing the “bang-for-your-buck” is a vital step in the overall training process.  Specifically, it is (as many would argue) essential to evaluate the effectiveness of organizational training courses with measures of learning and transfer. 


Is What We Think We Know, What We Actually Know?

Topic: Assessment, Training

Publication: Academy of Management Learning & Education (JUN 2010)

Article: Self-assessment of knowledge: A cognitive learning or affective measure?

Authors: T. Sitzmann, K.E. Ely, K.G. Brown and K.N. Bauer

Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger


Evaluating the effectiveness of an organizational
training program is a necessary but expensive process.  Oftentimes, the success of a training program is evaluated by how much trainees learn or how much they know after completing the program. The classic post-training test/exam is a great way to do this.  But, because developing and administering well-constructed learning measures can be costly, one option is to simply ask trainees how much they have learned. 
But how “good” are trainees’ self-assessments of their learning/knowledge? That is, how well do self-assessments really measure actual learning/knowledge gain?


Who Sits Through E-Learning Anyway?

Topic: Training
Publication: Learning and Individual Differences (1st QUARTER 2009)
Article: The influence of goal orientation dimensions on time to train in a self-paced training environment
Authors: K. Ely, T. Sitzmann, and C. Falkiewicz
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

E-learning refers to computer-mediated training that grants trainees a great deal of control over the learning (e.g., time spent, pace, training location). These freedoms come along with many potential possibilities and pitfalls. One major disadvantage of self-paced e-learning is that trainees often stop instruction before mastering the training content.  However, from a financial perspective, decreased training time can save big bucks.

Recently, Ely, Sitzmann and Falkiewicz (2009) predicted that trainee goal orientation (GO) would impact training time as well as knowledge gained from training in a “real world” self-paced e-learning course. Specifically, the course was an occupational training course for electrical technicians.


Knowledge is Power: What Makes Employees Share It?

Topic: Job Design, Motivation
Publication: Human Resource Management (NOV/DEC 2009)
Article: Encouraging knowledge sharing among employees: How job design matters
Authors: N.J. Foss, D.B. Minbaeva, T. Pedersen, and M. Reinholt
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

It’s no secret that knowledge sharing among employees is an absolute necessity for many organizations.  So what can organizations do to facilitate knowledge sharing among its employees?

Foss and colleagues (2009) recently showed that several characteristics of employees’ jobs predict employee motivation to share knowledge. Foss et al. studied this phenomenon using a sample of 186 employees working in a large German manufacturing company.


Great Expectations: Catalyst for Employee Learning and Development

Topic: Job PerformanceLeadership, Training
Publication: Journal of Management (OCT 2009)
Article: Pygmalion and employee learning: The role of leader behaviors
Authors: X.M. Bezuijen, P.T. van den Berg, K. van Dam, and H. Thierry
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Isn’t it fascinating how our expectations of others so frequently come to fruition?  The finding that supervisors’ expectations of their employees’ capabilities accurately reflect their actual performance is well-established. This phenomenon is called the self-fulfilling prophesy (AKA the Pygmalion effect). But, how and why do supervisors’ expectations of employees’ capabilities reflect their performance? Is it magic? Is it a sixth sense? Is it prescience?


Active learning (Is this your first time, Doctor?)

Topic: Training
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2009)
Article: Active learning: When is more better? The case of resident physicians’ medical errors.
Authors: T. Katz-Navon, E. Nevah, and Z. Stern
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Active learning refers to a broad spectrum of training strategies in which individual trainees are encouraged to explore the learning environment, experiment with strategies, ask questions, and make many of the administrative decisions usually made by instructors in passive learning approaches (i.e., traditional classroom instruction). Active learning places trainees in the driver’s seat of their own learning.  Sounds great, right? But what if I told you that active learning strategies usually facilitate trainee errors?