Category Archives: Organizational Psychology

Three Reasons Why Teamwork Makes Life and Work an Easier, and a More Rewarding Game.

Getting along with others can be difficult at times, even ‘painful’ depending on what you are trying to do. We all have different methods for getting things done, we all work at iStock-618547236-group-work-170712different speeds, and WILL have different philosophies about what needs to be done. That’s all part of dealing with people.

Working as a team, whether it is a family unit, a sports team, a business organization, or a country makes us all much more productive. As a coherent, working team with would have an opportunity to use various specialties and skills. We can hold each other accountable, and provide feedback on what is wrong and what is right. We can learn from each other and make our work better.

There are of course many ways in which teamwork makes life and work easier and more rewarding. I have found that the following have the greatest impact.

Frees Us Up to Get Better Work Done More Often

Working alone on a project is great, you get to produce something amazing, and you get to do it how you want to get it done. However, when you are working as part of a team you might not have those luxuries. But there are a lot more benefits.

Working on a team can be frustrating at first, you might ‘Butt Heads’ when trying to figure out just who is going to do what and how. After this period of conflict, and after you figure your stuff out, the team will discover that it can accomplish a lot more than it could as individuals.

Successful teams produce more because they can tap into that magic that creates success, PuzzlePiecescollective resources! Working on a project by yourself means that you only have YOUR SKILLS, and YOUR KNOWLEDGE to get the job done. Working on a team you get the advantage of; multiple skill bases, multiple viewpoints, and multiple hands in the mix to get the job done faster. Sure, that means that there might be more of a chance for mistakes, but when you have more eyes on the project, your more likely to catch them before they become serious.

There are three questions that your group must ask itself if it is going to get better work done, and more often;

  1. Am I On the Team for Myself, or Am I In It For The Team?

It is important that everyone on the team realize that they are a ‘Team’. It is fine to know that you are the best at what you do and that you might, in fact, be indispensable to the team. But if that means that distracts you from the goal of the team to further your own ends (Glory, Recognition, Money…), then you should not be there.

Primadonnas can be great! They can be entertaining, they can even serve as a ‘Rallying Point’ for the team. But they often can serve as a distraction, especially when they start serving their own egos and end goals. It is up to the team leaders to ‘reign them in’ and make sure that the ‘primadonna’ is contributing to and serving the team and not themselves.

2. Do I Know the Goal of The Team?

Team leaders should make sure that everyone on the team knows the ‘end goal’ for the team. It is kind of difficult to accomplish a task, or reach a goal, without knowing the; Why? What? Where? When? And How? Sure, you might not need to know every little detail (you might not want to know), but you should be aware of the pertinent information. Be aware of; why is this goal important? What is the ‘end goal’ of the team? Where is my position on the team? When will this goal be reached? How are we going to get to the goal?

If you are unaware of the goal of the team, then you might want to ask and make yourself aware or leave the team.

3. Am I A Good Fit For The Team? Is The Team Benefiting From My Being There?

Ok, so this one is two questions, but they contribute to a single outcome. Production.

We all enjoy working with people with similar; working styles, attitudes and motivations. But do these working styles work together and is the team benefiting from them. If these working styles mesh and produce excellent work…. great! If they do not, then it is up to you and your team’s leadership to figure out if there is another position on the team that you might work better in. You might work better on a different team, and you must accept that for the good of the team.

Builds Morale and Gives Us Confidence

Human beings, for the most part, are very social creatures. We take great comfort in being part of a group, whether it is a small group (team or a family) or a large group. And creates confidence in us when we can contribute to the betterment of that group or team. individual-coaching(Bushak, 2015) It builds self-esteem knowing that we have done something that will have a lasting impact on an organization or group.

It also builds morale in us individually and as a group knowing that we have the group’s support. When we know that someone has ‘our back’ we feel more secure with being creative, going outside of our ‘comfort zone’. In other words, innovating!

People who feel secure and valued are more likely to contribute their best work and more of it.

Makes Learning Easier and Happen More Often

Learning is one of the things that we do most as human beings. We are busy learning every waking moment of every day, whether we realize it or not. Our brains are constantly taking in information, updating information, and using that information. When do we learn the most? When we are working/playing/creating with others!

Would you rather have things told too you, or would you rather discuss and debate them with your teammates? Discussing topics with friends and coworkers make them more pliable and easier to understand for us and the group.

Learning with a team is often more successful because:

  • Constant Reinforcement

Learning in a team environment means that you can discuss and debate the facts with your friends and colleagues. This ‘repetition’ provides constant reinforcement of those facts in your memory, which means they are more likely to ‘stick’.

  • Feedback Works

When we are learning, we need some kind of feedback. We need the ability to assess ourselves and the direction our learning is going. Groups and teams provide that feedback. Sure, we could assess our own work and learning direction, but that is usually unreliable subjective self-feedback. Our teams/groups can provide that objective feedback on our progress that we need.

shutterstock_97221119-leadershipSuccessful teams depend on leadership. It could be someone who just happens to take on the mantle of ‘Leader’, or maybe someone who is decided will be the ‘Leader’ or the group could provide mutual direction amongst itself. Leadership is critical.

Leadership should be there to guide and direct talent, not ‘badger’ and micromanage. Micromanagers usually elicit self-doubt and frustration from groups. This is usually because the members of the group know what they are supposed to be doing, but the leadership keeps putting their ‘two-cents’ in any way.

Team leaders should be collaborative, willing to listen to, work with and learn from team members. This should go for the entire team, you never know what you are going to learn from your team, so be open to anything and everything!

I am interested in starting a conversation about teamwork and its benefits. Please feel free to comment!

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Bushak, L. (2015, June 16). Joining A Group Boosts Confidence And Self-Esteem Even More Than Having Friends. Retrieved from Medical Daily: http://www.medicaldaily.com/joining-group-boosts-confidence-and-self-esteem-even-more-having-friends-338534

 

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Why Playing The ‘Short Game’ Almost Always Leaves You Short

         The Short Game, in sports this often means ‘playing it safe’, by making the short pass, or by taking the closer easier shot…..sure, by playing this way you’ll make progress, but the chance of hitting that ‘Home Run’ are all that more remote. In order to make real, and amazing progress you eventually have to take risks; on both the things you do and the people you trust (in both sports and business).

We as human beings like to play it safe; it makes us feel secure to keep OUR ducks in a row fishthinkbigger-copyand not take risks by sharing ourselves and what we have. We have our own little social network that we only feel that we can open up to and allow access to our resources. We want to play that short ‘safe’ game because we know what the results will be, and we know that our network will reap gains from it. This reaches back to ‘caveman times’ when we huddled in our social units; not communicating, not sharing, not TRUSTING in the abilities and awareness of others. Only when we as humans began this process of reaching out did we begin the process of emotional, technological, and social evolution.

It is extremely important that we as a people are able to reach out to others, and expand our knowledge base…..otherwise, we are stuck in our own little world, knowing the same things about the same stuff, and not learning anything (evolving)! Imagine if we never really ‘tried’, if we saw that next mountain and never asked “what is over on the other side?” If we never took the risk to find out! We would still be a people huddled in caves, with no hope for change. https://hbr.org/2013/10/the-hidden-dangers-of-playing-it-safe

Only by playing The Long Game, by taking risks, by being patient, by communicating (with everyone), by sharing, by seeing the ‘Big Picture’ from multiple viewpoints do we achieve tremendous gains on all fronts! That is, after all, one of the main reasons why we are here, isn’t it? To achieve. We are here to be the best people we can be, to create the best product possible, to take care of each other so that we can succeed as a species!

Teamwork has been the human method of survival for many thousands of years, depending on our ‘human team’ for resources and assistance, and like it or not……we are all on the same team, supposedly playing the same ‘game’ (unfortunately not all by the same rules).

There are a number of key aspects to playing The Long Game that makes it easier to not drop the ball. It’s might not be easy for some of us, but it is well worth the effort.

  • Shut Up and Listen – Just remember that you don’t know everything! We all know something about something and are experts in our own area(s). The person that you least expect might be able to contribute an idea or resource that could change your; life, business, social standing, or even attitude towards all of the above. You don’t know what someone is going to contributshutite, so why not give them the chance to voice their opinion or idea(s)? If what they have to say, or for that matter what they can do, doesn’t fit in with what you are trying to accomplish, fine. You haven’t really lost much other than a few minutes of your time, but you have gained the knowledge of what that person is capable of, and what that person knows (and that is GOLDEN). Don’t forget to voice your opinions too, let the group know what you need…..you never know who or what someone else knows! Knowledge is Power!
  • Give Credit Where It Is Due – When you do something great (or even mediocre) don’t you want to be recognized for doing it? Sure, we all do. When someone puts effort into doing ANYTHING they want some sort of recognition for doing it, it’s only human to expect this. You don’t necessarily have to throw a party every time the garbage is taken out or every time someone clears a paper jam, but if you want people to keep doing things for you, it is really important to at least give them a ‘pat on the back’ or a “thank you”. Besides, it actually feels good to offer someone recognition, you both get a rush of Oxytocin (one of those ‘feel good’ hormones) and this will make you both want to do it again (this actually gives people further incentive to do an even BETTER job more and more often). http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/04/30/how-the-trust-molecule-drives-business-performance/#7e2b12ec2f13
  • Don’t Think ‘You’re All That’ – Sure, it’s great to realize that you are awesome at what you do and that you get things done the way they need to be done! BUT, just Creativeremember that somewhere out there is someone who might just do what you do better than you. People like working with people who are humble. When a member of a group expounds on their abilities and accomplishments (especially a group leader), this often overshadows the others and makes less of the group’s successes. Don’t worry, people will recognize your achievements and abilities for what they are; the important thing is the accomplishments of the group. Don’t Make it About You, Make It About The Team! Confidence is Infectious!
  • Be Patient – Remember the old saying “Good things happen to those who wait“, it’s actually true! By being patient and taking your time in what you are doing will reap you more rewards than rushing and making a mess of things. By taking your time, by setting achievable deadlines, and by allowing others to keep pace, you will avoid;
    • Mistakes – This one speaks for itself. When we rush, we forget steps, we miss key elements, and just generally make a mess.
    • Missed opportunities – Very often opportunities will present themselves to add to a project or task, or actually improve on what you are doing. But, if you are rushing you might miss those opportunities.
    • Not allowing your job or project to achieve true fruition – Often a project or task requires time and thought to allow it to be completed to its maximum effect (to allow for greater success). By rushing, you might miss out on the maximum return-on-investment (ROI).
  • Play Fair – No one likes a cheat! By playing by the rules you level the playing field, allowing everyone to work together better….remember, teamwork! By not playing fairfair, this causes three things (or more) that are extremely disruptive to the idea of teamwork:
    1. Kills Trust – When was the last time you trusted someone who didn’t play by the rules? I would imagine probably never. Sure it might somehow feel good knowing that you have the upper-hand and every advantage in the book, but it doesn’t feel so good to everyone else who has to work and play with you! People want to trust that their co-workers and friends can achieve through their own skills and abilities, and not by skirting the rules.
    2. Causes Confusion – When someone is playing by a different set of rules than the rest of the team, people are either going to; butt heads, or not know what is exactly going on! We humans don’t really like confusion (sometimes it can be fun, but not when important stuff is on the line), we as a species like to know what we have to do, when it needs to be done, and how we can go about doing it. When confusion comes into the picture (especially in business, most of us spend a lot of time trying to figure out why or how something different is happening, rather than focusing on the task that needs doing).
    3. How Do You Want To Be Remembered – Would you rather be remembered as someone who got things done the wrong way, or as someone who achieved something great the correct way? This is something that we all should ask ourselves when we are trying to accomplish something. Most of us would like to be remembered as someone who has the skill to get this done properly. The group should be able to be remembered for what they got done, and how they ALL worked together to complete the job…that is true GREATNESS! You Can’t Take It With You, But Actions Last!
  • And, Give Back – Always remember to share in the spoils of victory (or any other accomplishment). You wouldn’t be where you are today without your friends, family, and co-workers. From the CEO down to the janitorial staff, all of them contributed to where you and your company are today (or they have the potential to contribute). By making everyone feel like they are part of the social group/team they will want to do great things and contribute to the continued success of the group!

Sometimes you have to play The Short Game in order to get things done (when there is a time crunch or an emergency), it’s fine to shift into that mode for the ‘short term’. Never forget the big picture, that the only way to make the really big and profitable advances is to invest in people and utilize their skills and abilities.

True, there are those out there who exclusively play The Short Game; they see the golf-ball-549228_1920short-term vision and don’t take true risks on people and work, and they do achieve some level of financial and social gain. But fortunately, there are people out there with true vision, with patience, who are willing to take risks on people and resources to achieve amazing gains…..true leaders!

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Why Google Works….and why some companies just don’t quite get there.

We all know Google, the information/technology mega-juggernaut that has quite effectively changed the world and the way that we all look at our always useful friend “The Internet”. Google has brought us more in touch with so much useful information, in fun and interesting ways…so much so, that Google has become an actual unofficial “verb” in our everyday language. But why is Google so darn successful when other technology companies might fail? It’s not like other companies don’t have access to the same hardware, or that Google has a monopoly on the use of technology. It’s not as if Google has sole access to elite marketing firms. So why is Google so successful? I’ll tell you why……the people, and Google’s approach toward them.
images (8)People……not the product. Of course the product is important, but a company that understands that when you hire the best talent and let them do what they know best, they will produce the best quality products and services, and will usually continue to do so without argument. When management creates an air of fun, and community at work that ‘employees’ can look forward to on a daily basis…..they will enjoy coming to work, and not dread it. When your people know that your company is as invested in them as much as you what them to be invested in the company, they will go above and beyond to create the best products possible. Micromanagement just doesn’t seem to work anymore, people are too interconnected, to well-informed, and often just aren’t willing to have someone looking over their shoulder (no one really wants that, do we?).
Making your people feel ‘indispensable’ (even if both you and they know they actually are Indispensable-300x214not) gives them the incentive to be ‘creative’, to do great things, to make sure to create bigger and better products that they are proud of! This will create an inherent ‘investment’ in the success of the company, not just ‘worry’ about the success of the individual.
So……let them do what they are best at, let them play! Successful organizations, especially the new ‘up and comers’, understand that people who enjoy what they are doing and the environment in which they are doing it, will do their job better! Long since past are the days when you could insist that an employee do any job, micromanage the heck out of them, and get a quality product. Technology has advanced too far, and products are too sophisticated to get quality from just anyone.
People often work best in a relaxed environment (especially in Tech Corporations), where they can be creative on their own terms, and not having to watch their backs all the time to see who is looking over their shoulders. Team work is about utilizing each others best skills, combining them with others to achieve optimal results……allowing creativity to flow, occasionally hitting some rough patches or stoppages, but eventually reaching their end goal. Google and other tech companies seem to understand this.
It is important to trust your employees to do their jobs, people like being trusted, it empowers and energizes them and gets them excited about coming to work. The more that people feel ‘they’ did a great job, in their own creative way, the more they will feel invested in the product and the company…..very often their creative potential skyrockets as a result. Of course, there are those rare individuals who will take advantage of this level of freedom and just ‘slack off’, this is where the role of the Manager or Supervisor comes in, and you need to get them back on track.

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Why are Google’s people so successful (and therefore the company)?
Comfort – No, I am not talking about the average Google programmer’s office chair. indexWhat I am talking about is that Google has taken the ‘worry’ out of the equation. Google has generated an environment of security. Knowing that everything you will need to do your job as efficiently as possible is an extremely comfortable feeling. Technology companies today have taken on the correct attitude that when you have little to worry about, and feel safe with where you are working that frees you up to focus on the job and not all the other stuff.
Teamwork – The fact that Google only hires the best and the brightest gives its staff a tremendous collection of resources to work with! And, generally smart people find a way to work well with smart people. Of course I am sure there are creative disagreements, but this is usually the best method of developing superior products. And, the fact that Google is sooooo selective means that they can find people who will fit in to their dynamic environment.
Investment in the corporate team…..it isn’t always about the individual’s ability to achieve, it is about the ability of the corporation to achieve. Google’s people seem to be on a mission to make the best product possible because they believe in the corporation’s goals, an investment in the company means ‘Team First’, and that leads to complete success.
You Have My Back, I’ll Have Yours – When a company makes its employees feel climbing-mountain-012supported and important, nine times out of ten those employees will bend over backward to make sure that the company is successful! Trust is ‘key’ when it comes to an organization being a tremendous success. Hiring the right people, and then trusting them to do their jobs with a sense of maturity and fun results in a multitude of benefits. Being in a leadership position isn’t always about telling people ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’ (this does not inspire trust in you or your employee), it is about guiding your people toward the company’s ultimate goal, and backing them up when they need it but allowing them to figure out new ways of innovating and producing (this inspires trust all the way around).

As Multi-Billionaire Sir Richard Branson once said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. A mantra (one of many) that has followed him throughout his incredibly successful career. Valued employees don’t want to be told ‘what to do’, they want to be allowed to do what they know how to do (that is why you hired them, for their expertise). They want to be guided in the direction that the company needs them to propel the organization, to be successful so they can make the company successful. They want to know they have the resources necessary to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities, in a place where they can enjoy doing it.

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Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, What?

“What is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, and what do they do?” This is very often the response I get when people hear the term. This is very understandable, because the title itself is quite a mouthful. Very simply (and this is an oversimplification) I/O Psychologists ‘Make sure that employees work better, and make sure that work is better for people’. They are Work Psychologists, and they are actually indispensable in a modern workforce.
So…..how can these ‘I/O People’ help me and my organization you may ask? Well, there are a multitude of ways of leveraging an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist’s skills and abilities. Here are three of the most important ways that an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist can turn your organization into a well-oiled machine!
1. Succession Planning – Industrial/Organizational Psychologists excel at looking for problems within an organization and its _9952725_origpersonnel, and well as looking at strengths and abilities. When someone is ready to leave the company, the organizational psychologist can often see this ahead of time and make sure you are prepared for it, with someone who can stand out at the position. This is critical in a time when turnover potential is so high, and when the ability to be competitive requires having the right people in the right positions.
2. Training and Learning Development – As technology and innovation advance in business and society today, it is important for businesses to ‘keep up’ and advance as well. The Industrial/Organizational Psychologist is there……with an understanding of adult learning dynamics and motivational needs, these professionals are adept at making sure that your organization’s staff understands these advancements, and how to use their skills and abilities to creatively innovate with them.
3. Team Development – Creating a coherent, functioning team is not always an easy task, an I/O Psychologist can make this a bit team-developmentmore straightforward. With an in-depth understanding of motivations and interactions they can spot troubling signs, and determine the best way to avoid escalation and to foster improvement. The Industrial/Organization Psychologist can also assist in laying-out plans for developing new teams and organizing them into innovation dynamos!
There are of course many other aspects of the Industrial/Organizational Psychologist’s skill set that can be of use to both corporate and social professionals alike. These however are the key abilities that all the others feed off of.

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Three Reasons Why You Need To Color Outside The Lines

Remember when you were a kid and you had your box of zillion count crayons and you spent hours coloring in your others_rainbow_crayons-0411coloring books, but you never really wanted to color outside the big bold outlines? Well, we are all big boys and girls now, and it is more important than ever that we try and leave those lines behind and try some new things.

For centuries some of the most influential people have been coloring outside the lines (Plato, Galileo, Lincoln, Einstein…). However it is more important than ever to make this change in our behavior. Where as a great many people may think that the reason to be different is to just make yourself more ‘interesting’, corporations are looking for this behavior for much deeper reasons.

  1. Innovation – When you ‘color outside the lines’ your thoughts might stray a bit, and that can be a good thing. You want to expand on current ideas, and stretch yourself a bit (ok, sometimes more than a bit). New ideas don’t occur in a vacuum, they often happen when someone sees another individual’s ideas and expands on them. If you just keep creating the same old colors, within the same old lines…..your just going to keep having the same old ideas, and keep turning out the same old stuff.
  2. Humility – It says a lot about a person when they are willing to leave there comfort zone and try coloring something new, and possibly in a completely new shape (and heaven forbid coloring in someone else’s coloring book). When you are willing to say that something else might be better for my company than what I am already doing, that I might be holding my company back by maintaining the status quo, and that I am willing to go somewhere new to make it better, that says that you are willing to put the team ahead of yourself. Some of the most successful organizations on the planet (Google, Apple, and Amazon) strive to find humble people who see the team as being a more important commodity than oneself.
  3. Teamwork – People like working with people who have different ideas and skills, it makes life more interesting, doesn’t it? Beyond keeping life from getting boring, people who ‘color outside the lines’ also generally contribute a lot more to the broader picture……a LOT MORE! The individuals who bring unique ideas and skills become an asset and strength for the group, because in order for the team to survive in a hostile environment, it must embrace change, this doesn’t happen without leaving the lines. Sure, it might seem counter-intuitive, but squiggling outside the lines adds a feeling of security to the team too….people like knowing that something new and interesting is going on within the company. Change is good, and people know it!

images (8)Of course there are many other reasons why you would want to be your own person, and do things in a unique way. But these reasons seem to hold the most value for corporations these days. Organizations are looking for interesting people who are individuals who know when to put the ‘team’ first, not just be concerned with themselves and how things benefit him or her.

The corporate mindset of doing the same thing because it’s comfortable may work in the short-term, however since things in the world of business are constantly changing these are not the kind of people they need for survival in the long-term.

Change is good!

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When Leaders Start Leading Too Much

It is hard to dispute the fact that we all need a little direction, a little guidance at some point in our lives. This either due to a lack ofDirection experience with a situation, a lack of fundamental knowledge about the subject matter, or it could just be a lack of motivation to accomplish the task in question. But, when is there too much leadership, and not enough exploration and growth on the part of those who seem to need that direction?

Leadership is often not so much about ability, it is more about responsibility and being able to management the skills and the abilities of those who are a part of your team. It is about being the one who is will to take on the role of mediating out when someone might need direction, and when they may not. It is part of the job of the leader to know when put pressure on some people to perform in a certain direction, and when to just let them do their own thing.

People very rarely like, or appreciate being led around by the nose constantly, always being told what to do and how it is going to be done. This leadership style has its place at times and may be necessary when emergencies arise, and there is absolutely no margin for error. But when this form of management becomes the norm in an organization, or even at home, this can cause resentment, discord, and even worse; complacency. Too much of this kind of leadership may send the message that the team isn’t trusted to figure things out on their own.

CreativeCreativity flourishes when people are given the freedom to ‘play’ and approach problems and situations with their own style and abilities. Innovation relies on a leader given their team the problem at hand, giving the team the restrictions placed on the leader, and then letting the team figure out a way around those restrictions to the solution.

The creativity that your leadership establishes also need a level of restraint, as you don’t want the members of you team losing sight of the established vision (Goodman, 2013). However these constraints should be realistic and allow for freedom of movement, and they should be consistent with your style of leadership.

As a leader, one should consistently be analyzing the approach toward team members, and whether or not the team’s production correlates with your style of leadership. This analysis should tell you when you team is responding to your methods, and when there needs to be a change. Your people may not always tell you when you either need to lay off the breaks or when they need more direction, this is part of the responsibility of leadership, the ‘knowing’, not always the ‘doing’.

 

Goodman, N. (2013, August 13). Striking the Perfect Balance Between Creative Freedom and Realistic Limits. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227673

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Black Friday

Ever wonder why we are so attracted toward going to the mall, and battling the insane mobs of people that congregate

Shopping

there on that specific day of the year? Why rather than doing our shopping at sporadic points during the Christmas season, so many of us  gather at this mecca of craziness? There is a very primitive reason for this behavior.

Why do we do most things these days? Mostly because our social and tribal nature says so. Why does the gentleman help the elderly woman across the street? Yes, it is the nice thing to do, but also he has a protective instinct to do so. Why does the woman tell the strangers child not to play with the light socket? Again, it is the right thing to do, but she also has an instinct to protect the young of the human tribe. We also have innate tribal instincts that drive us to shop, and our capitalist corporate knows how to prey on this.

So why do we shop where we shop? Social Learning Theory might tell us that we shop where our family and friends shop, that this is all just learned behavior. This explanation works well, although I (and others) believe there must be more to it than that. We are all social animals, and as such we all have an instinctive need to carry out necessary activities together in groups, originally this may have been for survival and a better chance of accomplishing the task (this is why the caveman usually went out to hunt with his buddies). But now, since the threat level is gone, these reasons may have changed, but are no less important.

So why do we make the trip to the mall to shop on what has come to be known as “Black Friday”? Well, since the time Caveman-Diet1when we were all cave men and cave women we all  have had; a need to hunt, a need to compete, a need to accomplish. For some this need is met through being successful in business, for some it is met through competitive sports, but for many of us this need is still only met through this urge to hunt for those elusive deals, either on our own or in packs.

Shopping on Black Friday can provide us with a great many unseen benefits, depending on the perspective we take. True, the stress that the shopping can cause may be a bit unnerving to say the least,  but if you take your time while you’re out and about these benefits become clear.

  • Accomplishment – When you find that elusive deal that might be better than the other shopper, it feels great…..like you just won the lottery (ok, not THAT GOOD). But it does feel good, that’s a serotonin rush. Serotonin has numerous beneficial effects on the human body, both physical and psychological. Just remember, once you get the ‘feel good’ feeling, you’ll want more.
  • Social Interaction – The mere act of being around other people has beneficial effects on you, however you can do one better. Interacting with others and being helpful to others can give you that feeling of accomplishment once again. Who knows, while you are out you might make a friend and extend your social support network.
  • Exercise – With all the lifting, walking, carrying, and other activities involved in shopping at the mall, you are giving Brighton_Churchill_Square_Shopping_Centreyour body quite a workout. The cardiac, respiratory and weight management benefits here are obvious. But, during that day long workout when the endorphins kick in and you start getting your second wind, they will make the stress easier to handle.

We all may have our different reasons for dealing with the craziness that is Black Friday, but we all share the same primitive qualities that we have discussed, it comes down to whether or not we are prepared to indulge these aspects of our humanity. Fortunately, when we do we can gain some benefits from the experience, as long as we keep things in perspective.

So, your spouse, partner, friends or family might tell you that they don’t really feel like going out with you into all that insanity to feed the corporate monster at the mall. Remind them that you can also get the same benefits by going out and shopping at the local stores, as long as you do it together.

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Fun, We Should All Have Some Every Day

Fun – It’s a funny little word that a lot of people seem to think is not all that important to us as human beings, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Having fun does a lot for us as people on SO many levels….physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Physically, having fun is a great stress reliever, whether it’s just running around like a nut with a friend at the park or spending time at the movies, having fun REDUCES STRESS LEVELS, and stress can cause a plethora of serious medical issues:

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

And, you may not even realize that you are displaying some of these symptoms until it is too late. If you are showing or think you are displaying any of these symptoms, you should get out with someone and have some fun!

Understanding Stress Symptoms

Emotionally, we are all social animals and we need to be around others(whether we think so or not). Having fun engages us with others, allows us to display parts of ourselves that we keep cooped up inside when we’re at work. This engagement allows us to bleed off emotional stress(even more insidious than physical stress, we often don’t realize this is effecting us). Whether you are at a party or just sitting in a diner talking with a good friend, this is a critical part of who we are, social engagement.

Signs of Stress

Signs of stress include:

  • Apathy, lack of energy
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty “keeping track” of things
  • Feeling on edge
  • A change in eating habits
  • Sleeping more than usual or difficulty getting to sleep
  • Being more emotional
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve or forget stress

Symptoms of stress

Symptoms of stress include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems (pain, diarrhea)
  • Palpitations

Emotional Well Being

Spinoza once said;

“Mind and body are one and the same individual which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, and now under the attribute of extension”.

And from a psychological viewpoint the first portion of that statement fits with my point, when your body is having fun it engages the mind, releases restrained energies, releases beneficial endorphins, reduces anxiety and fear, and it improves your view of who you are and what you are capable of doing.

       Mental Health Benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience

Laughter is The Best Medicine

So, dare you ask what kind of fun should you be having……doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if you are going to a party or just spending the night out with one friend. Of course you shouldn’t have TOO much fun, you should be able to balance fun with responsibility. It can be fun sometimes to spend time alone, but spending to much time alone having fun does not provide the social engagement that we all need, so spend time with people outside of work.

Work can be fun, work may be fun, but you should always have a life outside of work and it should be fun, whether it is spent with a; husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, friends, kids, or family….work is work, fun is fun.
GO OUT AND HAVE SOME TODAY!!!!!!!!

Emotional Well Being. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic:http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/stress_management/hic_warning_signs_of_emotional_stress_when_to_see_your_doctor.aspx

Kemp, G., Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2012, June). Laughter Is The Best Medicine. Retrieved from Help Guide:http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

Smtih, M., Segal, R., & Segal, J. (2012, July). Understanding Stress Symptoms. Retrieved from Help Guide:http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

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Corporate Psychopaths – Creators of Mayhem in Business

man-behind-mask-150x227       When most people hear the term ‘psychopath’ they usually think of someone who is hostile or violent, a person who is out to do them physical harm. This assumption is not exactly accurate; a psychopath, by definition is, Psychopaths are those one per cent of the population who have no conscience and who, therefore, demonstrate an egotistic and ruthless approach to living (Mathieu, Neumann, Babiak, & Hare, 2014). It is a lack of personal control that creates these violent tendencies that we associate with them.

But who are these ‘Corporate Psychopaths’? These are the people who you really feel that you want to know at first, but then you regret being acquainted with later on. They are the people who are ego-centric without concern for others, or how their actions affect others (in either a positive of negative manner), and who are the people who appear to be charming and ‘smooth-talkers’, then eventually turn into manipulative, hostile bullies.

The damage these individuals can do to a team or corporation is considerable, teams would be especially vulnerable to their effects. The havoc created by the corporate (or successful) psychopath is explained by social learning theory, that we as human beings learn vicariously by observing others, especially by watching influential role models who are credible to the observer (Bandura, 1971). When a fellow employees observes that another (or possibly others) is treating others with disrespect, hostility, and rudeness, this tells him or her that this is appropriate conduct for the situation, this toxic behavior will be magnified and proliferated throughout the organization (Boddy, 2013).

So, how do you as a corporate leader or HR Professional avoid the problems that these Bullies of the Business World can cause?

  • Have an internal succession plan that is aware of its people’s abilities and motivations. When you have a group of people who work well together and who know their jobs, be aware of this and groom them into leadership roles, ratherleadership-thumb-590x590-16830 than risk letting a bully work his or her way into the corporate infrastructure (Lipman, 2013).
  • Make hiring decisions based on tangible evidence. Be sure not to be taken in by appearances or mannerisms, corporate psychopaths will use charm and force of personality to find their way into a position of influence. Although it is important that a person in a leadership position possess these qualities to a degree, it is also important that any potential employee be able to ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’ (Lipman, 2013).
  • During the interview process try and take a look at the ethical and moral character of any candidate. It is important that members of a team or corporation ‘fit in together’ and have some level of agreement on ethics and corporate morality. Although this may be hard to catch, the corporate psychopath may give ‘glimmers’ of disagreement with the organizations views on how people and work should be treated (Lipman, 2013).

So, the big question on the table is, if your organization is ‘infected’ by these corporate bullies, and about 4% of Pressurecorporate management positions have been (How to protect yourself from a ‘successful’ psychopath , 2013), what can you do about it?

  • Engage in a good, productive relationship with your boss (or your boss’s boss). This is always a good idea no matter who is involved, but when you throw a bully into the mix, having a great relationship with the ‘higher ups’ will make recognizing the great things that you do that much easier for upper management.
  • Don’t get sucked into playing their game. Take the more mature, higher ground and recognize the behavior for what it is, a person making themselves bigger than they really are.
  • Document abusive or counterproductive behavior. This will allow you to back yourself up if something more dramatic occurs in the future, and it will allow you to recognize this behavior again if it occurs.
  • Develop a close-knit, supportive team of people around you. Again, this is a good idea no matter who is involved as this practice will assist in maintaining the kind of creative energy and behavior that an innovative team requires.

We all know that dealing with different personalities can be difficult, and in the workplace this can be especially problematic when you don’t get it right. When ‘corporate psychopaths’ crop up and start sucking the creative and innovative energies out of an organization, this becomes an issue that should be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Through maintaining awareness of the conduct of people in our organizations, and creating a vision-oriented ethical standard that everyone can get on board with, this makes it easier to recognize aberrant behavior before it can get out of control.

Bandura, A. (1971). Social Learning Theory. General Learning Press.

Boddy, C. R. (2013). Corporate Psychopaths, Conflict, Employee Affective Well-Being and Countterproductive Work Behaviour. Journal of Business Ethics, 108.

Dictionary.com, LLC. (2014). Psychopath. Retrieved 10 16, 2014, from Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychopath

How to protect yourself from a ‘successful’ psychopath . (2013, 7 13). Retrieved 10 19, 2014, from New.com.au: http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/is-there-a-psychopath-in-the-cubicle-next-door/story-e6frfm9r-1226688173318

Lipman, V. (2013, 4 25). The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy And Leadership. Retrieved 10 16, 2014, from Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/25/the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership/

Mathieu, C., Neumann, C., Babiak, P., & Hare, R. D. (2014). A Dark Side of Leadership: Corporate psychopathy and its influence on employee well-being and job satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences.

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Team Development Seems Like Herding Cats…….Not Really.

Team building and the process of forming effective and efficient teams can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, some people in corporate and social America can find creating dynamic and innovative teams a difficult process, and may actually equate this work as difficult as ‘herding cats’.

Part of the difficulty with this process may be that many members of the ‘team’ are not be invested in the project which the team has been tasked to complete; whether  it may be a short or long-term project. If the people you are leading, or working with on the project are not invested in it, are not in line with the corporate vision, they won’t put forth the maximum creative effort or generate the type of energy to facilitate the desired end goal.

One of the keys to generating this level of investment in the project is to maintain a consistent level of communication, 3344keeping everyone informed as to all aspects of the end goal and your progress toward it. We all want to ‘do a good job’, it feels good to complete a task successfully, by completing a task in a manner that we see as successful we get that serotonin rush and we want more.

Setting up ‘benchmarks’ for your team can actually perpetuate that ‘serotonin high’ throughout the course of the project, rather than waiting for that ‘feel good’ response at the end of the project,. Why not maintain that feeling during the course of the work you and your team members are doing. Remember, that feeling good is infectious, if your team feels good about what they are doing this can carry over into other parts of the organization.

Generating creative engagement can be made easier by developing a team with similar interests and abilities. This allows for a greater level of collaboration and innovation, but remember that skill set similarity can be a double edged sword that can help or hurt you.  Leadership requires a coherent team that is on the same page, and that sense of camaraderie generates a feeling of ‘social safety’ which usually winds up promoting a level of creativity that you might not find otherwise. However, if a leader doesn’t carefully introduce some ‘new blood’ into the group they can stagnate, and although the team may continue to work well together, they may no loimagesctsnger innovate. Also, by introducing someone new to the team, this always adds a level of renewed energy and vigor (besides the serotonin rush you get when you get to show the new person the great work you had done).

Understanding team building and development is critical to the success of any organization, and this starts with the type of leadership. There may be a certain ‘rush’ when leading a project on your own, but leading long term on your own isn’t much fun. Get your people involved in the innovative process and this will result in greater success, and less of a feeling of ‘herding a bunch of cats’.

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