Tag: organizational behavior



Ashley Hardin

How should employees handle personal difficulties in a professional setting? “To disclose or not to disclose” is often the question, and is the crux of Harvard Business Review’s “What to Do When a Personal Crisis Is Hurting Your Professional Life.”

The author, HBR contributing editor Amy Gallo, turns to several organizational behavior experts to answer this question, including Olin Prof. Ashley Hardin:

It’s better to share if you feel OK doing so
If you do feel that it’s safe to share, it’s often better to do so. “We’ve been encouraged to keep the boundaries between private and professional distinct, but that’s not always helpful,” says Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal. In fact, research by Ashley Hardin, a professor at Washington University’s Olin Business School, shows that when you allow coworkers to discover more about your personal life, they are more motivated to meet your needs. “If the situation is interfering with your ability to complete your job, it’s likely that your coworkers may already realize something is amiss, and in that case you are better off letting them in on what is going on,” Hardin explains. You can also give permission to your close colleagues to share your circumstances with other coworkers if it is too difficult for you to tell them directly. “This type of indirect disclosure can open up a space for your teammates to brainstorm ways to help you,” Hardin adds.

Check out the full post on Harvard Business Review.

[RELATED: How to restore civility to the workplace]




Ashley E. Hardin, assistant professor of organizational behavior, co-authors a post published on the Harvard Business Review that calls for more compassion in the workplace. The authors advocate for a more compassionate and connected workforce in an age when technology facilitates isolation and discourages civil behavior and interaction.

Restoring compassion to the workplace, the authors suggest, will not only improve the working environment, but it will also have a positive impact on productivity:

“If people feel like they belong and genuinely care about one another, they will be more creative, resilient, and eager to contribute at work.”

Hardin’s coauthors, Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton, are co-founders of the CompassionLab, the world’s leading collaboratory for research on compassion and work organizations. They define compassion this way:

“A 4-part experience of noticing someone’s distress or pain, interpreting it as relevant and important, feeling concern for that person or group, and acting to alleviate their pain.”

Expressing compassion can range from small gestures to heroic acts of generosity and life-saving support in times of need, according to the authors.

Read: “Forming Stronger Bonds with People at Work.”


About Ashley Hardin

Prior to pursuing her PhD and joining Olin, Professor Hardin worked as a Senior Associate Consultant for Bain & Company and the Bridgespan Group.

Her research interests include relationships, affect, work-life boundaries, and unethical behavior. 

 




Ten years ago, Hillary A. Elfenbein published a major review of research that examined emotion in the workplace in the Academy of Management Annals. Since then, her paper has been cited more than 500 times. At the recent Academy of Management (AOM) annual meeting, Elfenbein’s work was honored as the Annals’ paper that has made the greatest impact over the past decade. Elfenbein is the John K. Wallace, Jr. and Ellen A. Wallace Distinguished Professor at Olin and she teaches organizational behavior.

AOM Decade Award recipient

Hillary A. Elfenbein

“Emotions in Organizations:

A Review and Theoretical Integration”

Vol. 1, Issue 1, 1 December 2007

 

“The paper was an integration of all of the research that had ever been done on emotion in the workplace,” Elfenbein explained. “Interestingly enough when I started out, emotion was considered a fringe topic. I actually got very sage advice from my mentors that I should give this up and find a serious topic to work on.”

Elfenbein became interested in emotion in the workplace a few years after Daniel Goldman’s popular book Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995. Despite the discouragement from mentors and a general lack of respect for the topic among academics in business schools, Elfenbein was determined. “I’m a bit stubborn and I persisted with the topic even though it was really something that I had to fight for in graduate school to be able to work on.”

By 2006, there was an explosion of research on emotion in the workplace, but Elfenbein found that it was disconnected and disjointed. “With this paper I was trying to draw together all of this new research into one theoretical, unified model,” she explained. Her work has clearly become a touchstone and great resource for researchers delving into the now accepted academic field of emotion in the workplace.

Elfenbein adds that she felt very fortunate and honored to receive the award from the AOM. “The best part is that it came with an umbrella. I got a little plaque and a big umbrella!”

About the Academy of Management 
The mission of the Academy of Management Annals is to provide up-to-date, in-depth examinations of the latest advances in various management fields. Each yearly volume features critical and potentially provocative research reviews written by leading scholars exploring an assortment of research topics. Annals reviews summarize and/or challenge established assumptions and concepts, pinpoint problems and factual errors, inspire discussions, and illuminate possible avenues for further study. Research reviews published in the Annals are geared toward academic scholars in management and professionals in allied fields, such as sociology of organizations and organizational psychology.



“Millennials in the workplace” is a big topic among non-millennials—both in the media and at work. So we tapped Andrew Knight, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, to shed some light on his research regarding this intriguing generation. He presented his findings in a recent webinar, identifying three trends that organizations are facing:

  1. Millennials are difficult to retain.

  2. Millennials prize their personal lives over their work lives.

  3. Millennials want opportunities to grow and develop.

I don’t think that anyone would argue that #2 and #3 aren’t positive or even natural from generation to generation. So let’s focus on the “difficult to retain” trend. Why? First off, millennials identify less and less with institutions, religion, and even voting. So they certainly aren’t going to drink the company Kool-Aid easily! They are always open to new endeavors and don’t readily choose to stay with a current employer for long. They want opportunities and they want to “work to live” (not necessarily the other way around). And when millennials work, they want to work in a less rigid environment, with plenty of mentoring and coaching along the way.

Millennials are often accused of being “entitled”  and “narcissistic.” However, as Professor Knight pointed out, every American generation has been called the “most narcissistic” to date. And many of the measures which ladder up to the label of narcissistic—”self-esteem,” “drive,” and “persistence”—also build up to being a leader, which isn’t a bad thing.

So how do we best embrace and nurture the Millennial generation? Professor Knight shared some key thoughts to this point:

  1. Avoid stereotyping millennials as “entitled.”

  2. Recognize that this generation is the most diverse generation in history.

  3. Offer career opportunities within an organization, even if a promotion is not available or appropriate. Consider a geographic, functional, or divisional change.

  4. Redefine rigid roles and rules to address the fact that millennials value their personal lives more than their work lives. Consider flexible time, flexible roles, or a flexible location policy.

  5. Give the “annual” review more often than once a year. Millennials are hungry to grow and develop; they want coaching, ongoing feedback and opportunities.

Millennials are here to stay, and managers need to think about how to better structure positions and policies to better attract, develop, and keep this pool of talent.

Be sure to check out the “Managing the Millennial Wave” seminar scheduled for February 2018, as well as our other management and leadership offerings

How millennial are you? Check out the Pew Center’s 14-question quiz.


Everyday in the workplace, colleagues actively compete for a limited amount of perks, including raises, promotions, bonuses and recognition. But new research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that, more than often than not, people fall short in determining which co-workers might be trying to edge them out on the job.

“We looked at whether people understood what other people in the workplace thought of them,” said Hillary Anger Elfenbein, professor of organizational behavior. “You tend to know who likes you. But, for negative feelings, including competitiveness, people had no clue.”

Elfenbein and her co-authors, Noah Eisenkraft from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Shirli Kopelman from the University of Michigan, ran two different studies during the course of their research, recently published in the journal Psychological Science. In the first, they surveyed salespeople at a Midwestern car dealership where competition was both normal and encouraged. The second study included surveys from more than 200 undergraduate students in 56 separate project groups. All were asked similar questions about their co-workers, and what they assumed those people thought of them. When the responses about competition were analyzed, the results were striking: While there were outliers, they completely canceled out.

In other words, co-workers have no clue about their competitive cohorts.

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

“Some people show their competitiveness, some people you can tell have it out for you, but others have it out for you and act like they’re your close friend,” Elfenbein said. “Those two effects wash out, and people on average have zero idea about who feels competitively toward them.”

The researchers offer two main reasons for the disconnect: First, people tend to mask outward feelings of competitiveness toward others in an effort to be polite. Also, the concept of reciprocity played a role.

“For liking, reciprocation is a good thing,” Elfenbein said. “You keep dates, you give gifts, you have shared, positive experiences. But to get the benefits of competition, such as promotions or perks, you don’t need it to be reciprocated. And when you don’t get that feeling back, it’s hard to gauge who’s truly competing against you.”

For a manager in the workplace who wants a strong and cohesive team, transparency and uncrossable lines appear to be the key in maintaining the balance, the researchers said.

“You want to promote a climate where there is friendly competition,” Elfenbein said. “At the car dealership, everybody knows they are competing against each other. Entire salaries can be based on performance. But if you create a climate where there are boundaries you don’t cross, you can make space for mutual healthy competition to be rewarded.”

As for the individual in the workplace who fears being blindsided by co-workers?

“You need to pay more attention to what people do rather than what they say,” Elfenbein said.  “When people are too polite to say something to your face, you need a good, strong network that will let you know what other people really think.”

Guest Blogger: Erika Ebsworth-Goold


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