Managing People

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    Misfit: what do you do when you can’t be yourself at work?

Misfit: what do you do when you can’t be yourself at work?

The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.  —   Steve Jobs
Most of us, like Steve Jobs, have come […]

Single and no kids? Who is work-life balance for?

Work-life balance has been a hot topic for organisations and HR practitioners for many years – linked to range of individual and organisational benefits. The shift from the terms ‘family-friendly’ and ‘work-family balance’ to the more inclusive ‘work-life balance’ around 2000 indicated a shift in rhetoric that all employees, regardless of domestic situation, deserved a suitable balance between the […]

The ethical downside of hiring based on internal referrals

Increasingly, organizations are turning to referral-based methods to hire new employees (i.e. “recommend a friend/acquaintance”). In fact, these practices are estimated to account for up to 50 per cent of new hires and some organizations pay up to $20,000 to people referring someone they know for a job. The practice itself is relatively simple – it consists of a hiring manager […]

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    Being the boss is not always good: power taints how we interact with others

Being the boss is not always good: power taints how we interact with others

Lord Acton’s quote that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” probably conforms to most of our experiences with powerful people. People who feel powerful tend to be self-focused, less empathetic, a little more rude or pushy, and just generally difficult to deal with. While most people generally understand that power makes others more difficult to deal with, one […]

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    What power does to you – the psychological consequences of power

What power does to you – the psychological consequences of power

We often blame the behaviours of those who have power and abuse it on the individual and his or her personality. That is, we make what psychologists call a dispositional attribution. But there is more to individual and personality differences when it comes to understanding the behaviour of those in power. In fact, what is often occulted are the […]

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    Mismanaged souls: why does employee engagement remain stubbornly low?

Mismanaged souls: why does employee engagement remain stubbornly low?

You would have to have been in solitary confinement in a particularly remote location during recent years not to be aware of the tidal-wave of interest there has been in employee engagement. High levels of engagement have been associated with a host of important benefits to both employers in terms of raised performance and productivity, and for employees in […]

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    A managerial orthodoxy dominates organisational life since the Thatcher/Reagan era

A managerial orthodoxy dominates organisational life since the Thatcher/Reagan era

As organisation consultants, we have met many people, in many different fields, who are bewildered and oppressed by the apparent insanity of much of what goes on in large organisations. There are seemingly endless reorganisations and restructurings. Leaders seem to feel bound to disturb people and organisations. People are sometimes not sure what unit they are part of, or […]

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    Nilofer Merchant: Ideas can now spread and scale through networks, rather than hierarchies

Nilofer Merchant: Ideas can now spread and scale through networks, rather than hierarchies

As a former executive at Apple and Autodesk, and consultant for a number of other Silicon Valley companies, Nilofer Merchant has a pretty good idea of how to move things forward in the business world. One key ingredient, if you ask her, is collaboration. How to get people to collaborate, and companies to value collective work more than hierarchy, […]

Is race a taboo topic in the workplace?

Helen feels uncomfortable chatting to Sasha, her work colleague, beyond exchanging pleasantries.  She is concerned that she might say the wrong thing and cause offence to Sasha, who is black, and so she avoids spending time with her even though she likes her. Sasha is aware that Helen is awkward around her, but she’s unsure why, and she also […]

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    When firms break promises, employees may ‘pay it forward’ to colleagues and clients

When firms break promises, employees may ‘pay it forward’ to colleagues and clients

When organisations break their promises to their employees, who suffers the consequences and why? Intuition, and indeed research, tells us that those who are harmed seek to redress the balance by harming their perpetrator, with this being either one’s organisation or one’s boss, for example. However, in a three-study design within the medical field, our research finds this to […]

Beyond the ‘Scrum’: the value of individual work

Imagine walking into an open plan office. In the middle of the room there is an animated meeting of six or seven people. They are clearly working on a project together. Ideas are being energetically shared, a steady stream of suggestions being offered, keyboards are enthusiastically tapped, notes made. There is a buzz of achievement, of a team at […]

Discrimination at work: a self-fulfilling prophecy?

When we think of discrimination we often think of barriers that minorities face in the hiring process or impediments to receiving equal pay for equal work. We may typically think that this stems from antipathy towards minorities, or what we economists call “taste-based” discrimination. But it may also derive from priors that people have about the average productivity of […]

What Greek mythology teaches us about love in organisations

In a letter written in 1856, the Russian writer Lev Tolstoy wrote, “One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.” Love is crucial in everyday people’s life, work and business experiences. However, our common understanding of organisational life tends to treat work and love largely as non-overlapping fields, fuelling the […]

AI and the democratisation of judgement and decision-making

Qualitative judgement – the ability to make considered business decisions based on a personal interpretation of the context and facts — has never been more important (or overlooked).

There are three main reasons why judgement will remain central to the practice of management and leadership in the years to come. First, qualitative judgement is the last preserve of humanity in […]

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    Mindfulness and the art of managing people as people, not ‘resources’

Mindfulness and the art of managing people as people, not ‘resources’

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in the corporate world. Google, Starbucks, and many other corporate behemoths wish to infuse it in their employees to reengage them. In many ways this approach to mindfulness may be mindless. It assumes that people are resources and that you need to get the MOST out of them. This viewpoint also often assumes that employees do […]

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    Emotionally intelligent employees are a competitive advantage

Emotionally intelligent employees are a competitive advantage

In today’s hypercompetitive world, it is more important than ever to have highly engaged, committed workers. Employees with high job satisfaction and organisational commitment have higher job performance. Satisfied people are more productive. Moreover, employees with high job satisfaction and organisational commitment have lower turnover intentions. This can keep costly turnover down and help organisations retain knowledgeable, well-trained, and […]

I vote left, you vote right: How can we work together?

Political divisiveness continues to make news and influence our lives. In Spain, the drive for Catalonia’s independence has sparked demonstrations from both sides, including police action to close polling places. In Britain, Brexit aroused a debate marked by strong emotion over the future direction of the country. In the U.S., movements such as Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter, standing […]

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    How to counter the exhaustion of always having to be positive with customers

How to counter the exhaustion of always having to be positive with customers

When was the last time you voluntarily lent a hand to a co-worker? If it is not something you do very often, it is time to start. In addition to generating goodwill between you and your colleague, there are a whole range of other advantages. The most important ones are the ability to protect yourself against emotional demands at […]

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    Naps in the office – perhaps the secret of China’s digital success?

Naps in the office – perhaps the secret of China’s digital success?

We have just spent a week visiting Shenzhen, China, to see the headquarters of one of the world’s most innovative and fastest-growing companies – Huawei. Since its founding in 1987, Huawei has grown to become one of the world’s largest telecoms companies, with revenue of $75 billion. Globally it employs 180,000 with nearly 60,000 of these based at the […]

Ethnic discrimination during resume screening: Mind the job

In many European countries, the employment rate of ethnic minorities is low, which is worrisome given the risks of social exclusion and poverty. The overall weaker labour market position of ethnic minorities compared to ethnic majorities is attributed to a lack of human capital (job competencies) as well as to labour market discrimination (unfair treatment).

This blog post focuses on […]