Tag Archives: Industrial/Organizational Psychology

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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