You have been working a typical 9-5 job for several years now, while the corporate hustle was exciting among the first few years, you are currently feeling unfulfilled, dread going to work, and desire a change of pace. On the weekends you enjoy strolling on the beach or hiking a mountain to take pictures of the scenery. One day your friend asks, “Why don’t become a photographer?”; you think to yourself, “I could never do that”, but in reality you are simply fearful. People don’t necessarily fear change, they fear failure; often, those who are afraid of trying something new are apprehensive to test their skills. Choosing to not pick up photography out of fear of failure is very similar to not giving yourself the opportunity to explore a career options, so how will your curiosity be satiated?
During college, I worked at a startup and interviewed potential new members, but I had no idea what kind of questions to ask. Was I supposed to be looking for someone with free time who could dedicate hours of work? Someone passionate about the mission of our startup? Someone who could think outside of the box? I wish I had been aware of the evidenced-based practices to help me with this endeavor.
rganizations frequently turn to external hires to fill these empty high-level positions, often to little avail. In addition to costing an average of $3 million more than internal candidates per hire, external executives are significantly less likely to be effective leaders (Chandler, Hall, & Kram, 2010). This shortage of organizational leaders and high cost of external executive hires calls for a modern, low-cost solution to developing leaders ready to take on future business challenges. Such a solution can be found by taking a strengths-based approach to succession planning with a focus on internal candidates.
During dull, taxing days at work, do you dream of a time when your work does not drain you of energy and joy, but instead refuels and propels you forward? For many, looking forward to work is an unrealized fantasy, as evidenced by Gallup’s (2017) survey findings that a measly 34% of employees are engaged at work. Employees are losing patience with companies that provide little more than a paycheck, and in this highly competitive and global business market, organizations can’t afford to lose these employees to the companies that strive to help their employees flourish. This demand for organizations to invest in employees is not simply a fad, as there is research to show that employees who thrive at work are more developed and better performers than those who do not (Paterson, Luthans & Jeung, 2014). Before spending thousands of dollars on flashy incentives or benefits to appease employees, businesses should consider cultivating a work environment to help them truly flourish.
The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred from one form to the next or between objects. We know this in the context of thermal or motion energy, but what about the energy we recognize as existing between two people? This would suggest that individuals acquire energy and frequently exchange that energy between one another. Owens, Baker, Sumpter, and Cameron (2016) refer to this as relational energy and argue that this form of energy comes from the interactions we have with those around us. In the real world, this can exist in a multitude of contexts. Sport commentators may describe the energy of a crowd or a team that fueled them to victory. A friend may describe the lack of energy they felt in respect to their first date. In the organizational context, relational energy exists between coworkers and often serves as a mechanism that influences behavior, especially as it relates to doing work. Owens and colleagues (2016) describe it as a resource for employees that motivates them towards performance.
Almost all of us can look back and point to a defining moment in our lives when we were pressed to choose between two life paths: one that we know deep down was right for us, and another that everyone else thought we should pursue. If you’ve experienced one such moment, think back to it now. Consider both options just as you had once upon a time. Notice in your body how each one makes you feel. For me, my moment was six years ago when I had to decide which college to attend. Even to this day I vividly recall how thoughts of the prestigious university my parents wanted me to pursue evoked within me a sense of dread. In contrast, the conception I had for my own life path filled me with a sense of excitement, passion, and drive.
nboarding is an experience that often leaves employees with unforgettable memories. People often feel vulnerable when they start a new job, and the organization plays a key role in defining the valence of the emotional experience. That first impression is crucial for any organization in welcoming, inspiring, and retaining talent. Onboarding refers to the process that helps new employees learn the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to succeed in their new organizations (Bauer, Erdogan & Zedeck, 2011). An effective onboarding program has a considerable impact on retention and productivity of new hires in the long run.
Think back to your last memory of being in school (K-12). What do you remember about your teacher? Do you remember the creative lessons they taught? How about the fun activities you did? Maybe you remember the multiple times they stayed at school way past the dismissal bell to help you achieve success? However, what you might not remember are the piles of paperwork they had on their desk or how their exhaustion increased as the weeks passed.
Teamwork is an integral component of many jobs, and is critical to the innovation that drivesorganizational growth. But teamwork today often takes a very different form than it did in the past; while the concept was once inherently an in-person endeavor, the advent of technology that allows workers to communicate over vast distances instantaneously has given us the opportunity to form virtual teams across the globe.
If you are anything like I was six months ago, you probably saw the words Protean Career and had no idea what they meant. After being introduced to the concept through Douglas T. Hall’s wonderful 2004 article “The Protean Career: A Quarter-Century Journey,” and taking a deep dive into the literature surrounding the concept, I have become more and more aware of its importance and how it applies to the lives of workers today.
Do you feel like you can express yourself through your work? If so, you are quite fortunate, as self-expression in the workplace can deepen the extent to which you find your work meaningful and can even enhance your overall quality of life. Alan Waterman (1990) coined the term personal expressiveness to describe the idea that people are most fulfilled when what they are doing aligns with who they are. When experiencing a personally expressive activity, an individual can report one or more of the following:
Are we born creative or is creativity something we can develop? Can we only be creative in certain domains or can we be creative across contexts? These are big questions, and there has been a great deal of research on creativity over the past couple of decades. One thing that seems to make a huge difference in the outcome of these answers comes back to you: Do you think you are creative?
Let us cut to a team meeting during your first month of work. It is the end of a productive work day, and everyone is in a great mood. Your boss has just proposed a new idea. Your team members are on board with it, but you spot a flaw. Things have been good so far; you have managed to carry out your tasks effectively, and relate well with your co-workers. You have been a picture of competency. But your boss can be unpredictable, and even volatile at times. You want to be sure to maintain your good standing.
When someone is so detail focused that they are unable to see the big picture, we say they ‘Couldn’t see the forest through the trees.’ This tendency can come from what scholars call strengths overuse, and in its extreme, can lead to lopsided and ineffective leadership (Kaiser & Overfield, 2011). For example, an employee with a strength in detail-orientation may overuse this strength with the result of getting bogged down in the details and forgetting to keep an eye on the overall project they were assigned.
Word on the street is that to keep the best and brightest employees at your company, you must dazzle them: Provide unlimited time off, catered meals, laundry services, or something else novel and equally enticing. If you’re trying to attract top-tier talent, adding these benefits seems tantalizing, but research recommends to first look to your culture (Kontoghiorghes, 2015).
Walter just didn’t get it. Even though he often spoke about his passion for his work, his incompetence and constant self-aggrandizement began to disrupt the workplace. After every performance review, Walter would exclaim, “Doesn’t (our boss) get how essential I am to this place? If it weren’t for me, nothing would get done!” In fact, the opposite was true: His absence was marked by high productivity and enhanced morale.
Trust between an employer an their employees is more complex than trust between any two individuals. The trust an employer receives from their employees involves 3 dimensions (Galford & Drapeau, 2003): strategic trust, or employees’ trust in the employer’s technical and strategic competencies, personal trust, or employees’ trust in the way an employer shapes and handles interpersonal relationships, and organizational trust, or employees' trust in the organization’s competence as a whole.
We’ve all had jobs that we’ve had to leave at one point, either by choice or because we were forced. Sometimes they were jobs we disliked for one reason or another, and other times they were jobs we loved. In the case of one of my own past jobs, there was nothing that anybody could have done to make me stay – I was accepted into graduate school and that would require me to relocate, so quitting was inevitable. I had accepted the position with the full intention of attending graduate school at some point during my employment with the company. It was a topic that was thoroughly discussed during the interview process and again with my supervisor upon hiring. When I left the company, it was bittersweet. I had enjoyed my job and was on track for turning it into a career, but I enjoyed my field of study even more and wanted to pursue it further.
Employers are constantly trying to discover new ways to increase focus, performance, and well-being in their employees. Common tactics include providing more perks such as better benefits and more vacation days, or opting for formal workplace wellness programs. But perhaps there is something else – something less tangible – that can have a significant impact on the wellness of an organization’s workers. Past research has demonstrated that helping people to feel more meaning in their work can increase their overall sense of well-being.
How is it that those with power seem to gain even more of it over time? And why do the disadvantaged seem to lose what little power they have, becoming increasingly reliant on those in positions of influence? If these dynamics are based on either divine or natural law, as some might suppose, then nothing can be done to change them—which is convenient if you’re one of the powerful. But if you believe this pattern of behavior can be changed, then you need to understand what drives it. And the answer is simple: structure.