Benefits of Starting Work Meetings On Time

[We’re pleased to welcome author Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock of the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Lehmann-Willenbrock recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled, “Well, Now What Do We Do? Wait . . .:A Group Process Analysis of Meeting Lateness,” co-authored by Joseph Allen. From Lehmann-Willenbrock:]

What inspired you to be interested in this topic? One earlier study had shown that meeting lateness is very common in the workplace. Meetings begin late all the time, even though wasting time is typically a red flag for organizations. Lateness can be quite a nuisance for th4330781173_db539e781c_z.jpgose who are punctual. We also know this from our own meetings – it’s just so annoying when you’re on time, but others are late and you are kept waiting, thus wasting precious work time. But in addition to annoying employees individually, there might also be negative effects in terms of the group as a whole. So we were curious what lateness does to the group processes in the actual meeting itself.

Joseph Allen set up a meetings lab, with the purpose of focusing on meetings as a research phenomenon. This gave him the opportunity to manipulate different variables, including different levels of meeting lateness (something that would not be possible when studying actual meetings at work).
During our collaboration on previous projects, we increasingly looked into the fine-grained interaction dynamics that make up a good meeting, or a terrible one.  We have conducted several studies on group dynamics within meetings until now, and find again and again that what happens in the actual meeting matters a great deal to meeting satisfaction and effectiveness.
So the connection between lateness and group dynamics seemed like a logical connection to draw in our research.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? Overall, our findings are really quite aligned with our hypotheses. As expected, groups that begin their meetings late are less effective in terms of discussing problems in depth, generating ideas and solutions, and showing support for one another, in comparison to groups that meet on time. These findings hold when we control for meeting length. This means that the differences in these groups’ interaction patterns and the quality of their problem solving is actually due to the meeting lateness (rather than the shorter time that is available when a meeting starts late).

What is somewhat surprising though is that we found quite substantial effects of lateness in terms of derailing group dynamics and deteriorating problem solving, even though these were ad-hoc laboratory groups. Think about how much stronger the effects might even be in the real workplace, where you have to continue working together beyond the meeting.

How do you see this study influencing future research? In terms of future research, there are a host of potential other negative outcomes of lateness both within and after the meeting. We think that lateness may not just derail group dynamics and visible behaviors, as we have shown in this study, but also individual emotional experiences, for example. Moreover, the negative effects of meeting lateness may linger and carry on into employees’ work days, long after the meeting has passed.

Another factor to consider in future research concerns nonverbal expressions during meetings that start late. We noticed in our video data that group members’ nonverbal expressions became quite pronounced as the lateness period continued and they got more annoyed. Again, such expressions may be even stronger in real meetings, rather than the research lab. In this context, future research can also investigate how lateness affects the emergent group mood in the actual meeting itself.

Moreover, individual lateness to meetings might be an indicator or implicit measure of other negative employee attitudes and behaviors. For example, employees who tend to show up late for meetings might be unsatisfied or frustrated with their jobs more generally. Lateness to team meetings could also mean that the team does not feel committed to their shared task, or that the team experiences interpersonal conflict. Future research can examine these possibilities.

For practice, put simply, our results suggest: Don’t be late to your meetings, people! Leaders especially should not be late, as they are often seen as behavioral models for their employees.
Everyone should be wary of the negative consequences of meeting lateness, and therefore plan ahead so meetings can begin on time.

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Clocks photo attributed to Desmond Williams  (CC).

What It Takes to Lead in Life-Threatening Situations

[We’re pleased to welcome author Deirdre Dixon of the University of Tampa, Florida. Dixon recently published an article in the Journal of Leadership and Organization Studies entitled “Making Sense When It Matters Most: An Exploratory Study of Leadership In Extremis,” co-authored by Michael Weeks, Richard Boland, and Sheri Perelli. Below, Dixon explains the inspiration for conducting this research:]

I first became interested in leadership in dangerous environments as an Army officer serving in Iraq. I knew I wanted to help find out how we co3007805773_38716560d9_z.jpguld train our leaders in these difficult environments to become better.  I set out to discover how leaders make sense in these in extremis environments, and how did they give sense to their teams. This journey led me to interview 30 soldiers who had recently returned from conflict in the Middle East. As the US begins our 16th year with conflict in the Middle East, more and more leaders are faced with deploying overseas.  As our society changes and crises seem to be happening on US soil more frequently, more than just soldiers will have to understand leadership in crises environments.  This empirical study helps begin the dialogue.

The full abstract to the article is below:

Leading in in extremis situations, when lives are in peril, remains one of the least addressed areas of leadership research. Little is known about how leaders make sense in these dangerous situations and communicate these contexts to others. Because most of the literature on in extremis is theoretical, we sought empirical evidence of how sensemaking proceeds in practice. A qualitative study was conducted based on interviews with 30 Army leaders who had recently led teams in combat. Our findings suggest that during these life-threatening situations, sensemaking and sensegiving are actually occurring simultaneously, the type of training leaders receive is critical, and a sense of duty can influence a person’s role as a leader. Our findings have implications for both theory and practice since crisis leadership is now a coveted executive quality for leadership competency.

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Image attributed to the U.S. Army (CC)

A Space for Place in Business Communication Research

As technology allows more employees to have a “mobile” workplace, what happens to effective business communication overall? Should more businesses adopt an open-concept floor-plan to foster better collaboration?

Author Deborah Andrews of the University of Delaware addresses the emerging millennial habits of group collaboration and workplace design in her recently published article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled “A Space for Place in Business Communication Research.” From Andrews:

I’m inspired a lot by things, by objects and spaces and what they can make happen. For ye2392869301_65bb870ab9_m.jpgars, too, I have focused my research and teaching on business communication. So when my university started talking about the new “integrated science and engineering” laboratory it was building to fosterinnovation and creativity through collaboration, I wondered: can a building do this? Curious, I looked at some other campuses and, sure enough, many such buildings were being constructed and promoted with similar rhetoric. Because it’s essentially a matter of communication, I was particularly interested in the many occurrences of collaboration in these statements about how the building would deliver on its promise. I saw that term invoked as well in real estate columns, the marketing reports of design consultancies, and popular business articles about new offices being created, for example, by Google, Facebook, and Amazon. I knew then that I had an enticing research project: matching the rhetoric of these new laboratories and offices to results on the ground.

It’s becoming a commonplace of material culture studies that objects create subjects, the things we live with make us the people we are, maybe even more than the other way around. But I’ve been surprised about the extent to which academic administrators, corporate CEOs, and entrepreneurs believe that the right arrangement of plan and furnishings in an office can foster the achievement of organizational goals.

Examining that fit between the rhetoric of the office or lab as a transformative space and results on the ground is an inviting area for communications research. As one anthropologist notes, we often overlook the things in our environment because they are “blindingly obvious.” We take them for granted. My International Journal of Business Communication article aims to encourage researchers to take another look at the physical environment of a 21st Century workplace as it relates to the communication needed to get work done there. We know that the environment shapes us. But can it shape us in desired ways? And how can we tell?

 

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Office image attributed to Jesus Corrius (CC).

Navigating the Study of Executive Leaders’ Spirituality

[Wejmia_26_1-cover’re pleased to welcome Dr. Stuart Allen, Associate Professor at Robert Morris University in Organizational Leadership. Allen recently published an article in Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Navigating the Study of Executive Leaders’ Spirituality: André Delbecq’s Journey.” From Allen:]

We first began to communicate with André Delbecq in 2014. After reading his articles and hearing him speak at conferences we were eager to include him in an instructional video we were working on that addressed the role of spirituality in leadership and the workplace. André invited us to visit him at his home in San Francisco in early 2015 to video-record an hour long discussion. André is a renowned figure in the Academy of Management, and especially in the Management Spirituality and Religion (MSR) Interest Group, due to his long history of contributions to the management field (over 225 scholarly articles) and his pioneering work on topics such as the Nominal Group Technique. In his late career, in the late 1990s, André began to focus on executive leadership spirituality, publishing various accounts of his approach in delivering seminars on this topic to his graduate management students at Santa Clara University, where he served as senior fellow in the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education and professor of management in the Leavey School of Business.

In the months following the interview, while editing the video footage, we realized that we had much more content than we could include in our initial video; we also recognized the depth of André’s rich experience and warm approach in sharing his experiences and perspective. After seeing an article about Fred Luthans (Sommer, 2006) in the unique Meet the Person format included in the Journal of Management Inquiry (JMI), we contacted André and JMI’s editors to gauge interest in an article in this format about André. In August 2016 we met with André for a second interview at the Academy of Management’s 2016 Annual Conference in Anaheim and spent another 90 minutes with André. He elaborated on some of the earlier issues we had explored with him while adding a great focus on his career and experiences as a pioneering teaching practitioner and author. By this time, we had come to know André better, and later that same morning we presented a panel with him and Jody Fry.

Wanting to see the interviews published, we finished the manuscript in September 2016 and sent it to André for his review and approval. He responded on October 1 letting us know that we could publish the article, but also letting us know he was experiencing some health challenges and would be heading to hospital. Twelve days later we heard of André’s passing. This was a challenging end to the beginning of great friendship as we were just getting to know André at a new level. We were also awed by his generosity and commitment to scholarship through the detailed comments we received in his review, even when he was ill and about to go to the hospital.

This article reports on the two interviews, providing a broader picture of André’s career and experiences as a pioneering scholar and teacher. André also shared some of his thinking about the current state of the MSR field and opportunities for new research. He has shared his thoughts on how to approach the challenges of researching new topics and the rewards he received for doing so. It is hard to communicate the full essence of the experience of working with André, who was a wise, patient, generous, bold, and joyful person to be with. He exemplified the transformative presence of a great leader and scholar. We were honored with the opportunity to capture his thoughts and experiences at what unexpectedly turned out to be the end of his life. Anyone who knew André, is interested in MSR research, teaching, and scholarship, or those seeking to learn from the example of pioneering scholar might enjoy reading the interview.

 

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Organization OR Environment?

organization-enviroment[We’re pleased to welcome Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, Assistant Professor at Babson College in Organizational Behavior. Tosti-Kharas recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Organization OR Environment? Disentangling Employees Rationales Behind Organizational Citizenship Behavior for the Environment.” From Tosti-Kharas:]

The origin of this paper came from bridging two different research projects. My co-authors, Tom Thomas and Eric Lamm of SFSU, published a theoretical paper regarding how individuals develop attitudes toward organizational sustainability. Meanwhile, Eric and I have performed research on what motivates employees to perform sustainable behaviors. We look at what we term organizational citizenship behaviors toward the environment ¬ OCB-Es for short ¬ which are voluntary actions at work that help conserve resources, things like recycling, printing double-sided, etc. This paper joined these two streams of inquiry to examine how the reasons why people think it is important to act sustainably at work relates to their performance of OCB-Es and we tested it empirically.

Most past research on this topic has used a measure of how important people think sustainability is in general, meaning for broad ecological reasons, but never contextualized within a work organization. In the paper we distinguish between believing sustainability is important in and of itself, what we term an ³eco-centric rationale,² and believing it is important as a means to an end, specifically a business end, which we term an ³organization-centric rationale.² We also differentiate employees¹ own rationales about why it is important for their companies to operate sustainably from their perceptions about why their organizations believe it is important. Perhaps the most surprising finding when we surveyed 489 working adults across a wide range of organizations and occupations was that people were more likely to perform OCB-Es when they believed their organizations valued sustainability, regardless of their own personal beliefs about the importance of sustainability. These findings held for both eco-centric and organization-centric rationales. This to us was surprising, as lots of research would lead us to predict that personal values would trump perceived organizational values. Yet, we find the opposite, which suggests that perhaps people perform voluntary sustainability behaviors at work not just because they think it¹s important, but because their company believes it is important. It is worth noting that we included in our OCB-E measure not only simple, everyday tasks, but also ³higher-level² behaviors, like collaborating with other employees or making suggestions to supervisors to increase organizational sustainability.

These findings raise several interesting and timely implications for organizational leaders looking to increase employee sustainability behaviors. Since employee perceptions of organizational rationales for sustainability were so important in motivating OCB-Es, we advise communicating corporate values around sustainability and resource conservation as clearly as possible. By contrast, trying to screen employees for pro-environmental values seemed to be less important in a company that clearly communicated these values, since even employees who didn’t buy in on their own behaved more sustainably when they believed their employers cared about the environment.

 

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How to Promote More Inclusive and Equitable Ways of Managing

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[We’re pleased to welcome Stephen Allen of the University of Hull, UK. Stephen recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Learning from Friends: Developing appreciations for unknowing in reflexive practice.”  From Stephen:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The concept of ‘reflexivity’ (involving appreciating and exploring how our knowing about being in a world is situated historically, socially, culturally and materially) has been a key interest in my research over the past six years or so.  This article was developed around my interest in understanding more about what being reflexive can mean for our day-to-day practice.  From attending a Quaker meeting over the past four or so years I began to wonder how Quaker processes could be seen to offer images of what it means to practice reflexivity in how we conduct ourselves.  The potential to consider how the Quaker ‘Business Method’ can help us to embrace our inevitably limited view of the world, our unknowing, is fascinating.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

This is a conceptual paper so there are not really ‘findings’ as such.  However, through writing the paper I became increasingly surprised and impressed by the intellectual quality of Quaker ideas and processes for helping us to explore how we can better come together in the pursuit of equitable and democratic ways of working and living.  Understanding how we can interac
t with others in light of an awareness of our inevitably limited view of the world I see as a crucial challenge in how we go about organising ourselves.  The article hopefully offers some insight in this area.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

As mentioned the article is all about exploring reflexivity in practice.  It offers images of possible ways that we can hopefully make wise decisions together.  There are a lot of opportunities for future research in relation to Quaker processes – I mention some in the article – and so my hope is that these 350 year old ways of organising which have seen limited academic attention become more interesting to researchers.

 

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Do Longer Working Hours Blur Work–Family Boundaries?

In today’s dynamic world, majority of boundary-spanning professionals like sales are expected to work for longer hours, regularly interacting with clients and, in several instances, o7817055290_8609020d49_z.jpgperating across various time zones which ultimately results in blurring work–family boundaries.

Sales is a key boundary-spanning function, which has central accountability in the organization and that is the reason why companies make huge investments on their sales force. Sales professionals are largely seen affected due to imbalances among individual, family and professional goals, which finally results in burnout. In addition, their work-related commitments require them to counter multiple demands from co-workers and customers, thereby resulting in role stress.

Work–family conflict is seen as having two distinct domains: work negatively affecting family, that is, WFC and family negatively affecting work, that is, FWC. Both WFC and FWC are bidirectional in nature and have distinct patterns of correlates. WFC is found to be far more rampant than FWC. The probable reason for the same could be that work boundaries are less permeable as compared to family boundaries which result in work negatively affecting family more as compared to family affecting work.

An article from the Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation aims to measure the ratio of work to family conflict (WFC) and family to work conflict (FWC) and also identify various demographic variables affecting the conflicts.

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Abstract

In today’s dynamic world, majority of boundary-spanning professionals like sales are expected to work for longer hours, regularly interacting with clients and, in several instances, operating across various time zones which ultimately results in blurring work–family boundaries. The sample for the current study are sales employees as they are required to respond to various demands from colleagues, customers and from their respective families as well, which finally leads to conflict from both work and family. Of importance to the research is work–family construct measurement. The study first validated the Netemeyer, Boles and McMurrian (1996) work–family conflict scale in Indian context using exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. The results of the data analysis are in line with the indications in the literature. In addition, the current study attempted to investigate the role of demographic variables on work to family conflict (WFC) as well as family to work conflict (FWC). The sample consisted of 330 sales employees working across different service and manufacturing sectors in Mumbai, India. Results indicated that age, marital status, hierarchy, hours worked, number and ages of children are significantly associated with both WFC and FWC. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Click here to read Work–Family Conflict in India: Construct Validation and Current Status for free from the journal Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation.

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*Clock image attributed to Nick Wright. (CC)