Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment is not a topic that is talked about very openly. Too often, victims of sexual harassment have to hear phrases such as “You were asking for it”, or “You are lying, you are doing it for the attention”, or other victim-shaming phrases. Moreover, the common misconception that only women can be victims to sexual harassment and assault is unfortunately still prevailing. This leads to victims not speaking up, in the fear of not being helped or even being made fun of. Especially in the workplace, sexual harassment is more common than one might think: Even when one only takes into account cases of sexual harassment that were openly admitted during a survey, 31% of female workers report that they had been harassed at work. More importantly, 62% of the targets took no action against it (Sexual Harassment Practice Group of Outten & Golden LLP, 2010).

A first step to change this, is to inform employees about what sexual harassment actually is. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2014), it is defined as „Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.“

Now what can you, as an employee do, if you feel like you are being sexually harassed? Here are a few key issues to keep in mind:  (Sexual Harassment Practice Group of Outten & Golden LLP, 2010)

 

1)    Don’t ignore it

Ignoring the harassment can actually make the harasser engage even stronger in the behavior. Find the courage to speak up!

2)    Explicitly communicate to the harasser, that his/her behaviour is not welcome

This is an important point. Often the victim might seem like he/she enjoyed the advances, or even reponded to them. But this does not mean that the behaviour was welcome. Reciprocating the advances could be caused by fear, by shame, or just because the victim does not know how to adequately respond. Yet, the advances can STILL be unwelcome. In case a legal dispute is caused, it is important that the victim has somehow made clear to the harasser, that the advances were unwelcome.

3)    Inform yourself

It depends on the state you live in, the company you work with, and the specific circumstances of the situation, whether a behaviour can be classified as sexual harassment. It differs from a case to case basis. If you are unsure, it is advisable to get advice in the form of a lawyer before you do anything else.

4)    Keep a list about what happened and when it did happen

This is important to have as a proof.

5)    Report the harassment

Hereby you ensure that your company is aware of what is happening and can do something against it. It is useful to firstly inform yourself about the company’s rules and regulations when it comes to sexual harassment. Often information about this can be found in the company’s Code of Ethics.

6)    Human Resource Department

Keep in mind, that the Human Resource Department in the end has the best interest oft he company in mind, and not yours. Moreover, they are usually not forced to keep information confidential, and can share your complaint with anyone in the company.

What can you do to prevent such situations as an employer? Make sure that from the beginning on, you explicitly state how the company deals with sexual harassment and what your attitude towards it is. Do NOT ignore the topic.

Lastly, I would like to speak from a more general perspective. All of us have the potential to reach far in life, and to climb the hierarchical ladder oft he business world. I have no doubt, that some of us will end up at the very top. With a higher position in the hierarchy also comes legitimate power (Robbins & Judge, 2013). It is well-known, that power can corrupt. It can turn once ethical and thoughtful individuals into corrupt power politicians. We can, and should, all work together to create a friendlier, less corrupt, less sexist, and more sustainable work environment, where the focus is not only put on numbers, but also on the environment we live in, as well as the well-being of the people. When we go on with our lives, we should all keep the values we want to stand for in mind. Sexual harassment is an example of something that might not seem too „bad“, or too big of an issue to many, but it can have a big impact on the victims of it. Therefore, speak up when you see something or become a victim of it yourself, and make sure to do your best to create a friendly and supporting work environment, wherever each of you may end up in the future.

Sources 

Robbins, S. P.; Judge, T. A. (2013). Organisational Behaviour (15th ed.). Upper Saddle  River, N.J: Pearson/ Prentice Hall.

Sexual Harassment Practice Group of Outten & Golden LLP. (2010). Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Retrieved on the 25th of April, 2014 from http://www.workharassment.net/index.php/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace.html

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (25th. 04 2014). Facts About Sexual Harassment. Retrieved on the 25th of April, 2014 from  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm

 

 

 

Being an Effective Team Player

When most of us enter the workforce today, the first role we would be given would be that of a team player. Hence, it is important that we learn how to become an effective team player who is valued as an asset to the team.

1. Be supportive and be reliable

You can be a valuable asset to the team by simply delivering your work on time, and consistently producing high quality work. By committing yourself to completing something for the group, people would depend on you to produce good work and recognize you as an indispensable team member. In addition, it is also important to support other people on your team by offering positive feedback, and providing help if they need it. Such behaviour exemplify a sense of team loyalty and helps to build trust between group members.

One’s willingness to collaborate and help others will make a good impression on other people in general and strengthen the relationship between one and one’s team members. In relation to this, conscientiousness is a personality trait which is useful in this aspect since conscientious people are usually responsible and dependable, and will therefore be good at backing up other team members and at sensing when support is truly needed.

Avoid social loafing, which is to coast on the group’s effort, even if certain contributions cannot be directly attributed to you. As an individual, you are jointly responsible for the team’s purpose, goals and deliverables, and hence consistently making contributions to the team would make you more well regarded amongst your colleagues and upper management.

2. Be flexible

With today’s fast pace of work, things can change quickly – people have join or leave the team, goals may be redefined and budgets may be cut. Hence, it is important that you not fight change but use it a new opportunity for growth instead.

Openness to experience and agreeableness are two personality which are relevant in this aspect. Open people are usually more creative, autonomous and flexible and hence open team members communicate better with one another and are able to generate more ideas. Teams which are composed of more open people are hence creative and innovative. Agreeable people are usually more compliant and conforming to group norms and are hence generally more well liked and have higher performance in general. In addition, it may also be helpful to be high self-monitoring. Self monitoring refers to an individual’s ability to adjust his or her behaviour to external, situational factors. Individuals high in self monitoring show considerable adaptability in adjusting their behaviour to external situational factors. They are highly sensitive to external cues and can behave differently in different situations and capable of presenting striking contradictions between their public persona and their private self and can therefore adapt themselves better to different situations.

In general, one’s willingness to remain comfortable and positive in a constantly changing environment is an important skill, which the upper management is likely to take notice.

3. Be a Good Communicator

To be a good communicator, you need to be able to give constructive feedback by focusing on idea and behaviours, instead of individuals. Receiving feedback requires listening well, asking for clarification if the comment is unclear, and being open to change and other ideas.

It is also important to be involved and active within the group to contribute ideas and suggestions which can help the group to achieve its overall goals. When communicating with team members, be it to challenge their thinking or to show support, it is important to stay positive and respectful. Being consistently calm and objective will make a good impression,

Finally, in addition to those top three tips, at a firm level, the company needs to have an organizational culture as a pretext that allows the above actions to be carried out well. There would need to be a high climate of trust within the team as interpersonal trust among team members facilitates cooperation, reduces the need to monitor each others’ behaviour. Team members are more likely to take risks and expose vulnerabilities when they believe they can trust others on their team. There would also need to be a well designed performance evaluation and reward system in place. On top of evaluating and rewarding employees for individual contributions, management should also modify the traditional individual oriented evaluation and reward systems to reflect team performance.

Hence, being an effective team player is a collective effort involving the organizational culture and your colleague, all of which need to be taken into account.

Persuasion and Negotiation

During our class, we discussed 6 principles of persuasion and their effect on company culture. In order to supplement our understand of the topic, I would like to introduce negotiation concepts that help in micromanaging interactions. Persuasion and negotiation basically share similar consequences, in that we want people to be thinking in a similar position. With persuasion techniques, we are typically looking at ways that we want to build or leverage positive social capital to get what we want. However, within organizations, clashes are likely to occur in formal environments, which will lead to deadlocks between conflicting opinions. Utilizing my understanding of negotiation techniques, it is my hope that we will be able to enhance our understanding of how our actions can affect others within organizations.

One of the techniques, which can be applied in being more persuasive, is training to become better active listeners. The technique requires individuals to be more proactive in paraphrasing what the other party has said. This helps in confirming the understanding of the same position by both parties and runs a lower chance of misunderstanding. In building up workplace relations, being able to be an active rather than passive listening is essential to being convincing.

In a book by Len Leritz, titled “No-Fault Negotiation”, he identified the 5 problematic types of people in the workplace. The 5 problematic types are as follow:

1) The Bullies who attempt to intimidate rather than negotiate

2) The Avoiders who try their best to not deal with problems and instead may duck responsibilities

3) The Withdrawer whom like the proverbial turtle, hide in their shell and refuse or are unable to participate

4) The High Rollers who use shock and haste to get what they want by confusing the other party

5) The Wad Shooters who employ “my way or the highway” in order to gain the best possible benefits for themselves

Within organizations, it is more likely that collective groups will be represented by the identities above and how they deal with people. The 6 principles which were discussed in class, will need to be applied cautiously depending on which group we are interacting wi  th.

Leritz also has a list of 11 other ways to dealing with the problematic 5, but due to the brevity of this journal, we shall be looking at only 5.

1)   Getting their attention –  This involves building up a boundary for situations that is particularly effective against bullies. When the other party is aware that you are being pushed near to the end of your boundary, the more likely they are to pay attention to what you are doing.

2)   Call a spade a spade – When negotiating, pointing out that the other party is stonewalling or making things difficult can contribute to a more conducive discussion. It helps to elicit emotional responses such as shame or realization that will help to place both parties back on track

3)   Put fears to rest – This technique mainly refers to assurance to that the other party will be more trusting towards you. It can be used in conjuction with reciprocation in order to create a more stable relationship between 2 parties. Particularly useful with avoiders whom may have underlying reasons as to why they are not willing to be persuaded.

4)   Put the ball back into their court – Understanding the needs or wants of the other party will be helpful in knowing their position. Asking the other party to explain how they are able to justify their current position will erode the bargaining power of those whom are making unreasonable demands such as the wad-shooters and high-rollers.

5)   Point out consequences – Due to the complexity of workplace arrangements, it is likely that both parties will be affected by the outcome of decisions made. Being logical and convincing may help to point out the gravity of situations and thus contribute to a mutually beneficial solution for both sides.

In conclusion, human interactions are trickily complex and may lead to misunderstandings even with the best of intentions. However, combining both the 6 principles of persuasion and Leritz’s recommendations, we are likely to have a better chance of surviving them without stepping on too many toes.

THE BURNOUT TREND?

During one of last lesson’s presentation about work-life balance, we also very briefly touched on the burnout syndrome. More specifically, we discussed that a lack of work-life balance might lead to burnout in the long-term.  However, I feel that burnout is a very vague concept that everyone keeps talking about. It seems almost like a trend, it is responsible for all sorts of sorrow and now apparently even students have to be careful not to suffer from it. To be honest, I feel like burnout is often used as an excuse but as I did not know exactly what burnout was, I decided to research its definition and to find evidence of whether cases of burnout had risen or fallen over the last few years.

First, I decided to find out whether people over the years had gotten more or less interested in burnout by looking at the data from Google Trends.

Burnout InterestI was very surprised to find that according to Google, the search volume for the term “burnout” had actually fallen over the past few years. I thought that the search volume might be a good indicator for people’s interest in a subject. Looking at the search terms that people used, it became clear why the search volume had been decreasing:

Burnout Queries

When people searched for “burnout”, they were not looking for the syndrome, but rather for the computer/console game. This meant that I had to refine my search term.

Burnout Syndrome Interest

The above graph shows the search volume for the term “burnout syndrome”. Unfortunately, Google does not provide absolute numbers, but it can be seen that before 2007, there were almost no searches for “burnout syndrome”. This either meant that since then, work has gotten a lot more stressful, or it undermines my theory that burnout is just a trend and not actually the cause of problems. To find out which explanation was right, I decided to look further.

Burnout Syndrome Queries

The German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” recently ran a special report concerning burnout. The first thing that I came across is that burnout is not an illness but rather a state of risk that in the long-term can lead to permanent illness.

More interestingly, however, the article also said that in most cases, burnout is not actually primarily caused by work, but rather by our desire to be happy and our tendency to think about issues too much and too often. This somehow validated my hypothesis. I feel that especially us Germans (and the article also primarily focused on Germany) are never satisfied with anything and tend to complain about even the smallest issues. This is where we waste our energy and what ultimately has the potential to make us permanently sick.

Still, I don’t want to seem ignorant and given the evidence, I do appreciate that many people do actually suffer from the burnout syndrome. The article talked about many case studies. It portrayed people from different levels of the organization, be it blue collar workers or high ranked executives. II was still curious to find out why a lot of publicity and search queries for the burnout syndrome had only occurred quite recently.

The first reason that I came across was the financial crisis. Apparently the significant layoffs that occurred in 2008 and afterwards had a significant impact on stress levels, which is understandable. Furthermore, at least in Germany, the term burnout syndrome was not used before 2004. Before that, it was known under the name of the individual illnesses that it could consequently cause. This explains why it seems as if it was a trend. The fact is that burnout has existed for decades if not centuries, only the term used to describe it is relatively new.

How to change organisational norms

During class discussions and presentations, we mentioned a lot about different forms of organizational norms and how they have become part and parcels of the lives of employees in the firm. However, some of these may not be the most efficient for the operations of the company and change may be necessary. But as we all know, change is not easy, especially when people are used to something. Thus it interests me, as to how change can be made possible in organisations?

I will be sharing my findings from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray and the book called “ Blue Ocean Strategy” written by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne that seem to have a solution to my query.

It has been noted that when a manager tries to make changes to an organisation, he might be faced with four different types of hurdles, as displayed below:

1) Cognitive
People must have a good understanding as to why the change is even necessary in the first place. People might be comfortable with their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and feel that this is how “things have always been done”. Thus they do not see the need for any change at all. In fact, changes might only put them into the uncertainties and away from their comfort zones.

2) Limited resources
Limited resources have to be placed in areas where they are most valued or needed. Changing an organizational culture or structure may result in reallocation of these scarce resources, or require the shifting away from certain areas into another area that definitely require good justifications.

3) Motivation
Employees of the company have to want to make the change, otherwise, it is hard to enforce such changes. It is only when people reflect through actions that they are supportive, can changes be effectively brought across.

4) Institutional politics
Some companies are not open to voices of their employees or even those in managerial ranks. They are rooted to what they believe and unwilling to make changes though the situation may calls for it. Quoting from what one manager commented: “ In our organization, you get shot down before you stand up”, we can see that some companies are not positive about employee feedbacks thus increasing the difficulties in conveying that a change is needed.

Below will then be some ways that can be considered to overcome these hurdles and result in changes:

1) The “tipping point” approach

One has to recognize that it is impossible to convert everyone at once due to individual differences, value differences and limited resources. Thus when faced with such a situation, it is necessary to start with people who possess some form of disproportionate influence in the organization. One can try to get them to be committed to this change so that they can be seen as the “example”. Shine the spotlight on these people to emphasize on their actions and accomplishments so that others will understand the need and follow through.

2) Allow people to experience why change is needed
It is not enough for one to lecture others about the need for such organizational change because people may not be receptive. Instead, if people are being put through experiencing of harsh realities that requires change, it might be more effective. For the influencing to work, it has to reach down to the emotional side of people for them to be convinced.

3) Redistribute resources toward “hot spots”
Hot spots refer to activities that require few resources but result in large change. This is especially necessary when we only have limited resources to work with, and thus there is a need for us to make sure we get the maximum amount of payout and return. As much as we should try to place our resources to such “hot spots”, we should also try to avoid “cold spots”, that are activities that demands large resource demands but relatively low impact.

4) Appointing a “consigliere”

A “consigliere” refers to one who is a highly respected insider in the firm that one works in. This is because leaders tend to lose touch with things happening on the grounds and thus such “consigliere” may be able to bridge the gap. Besides that, appointing such a “consigliere” will allow one to know the supporters or fighters in the firm with regards to this organizational change. With such knowledge, one can build coalitions or devise alternative strategies for change when deemed appropriate.

In conclusion, I believe that some forms of changes, though deeply rooted, may be necessary at some point of time in order for the company to be better equipped with changing needs and demand. When faced with resistance, we can attempt the methods above as we climb up the corporate ladder and take up managerial positions in the near future, and hopefully change for the better of the entire organization.

High-Impact Leadership: Daenerys Targaryen

In class we discussed the 6 Leadership Styles as brought up by Goleman in ‘Leadership that Gets Results’. We used the case of Raising Haier to identify Zhang Ruimin’s behaviours and his adoption of different leadership styles to suit the situation.

Leadership that Gets Results (Goleman, 2000) 

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at PM 04.09.39

Goleman’s research has found that leaders with the best results do not rely on only one leadership style, but rather, that they seamlessly switch between the styles depending on what the situation calls for. This ‘fluidity’ is a result of emotional intelligence, which makes them sensitive to the impact they have on others. They are known as “high-impact” leaders.

Different individuals are predisposed to exhibit different leadership styles due to their different sets of emotional competencies. For example, leaders who score low on the competencies of empathy, self-confidence and change catalyst might find that they experience difficulties in exhibiting Authoritative Leadership.

EQ

4 Fundamental Capabilities of Emotional Intelligence & the related Competencies

A quick Google search will provide one with a long list of individuals widely accepted as “great leaders”. However, in this post, I have chosen to look at the leadership styles exhibited by someone rather unexpected: Daenerys Targaryen.

This name might not be familiar to you if you have not read George R.R Martin’s epic fantasy novels or watched the popular HBO tv series, The Game of Thrones.

Dany

Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.06.20

The choice of a fictional character might seem odd but the very fact that we are able to observe her actions, speech and behaviour allows us to identify her use of different leadership styles. It is my opinion that there is value in being able to see it being practiced, albeit on screen. In this post, we will look at 4 of the leadership styles she regularly exhibits

Coercive Leadership

We see her exercising this leadership style quite often as the ‘Queen’ amongst her followers. She orders, commands, and admonishes them as necessary. There have been situations in which she declares, “I am your Queen and you will do as I say” to obtain compliance.

It is worth noting that she uses such tactics in situations where she needs to regain control, to direct immediate action, and in interactions with difficult followers. However, Daenerys does not utilize this leadership style alone. Once the ‘critical moment’ requiring severe action has passed, she modifies her behaviour and switches to other styles.

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.07.31

Authoritative Leadership

Daenerys employs the use of Authoritative Leadership to unite and mobilise her followers towards her vision of reclaiming the kingdom. She addresses them with passion and confidence, while repeatedly highlighting that the journey is one in which they would undertake together as “free men”.

She utilizes this tactic effectively as she posits herself as a visionary who has a plan and a clear direction to achieve her goal. This instills confidence and belief in the followers and provides them with a long-term purpose to work towards.

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.07.36

Affiliative Leadership

Daenerys is compassionate and kind to her followers, putting them first and gaining their trust thereby earning her title of “Mhysa” or mother.

This caring and nurturing approach allows the attainment of harmony and building of emotional bonds. Daenerys effectively provides them with a sense of belonging and community.

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.07.50

Democratic Leadership

Daenerys does not presume to know everything there is about warfare and thus practices Democratic Leadership in some situations. She values the opinion of her followers and constantly approaches her team for advice, resulting in decisions and strategies that are calculated and wise. Furthermore, her listening ear and openness to their perspectives sends a clear message that she respects and trusts them and this improves followers’ morale.

Screen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.07.57

Become a “High-Impact” Leader like Daenerys Targaryen

Grow your emotional intelligence

  • Conduct a 360-degree evaluation to identify lacking competencies
  • Work up a plan to improve on weaknesses
  • Keep track of active behaviour, take a step back, and modify behaviour
  • Be patient and work on it conscientiouslyScreen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.08.55

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Note: Since this is the very last blog post, I’d like to thank everyone for all the contributions they have made to make this module very enjoyable for me. I’ve learnt a lot from the seminars, class discussions, IVLE forum discussions, and the blog posts. 🙂

Bibliography

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership That Gets Results. Retrieved from: http://www.haygroup.com/downloads/fi/leadership_that_gets_results.pdf

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Daenerys_Targaryen

http://hbowatch.com/danaerys-targaryen-feminism-for-the-iron-throne/

Attract Talents with Crazy Perks!

While waiting at an airport, I caught up with my pile of emails and came across a very interesting article titled “15 Crazy Company Culture Perks That Paid Off”[1] written by Ilya Pozin, a columnist for Inc, Forbes and LinkedIn. I knew already that companies are coming out with more and more creative ways to attract talents and make them more productive in the workplace, but some of the perks in that article simply were just beyond my imagination. As I did with my previous blog post, I’ll analyse each of these perks and give my personal opinion on it.

 

1. Video Game Day

Staff.com is a remote company that gathers its 50 employees together at the office for one day so that they can play online (it didn’t specify at which frequency though). The company claims that this improved inter-division communication. I can see how making employees meet their colleagues from time to time can be good, however, I have my doubt on the online game factor. On one hand, it’s understandable that gaming can motivate people to get out of their place but is it the best way to build real concrete relationships? I mean, one can just play online from home! Why didn’t they go for a sports day or an excursion day where people can really get in touch with their counterparts?

 

2. International Trips

I think the keyword here is memories. If you give employees money, they’ll just spend it. However, if you bring them to a travel, then they will have a lifetime memories of it, and memories stay. I think this is a wonderful way to motivate employees to work harder and be grateful to their employer.

 

3. A Company Kegerator

Having a kegerator is definitively more glamorous than a few bottles of beers! It is a great way to make employees socialize and connect with each other, but I might disagree that alcohol can help “late-night brainstorming”.

 

4. Company-Wrapped Vehicle

Everybody loves free perks! Making your employees happy and having “free” promotion for your company, I’ll have to keep that in mind if I start my own enterprise one day.

 

5. Flexible Hours

Allowing your employees to create their own hours? I don’t see why this point is in here. I mean, it’s definitively not as crazy as the next one!

 

6. Unlimited Vacation Days

Now, THIS is crazy! Giving your employees all the flexibility they want also means a lot of mutual trust and treating them like real adults. Obviously it’s not for every employee but those who are involved will certainly feel special!

 

7. Sport Celebrations

Closing the office for one day and go watch sports together is a good way to socialize. The only condition I see here is that everybody has to be a fan of that sport.

 

8. Volunteer Days

Like perk #5, this is a pretty common practice nowadays.

 

9. Opportunities to Do Meaningful Work

This point is about giving the junior employees the opportunity to work with clients they admire, thus making their work meaningful. Not everyone has the chance to work with clients they want to work with. When this happens, I bet they feel very empowered and will gladly be even more productive.

 

10. A Company Cruise

Same thing with #2 but this company, Rain, is also including the employees’ spouse in the cruise. As I said, the memories will stay forever with the employees and this will just make them prouder about the company they work for.

 

11. Gym Memberships

I think this one is also quite common in the corporate world right now. Making the employees fit are also rendering them healthier and more productive with less absenteeism too. It’s actually a very cheap investment for companies to decrease unnecessary costs.[2]

 

12. Positive Reinforcement

MeUndies’ CEO made a quick math and found that it was more profitable to pay smokers 50$ a week for not smoking than letting them taking a break from time to time to smoke. It’s also a reason why a lot of firms are putting free coffee machines in their offices to discourage employees from getting outside to buy their coffee. It’s just that the upsides are way higher than the downsides! In the case of Me Undies, it also has additional healthy benefits. Win-win all the way!

 

13. A Bonus Plan

Instead of going for individual targets, employees receive bonuses if the company hits its target. If the targets are carefully chosen, this practice will encourage collaboration company-wide.

 

14. Fun Classes

Learning is a never-ending process. Encouraging your employees to learn will not only make them more efficient and productive at work, but also more creative.

 

15. Professional therapy

I’ve heard of companies that have on-site massage therapists but I’ve never heard of on-site motivational therapists. Unfortunately, Uassist ME doesn’t give us details on the results of this practice.



[1] http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140422154219-5799319-15-crazy-company-culture-perks-that-paid-off?trk=eml-ced-b-art-M-3-7976268910883780632&midToken=AQGsBEEwpJthuQ&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=0UvZQJ2laQDCc1

[2] http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/obesitycost/work.php

Building Resilience Through Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Resilience

As mentioned during the Seminar, resilience is the ability to reintegrate after disruptive events, revert to previous condition after difficult circumstances, flexibly adapt to challenging situations and to “bounce back”.  It made me reflect back on  the talk by the guest lecturer where she mentioned that setbacks, challenges and difficulties are guaranteed experiences. To strengthen resilience in the workplace, one can communicate normalcy, create identity anchors, build one’s social capital and develop alternative thinking. However, one also needs emotional intelligence and emotional resilience to strengthen resilience in the workplace. This essay will  explain these with real-life examples.

To build resilience in the workplace, a leader needs to develop emotional intelligence which is the ‘ability to understand and manage emotions in ourselves and others’ (Psychology Foundation, n.d.). We can understand and relate to other people’s feelings and understand how our emotions affect others in the workplace. It has to be acknowledged that it is a difficult task to control all our feelings effectively but it is an essential skill to learn. If we are overwhelmed by our own emotions, it make affect rational judgement and decision making and we might be unable to get along with others. Thus, we need to learn to cultivate emotional intelligence as being awa (GCC, 2012)re of our and others emotions will help in building our capacity for resilience in times of challenges and adversity. This is something that has to be constantly worked on in today’s globalized world  with rapid technology and socio-political changes which makes conditions in the economy volatile and unpredictable and we need to invest in our resiliency “portfolio”. One example is the Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani who was viewed as a strict and emotionless leader. However, the collapse of the World Trade Centre in 2001 revealed a side of him which showed resolve, empathy and inspiration. He was able to handle his emotions and those of others which appropriating the right action according to the situation. His emotional intelligence thus enabled him to deal with the situation while calming the emotions of those around him. Hence, to build resilience, we “must make a commitment to the continuous nourishment, rejuvenation and replenishment of our emotional energies” to deal with adversity (International Workplace, 2012).

Secondly, employees need to develop emotional resilience in the workplace. Emotional resilience is defined as the “ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises” (Rainey, 2014). According to research done, emotional resilience is something that can be learned or improved upon constantly and continuously and “how we cope with adversity and how we cope with catastrophe are on a continuum” (Rainey, 2014). If one is emotionally resilient, they will be able to maintain their productivity and performance in times of challenges. Hence, it is important for one to have the knowledge, skills and support structure to develop emotional resilience and they have to effectively self-manage their stress on a daily basis. This can be done by providing psychological skills training and physiological stress management techniques to empower employees to recognize, understand and manage their stress-responses. The emotional and physical health needs of employees also needs to be nourished by promoting healthy practices, freedom and flexibility to pursue work-life balance to self-manage their individual health and lifestyle needs. This will thus build engagement, loyalty and morale in the workplace, thus building their emotional resilience when faced with adversity. One example is the 2003 SARS Crisis in Singapore where “support from colleagues, taking precautionary measures and  getting clear directives and disease information” helped the staff to cope with the psychological impact of the epidemic (Sim & Chan, 2004) . Prior to this, staff already had a good working relationship and many felt that their physical and emotional were well-taken care of. Hence, developing emotional resilience enables employees to be better able to cope with the pressures and taking care of their needs increases their  sense of belonging which in turn, increases their sense of responsibility and resilience in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, although several methods were mentioned during class to strengthen resilience in the workplace, I personally feel that developing emotional intelligence and emotional resilience is the foundation that has to be built upon and strengthened. Without being aware of one’s own and others’ emotion, how can one react according to the situation? One can develop methods but has to execute them appropriately. Moreover, emotional resilience needs to be cultivated continuously by showing care and concern for your employees and their development. Every company needs the support of their employees to function and overcome adversity. Resilience in the workplace cannot be guaranteed as people respond differently based on their thoughts, personality and feelings. But by taking consistent steps, it can lead to a more integrative strategy that enables a company to rise and overcome adversity.

Bibliography

Foundation, P. (n.d.). Bouncing Back How Workplace Resiliency Can Work For You. The Psychology Foundation of Canada .

GCC. (2012, July 7). Workplace Resilience – Taking Action. Retrieved from GCC Employee Wellness Blog: https://www.gettheworldmoving.com/blog/building-employee-resilience-and-responsiveness-to-change

Rainey, S. (2014, February 25). Emotional resilience: it’s the armour you need for modern life. Retrieved from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/wellbeing/10660556/Emotional-resilience-its-the-armour-you-need-for-modern-life.html

Sim, S. S., & Chan, Y. H. (2004). Psychological impact of the SARS outbreak on a Singaporean rehabilitation department. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation .

Workplace, T. I. (2012, February 23). Building Resiliency through Emotional Awareness. Retrieved from The International Workplace: http://intentionalworkplace.com/2012/02/23/building-resiliency-through-emotional-awareness/

 

 

Last Blog Entry : Cultural Intelligence

We have covered the major components of organizational behavior this semester. We took a look on the individual, the collective and the organizational factors that have an impact on the human behavior in an organizational context. At the beginning of the semester, we talked about diversity and individual differences in a professional environment and more precisely, we talked about cultural intelligence. As an exchange student, I have been confronted to cultural issues throughout the last couple of months. The cultural intelligence, CQ, is then of great interest to me since it is easily applicable to my current situation, and today’s paper is going to focus on that topic.

First, let’s review what cultural intelligence is. The CQ reflect the ability of an individual to adapt his behavior effectively across different cultures. There are a lot of CQ profiles. For some, this capability is innate, as they are less attached to their original culture, and for others, training must be done to develop and improve certain aspects of CQ. Individuals with a high CQ are generally able to analyze and recognize patterns or consistencies of the modified landscape they are interacting with in order to anticipate behaviors and making their own behavior consistent with these cultural characteristics. Usually, these individuals are also able to suspend their judgement when issues occurs in order to clearly identify the differentiation between their home culture characteristics and their new environment characteristics.

Cultural intelligence can be divided into three main components. The first dimension is defined as the head, and include the cognitive and metacognitive aspect of CQ. This is about the knowledge an individual has on other cultures, and on the learning strategies established to acquire it. It is also to be aware of the signification of these tacit knowledge in the context of a different culture. The second dimension is called the body, and refer to physical and behavioral aspect of CQ. It is the capability to behave according to the customs and gestures of people around. In other words, it involve the ability to receive and mirror the cultural characteristics and is associated to task performance. The last dimension is the heart of CQ, and is associated with motivation. For someone to adapt to another culture requires confidence and perseverance. It is about overcoming obstacles to perform in a new professional context.

Let’s apply this framework to the very specific case of expatriate workers, as seen in one of the final presentation. Studies done on expatriates have shown that the cultural intelligence of expatriates influences their performance at work. The CQ is considered as an important predictor of cultural effectiveness and of performance in international assignments. These findings are very important to firms in terms of human resources management, and might have implications on the investments in employee’s cultural intelligence training. On the individual level, having a high CQ is starting to be essential in a context of globalized economy.

For the last part of the paper, I would like to apply this framework to my experience here in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, even if it is not necessarily related to a professional environment. First, let’s throw a glance at the academic example. I had knowledge about the academic differences between here and home. For instance, participation in class and outside the class is more valorized in Singapore. The preparation before classes is also very different. We don’t have any kind of tutorials at home. I had the knowledge before coming, but I still had to persevere to adapt to these new methods and attain considerable results. The heart was there. To do so, I had to embody the system. Another example, more applicable to Southeast Asia in general, is the communication differences. Indeed, in the first days, it was possible to analyze some typical gesture and accent in people’s way of communication. After a while, I sometime use the same sentences patterns for instances and sometime use the same intonation, without mimic the person. These examples might seem very basic, but still represent the main idea behind cultural intelligence.

 

Sources: Harvard Business Review, International Journal of Business and Management, Massey University, Forbes.

Making the most of Organizational Politics

Office or organizational politics,  which involves actions by individuals which are directed toward the goal of furthering their own self-interests without regard for the well-being of others or their organization (Barling 2005) , seems to be an integral and inevitable part of the workplace  (Cornerstone Business Solutions 2004) – about 40% of workers rated their office as being political in nature (Robert Half Finance and Accounting n.d.).

It is clear a stigma regarding office politics exists. Through class discussions (the case of Todd Williams: Finance in the middle) and our prescribed course material (Robbins and Judge, 2013), we were told that organizational politics were undesirable have various highly negative effects, which include:

1) Decreased job satisfaction

2) Increased anxiety and stress (Scott 2012)

3) Increased turnover (Byrne 2005)

4) Reduced performance (Bajpai 2004)

It is no surprise, then, that most managements take a dim view of organizational politics (Christiansen, Villanova and Mikulay 1997). Nonetheless, is this view really justified? An increasing number of papers have shown that having organizational politics is not necessarily detrimental to a company.

PIC

 

(click image to enlarge) Source: Rosen, Chang & Levy

Christiansen et al. (1997) developed the Political Influence Compatibility (PIC) model. PIC refers to the fit between a person’s orientation towards influence tactics and the political climate in an organization. Generally, higher PIC values have corresponded with increased satisfaction with co-workers, trust in management, self-perception and procedural fairness. PIC values were also negatively correlated with the amount of conflict within the organization.

Furthermore, in the same study, it was determined that the type of political climate mattered greatly as well. Generally, use of reason and ingratiation led to more favorable work attitudes while coalition formation and upward appeals have had the opposite effect.  (Christiansen, Villanova and Mikulay 1997)

PIC 2

 

(click image to enlarge) Source: Rosen, Chang & Levy

Rosen, Chang and Levy also highlight that the effect organizational politics have on organizational citizenship behaviors (defined as organizational-benefiting discretionary behaviors that are not part of the job description but are done as a personal choice on the part of the employee) are moderated by personality characteristics. High self-monitors generally recognize what behaviors are required in the workplace, and adapt to fit the situation. An example would be engaging in more OCBs as part of an impression management tactic. On the other hand, low self-monitors might not perform as well in highly politicized environments because they are socially less effective, and their lack of understanding of political behavior in an organization could cause them to view it as threatening (Rosen, Chang and Levy n.d.).

Self-monitoring, however, is not significant enough on its own. Besides being able to identify what behaviors are required, the ability to actually engage in these behaviors depends on personality dispositions. Agreeable people generally find it easier because they can carry out OCBs and other impression management tactics genuinely and without much emotional labor.

Such research implies that organizational politics does not have to be the negative force it is so often made out to be. Rather, the negative effects on employees (stress and anxiety & decreased job satisfaction) and organizations (high turnovers & lack of OCBs) can be minimized, while benefits such as OCBs and favorable work attitudes can be inculcated. Since organizational politics are likely to be present in every organization, let us examine what we can do to ensure this happens.

Based on the above discussion, here are some of my recommendations for organizations:

1) When screening, look for good fits: As determined by Christansen’s PIC framework, it is important to ensure that there is a compatibility between a company’s political climate and the individual’s orientation towards political influence. As such, the screening process has to account for the preferences of the individual with regards to the working environment This can be done by inquiring about the political styles and perceptions of potential employees, as well as adequately informing them of the current political climate of the company.

2) Look at personality traits when assessing potential employees: Taking the previous recommendation a step further, it is important to note that personality traits – particularly agreeableness and self-monitoring – are important as well. Should the company in question possess a highly political climate, it is essential that employees have high degrees of both aforementioned traits.

3) Create an environment that has a positive political climate: Adopt measures to create a favorable political culture centered around data and reason. It has been proven that data-driven politicking results in less dissatisfaction among employees due to a perception of higher organizational justice (Larsen n.d.).

From an employee’s perspective, there are some measures which could be adapted as well:

1) Self-improvement measures: While many aspects of personality cannot be changed, some measures to make one more adept to working in political climates can be undertaken. These include impression management or self-monitoring courses designed to make participants more politically aware and socially competent.

2) Finally, the onus is on the individual to look for a company which has an environment that they are comfortable with. While companies do have responsibilities with regards to screening the right individuals, these potential employees have to be honest, self-aware, and diligent in researching on the company to ensure the environment would best suit their needs.

 

References:

Bajpai, Naval. “Sectorial comparison of factors influencing job satisfaction in Indian banking sector.” Singapore Management Review, 2004.

Barling, Julian. Handbook of Work Stress. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE , 2005.

Byrne, Zinta. “Fairness Reduces the Negative Effects of Organizational Politics on Turnover Intentions, Citizenship Behavior and Job Performance.” Journal of Business and Psychology, 2005: 175-200.

Christiansen, Neil, Peter Villanova, and Shawn Mikulay. “Political Influcence Compatibility: fitting the person to the climate.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 1997: 709-730.

Cornerstone Business Solutions. Office politics: You’ll just have to deal with them. 2004. http://www.cornerstoneresults.com/RefLib/KnlgeBk/hr_gen_office_politics.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Larsen, James. “Organizational Politics.” Business Politics.

Robert Half Finance and Accounting. Office Politics. http://rhfa.mediaroom.com/file.php/1509/Office+Politics+August+2012.gif (accessed April 20, 2014).

Rosen, Chang, and Levy. “Personality and politics perceptions: A new conceptualization and illustration using OCBs.” Handbook of organizational politics.

Scott, Elizabeth. How can i deal with a difficult co-worker? March 19, 2012. http://stress.about.com/od/officepolitics/f/coworker.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).