Tag: workplace



Olin’s Julia Deems, a lecturer in communications, wrote this blog post.

In light of the national conversation on race and diversity, you may wonder how to take the conversation into the workplace. Here are some questions to ask:

Are you showing respect to employees?

It’s no surprise that employees want to be respected. But research by Kristie Rogers (Harvard Business Review, 2018) shows employees want both earned respect and owed respect.

Julia Deems

Earned respect is when an employee completes a task and we tell them, “You did a great job!” Owed respect is treating others in a way that demonstrates we value them as human beings.

According to Rogers, owed respect is “signaled by civility and an atmosphere suggesting that every member of the group is inherently valuable.” Without owed respect, managers may micromanage (showing a lack of trust) or treat employees as interchangeable (“TJ’s not here? Well, someone else on the team can do it.”).

Celebrate employees for their differences and their contributions to the team as well as their success in accomplishing key metrics. Ask yourself: “Am I showing respect to employees both as workers and as individuals?”

Are you having learning conversations with your direct reports?

Find out how you are doing by talking to your team. In “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most,” the authors argue that difficult conversations, such as talking to employees about respect in the workplace, consist of three separate conversations.

One is about facts (what happened), another is about emotions (how each party feels) and a third is about identity (what this says about who we are).

In such conversations, aim to tease out contributions to the problem (from both sides), listen to how others feel and acknowledge your own feelings, and reflect on how your perception of self may make it harder to hear some messages. For instance, if we see ourselves as good managers, and that’s part of our identity, it may be difficult to listen to how employees see us as contributing to problems or how we’ve made others feel. Recognize when your ego wants to respond, but don’t act on it; just listen to others. 

Learning conversations ask that we acknowledge our emotional response, hit pause on trying to persuade others how they should feel, and focus not on blame but instead on doing better in the future. These conversations start from a place of curiosity (How can we do better as a team?), demonstrate that you value and respect how employees see critical issues, and recognize that direct reports can play a key role in helping create a more inclusive environment. Ask your team: “How can we do better?”  I highly recommend “Difficult Conversations.”

Are you building a diverse team?

It may seem that having team members with similar backgrounds makes it easier for the team to come together into a coherent unit. Studies have shown, however, that more diverse teams outperform less diverse teams across financial and other performance measures.

A 2015 study by McKinsey & Company entitled “Delivering through Diversity” demonstrates the point across hundreds of companies. Diversity, they argue, can be thought of in terms of ethnicity, but also gender, LGBTQ+ identity, age/generation and international experience.

To achieve results, go beyond word-of-mouth referrals. Place ads on new sites, actively recruit diverse candidates and identify your criteria in advance. Then ask questions consistently of all candidates.  Make diverse hiring a priority. Ask yourself this: “Does our workforce reflect our community?”

These recommendations require that you be intentional. They will require some investment on your part. But this intentionality and investment will have an enormous payoff. You will create a stronger, more inclusive and diverse workplace built on trust, shared understanding and shared goals.




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. 

 


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




Cracking the corporate glass ceiling is still a challenge for women. Research from Olin associate professor of organizational behavior Michelle Duguid on unconscious bias is cited as one of the most relevant studies on the obstacles preventing women from advancing to the C-suite.

Link to article on Bloomberg BNA, “Diversity Researchers See Little Improvement”

Link to research in The Journal of Applied Psychology




Olin Business School and the Human Rights Campaign — the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans — will host an LGBT Workplace Inclusion Conference at Washington University in St. Louis.

The conference will take place from 8:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, Aug. 14, in Bauer Hall, Room 240, on the university’s Danforth Campus. It will help businesses and organizations work toward being fully inclusive of LGBT employees. Sessions on the HRC Corporate Equality Index and becoming competitive in the global economy will be included.

Mark Brostoff, associate dean and director of Olin’s Weston Career Center, will introduce the conference.

Admission is free, but registration is requested here. For more information, email Brostoff@wustl.edu.