How Can Positive Practices in the Workplace Impact Teams?

men-1979261_960_720Dr. Perry Geue recently published an article in  The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, which is entitled “Positive Practices in the Workplace: Impact on Team Climate, Work Engagement, and Task Performance.” We are pleased to welcome Dr. Geue as a contributor and excited to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. Below Dr. Geue provides his insights regarding inspiration behind the research.

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe research study “Positive Practices in the Workplace: Impact on Team Climate, Work Engagement, and Task Performance” was inspired by an interest in positive work environments, both how they form and their effect in motivating employees toward exceptional performance. Many work environments, such as settings with intense service climates, like the rapidly-paced, routinized food preparation teams in this study, do not readily facilitate employee experiences of freedom, autonomy, and self-expression, which are key factors in employees finding meaning in their work and experiencing well-being in the workplace. A positive work environment, or PWE, is a social climate where employees are treated as positively as possible, one characterized by positive emotions, social inclusion, and quality connections between employees. How do such environments induce employee purpose and  performance in climates that are often hurried and highly structured?

A primary thrust of this study was to delineate how virtuous behaviors in the workplace, termed “positive practices” in the study, could potentially engender a PWE in a demanding service setting, and the effect of this climate on the engagement and performance of employees in work teams. Virtuous behaviors reflect employee actions that are inherently good, apart from instrumental purposes, and they represent the highest aspirations of the human condition. Do workplace behaviors that reflect employees doing good also lead to employees doing well? Can employee behaviors that are respectful, caring, compassionate, forgiving, inspiring, and meaningful in their intent toward others create a climate that is positive and elevating, as well as productive?

Intriguing significant relationships in the study suggest that employees feel more dedicated to and engaged in their work when they sense that work has purpose, significance, and meaning, and that a key to work meaningfulness is mutual interaction that promotes trust, respect, and confidence, where employees believe in each other, communicate the good they see in each other, and forgive each other’s mistakes. In an intensive team service climate, prosocial actions between employees that demonstrate appreciation, affirmation, and respect, could enhance work meaningfulness and lead to greater performance.

The present study impacts the way that managers perceive their role in the workplace. Rather than a posture of correction and control, managers should adopt affirming management practices that contribute to a more positive work environment. Such practices could include managers encouraging team members to exercise optimistic thinking and reinterpret challenges as opportunities, thus granting greater autonomy in creative problem solving, leading to meaningfulness in work. Managers could cultivate a culture of gratitude and appreciation in their work teams, leading team members in mutual respect and acknowledgment of their contributions, expressing thankfulness for accomplishments, and engendering virtuous cycles of honor. Managers could encourage and model forgiveness for miss-steps, engendering a safe psychological climate, viewing mistakes as opportunities for learning, and thus thwarting the blame game that is so demoralizing in the work context. Such positive practices could transform and energize the workplace as employees discover greater value in each other and their work. The potentiality of such a positive work environment is inestimable.

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Workplace Photo attributed to Free-Photos (CC)

HRM and Small-Firm Employee Motivation – Before and After the Great Recession

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Alex Bryson of the University College London and Dr. Michael White Emeritus Fellow at Universty of Westminster.  They recently published an article in the ILR Review entitledHRM and small-firm employee motivation – before and after the Great Recession,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Bryson reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Controversy surrounds the role of high-performance, or high-involvement, management practices in small firms. Many believe these practices only ‘deliver’ in larger firms. So we wanted to see whether this was the case by looking at links between the intensity of what we term ‘human resource management practices’ and job attitudes among employees in small firms.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

The additional motivation was to establish whether hypothesised links between HRM in small firms and employee job attitudes would differ pre- and post-recession, as some have suggested. So we produce estimates pre- and post-recession.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

The most challenging aspect was replicating similar data sets for 2004 and 2011 given changes in the design of the survey we were using. The surprising result is that findings generally replicate those for larger firms.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

It is innovative because nobody has examined the links between HRM intensity and job attitudes among employees in small firms using large-scale linked employer-employee data.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Think hard about motivating your analyses based on sound theory and then search or construct good empirical data to test your hypotheses.

 

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Individuals’ Personal Resistance to Change

overcoming-2127669_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Shaul Oreg of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Resistance to Change and Performance: Toward a More Even-Handed View of Dispositional Resistance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Oreg reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointMy interest in this project derived from my desire to counter the negative view of the resistance to change concept in general, and the notion of individuals’ personal resistance to change more specifically. As a rule, resistance to change is considered to be bad, irrational, and harmful. Accordingly, individuals who are predisposed to resist change are typically viewed in a negative light. They are seen as inferior to those individuals who seek out change and thrive in dynamic environments. This is unfortunate given that there are many situations in our lives in which it is the routine and stable environment that dominates and that requires our attention. We are often required to maintain high levels of motivation and performance in environments that are routine and often monotonous. As such, individuals who shy away from change and prefer routines may actually have an advantage over change-seekers in such stable environments. This is what I set out to demonstrate in this project.

One of the challenges in the project was to devise routine and dynamic environments in the lab that would capture the essence of these environments in real life. Another challenge was obtaining evidence from both laboratory and field settings.

The findings nicely demonstrate both the advantages and disadvantages of dispositional resistance to change in the context of task performance. Whereas high-resistors perform more poorly on dynamic tasks, they outperform their change-loving counterparts when performing routine tasks. Of the four dimensions of the dispositional resistance to change trait, it is the routine-seeking dimension that yields this pattern most consistently.

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Resistance tag photo attributed to NeuPaddy. (CC)

Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger

depression-2912404_1280[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Laurie J. Barclay of Wilfrid Laurier University, and Tina Kiefer of the University of Warwick. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “In the Aftermath of Unfair Events: Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, the motivation for their research:]

JOM_42_5_Covers.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?
We were interested in how employees experience unfair events on a day-to-day basis and how they “live through” and actively navigate these experiences. We wanted to move away from the dominant perspective in the literature that examines how unfairness impacts employees through the “eyes” and interests of managers and organizations. Instead, we wanted to ground our investigation in employees’ experiences to understand how employees process and respond to these events and how this impacts their relationship with the organization.

Within the fairness literature, it is often assumed that negative emotions are detrimental. However, negative emotions can be functional for employees and hence organizations. One of our study’s most compelling findings is that employees who experience anxiety in reaction to the unfair event are motivated to engage in problem prevention behaviors, which are aimed at “fixing” the situation. Interestingly, employees who engage in these behaviors experienced a “rebound” in their fairness perceptions, such that the drop in perceived fairness due to the unfair event was corrected. By contrast, anger was functional by showing that the unfairness would not be tolerated but did not have the same positive impact on subsequent fairness perceptions. This raises important questions about how employees’ behaviors impact the aftermath of the unfair event and the importance of understanding how employees are experiencing these events to effectively manage these situations.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
After decades of research, the fairness literature has become a mature and well-established domain of inquiry, with thousands of studies and dozens of theories. Although this wealth of empirical evidence and theoretical diversity has provided much richness, incoming researchers and doctoral students can find it a bit intimidating to dive into. Further, some scholars have also questioned whether the maturity of this literature will lead to stagnation. However, there are many opportunities to make significant, novel, and important discoveries in this domain by taking different and novel perspectives.

One way to continue to stimulate this literature is to identify and question its underlying assumptions. For example, in our research, we grounded our investigation in the experiences of employees which challenges the dominant perspective in the field. This approach created a number of insights regarding how employees actively navigate unfair events, including how employees can impact their own fairness perceptions through their emotional and behavioral responses as well as the functional nature of negative emotions.

We would encourage new scholars and incoming researchers to challenge assumptions in the literature and also consider how applying theories from other domains and perspectives to fairness can enhance our insights. Doing so will create exciting new opportunities to expand our understanding and ability to manage this important phenomenon. Given the pervasiveness and impact of unfairness, it is critical to provide employees and organizations with evidence-based practices that can help prevent these experiences, where possible, and effectively navigate unfairness when it does occur.

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Stress photo attributed to whoismargot. (CC)

 

A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance

gender-equality-1977912_1920 (1)[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jeremy D. Mackey of Auburn University, Philip L. Roth of Clemson University, Chad H. Van Iddekinge of Florida State University, and Lynn A Mcfarland of the University of South Carolina. They recently published an article in Group & Organization Management entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they discuss their motivations and findings:]

GOM_72ppiRGB_powerpointPhil Roth, Chad Van Iddekinge, Lynn McFarland, and I began working on our study entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance” because we wanted to examine whether gender proportionality (i.e., the percentage of females in an organization) affects females’ job performance relative to males’ job performance. Overall, we found weak effects of gender proportionality on job performance. Specifically, we found support for a no token effect perspective rather than a linear or curvilinear token effect perspective. Our findings are important because they challenge the prevailing wisdom of critical mass theory and the tokenism hypothesis. We hope our study stimulates additional research in this important area of inquiry.

The most challenging aspect of conducting our research was its scope. Research that examines gender effects on performance has affected numerous fields, including management, applied psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. Thus, it was a challenge to determine the appropriate scope for our study so our results could be generalizable. Ultimately, we included data from 158 independent studies that included a total of 101,071 respondents.

The most surprising finding from our study was the consistent lack of support for linear or curvilinear effects of gender proportionality on job performance across types of performance (i.e., overall subjective job performance, task performance, OCBs, and objective performance) and features of study designs. Overall, our findings were consistent for respondents from civilian or military organizations, whether single or multiple organizations were included in each sample, regardless of whether respondents had managerial or non-managerial jobs, whether there were traditional stereotypes of men’s work or women’s work for respondents’ jobs, regardless of administrative or research purposes for each study, despite whether each study was published or unpublished, and regardless of the year of publication of each study.

Despite our findings, we encourage future research to examine gender proportionality effects on job performance and other organizational outcomes because it is important to understand the conditions in which gender proportionality affects organizational outcomes and the types of outcomes that are affected by gender proportionality.

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Weighing photo attributed to Tumisu. (CC)

Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Richard Egan of the University of Canberra, Mark Turner and Deborah Blackman of the University of New South Wales. They recently published an article in the Human Resource Development Review, entitled “Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Egan reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

HRDR_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

By measuring employee perceptions of their interpersonal experience with organizational leaders as well as employee affect and levels of intent, this study contributes to bridging the gap between the long-standing research base relating to organizational leadership and the emergent theory of employee work passion. Indeed, scholars such as Albrecht (2010) and Meyer, Gagné, and Parfyonova (2010) have called for research to integrate theories and evidence from adjacent fields. Such integration will allow Human Resource Development scholars and organizational practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of related psychological constructs that contribute to the development of work passion.

In terms of practical implications, by exploring theoretical links between leadership behavior, employee affect and work intentions, we develop and provide a relevant theoretical framework for future discussion, analysis and refinement. With a clearer understanding of how leadership impacts on employee affect and employee work intentions, HRD practitioners can measure the antecedents to and consequences of work passion accurately. Subsequently, appropriate behavioral interventions, such as training and coaching programs that aim to increase leader awareness and skills needed to build workplace environments where employees can choose to be passionate about their work, can be developed.

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Keeping Boomers Engaged and Millennials Committed in the Workplace

We’re pleased to highlight this Human Resource Development Review author feature. To view all other author features from HRDR, click here. Below, Dr. Chaudhuri and Dr. Ghosh provide further insight on their article, “Reverse Mentoring: A Social Exchange Tool for Keeping the Boomers Engaged and Millennials Committed,” that is found in Volume 11, Issue 1 of Human Resource Development Review.

1) Please share an overview of your article with our readers. The article titled, “Reverse Mentoring: A Social Exchange Tool for Keeping the Boomers Engaged and Millennial’s Committed” takes a positive perspective whereby the HRD professionals are encouraged to capitalize on the multi-generational workforce that they are gifted with instead of whining about the challenges that it poses. The article proposes reverse mentoring as a social exchange tool which is aimed at leveraging the expertise of both generations including the boomers and millennials, by being perceptive of their different needs, value systems, and work demands. Reverse Mentoring, which is a fairly new tentacle of mentoring is an inverted type of mentoring relationship, wherein junior employees are paired with senior, seasoned, and more experienced staff. Our article offers social exchange and age identification theory as the basic theoretical underpinnings that support the framework of reverse mentoring as a two way street. The mentoring relationship thrives on the mutual exchange between two generations—senior members of an organization will acquire new learnings in the areas of technology—mobile computing, social media, cloud technology, etc.—and work-life diversity, work-life balance, latest professional trends, changing consumer preferences,  and glean a more global perspective on the concepts of openness and diversity. The younger workforce will find in it an opportunity to hone their leadership skills and garner insights on organizational structure. This would eventually result in increased employee commitment and engagement for the millennials and the boomers.

2) How did you reach your interest in this topic? Being instructors at top-notch research universities, we were fortunate to interact with students of high caliber. While facilitating our courses, both of us encountered those AHA moments where our students were instrumental in helping us learn more advanced presentation skills including Prezi, Google HangOut, Google Talk, and the list could just go on. While we were fascinated with our exposure to these new tools, we were equally amazed to witness that there is so much more that these young kids can offer us with respect to new technology and their changing preferences of how they need to be taught to make it most effective for them. This led us to believe that if this relationship is formalized at a much higher level, typically in an organization setting – it can actually reap lot of benefits. Our curiosity led us to dig deeper into this new found intervention of reverse mentoring. What surprised us was the lack of literature in the area when we started researching it in 2011. While a few organizations are trying this intervention, academics have been still slow to jump into this bandwagon. Given the area was still very under researched, we found this an excellent opportunity to pursue.

3) How does your research connect with social responsibility? In 2015, the world witnessed a major demographic shift when the millennials became the largest share of the workforce. Based on the current trend, it is projected that in 2020 millennials will become half of the global workforce. With as many as 4 and in some cases 5 generations working side by side in the workplace, organizational leaders are confronted as never before with a growing generational gap, shifting expectations, as well as the constant need to stay on the cutting ‘digital’ edge.  As more and more senior executives are turning to their younger colleagues for insight and guidance, traditional mentoring is gradually shifting into reverse or reciprocal mentoring turning millennials into the must-have mentors for senior leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, the impending retirement of the boomers is resulting in a leadership gap and possible brain drain shortage. In view of this impending labor shortage resulting from the exodus of boomers, employers must find ways to keep these workers engaged post standard retirement ages. We proffer reverse mentoring as a socially responsible intervention which would keep the boomers engaged and the millennials committed.

4) How might a future scholar implement aspects of your research in their work? The extant literature is limited in its scope when it comes to the outcomes of the reverse mentoring relationship as it is a fairly new intervention. We would encourage future scholars to find organizations that have successfully implemented reverse mentoring. As the workforce continues to age and younger generations keep on joining the workforce, we would encourage future scholars to empirically test the propositions offered in this article about the work outcomes of a multigenerational workforce.

ChaudhuriS-2016.jpgDr. Chaudhuri is currently a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned her Ph.D. in human resource development. Her research interests are related to different aspects of human resource development practices and its impact on organizational outcomes including organizational commitment and employee engagement. Dr. Chaudhuri has conducted and published research studies on training outsourcing, work-life balance, cross-cultural leadership, and mentoring. Her co-authored research on ‘Reverse Mentoring’ has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Canadian Broadcasting, Financial Times, and one of the leading world news channels.

R. Ghosh (Release July 14, 2017).jpgDr. Ghosh is currently an associate professor at Drexel University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Louisville, and her MBA at the Somaiya Institute of Studies and Research in Mumbai. Dr. Ghosh’s focused research interests include mentoring and leader development, workplace incivility, and workplace learning and development. She has over twenty article publications in journals such as Advances in Developing Human Resources, the Journal of Management Development, and Career Development International.