Each week GGC Principal Gail Golden lets us take a look at her open tabs to see what’s going on in the world of workplace psychology. Here are her insights on the week’s news….
The big news this week is the Cubs’ postseason run, but it’s not just changes on the field that brought them there. Behind the scenes, the Human Resources staff has been transforming the organization. The department polled employees to develop “The Cubs Way,” a set of values that determines whether someone will be a good fit. Then they used it for hiring: replacing generalists with specialists, finding “strategic doers” who can get the job done, and seeking out young talent to groom and promote — just like the team itself. Throughout the process, the VP of HR, Bryan Robinson, has kept his eye on the prize: “To win a World Series, preserve Wrigley Field and be a good neighbor.” Go Cubs!
I loved this brilliant op-ed taking on the “millennials just wanna have fun” stereotype. Just an example of the dangers of assuming that everyone in a particular age cohort is wired the same way.
How much of our decision-making is rational? Not as much as we’d like to believe, according to the last decade of research. For example, people who are better at sensing what’s going on in their bodies (called interoceptive ability) tend to be more risk-averse. They may be so aware of their internal cues, like heart rate, that they avoid risks others might take. This could be useful or obstructive depending on the situation, but it’s certainly not rational. For more interesting research in this area, see this article from the American Psychology Association.
Here’s the latest bind for women leaders. A study focused on CEOs and senators shows that men who talk at length accrue power while women who talk at length lose it. This article focuses on the conundrum it causes for Hillary Clinton, but it’s just as relevant for any woman asked to lead a meeting. Wonder how women are supposed to get our ideas across? It seems we’re not supposed to have any.
Imagine if every educational institution was clear about its objectives, measured its impact, and shared those results broadly. The education market would be transformed, and students would have a much better chance to invest in the programs that delivered what they were looking for. Diane Hesson, CEO of Startup Institute, shows it’s possible.
One loudmouth can derail a meeting. Structure will ensure that everyone has a chance to weigh in, so your whole team will feel engaged and you’ll get better solutions. One useful approach is to tackle problems in pairs, then have each person report on what his or her partner said. More good tactics here.
A client of mine recently described an IT project that “brought the organization to its knees.” Almost every business leader I know describes IT makeovers with horror. Heck, I just bought a new laptop and had to spend hours with a consultant to get the darn thing to perform. While technology changes are almost always stressful, organization can make projects run better by asking key questions up front. These nine are a good start.
Executive presence – I know it when I see it. Not a very helpful description for high-potential leaders who want to be seen as both authoritative and engaging leaders. At a recent presentation for the LEAD Program of the Executives’ Club of Chicago, Elizabeth Gibson of Bates Communication outlined a research-based model of the qualities that define executive presence. As the business leaders in the group talked about how to develop executive presence, they described the challenge of balancing who you are – “authenticity” – with the norms and expectations of your work environment – “cultural competence.” A great leader is able to find the balance between those two imperatives. One key to that balance is the ability to differentiate between the traits that are “core” to who they are and the ones that are “peripheral.” Leaders can learn to tweak and modify their peripheral traits, such as how they dress, how much they talk in a meeting, or whether they greet people when they arrive in the morning. But the core traits – their fundamental values, their sense of personal dignity, or their need for autonomy – they compromise those at their peril. It’s like wearing shoes that are two sizes too small – pretty soon they become so painful you have to get out of them.