Brief Exposure to Workplace Rudeness Can Hurt Job Performance

We all know that workplace rudeness can make the workplace unpleasant, but have you considered the effects on job performance? New research (Woolum, Foulk, Lanaj, & Erez, 2017) explores how even brief exposure to rudeness at the start of the day can hurt job performance throughout the entire day.


How the Designated Rule-Breaker Impacts Team Performance

Breaking the rules can result in a competitive advantage, and some organizations or teams will therefore designate a specific member to engage in unethical or illegal activity. These designees occupy “illicit roles.” Although most organizational roles are formalized and have well-defined responsibilities, illicit roles resist formalization for a variety of reasons, including the fact that any organization that formalized them would be admitting that they sanction illegal or unethical behavior. Furthermore, formalizing the role could implicate other members of the organization in the illegal activity. […]

Danger for High Performing Employees

In today’s performance oriented world, high performing employees are valued by organizational leaders. But are they valued as much by their colleagues?

Invariably, average performers will at some point compare themselves with the high performers in the workplace. This can be great when high performers are good role-models and motivate their colleagues to increase their own productivity. For many, being associated with a high performer can feel good and can lead to an increase in self-esteem. […]

How to Increase Trust in Top Leaders

Do you trust your high level leaders? The answer to that question might influence how hard you work, or whether you eventually decide to quit your job. But how do you decide whether to trust someone who you have probably never even met? The answer has important implications for top leaders who want to make sure that their employees trust them.

Leaders Can Use These Nine Skills to Become Better Problem-Solvers

Leaders can be thought of as teachers, politicians, warriors, or problem solvers. When we think of leaders as problem solvers, this opens the possibility of honing their problem-solving skills through training. But how can we train leaders to solve problems? Specifically, it is something called “case-based knowledge” that allows leaders to solve complex issues. Case-based knowledge refers to the context of the problem and any previous experience with similar issues, like a mental library of information tailored toward a specific problem.


How Leader Humility Boosts Team Performance

Should leaders be humble or proud? Surprisingly, humble leaders inspire others to be humble as well—their humble behavior is actually contagious. Not only that, but a humble team will focus more on promotion and perform better. Leaders show humility by accepting employees’ ideas, pointing out their strengths, and being able to accurately assess their own strengths and weaknesses.

Shared Leadership Can Boost Team Performance

How is shared leadership different from ordinary leadership? Traditional models of leadership involve a formal leader who holds authority and power and has a set of followers. The leader delegates, makes decisions, and holds followers accountable.

In contrast, the idea of shared leadership relies more on the sharing of authority, power, and influence. Teams that have more shared leadership still have a formal leader; however, their leader is willing to pass authority to the team when it is appropriate. Is shared leadership good for teams? If so, how do we transition from more traditional models of leadership to a model of shared leadership? Researchers (Chiu, Owens, & Tesluk, 2016) examined 62 teams across a variety of organizations in Taiwan to find out. […]

Show Me the Money: The Influence of Money on Workplace Behavior

Different people view money in different ways, either as the root of all evil or the source of all things good. While you may fall squarely into either of these categories, few can deny that money has a psychological significance beyond its mere usefulness. But how does it affect your behavior? Can pursuit of money make you more selfish? Can it make you less cooperative? New research (Beus & Whitman, 2016) uses athletes from the NBA and NHL to explore how behavior is affected when money is on the line. […]

The Dark Side of Pay-for-Performance Programs

Perform better, get paid more, is the basic tenant of pay-for-performance (PFP). One type of PFP strategy is bonuses, which are easy to hand out and motivate employees to accomplish short-term goals. PFP can be used at all levels of the organization, from CEOs to managers to entry-level workers. Want that project done by the end of the month? An extra monetary incentive won’t hurt! Or will it?


A Snapshot of SIOP 2016 (Pt. 1) – Employee Success

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.

How Does Individual Employee Recognition Help the Team?

Individual employee recognition for a job well done is important. Many organizations have programs that formally recognize employees for their achievements, such as “employee of the month” or “star performer” awards. These awards typically focus on highlighting the performance of single employees. Given that most employees work within teams, how does singling out one team member impact the rest of the team? New Research (Li, Zheng, Harris, Liu, & Kirkman, 2016) explores the positive spillover effects that recognizing an individual team member can have on the rest of the team.


How Can Leaders Effectively Manage Employees’ Negative Emotions?

Leaders often have to deal with employees’ negative emotions. Whether employees are feeling anxious about a project, feeling sad about being turned down for promotion, or feeling angry about being unfairly treated, leaders play a part in managing these emotions. New research (Little, Gooty, & Williams, 2016) has shown that how these emotions get handled can affect employees’ performance and how they feel about their jobs.


Do Serial Entrepreneurs Learn From Their Mistakes?

Serial entrepreneurs are people who continually come up with new ideas and start businesses. These people tend to be highly successful when embarking on new projects because they can draw from their prior experience to make informed business decisions. In this study, researchers examine how serial entrepreneurs respond to failure: Are serial entrepreneurs more likely than amateurs to change industries from one venture to the next? Further, how does changing industries after a failed venture affect how well serial entrepreneurs perform in their next venture?


Team Building: Encouraging Your Team to Eat Together is a Recipe for Success

Organizations are constantly looking for new ways to foster trust, respect, and team building among employees, and new research (Kniffin, Wansink, Devine, & Sobal, 2015) suggests a relationship between eating behavior and team performance. The researchers surveyed a group of 395 firefighting officers from 13 American firehouses.


Power Disparity on Teams: Now We Know When It Works

Power is what makes people obey even when they don’t want to, and power disparity on teams refers to a situation in which power is not evenly distributed among team members. Imagine a situation in which a powerful and experienced executive works with several junior associates on a project. This might be called high power disparity, because one person will have all of the power.


How to Reduce Emotional Exhaustion at Work

Emotional exhaustion at work can happen because we are all capable of hiding our true emotions and acting in ways contrary to how we feel. For example, think of that time when you were annoyed with a customer but kept your cool. As you can imagine, maintaining this facade can be emotionally exhausting, especially in a service environment. This feeling can have serious implications for work attitudes and behavior. In a service environment, the “customer is always right” approach requires emotional labor, which can deplete emotional resources and ultimately erode performance.


Narcissistic Leaders Can Use Humility to Succeed

Are narcissistic leaders good for business? Are they good for employees? It’s a difficult question to answer, especially considering that research has found mixed results. Narcissistic people may be bold risk-takers with supreme confidence and unshakeable vision. This sounds like the kind of person we’d want leading, right? On the other hand, they have personal grandiosity, a feeling of superiority, and the constant need for admiration. Well, maybe we don’t want this person in charge. Fortunately, new research (Owens, Wallace, & Waldman, 2015) helps us resolve this dilemma. They found that narcissism can be good for leadership, but only when it’s tempered with a healthy dose of humility.


Can Work Breaks Increase Employee Productivity?

Companies often explore new ways to increase employee productivity and job satisfaction. They don’t generally consider work breaks a good way to make that happen. But breaks from work, such as evenings, weekends, and vacations, can help reduce burnout, increase job performance, and lower blood pressure. On the other hand, work fatigue can lead to serious deficits in productivity and is linked to serious health issues and burnout. New research by Hunter & Wu (2015) explores the impact of work breaks on recovering from resource depletion, which is when resources such as energy or attention get used up.


Workplace Incivility: Nice Employees Finish First

Workplace Incivility: Why Nice Employees Finish First!

Organizations have seen a drastic increase in the amount of workplace incivility that employees experience on a weekly basis. Way back in in 1998, research revealed that 25% of employees experienced rudeness in the workplace at least once a week. A decade later, nearly 50% of employees reported experiencing incivility in the workplace at least once per week. Incivility is formally defined as “insensitive behavior that displays a lack of regard for others” (Anderson & Pearson, 1999), and is very costly for organizations as it is related to decreased performance and creativity, as well as increased employee turnover.


mployees Getting Enough Sleep.fb

Leveraging Human Capital: Are Your Employees Getting Enough Sleep?

Human capital refers to specific employee characteristics that can make a business successful. Traditionally, industrial-organizational psychologists have used the acronym “KSAO”, which stands for knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, to classify an employee’s work-related capabilities. When these KSAOs are useful for an organization’s overall economic outcomes, they are considered human capital.


Goal orientation.FB

Goal Orientation: Helping Team Performance or My Own Performance?

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.


Organizational Newcomers.fb

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.



Manager Personality Can Lead to Organization-Wide Performance

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.



Work Overload and Job Demands Lead to Lower Professional Standards

Work overload and job demands have been infamously related to many workplace problems, for both employees and employers. However, most research views work overload as something that builds over time, perhaps weeks, months, or years, and can lead to harmful effects that are measured over the long-term. New research (Dai, Milkman, Hofmann, & Staats, 2015) clearly shows that work overload is something that can accumulate over the course of a single workday, and have immediate harmful effects.



Treadmill Desks: Good for Employers and Employees

Treadmill desks are just what they sound like: workstations that are built so that employees can walk on a treadmill while working. If the employees have been getting lazy, the boss can turn up the setting to “warpspeed.” Okay, just kidding about the last part. Still, treadmill desks and their distant cousin, cycling desks, are both part of a new trend that might help workers who are typically sedentary. The logic is that using these “active workstations” will allow employees to engage in more physical activity over the course of a day. Due to the modern epidemic of obesity, and its associated costs to employers in terms of healthcare and missed-work due to illness, active workstations might allow those with desk jobs to stay more physically fit.

While past research has shown that people who use active workstations do engage in more physical activity over the course of a day, how else can they affect employees? New research (Sliter & Yuan, 2015) investigates the effects of active workstations on factors such as productivity and stress.


gamification in the workplace

What is Gamification and How Can It Improve Organizational Effectiveness?

Gamification refers to the use of game elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards in non-gaming contexts, for example the workplace or educational settings. Many organizations are turning to gamification to help improve employee motivation and performance. Previous studies have shown that gamification can be effective in motivating employees and increasing engagement–meaning the extent to which employees feel connected too and enthusiastic about their work. This particular study (Lieberoth, 2014) investigated how merely making a work activity seem like a game impacts employee engagement (rather than designing a complex gamification system).


Servant Leadership Benefits Performance through Serving Culture

The concept of servant leadership is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the service industry. Multiple studies have found that servant leadership is positively related to individual and organizational outcomes such as performance and organizational citizenship behavior, which is when employees go beyond their formal job requirements to help the organization.However, curious people may still wonder how servant leadership produces these positive outcomes. The lack of understanding of how servant leadership leads to these positive effects can make it difficult for organizations to implement this leadership practice and to fully enjoy its benefits.

New research (Liden, Wayne, Liao, & Meuser, 2014) has found that servant leadership leads to favorable individual and organizational outcomes through fostering a serving culture and enhancing employees’ sense of identification with their organization.


Cognitive Abilities

Specific Cognitive Abilities Can Benefit Selection Programs

Organizations oftentimes use specific cognitive abilities to help select people for jobs. Selection itself is important because organizations can sometimes waste millions of dollars in training people who don’t have the right aptitude, aren’t motivated, or who don’t fit minimum requirements for the job. When an organization selects employees, it often uses an assessment process to try and find the “right people.” This assessment often involves tests of general cognitive ability, which is basically what we’d consider overall intelligence. What if organizations could fine tune these processes so that they were more successful in identifying those who may succeed in a training context or in a job? Recent research findings offer a possible way to do this.


Climate Uniformity

Climate Uniformity: A New Concept with Important Organizational Outcomes

When it comes to research on organizational climate, the concept called “climate uniformity” is the new kid on the block. In fact, new research by González-Romá and Hernández (2014) is the first to actually collect data and start to determine what this concept means for organizations. The results are intriguing, as they found that the degree of climate uniformity is related to communication, conflict, and even team performance. So now you might be asking, what in the world is climate uniformity?


Fix the Negative Relationships that Affect Team Performance

How to Fix the Negative Relationships that Affect Team Performance

Nearly all companies and organizations use teams to get work done, but can negative relationships be preventing that from happening? As common as teamwork is, the dynamics that make a team actually work are often overlooked. Whether the team is temporarily thrown together or a permanent fixture, how the individuals get along is an essential factor in how well the team performs. Every individual has their differences, and frequently this can lead to disagreements or negative relationships amongst members of a team.


Proactive Employees Need Political Skills to Succeed

Proactive Employees Need Political Skills to Succeed

Employers assume that proactive employees are important for job success. Indeed past research shows that proactive employees, those who take initiative and champion change, perform better and earn more. However, proactive employees typically push the envelope, control their environment, and bring unexpected changes which may be viewed as threatening and distracting by others. A new study by Sun and van Emmerik (2014) introduces political skill as a factor that may reduce such concerns.


Flow at Work: Recovery Affects Whether Employees will “Be in the Zone”

Flow at work is an enjoyable peak experience that happens when an employee feels completely engrossed in a challenging project or activity. Not surprisingly, this kind of experience means great returns from employees in terms of performance and productivity. Unfortunately for most, it is not a permanent experience, and instead varies considerable on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Earlier research suggests that flow starts out high, dips, and then increases again, within any given day. This research sought to determine whether this was the case and also explore what the possible predictors of optimal and decreased flow may be.


Is It Lonely At the Top? The Victimization of High Performers

High Performers are defined as the group of talented employees that increase both team and organizational performance.

Previous research has suggested that individuals high on cognitive ability are more likely to experience workplace victimization, and High Performers might be the target of interpersonal harm.

The current study by Eugune Kim and Theresa Glomb extends this line of research by examining the extent to which High Performers are victimized due to group members’ envy, and whether work group identification can reduce this potential negative consequence of high performance.


Combating Stereotype Threat in the Workplace

Demeaning stereotypes persist in our workplaces. Employees may feel threatened or judged by their bosses or coworkers based on the groups they are part of (i.e. gender, age or ethnic groups). Many employees justifiably feel threatened by these stereotypes.

Interestingly, the stereotyping doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the workplace. For example, the negative stereotype that holds women aren’t as good at math as men plagues female CPAs, despite their obvious expertise in mathematics. In one study, women were asked their gender prior to taking a math test, and then did worse than those who were not asked their gender prior to the test (Shih et al, 1999).


Make It Rain: How bad weather could be good for work productivity

Have you ever woken up to the sound of rain and thunder outside your window, with the decisive thought that it would be a lazy day?

Although inclement weather might not necessarily be the best thing for putting you in a great mood in the morning, a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that those thunderstorms just might enable you to get more work done.


The Impact of Envy on High Performers in the Workplace

High performers– that is, employees who work harder and accomplish more than the average– are typically highly valued by employers. Unfortunately, this advanced performance level can cause overachievers to be noticed and even targeted for bullying by their peers, who may be envious of the attention or rewards they’re given.

Such victimization can result in decreased performance, or increased turnover, in an organization as high performers that feel targeted move on to other employment opportunities.


How to Better Motivate Employees? Try Categorizing Rewards and Incentives

In a novel research study carried out by S. Wiltermuth and F. Gino, a new link was explored between incentives and motivation. It is known that employees work towards achieving goals and targets, especially when they are aware of the rewards they are bound to receive for their efforts. However, the current research delves further into how incentives motivate employees and reveals that when rewards are divided into different categories, employees are even more highly motivated to reach rewards from each available category.


Goals vs. the Ostrich: When Employees Refuse to Track Progress

Some people suffer from the Ostrich Problem. This problem occurs whenever someone knowingly shies away from information that would help them track progress toward a set goal. Despite all the evidence that supports the value of tracking workplace performance, some would simply rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is hunky dory. These employees prefer not to monitor their progress towards goals set by the organization, even though setting goals and monitoring them is central to good project management, allowing an organization to successfully hit targets. Why then is it that certain people categorically avoid tracking their progress in terms of achieving goals?


IO Psychology – Workplace Ambiguity: How Does it Make You Act?

We all like to think that our values influence our behavior. However, situational factors often have greater influence over how we will act. A recent I-O psychology study by Grant and Rothbard (2013) found that the degree of workplace ambiguity plays a strong role in influencing and predicting employee behavior.


Performance Under Fire: Goal Orientation

When you’re trying to complete a task, do you try to learn something new along the way or do you just try to get the job done and not embarrass yourself? For example, when you need to complete the task of baking a cake, do you try the latest recipe so as to learn something new and broaden your culinary skills? Or do you avoid any recipe that looks hard and pray that everything comes out right so that you don’t embarrass yourself at your next dinner party? If you chose the former, you have a mastery goal orientation, and if you chose the latter, you have a performance-avoidance goal orientation.


How Is Your Manager Doing at Performance Management? (Human Resource Management)

Performance management (PM) is the natural reaction to and extension of the hit or miss traditional performance appraisal. Instead of being a one-and-done event, PM is a set of behaviors that managers exhibit daily to identify, motivate, and develop their subordinates’ performance. Due to its effectiveness, putting a finger on the “right” PM system has been a popular and recent trend for many organizations. Unfortunately, this is often difficult for organizations as the literature has struggled to define and measure managerial PM behaviors.


Can Personality Become a Better Predictor of Performance? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Personality, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (NOV 2012)
Article: Implicit motives, explicit traits, and task and contextual performance at work
Authors: Lang, J. W. B., Zettler, I., Ewen, C., and Hulsheger, U. R.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

In the world of selection, personality has often been looked at as a useful predictor of job performance. But what if current personality measures are missing an important part of someone’s personality and an opportunity to be a better predictor of performance? Some research suggests that the missing piece of the personality pie is our implicit motives, or our wishes and desires, which are typically boiled down to three main areas: affiliation, power, and achievement.


Whistle While You Work: The Importance of Work Enjoyment for Managers (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Motivation, Performance, Wellness
Publication: Journal of Management (SEP 2012)
Article: Driven to Work and Enjoyment of Work: Effects on Managers’ Outcomes
Authors: Laura Graves, Marian Ruderman, Patricia Ohlott, & Todd Weber
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Work motivation, a topic that is relevant to almost all employees in almost every organization, is a common research area in IO psychology. Within the vast motivation literature, two types of motivation that have emerged in recent years are the driven to work and enjoyment of work motives. The driven to work motive is based on the feeling that a person should work (they feel compelled to), while the enjoyment of work motive emphasizes intrinsic motivation and personal enjoyment of the work itself. Recently, Graves and colleagues conducted a study to identify the role that these two types of motivation might have on managers’ performance, career satisfaction, and psychological strain.


The Competitive Advantage Behind Investing in Employees (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Performance, Human Resources, Culture, Business Strategy
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2012)
Article: Impact of High-Performance Work Systems on Individual- and Branch- Level Performance: Test of a Multilevel Model of Intermediate Linkages
Authors: Samuel Aryee, Fred O. Walumbwa, Emmanuel Y. M. Seidu, & Lilian E. Otaye
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood, M.S.

With the rapid growth of global competition and the speed with which competitors can imitate products and technology, organizations are turning to human capital to differentiate themselves. As such, researchers and practitioners have stressed the value that employees play in creating and sustaining an organization’s competitive edge. As a result, many organizations have implemented high-performance work systems (HPWS), which are HR programs closely linked to the goals and culture of the organization that are designed to develop employee skills and organizational commitment in order to create a self-sustaining competitive advantage.


EMPOWERMENT Is Everything! What Does It Take?

Topic: Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP/OCT, 2011)
Article: Antecedents and Consequences of Psychological and Team Empowerment in
Organizations: A Meta-Analytic Review
Authors: Scott E. Seibert, Gang Wang, and Stephen H. Courtright
Reviewed By: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor, Ph.D.

Are you a manager or an HR professional who thinks that your workplace is a pretty good place to work for your employees? Think that your employees are empowered? Well, see how well your organization measures up against 30 years of research into what empowerment looks like!


When Normal Performance Isn’t Normal Performance

Topic: Performance, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The best and the rest: Revisiting the norm of normality of individual
Authors: O’Boyle Jr., E., & Aguinis, H.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

The gloves are off because O’Boyle and Aguinis have just challenged a perennial assumption of the performance literature. What kind of challenge you say? The authors advocate that the distribution of individual performance does not follow a normal, or Gaussian distribution, but rather a power, or Paretian distribution. On the surface this challenge may seem academic, but if true this conclusion could have serious implications for how performance, and the methods and tools used to assess it, are conceptualized and valued.


When Does Conflict Improve Team Performance? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Teams, Conflict, Culture, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2012)
Article: Reaping the Benefits of Task Conflict in Teams: The Critical Role of Team Psychological Safety Climate
Authors: B.H. Bradley, B.E. Postlethwaite, A.C. Klotz, M.R. Hamdani, K.G. Brown
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

There’s a battle in the meeting room! Tempers flare, fists pound the table, insults are hurled, a chair flies through the air! No, this is probably not the best way to get things done. But what happens if team members engage in spirited debate that is strictly focused on the work at hand? Will that be productive? According to research by Bradley, Postlethwaite, Klotz, Hamdani, and Brown (2012), the answer depends on the type of team climate already in place.


The Peril of Excess: Why Moderate Levels of Many Traits Might be Best (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Assessment, Performance, Selection, Human Resource Management
Publication: Perspectives on Psychological Science (JAN 2011)
Article: Too Much of a Good Thing: The Challenge and Opportunity of the Inverted U
Authors: Grant, A. M., & Schwartz, B.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

A common assumption in personnel selection practice (and research) in IO psychology is that increasingly high levels of desirable traits are always a good thing. For instance, the Big 5 personality trait conscientiousness has been found to be a good predictor of job performance, such that highly-conscientiousness employees tend to be the best performers. As such, our selection systems are typically designed to identify applicants who are highest on these positive traits, so that they can be selected into the organization.


Want to increase performance? Take a look at Psychological Capital

Topic: Performance, Talent Management, Human Resource Management
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SUMMER 2011)
Article: Psychological capital and employee performance: A latent growth modeling approach
Authors: Peterson, S. J., Luthans, F., Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Zhang, Z.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

You’ve probably heard about human capital being related to performance, but what about psychological capital? Human capital refers to the skills and knowledge that employees possess which are relevant to the organization. Psychological capital, however, is a higher-order construct consisting of efficacy (confidence), hope, optimism, and resilience. The study described in this article explores the variability of psychological capital within individuals and the relationship between psychological capital and performance.


Want to up your game? You’re more likely to with a little help from your friends.

Topic: Development, Sports Psychology
Publication: Journal of Sports Sciences (2007)
Article: Stressors, social support, and effects upon performance in golf
Authors: T. Rees, L. Hardy, & P. Freeman
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

Does encouragement and other forms of social support affect the performance of athletes? Tim Rees, Lew Hardy, and Paul Freeman think so.  They hypothesized that social support would affect the performance of golfers.


Employee engagement: Wild goose chase or golden egg?

Topic: Job Performance, Job Attitudes
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SPRING 2011)
Article: Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance
Authors: Christian, M.S. Garza, A.S., Slaughter, J.E.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

Try this: pick your favorite search engine and type in the phrase “employee engagement.” A quick glance at the results would tell you that you’ve searched a phrase that has been on many of the minds in the business and HR worlds. Despite employee “engagement” becoming a popular buzz word with organizations, some important questions still remain: What is it? Is it substantively different from other work attitudes? Does it help us predict employee performance above and beyond other, more well-established constructs?


The Best Leadership Style: Depends on Leader Status

Topic: Leadership, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2011)
Article: Taking the Reins: The Effects of New Leader Status and Leadership Style on Team Performance
Author: S.J. Sauer
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

You’re the new team leader and it’s your first day on the job! So, what type of management style will you try out? Will you crack the whip and exercise your authority, or might it be better to let your guard down and allow your employees to participate in the management process? According to research by Sauer (2011), you should choose wisely, because depending on who you are, one method will work much better than the other.


Got a curious newcomer? That’s good – and the type of curiosity may tell you how good.

Topic: Selection, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2011)
Article: Curiosity adapted by cat: the role of trait curiosity in newcomer adaptation.
Authors: S.H. Harrison, D.M. Sluss, B.E. Ashforth
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

With the current economy, it has become critical for recently hired employees to adapt to the organization as quickly as possible. Curiosity, or the “desire to know,” has recently been suggested as a possible individual difference that allows some newcomers to adapt more quickly to their new role. There are two commonly studied types of curiosity, typified by scope of exploration. First, specific curiosity is defined as a narrow and often direct form of exploration (i.e., seeking the password to the organization’s intranet). The second kind, diversive curiosity, is defined by broader and often more indirect forms of exploration (i.e., exploring posting on the companies intranet in free time, inquiring as to the reasons behind organizational processes and policies).


Political skill in a highly political environment: Does it help?

Topic: Performance, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (JAN 2011)
Article:Politics perceptions as moderator of the political skill – job performance relationship: A two-study, cross-national, constructive replication
Authors: I. Kapoutsis, A. Papalexandris, A. Nikolopoulos, W. A. Hochwarter, & G. R. Ferris
Reviewed by: Charleen Maher

A highly political work environment can be chaotic, ambiguous, and even threatening. Working in this type of environment distracts employees from achieving work-related goals and interferes with employee job performance.  One employee resource related to improved job performance is political skill, described as the capacity to understand the people and situations at work in order to accomplish job-related goals. In a highly political work environment, what happens when politically skilled individuals work to reach their job-related goals?


Have innovative ideas that need implementing? Increase job embeddedness of mid- to late- career stage employees.

Topic: Performance
Publication: Human Resource Management (NOV-DEC, 2010)
Article: The impact of job embeddedness on innovation-related behaviors
Authors: T.W.H. Ng, D.C. Feldman
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

In recent years, organizations have faced increased pressures to continually be innovative in order to survive in a competitive marketplace. New work by Ng and Feldman (2010) suggests that job embeddedness could be a potential strategy to bolster innovative behaviors by employees. Job embeddedness attempts to explain how employee fit (organization-employee match), links (personal relationships at work), and sacrifice (loss of rewards and benefits if turnover) keep employees with their current organizations even when other opportunities are available. Research consistently shows that highly embedded employees are increasingly motivated to perform well in their jobs because they feel committed and invested in the success of the organization. But are highly embedded employees also more likely to engage in innovative-related behaviors and is this consistent across all employees?


Organization-based self-esteem: – It’s good for me AND the bottom line.

Topic: Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, Performance
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (SEP 2010)
Article:A meta-analysis of the predictors and consequences of organization-based self esteem.
Authors: Bowling, N. A., Eschleman, K. J., Wang, Q., Kirkendall, C.,& Alarcon, G.
Reviewed by: Charleen Maher

Organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) is a role-specific type of self-esteem that describes employees’ beliefs about their value and competence as a member of an organization – “I’m valued around here!”  So, what predicts OBSE in employees and what are the outcomes of experiencing OBSE?

A meta-analysis by Bowling and colleagues found that OSBE is predicted by the dispositional,  “hard wired” traits of general self-esteem and self-efficacy (the belief a person has that he/she can achieve goals).  Additionally, job complexity, autonomy, perceived organizational support, and social support from managers and coworkers were work conditions that predicted OBSE in employees.


The Business Case: Benefits of Diversity Management Beyond High-Performance Work Systems

Topic: Diversity
Publication: Human Resource Management (NOV/DEC 2010)
Article:  The Impact Of Diversity And Equality Management On Firm Performance: Beyond High Performance Work Systems
Authors: C. Armstrong, P. C. Flood, J. P. Guthrie, W. Liu, S. Maccurtain, and T.  Mkamwa
Reviewed By: Kerrin George

“What I need is the data, the evidence that diverse groups do better.”  Organizations may recognize the consequences of workplace discrimination, but when it comes to diversity management (e.g., practices that emphasize differences among employees as an asset if managed effectively), organizations need more convincing that the benefits will outweigh the costs. 


Waging WARS on Workplace Arrogance

Topic: Performance, Personality, Self Efficacy
Publication: Human Performance
Article: Acting superior but actually inferior?: Correlates and consequences of workplace arrogance
Authors: R.E. Johnson, S.B. Silverman, A. Shyamsunder, H-Y Swee, O.B. Rodopman, E. Cho, and J. Bauer
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger 

It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all had to work with an arrogant coworker or supervisor at one time in our careers.  It’s also probably safe to say that these run-ins have been unpleasant and disruptive to our work.  Yet, while we arm-chair our theories about the effects of arrogance in the workplace, very little research is available to confirm (or disconfirm) our assumptions and anecdotal evidence.  That is, surprisingly little is known about the consequences of workplace arrogance and its relationship with job performance.


Transformational Leadership: Seeing the Forest and the Trees

Topic: Leadership, Teams, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (NOV 2010)
Article: Exploring the Dual-Level Effects of Transformational Leadership on Followers
Authors: X. Wang, J.M. Howell
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

So you want to be a transformational leader…  But what will it take?  Will you be the broad-thinking leader who rouses the group and inspires the masses?  Or will you be the focused, attentive leader who connects with individuals and brings out their best?


Maximizing the Benefits of Autonomy in Teams

Topic: Job Design, Teams, Performance
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: The impact of autonomy and task uncertainty on team performance: A longitudinal field study (FEB 2010)
Author: J. L. Cordery, D. Morrison, B. M. Wright, & T. D. Wall
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague

Modern jobs are becoming more interconnected every year. Where once we worked alone in our cubicles, we are now more likely to be part of a team collectively working toward some common goal. Additionally, the nature of work is increasingly reliant on employees’ ability to adapt to new and challenging situations. As such, much effort has gone (and continues to go) into the study of team effectiveness. Giving teams autonomy (freedom over the process through which they achieve their goal) is argued to be key in maximizing performance. However, results in the current literature have been mixed. Mixed results typically indicate the presence of some third important moderating variable that helps to explain why the relationship is different across time, people, or situations.


Managing Assessors’ Workloads in Assessment Centers

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (SEP 2010)
Article: Do assessors have too much on their plates? The effects of simultaneously rating multiple assessment center candidates on rating quality
Authors: K.G. Melchers, M. Kleinmann, and M.A. Prinz
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Assessment centers (ACs) usually consist of several job-related exercises that tap competencies necessary for the job.  ACs are most often used by organizations to select, promote and develop their employees.  Like many employee selection and assessment methods (e.g., interviews), ACs require a scorer or assessor to provide an evaluation of candidates’ performance.  But here’s where it gets tricky.


If You Want to Prevent Exhaustion … Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Topic:  Stress, Burnout, Performance, Fairness, Compensation
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: Emotional exhaustion and job performance: The moderating role of distributive justice and positive affect (AUG 2010)
Author: O. Janssen, C. K. Lam, & X. Huang
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague

Sometimes work is just exhausting; emotionally exhausting to be specific. Emotional exhaustion (EE) refers to feeling overwhelmed or drained at work. Not surprisingly, recent research has linked EE to decrements in performance through the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory. COR theory suggests that EE impairs performance because employees feel that they do not have the adequate resources to meet the current job demands, but is this always the case? When an employee begins to feel depleted, do they automatically attribute it to lack of personal resources? The authors of the current article suggest not.


Status Inequality Within Teams? Could Be Trouble

Topic: Teams, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2010)
Article: Beyond Status: Relating Status Inequality to Performance and Health in Teams
Authors: A.M. Christie, J. Barling
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

Okay everyone, who’s excited about the new basketball season?  I/O Psychologists are!  In fact, Christie and Barling (2010) did a recent study that analyzed NBA players to determine if “status inequality” is related to lower performance.  They found a relationship if the low status players also exhibit uncooperative behavior.


Performance ratings are dynamic… now how do we rate them?

Topic: Performance Appraisal, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2010)
Article: Understanding performance ratings: Dynamic performance, attributions, and rating purpose.
Authors: Jochen Reb and Gary Greguras
Reviewed By: Allison Gabriel

We all know that performance ratings are critical for employees; they determine promotions, raises, future developmental opportunities, and so forth. What makes ratings difficult lies in the fact that employees’ performance is dynamic and can change quite radically. Think about your own performance: how you perform this week, or even this day, may not be the same as it was a month ago. This presents quite the dilemma for raters (aka, supervisors): how do you combine multiple, changing aspects of work performance to get an accurate rating?


Customer Satisfaction Surveys: A Measure of Race and Gender. A Measure of Performance? Not So Much

Topic: FairnessDiversityPerformance Appraisal

Publication: Academy of Management Journal

Article: An examination of whether and how racial and gender biases influence customer satisfaction

Authors: D. R. Hekman, K. Aquino, B. P. Owens, T. R. Mitchell, P. Schilpzand, & K. Leavitt

Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

There’s this great line in the 1980 movie, 9 to 5, when Jane Fonda says to Dabney Coleman: “You’re a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” and he replies: “So I have a few faults; who doesn’t?” Keep that in mind when you think about the Average Joe on the street, filling out a survey. Untrained raters don’t rate accurately—that’s why they need training! Customer satisfaction surveys are the epitome of using untrained raters to measure employee performance.


To Give Is To Get In Work Teams

Topic: Goals, Performance, Teams
Publication: Human Performance
Article: What you do for your team comesback to you: A cross-level investigation of individual goal specification,team-goal clarity, and individual performance
Authors: S. Sonnentag and J. Volmer
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Much of today’s work is done by workteams. Even if an employee’s work is self-contained, it is often combined with the work of other team members. Cleary then, individual performance is vital for determining the team’s level of overall performance. But how do employees’ inputs into the team impact their own performance?


Rushing Toward Goal Attainment

Topic: Goals
Publication: Applied Psychology: An International Review (JUN 2010)
Article: Velocity as a predictor of performance satisfaction, mental focus, and goal revision
Authors: J.D. Elicker, R.G. Lord, S.R. Ash, N.C. Kohari, B.J. Hruska, N.L McConnell and M.E. Medvedeff
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

We all know how great it feels to reach our goals.  But what about when we know we are approaching our goals quickly?   Goal setting is a process that creates discrepancies between one’s current performance and some future performance ideal.  One of the most obvious outcomes of goal attainment is satisfaction (Yes, I did it!), but in a recent study of college students’ academic goals over the course of a college semester, Elicker et al. (2010) found that the speed at which people believe they are reaching their goals, which is referred to as velocity, is also important in determining performance


How Important is The Store Manager?

Topic: Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2010)
Article: Store manager performance and satisfaction: Effects on store employee performance and satisfaction, store customer satisfaction, and store customer spending growth
Authors: R.G. Netemeyer, J.G. Maxham III, D.R. Lichtenstein
Reviewed By: Allison Gabriel

How many times do you frequently interact with a store manager when picking up your morning coffee? How about when you run to the store to grab some last minute groceries for dinner? The fact is, most of us are used to interacting with service employees, with the assumption that the store manager is in the background informing them of how to interact with customers. Research typically supports this view, believing that store manager’s actions impact their employees, and that these employees subsequently impact customer outcomes (e.g., customer satisfaction) and, ultimately the store’s performance. However, is it possible that store managers have their own impact on customers beyond that of their employees?


When Performance Goals are a Must

Topic: Feedback, Goals, Performance
Publication: Human Performance
Article: Achievement goals, feedback, and task performance
Authors: A.M. Cianci, J.M. Schaubroeck, and G.A. McGill
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Although performance feedback is vital to effective job performance, employees can react differently to the same feedback. For example, while some employees give up in the face of negative feedback about their performance, others persevere and actually improve their performance over time. Alternatively, when presented with positive feedback, some employees coast while others maintain their high levels of performance.  Cianci et al. recently showed that the type of goals that are set for employees help explain how they react to positive and negative performance feedback.


Keeping Your High Performers

Topic:  Performance
Publication:  Journal of Applied Psychology (May, 2010)
Article:  Retaining Your High Performers: Moderators of the Performance – Job Satisfaction – Voluntary Turnover Relationship
Author: A. Nyberg
Reviewed By:  Bobby Bullock

When high performers leave an organization out of dissatisfaction or because of a better offer, the organization looses out big.  A recent study by Nyberg (2010) examined some of the mechanisms that influence the relationship between employee performance and voluntary turnover.  In general, high performing employees are less likely to leave their organizations voluntarily.


Servant Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Topic: Leadership, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2010)
Article: Servant leadership, procedural justice climate, service climate, employee attitudes, and organizational citizenship behavior: A cross-level investigation
Authors: F.O. Walumbwa, C.A. Hartnell, and A. Oke
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Raise your hand if you are a Servant Leader – anyone, anyone?

In the workplace, servant leadership basically refers to a leadership style in which leaders place the needs of their employees above their own self-interests (some particularly famous world leaders may come to mind).  In addition to acknowledging their obligation to their employees, servant leaders also recognize their moral obligation to the organization’s success.  And according to a study by Walumbwa et al. (2010), servant leadership facilitates organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) in the workplace. In their study, Walumbwa and colleagues reason that servant leaders create a climate of reciprocity among their employees: In response to their leaders’ selfless leadership style, employees may return the favor and engage in voluntary work behaviors that are beneficial to the organization and its members (OCBs).


When Job Satisfaction Does (Doesn’t) Matter for Performance

Topic: PerformancePersonality
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (MAR 2010)
Article: Effects of job satisfaction and conscientiousness on extra-role behaviors
Authors: N.A. Bowling
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

It’s hard to overstate the importance of “extra-role behaviors” from an organizational perspective.  Extra-role behaviors are voluntary work behaviors (i.e., may not be explicitly required of employees), and they come in two basic flavors: organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs). OCBs are intended to help the organization and/or its members (e.g., stay late to help a coworker), while CWBs are intended to harm the organization and/or its members (e.g., steal materials, sabotage another coworker).  As you might expect, both can have a big impact on the bottom line!


Oldies — but Goodies — in Complex Jobs

Topic: Performance, Goals
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (JUNE 2010)
Article: Focus on opportunities as a mediator of the relationships between age, job complexity and work performance
Authors: H. Zacher, S. Heusner, M. Schmitz, M.M., Zwierzanska, and M. Frese
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Despite there being many compelling arguments for why age should be related to work performance (e.g., younger employees are less experienced, older employees have less drive), there is little evidence that such a relationship exists (except that older employees tend to engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors!).  According to Zacher and colleagues (2010), these null findings may be due to several competing factors which lead older employees to outperform younger employees and vice versa. In their recent study, Zacher et al. explored an individual difference known as focus on opportunities which refers to employees’ perceptions of the availability of future work-related options and opportunities.  The authors found that older employees tend to have a weaker focus on opportunities than younger employees, possibly because older employees receive less career support and are more focused on retirement than future work-related opportunities.


Work Hard or Disengage in the Face of Job Insecurity?

Topic: Performance, Turnover
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (MAR 2010)
Article: A model for the effects of job insecurity on performance, turnover intention, and absenteeism
Authors: T. Staufenbiel and C.J. König
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Job insecurity is in the air but how it affects performance is unclear. In a rather timely article on the role of job insecurity and predicting various workplace outcomes (job performance, turnover intentions and absenteeism), Staufenbiel and König (2010) collected data from 152 employees working for a German electronics wholesaler.


Do “Shocks” Lead to Positive Workplace Outcomes?

Topic:Performance, Job Attitudes
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (FEB 2010)
ArticleThe buffering effects of job embeddedness on negative shocks
Authors: J.P. Burton, B.C. Holtom, C.J. Sablynski, T.R. Mitchell, and T.W. Lee
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

It’s probably safe to say that negative workplace events are inevitable.  Sooner or later, every employee will experience them.  The problem is that after experiencing such events, many employees engage in or think about engaging in withdrawal behaviors (e.g., turnover, absenteeism, lateness) or lash out via counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs).  But, this is not true for all employees!  In fact, some employees respond to unpleasant events in ways that benefit the organization.  So who are these employees?


Can Personality Lead to Better Performance?

Topic: Motivation, Personality, Job Performance
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences (MAR 2009)
Article: Using a two-factor theory of achievement motivation to examine performance-based outcomes and self-regulatory processes.
Authors: Story, P.A., Hart, J.W., Stasson, M.F., & Mahoney, J.M.
Reviewed By: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl

Have you ever wondered why some employees seem to find it easier to achieve their organizational goals than others? Current research proposes that theories of achievement motivation can explain some of  these employee differences. Achievement motivation refers to the tendency to set and work toward personal goals and/or standards (Cassidy & Lynn, 1989). It can be broken down into two motivational factors: intrinsic achievement motivation (IAM) and extrinsic achievement motivation (EAM) (Ryan & Deci, 2000). While researchers agree that achievement motivation is a complicated concept, many disagree about how it differs amongst employees.


Subconscious Goal Setting: Pursuing Goals Without Even Knowing It

Topic: Goals
Publication: Journal of Management (JAN 2010)
Article: The relevance and viability of subconscious goals in the workplace
Authors: G.P. Latham, A.D. Stajkovic, and E.A. Locke
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that goal-setting is an effective strategy for improving employee performance. What you might not know is that goal-setting research is moving outside of the boundaries of human consciousness.  That’s right, a new line of research has recently emerged on what is known as subconscious goal-setting. Remember the stories of movie theaters mixing frames of popcorn in their previews clips to get the audience to visit the concession stand?  Subconscious goal setting works a bit like that.  Although it may sound a little ‘out there’, support is building for its effectiveness in the workplace.


Key to Good Boss-Employee Relationships: First Impressions and Then Performance

Topic: Leadership, Personality, Performance
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (MAR 2009)
Article: The development of leader–member exchanges: Exploring how personality and performance influence leader and member relationships over time.
Authors: Nahrgang, J.D., Morgeson, F.P., and Ilies, R.
Reviewed By: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl

The relationships that form between leaders and their employees have been associated with a number of workplace outcomes including employee satisfaction, performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors. However, little research has examined how these leader-member relationships develop over time. Nahrgang, Morgeson, and Ilies (2009) followed 330 leader-member dyads over an eight-week period of time to see how personality and performance impacts the quality of these relationships.


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.


Which Employees Set the Bar Higher?

Topic: Personality, Motivation, Goals
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences (JAN 2010)
Article: Individual differences in reactions to goal-performance discrepancies over time.
Authors: P.D. Converse, E. Steinhauser, and J. Pathak
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

By nature, a goal creates a discrepancy between an employee’s current performance and some future state. For example, though I have only written one and half sentences, my goal is to write a full review. Thus, by setting this goal, I have created a goal-performance discrepancy for myself. Research suggests that goal-performance discrepancies motivate employees to modify their goals (either up or down) and/or efforts toward attaining those goals (slack off or try harder).


Cha Cha Cha Changes…in Selection and Training

Topic: Performance, Selection, Training
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2009)
Article: Effects of selection and training on unit-level performance over time: A latent growth modeling approach  
Authors: C. H. Van Iddekinge, C. H. Ferris, P. L. Perrewe, A. A. Perryman, F. R. Blass, & T. D. Heetderks
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

Recently, Van Iddekinge and colleagues conducted a study of the organizational impact of employee selection and training practices. They collected data from 861 business units of a large fast food organization in the U.S. Data (including profits) were collected on a monthly basis for a full calendar year.


Eyes on the prize

Topic: Leadership, Personality, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2009)
Article The role of goal-focused leadership in enabling the expression of conscientiousness
Authors: A.E. Colbert, L.A. Witt
Reviewed By: Larry Martinez

Colbert and Witt take the stance that goal-directed leadership tactics (being very directive about goals) creates an environment that allows highly conscientious employees to express their conscientiousness most effectively. In other words, this type of leadership can activate the conscientiousness that may be lying dormant (or at least unharnessed) in a leader’s employees. That is, if leaders can effectively communicate organizational goals to their employees in such a way as to create goal-alignment, conscientious individuals will be better able to achieve these goals than their less conscientious counterparts, and these conccientious employees will be more productive than they would be in a less goal-directed environment.