Employee Psychology

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The Upside of Being a Woman Among ‘Bros’

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

“Bro” culture in business and the institutional sexism it can breed are hot topics these days. But could there be situations where there is an advantage to being a woman in a workplace full of bros — men who form tight, in-group ties? New research on gender and leadership in the workplace looked at the willingness of managers to accept advice and feedback from subordinates. The findings: In certain circumstances, managers are actually more responsive to suggestions from the opposite gender.

The Missing Piece in Employee Development

In recent years, organizations have begun to prioritize processes for improving future performance over evaluating employees’ past efforts. Yearly development objectives and annual reviews are being replaced by real-time feedback delivered directly by line managers. Although this shift holds much promise, it risks bumping up against some hard realities — namely, the ability of line managers to help employees develop. In reality, many managers aren’t confident they can change employee behavior.

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How to Have Influence

The difference between effective and ineffective change makers is that the effective ones don’t rely on a single source of influence. They marshal several sources at once to get superior results.

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The Power of Moderation

Employees with deep motivation, strong commitment, unquestioned loyalty and widely shared values can have drawbacks. Much has been written about the upside of deep commitment, but employers need to be wary of workers who identify too much with the company. Overidentification, says the author, may lead to an ends-justifies-the-means outlook, unethical actions, substitution of personal needs for company goals and resentment when the company doesn’t meet employees’ expectations.

The Hidden Costs of Organizational Dishonesty

When companies act dishonestly, the psychological costs outweigh any short-term gains. Dishonesty ultimately decreases repeat business and increases worker turnover and employee theft. Degradation of a company’s reputation, adverse effects on employee values and increased surveillance of workers through expensive new systems eat at an organization’s health. The authors offer proof that honesty is still the best policy.

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Escaping the Identity Trap

Organizations, like people, have essential natures defined by their formative experiences, their beliefs, their knowledge bases and their core competences. Attempts at change that are in conflict with this core identity are often doomed to failure. Managers can learn to recognize such conflicts and initiate identity change to make their companies more adaptive.

Rebuilding Behavioral Context: Turn Process Reengineering into People Rejuvenation

Why are some companies able to remain vital, even after extensive reengineering, while others flounder and fail? The answer, according to these authors, lies in a company’s ability to rejuvenate its employees by establishing a behavioral context with four characteristics — discipline, support, trust and stretch. The authors show how companies like Intel and 3M have been able to renew themselves by creating an environment in which people are the most important resource.

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