Comments Off on Why We Like Bad News and How It Supports The Recession

Why We Like Bad News and How It Supports The Recession

Posted September 30th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

Many of us frequently complain about the negativity of the news, particularly now in the economic downturn. The conga line of bruising news blankets consumers in a headline bombardment that is probably making the problem worse.

Jim Lehrer’s NewHour economics correspondent Paul Solmon did an interesting piece on the cascading effect that consumer pessimism has on our willingness to spend. He said that we are in a state of “learned helplessness”. At the worst, continual bad news can even stimulate a state of depression, and people who concentrate on all the bad news work themselves up emotionally and become much more likely to make unwise decisions, like selling all their investments at a huge loss or halting their consumer spending entirely. Even people who don’t watch television or read newspapers are getting hit with nuggets of negativity through social networking and informal conversations.

When everyone is talking about recession, we all feel like something has to change, even if nothing has changed, says Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational,” People may be scared to spend money, scared about losing their jobs and in doing so will restrain their spending. Yet look closely. Consumer sales in entertainment, and drugs like Viagra have increased. Viacom’s sales were down from last year but still profitable. Best practice companies with a long-term view are weathering the recession quite well. Social networking in many forms is expanding rapidly.

Is the media negative? Media studies show that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as seventeen negative news reports for every one good news report. Why? The answer may lie in the work of evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists.  Humans seek out news of dramatic, negative events. These experts say that our brains evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment where anything novel or dramatic had to be attended to immediately for survival. So while we no longer defend ourselves against saber-toothed tigers, our brains have not caught up.

Many studies have shown that we care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. Our negative brain tripwires are far more sensitive than our positive triggers. We tend to get more fearful than happy. And each time we experience fear we turn on our stress hormones.

Another explanation comes from probability theory. In essence, negative and unusual things happen all the time in the world. In his book, Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos explains that if the news is about a small neighborhood of 500 or 5,000, then the possibility that something unusual has happened is low. Unusual things don’t happen to individual people very often. That’s why very local news like a neighborhood newsletters tends to have less bad news. But in a large city of 1 million, dramatic and negative incidents happen all the time. But most people watch national or worldwide media where news reports come in from large cities at a large scale, so the prevalence of negative stories increase. Add the size of social networking communication, and we expand geometrically bad news. So from evolutionary and neuro-scientific and probability perspectives, we are hard-wired to look for the dramatic and negative, and when we find it, we share it.

What about our personal lives? Psychologist John Gottman at the University of Washington, found that there is kind of thermostat operating in healthy marriages that regulates the balance between positive and negative. He found that relationships run into serious problems when the negative to positive ratio becomes seriously imbalanced. He also found that the magic ratio is five positive to one negative.

Is there any good news in all this? According to positive psychologists we can change our habits, and we can focus on the glass being half-full. When we acquire new habits, our brains acquire “mirror neurons” and develop a positive perspective that can spread to other people like a virus. This is not about being a Pollyanna or “goody-two-shoes,” is about being able to reprogram our brains. To apply this positive psychology and brain research knowledge to our attitudes and behaviors with relation to our current economic conditions, we can encourage our news deliverers to present a balanced and multi-dimensional point of view. Giving us the bad news, so that our brains are hard-wired into a negative state, will just reinforce the current negative economic climate. The best thing individual people can do to help our economy recover, is move toward a more positive, optimistic frame of mind by not seeing and reading negative news about our economy on a frequent basis.

Comments Off on Heartbreak actually physically impacts the heart

Heartbreak actually physically impacts the heart

Posted September 30th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

Social rejection isn’t just emotionally upsetting; it also upsets your heart. A new study finds that being rejected by another person makes your heart rate drop for a moment.

The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Research has shown that the brain processes physical and social pain in some of the same regions. Bregtje Gunther Moor, Eveline A. Crone, and Maurits W. van der Molen of the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University in the Netherlands wanted to find out how social pain affects you physically.

For the study, volunteers were asked to send the researchers a photograph of themselves. They were told that for a study on first impressions, students at another university would look at the photo to decide whether they liked the volunteer. This was just a cover story for the real experiment. A few weeks later, each volunteer came to the laboratory, had wires placed on their chest for an electrocardiogram, and looked at a series of unfamiliar faces — actual students from another university. For each face, the volunteer was asked to guess whether that student liked them. Then they were told whether the person actually “liked” them or not — although this was merely a computer-generated response.

Each participant’s heart rate fell in anticipation before they found out the person’s supposed opinion of them. Heart rate was also affected after they were told the other person’s opinion — if they were told the other student didn’t like them, the heart dropped further, and was slower to get back up to the usual rate. The heart rate slowed more in people who expected that the other person would like them.

The results suggest that the autonomic nervous system, which controls such functions as digestion and circulation, gets involved when you’re socially rejected. “Unexpected social rejection could literally feel ‘heartbreaking,’ as reflected by a transient slowing of heart rate,” the researchers write.

It has become clear to me during my coaching of clients who have experienced significant emotional trauma, including heartbreak, that they underestimate the mind-body connection–heartbreak actually physically impacts the heart.

Comments Off on Dirty hands, dirty mouths: Study finds a need to clean the body part that lies

Dirty hands, dirty mouths: Study finds a need to clean the body part that lies

Posted September 30th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2010) — Apparently your mom had it right when she threatened to wash your mouth out with soap if you talked dirty. Lying really does create a desire to clean the “dirty” body part, according to a University of Michigan study.

“The references to ‘dirty hands’ or ‘dirty mouths’ in everyday language suggest that people think about abstract issues of moral purity in terms of more concrete experiences with physical purity,” said Spike W.S. Lee, a U-M doctoral candidate in psychology, who conducted the study with Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), the Ross School of Business, and the U-M psychology department.

The findings of the study, published in the current (October) issue of Psychological Science, support that connection.

For the study, Lee and Schwarz asked 87 students to play the role of lawyers competing with a colleague, “Chris,” for a promotion. Each was asked to imagine they found an important document that Chris had lost, and that returning the document would help his career and hurt their own career. Each participant was instructed to leave Chris a message by either voice mail or email, telling him who they were and either lying that they could not find his document or telling the truth that they had found the document.

Next, participants rated the desirability of several products as part of a supposed marketing survey and reported how much they were willing to pay for each product. The products included mouthwash and hand sanitizer.

Study participants who lied on the phone, leaving an untrue and malevolent voicemail, felt a stronger desire for mouthwash and were willing to pay more for it than those who lied on e-mail. And conversely, those who lied on e-mail, typing the same mean message, felt a stronger desire for hand sanitizer and were willing to pay more for that. Saying nice and ethical things, on the other hand, made it less appealing to clean the body part involved in conveying the message.

In scientific terms, the findings showed that “the embodiment of moral purity is specific to the motor modality involved in the moral transgression.” Verbal lying increased participants’ assessment of mouthwash while lying on e-mail, using their hands, increased the assessment of hand sanitizer’s value.

“This study shows how ‘concrete’ the metaphorical links are between abstract and concrete domains of life,” Schwarz said. “Not only do people want to clean after a dirty deed, they want to clean the specific body part involved.”

Comments Off on Why CEOs need to scrap employee performance reviews

Why CEOs need to scrap employee performance reviews

Posted September 29th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

On any given day in most organizations in North America, you’ll find a manager informing an employee that it’s time for their regular performance review. And usually, the news is neither delivered or received with joy. Second only to firing an employee, managers rate performance appraisals as the task they dislike the most. The reality is that the traditional performance appraisal as practiced in the majority of organizations today is fundamentally flawed, and incongruent with our values-based, vision-driven and collaborative work environments.

The practice of giving employees annual ratings or performance evaluations is widely accepted as an essential and valuable tool throughout the business world. Amazon offers over 200 titles focused on this topic, with more than 50 published since 1994. Most employee performance reviews are annual processes, where the manager annually assesses the work of subordinates. In some cases, the employees also participate in self-review. In many organizations, annual salary increases are tied to the performance appraisals, and often as well, according to one study, managers often delay completing them because they are not motivated to do it.

Jim Heskett, writing in the Harvard Business Review says employee performance reviews rank with root canals on the list of least favorite things to do both for employees and managers. Heskett argues that the debate over the utility of performance reviews centers around a “forced ranking” system, made popular by GE, which not only purports to identify the top performers, but also the underperformers who can subsequently be “advised” to leave the organization.

Supporters of a forced ranking system, Heskett says, cite its effectiveness because it averts lawsuits when poorly performing employees are fired. The opponents of the system say the system hurts teamwork and innovation. What little research there is on forced ranking systems show they produce only short-term improvement. It also avoids the obvious question–is the employee performance review system’s purpose only to weed out poor performers?

Robert Sutton, Stanford University professor, says that performance evaluations do more harm than good. A 1998 study by Development Dimensions Incorporated, found that employers themselves expressed overwhelming dissatisfaction with performance reviews. The consulting firm, People IQ, in a 2005 national survey, found that 87% of employees and managers felt performance reviews were neither useful nor effective. . In an article published in The Psychological Bulletin, psychologists A. Kluger and A. Denisi report completion of a meta-analysis of 607 studies of performance evaluations and concluded that at least 30% of the performance reviews ended up in decreased employee performance.

Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, in their book, Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What To Do Instead, detail studies that clearly show performance appraisals do not work and outline what could replace them. Garold Markle, in his book, Catalytic Coaching: The End of The Performance Review, argues that performance reviews have reached the end of their utility and should be replaced with a manager-employee coaching system.

Aubrey Daniels, a world renowned management consultant, argues in his book, Oops! 13 Management Practices That Waste Time and Money, that performance appraisals don’t work and are actually counter-productive. Daniels cites a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which found that 90% of performance appraisals are both painful and don’t work; and further, produce an extremely low percentage of top performers.

Charles Jacobs, author of Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn’t Work and Other Supervisory Lessons from Brain Science, says that the brain is wired to resist what is commonly termed as constructive feedback, but is usually negative criticism. Brain science has shown that when people encounter information that is in conflict with theirself-image their tendency is to change the information, rather than changing themselves. So when managers give critical performance appraisal feedback to employees, their brains’ defense mechanisms are activated, and the motivation to change is improbable.

Samuel Culbert, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and author of Get Rid of Performance Review: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing–and Focus on What Really Matters, argues that employee performance reviews are “destructive and fraudulent.” He argues that “it’s time to finally put the performance review out of its misery,” adding, “this corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities.” Culbert argues that the performance reviews “instill feelings of being dominated. They send employees the message that the boss’ opinion of their performance is the key ingredient of pay, assignment, and career progress.” He contends that the use of performance reviews is about “power and subordination, making condor all but impossible,” and causing employee defensiveness and stress. Culbert goes on to argue that the practice is more about intellectual laziness and ego-building for managers, and it avoids having to tackle the hard work of changing organizational processes. What should replace the performance review? Culbert argues that something called a “performance preview,” a process that holds the manager and members of the manager’s team equally responsible for results.

Clearly, the annual performance review was designed for a work environment where control of individual employee performance was a key function. In today’s team and collaborative environment, that perspective no longer makes sense. Some key questions that need to be answered are: Why are we perpetuating a system that research (including recent brain research) shows is not only ineffective, but counterproductive; and what are better processes to replace the performance review? And managers need to look in the mirror and honestly answer whether they use the performance review as a way of dominating and controlling employees, rather than demonstrating a transformational style of leadership.

Comments Off on Why CEOs fail and what to do about it

Why CEOs fail and what to do about it

Posted September 29th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

In the past two decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years. Top executive failure rates as high as 75% and rarely less than 30%. Chief executives now are lasting 7.6 years on a global average down from 9.5 years in 1995. According to the Harvard Business Review, 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris and ego and a leadership style out of touch with modern times.

Why is this leadership crisis happening? One reason may be the gaps between how leaders see themselves and how others see them. These blind spots can be careerlimiting. The wider the gap, the more resistance there is to change. It also makes it difficult to create a positive organizational culture where openness and honesty are encouraged. Candid, constructive feedback can help a leader grow, and often leaders don’t get that feedback from employees and board members.

Research shows when someone assumes a new or different leadership role they have a 40% change of demonstrating disappointing performance. Furthermore, 82% of newly appointed leaders derail because they fail to build partnerships with subordinates and peers.

Sydney Finkelstein, author of  Why Smart Executives Fail, researched several spectacular failures during a six year period. He concluded that these CEOs had similar deadly habits:

  1. Habit 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment. Warning sign: A lack of respect for others .
  2. Habit 2: They identify too closely with the company, losing the boundary between personal and corporate interests. Warning sign: They define themselves by their job.
  3. Habit 3: They think they are the only ones that have all the right answers. Warning Sign. They have few followers.
  4. Habit 4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely supportive. Warning Sign: A lot of subordinates are either fired or quit.
  5. Habit 5: They are obsessed with photos, speeches, appearances and publications in which they represent the company. Warning Sign: They blatantly seek out media.
  6. Habit 6: The underestimate obstacles. Warning Sign: Excessive hype and little substance.
  7. Habit 7: They stubbornly rely on past achievements and successes. Warning sign: They consistently refer to what worked for them in the past.

David Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo, in their book, Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb To The Top And How To Manage Them, present 11 cogent reasons why CEOs fail, most of which have to do with hubris, ego and a lack of emotional intelligence.

There are no universal ways to prevent failures, except perhaps to be alert for the warning signs. We live in a celebrity culture where executives are expected to be perfect, and larger than life. We don’t like to admit they have flaws. We crave heroes and contribute to their heroic myth when we can’t see their flaws.

Good leaders make people around them successful. They are passionate and committed, authentic, courageous, honest and reliable. But in today’s high-pressure environment, leaders need a confidante, a mentor,or someone they can trust to tell the truth about their behavior. They rarely get that from employees or board members.

Professional executive coaches can help leaders reduce or eliminate their blind spots and be open to constructive feedback, not only reducing the likelihood of failure, and premature burnout but also provide an atmosphere in which the executive can express fears, failures and dreams.

Comments Off on Good boss, bad boss

Good boss, bad boss

Posted September 28th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

Whether a boss is good or bad can have a huge impact on a company’s bottom line. Surveys show that the No. 1  reason employees leave a job is their relationship with their boss, not dissatisfaction with the work. With company’s competing for employees, relationships can be the key to productivity, and hence business results.

Stanford Professor, Robert Sutton, author of  Good Boss, Bad Boss: How To Be The Best and Learn from the Worst , asks and answers three key questions: To be a good boss, what do you need to accomplish, day after day; if you have a bad boss, what can you do about it; and what are the hallmarks of a good boss and the worst flaws of the bad boss?

Good Boss, Bad Boss is a sequel to Sutton’s earlier book, The No-Asshole Rule: Building A Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, in which he says in business and sports it is assumed if you are a big winner, you can get away with being  jerk.” He says such bosses and cultures drive good people out. Sutton claims bad bosses affect the bottom line through increased turnover, absenteeism, decreased commitment and performance. He says the time spent counselling or appeasing these people, consoling victimized employees, reorganizing departments or teams and arranging transfers produce significant hidden costs for the company. And he warns organizations this behaviour is contagious.

Sutton was inspired to write Good Boss, Bad Boss after receiving a deluge of emails, blog posts and articles provoked by his previous book.  Using real-life case studies and  extensive research Sutton provides in insightful and detailed description of what good bosses and bad bosses do.

He provides 12 behaviours that distinguish good bosses from bad ones:

  • Good bosses have an incomplete understanding of what it feels like for employees to work for them and realize it;
  • Success depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not on magical, obscure or breakthrough things;
  • While having ambitious and well-defined goals is important, the good boss’s job is to focus on small wins that help employees make a little progress every day;
  • One of the most difficult parts of a good boss’s job is to strike a balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough;
  • A good boss’s job is to serve as a human shield, to protect his employees from external negative influences — including the boss’s at times;
  • A good boss strives to be confident enough to convince people the boss is in charge and humble enough to realize  he can be wrong
  • A good boss aims to fight as though he was right, and listen as though he was wrong, and to teach that to others;
  • A boss’s best test of his leadership and the organization is a positive response to the question: “What happens when people make a mistake?”
  • A good boss encourages his people to innovate and test new ideas, and help them abandon the bad ones
  • A good boss realizes it’s more important to eliminate the negative than accentuate the positive;
  • A good boss knows that how he does things is as important as what he does;
  • A good boss knows because he has power over others, he is at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk and not realizing it.

As an executive coach and leadership trainer, working with individually with executives and with leadership teams in organizations, I have been struck by how many performance and relationship issues often centre around the dysfunctional behavior of the leaders in the organization, and at the same time, the blame for poor performance or toxic relationships is aimed at employees. CEOs and business owners would do well to carefully assess the behavior of their managers when organizational or performance issues arise.

Follow me on Twitter: @raybwilliams

Comments Off on Is social networking revolutionizing our tribal behavior?

Is social networking revolutionizing our tribal behavior?

Posted September 27th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

Social critics are decrying the explosion of social networking such as Facebook, blogs and Twitter, which are predominantly used by young people. These critics claim that social networking is further isolating people from necessary face- to- face communication, which is a characteristic of tribal behavior. The proponents of social networking claim that it is a force that will create a new and powerful paradigm of tribalism.

Human beings are social animals and need some form of community. Since the time our ancestors gathered together in caves for protection and food we have formed tribes and exhibit tribal behavior. As civilization advanced the tribes got more numerous and specific, developed into institutions, communities and countries.  The predominant characteristic of tribes throughout time is the need to communicate.

The rise of modern civilization with its secularism and isolationism has done much to break down the tribal glue. Social observers like Robert Putnam, in his book, Bowling Alone, underscores our weakening traditional tribal influences, saying that young people’s disinclination to join community groups today can be translated as a lack of social responsibility. But Putnam errs in his conclusion by saying that young people don’t want to participate in tribal behavior.  It’s just that the format and structure that their tribes take are different. It’s called social networking.

As evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar says, modern human tribes are based on our need to use language and communicate.  With the growth of the Internet with its capacity to communicate 24/7 everything and anything to anyone on the planet, we have created the ultimate platform for tribal behavior. Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur, in his latest bookTribes, argues that social networking has taken tribal behavior to a whole new paradigm.

The power of social networking, combined with the Internet, can literally change any political, business or social landscape rapidly, as witnessed by how Obama’s team ran his political campaign. In addition, social networking in some ways is virtually poised to not just dominate the Internet, but also redefine it.

So what social networking can do combined with a tribal structure is very quickly mobilize a shared interest and becomes a powerful way to communicate. In effect, as Godin, says, every tribe becomes a media channel.

John King, co-author of Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, argues that tribal behavior in the music industry is a good model for how organizations can see their future, which focuses on capturing the minds, hearts and souls of its customers. In that context, social networking is a powerful mechanism to build tribes.

So while the critics of the explosion of social networking point out the negative aspects such as the lack of privacy and proliferation of useless information decry the breakdown of traditional tribalism, what they may be overlooking is the ability of internet social networking to build strong tribal behavior on a global scale, something than can be beneficially used as a vehicle for desired social, political and environmental changes.

Comments Off on Why positive affirmations don’t work

Why positive affirmations don’t work

Posted September 24th, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

“I am successful,” “I am a wonderful person,” “I will find love again,” and many other similar phrases that students, the broken-hearted and unfulfilled employees may repeat to themselves over and over again, hoping to change their lives. Self-help books through the ages, from Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking all the way to the latest, The Secret, have encouraged people with low self-esteem to make positive self-statements or affirmations.

New research suggests it may do more harm than good to many people.

Canadian researcher, Dr. Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo and her colleagues at the University of New Brunswick who have recently published their research in the Journal of Psychological Science, concluded that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.”

The researchers asked people with and low self-esteem to say “I am a lovable person.” They then measured the participants’ moods and their feelings about themselves. The low-esteem group felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not. However, people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive affirmation–but only slightly. The psychologists then asked the participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves. They found, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.

The researchers suggest that, like overly positive praise, unreasonably positive self-statements, such as “I accept myself completely” can provoke contradictory thoughts in individuals in individuals with low self-esteem.  When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception, the researchers argue, there is not mere resistance but a reinforcing of self-perception. People who view themselves as unlovable, for example, find that saying that are so unbelievable that it strengthens their own negative view rather than reversing it.

These findings were supported by previous research published in 1994 in the Journal of Social Psychology, showing that when people get feedback that they believe is overly positive, they actually feel worse, not better.

Dr. Wood goes even further. In her Psychology Today blog, she says that most self-help books advocating positive affirmations may be based on good intentions or personal experience, but they are rarely based on even one iota of scientific evidence. She cites psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness as an exception.

Does that mean positive affirmations are of absolutely no value? Not according to Dr. Wood and her co-researchers. They say they positive affirmations can help when they are part of a broader program of intervention.  That intervention can take place in a number of forms such as cognitive psychotherapy or working with a coach who has expertise in the behavioral sciences.
What kind of intervention is best to use to make positive affirmations most effective? That’s where we encounter even more controversy.

Traditional cognitive psychotherapy may not be the best intervention according to Dr. Steven Hayes, a renowned psychotherapist, and author of Getting Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Hayes has been setting the world of psychotherapy on its ear by advocating a totally different approach.

In an article in Time magazine, John Cloud describes Hayes’ work. Hayes and researchers Marsha Linehan and Robert Kohlenberg at the University of Washington, and Zindel Segal at the University of Toronto, what we could call “Third Wave Psychologists” are focusing less on how to manipulate the content of our thoughts (a focus on cognitive psychotherapy) and more on how to change their context–to modify the way we see thoughts and feelings so they can’t control our behavior. Whereas cognitive therapists speak of “cognitive errors” and “distorted interpretation,” Hayes and his colleagues encourage mindfulness, the meditation-inspired practice of observing thoughts without getting entangled by them–imagine the thoughts being a leaf or canoe floating down the stream.

These Third Wave Psychologists would argue that trying to correct negative thoughts can paradoxically actually intensify them. As NLP trained coaches would say, telling someone to “not think about a blue tree,” actually focuses their mind on a blue tree. The Third Wave Psychologists methodology is called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which says that we should acknowledge that negative thoughts recur throughout our life and instead of challenging or fighting with them, we should concentrate on identifying and committing to our values in life. Hayes would argue that once we are willing to feel our negative emotions, we’ll find it easier to commit ourselves to what we want in life.

This approach may come as a surprise to many, because the traditional cognitive model permeates our culture and the media as reflected in the Dr. Phil show. The essence of the conflict between traditional cognitive psychologists and psychotherapists is to engage in a process of analyzing your way out your problems, or the Third Wave approach which says, accept that you have negative beliefs, thinking and problems and focus on what you want. Third Wave psychologists acknowledge that we have pain, but rather than trying to push it away, they say trying to push it away or deny it just gives it more energy and strength.
Third Wave Psychologists focus on acceptance and commitment comes with a variety of strategies to help people including such things as writing your epitaph (what’s going to be your legacy), clarifying your values and committing your behavior to them.

It’s interesting that that The Third Wave Psychologists approach comes along at a time when more and more people are looking for answer outside of the traditional medical model (which psychiatry and traditional psychotherapy represent). Just look at a 2002 study in Prevention and Treatment, which found that 80% people tested who took the six most popular antidepressants of the 1990’s got the same results when they took a sugar pill placebo.

The Third Wave Psychologists approaches are very consistent with much of the training and approach that many life coaches receive, inclusive of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and many spiritual approaches to behavioral changes reflected in ancient Buddhist teachings and the more modern version exemplified by Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now). The focus of those approaches reinforces the concepts of acceptance of negative emotions and thoughts, and rather than giving them energy and fighting with them, they focus on mindfulness, and a commitment to an alignment of values and behavior.

So what can we learn from all this? Two things–first, just engaging in positive affirmations by themselves, can do harm to people with low self-esteem, and provide only little benefit for those with high-esteem, if those affirmations are not part of a comprehensive program of self-growth, preferably with a knowledgeable professional. Second, the traditional cognitive psychotherapeutic approach at trying to change people’s negative thinking through logical processes may actually be counterproductive, compared to an approach that has people accept their thoughts, not resist them and give more energy to them by thinking about them, but rather engage in positive behaviors and thinking.

Comments Off on Will work-life balance be a recession fallout?

Will work-life balance be a recession fallout?

Posted September 23rd, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

“We are a nation in pain,” say Bruce Weinstein in BusinessWeek . According to a Gallup Poll, the number of people classified as “suffering” has increased significantly, with managers and business owners experiencing the greatest loss of well-being.

Our economic recession has created many workplace pressures, including long-term job security. Given the difficult economic times, many people are feeling the pressure to work harder than ever. In this climate, it may seem frivolous to talk about work-life balance. Yet, whatever the climate, don’t employers and executives have to demonstrate fairness? The greatest application of fairness is the allocation of time in our lives and what to do with that time. And we hear more and more people saying they are under pressure from employers, themselves and their families to keep up, often at the cost of life balance.

In an article by Linda Duxbury of Carleton University in the Ottawa Citizen, she argues that a country cannot pull out of an economic slump unless governments and employers deal with the crushing workloads that are forcing a number of Canadians to delay or have fewer children. She argues that heavy workloads and their interference on family life are key reasons for Canada’s declining birth rate and labor force. Her previous 2001 study showed that Canadians were already overworked because of the massive downsizing of the l990s. As they enter the new recession, the burden will only get worse.

A 2008 study by the Families and Work Institute reports that the share of dual-earner family income contributed by women has risen to 44% and 26% of women now earn 10% more than their husbands.  At the same time, men have increased the amount of time they spend with young children and are experiencing more work-family conflict than women. This study is the only one of its kind to provide 30 plus year comparisons of life on and off the job.

The gradual increase of women in the labor force over the past century, combined with various work life trends and economic pressures, has resulted in a shrinking gap between how men and women view their careers, family roles, and the fit between their lives on and off the job. The study reports that there are no significant differences between men and women in their views of appropriate gender roles. Among the findings of the report that have significant implications for our views of work-life balance are:
•    Among Generation Y (Millenials), women are just as likely as men to want jobs with greater responsibility;
•    Both men and women are now less likely to embrace traditional gender roles;
•    employed fathers, especially Millenials, are spending more time with children today than their age counterparts did three                 decades ago,  whereas employed mothers’ time has not changed significantly;
•    men are taking more overall responsibility for the care of their children
•    fathers in dual-earner couples experience more work life conflict than mothers

And perhaps the most significant finding of the report was that changing gender roles appear to have increased the level of work life conflict experienced by men.

In the current environment, work-life balance still is one of the most important issue, second only to compensation, according to the Corporate Executive Board. Their study concludes that employees who feel they have better work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than those that don’t.

It’s become apparent that increasingly, the important need to ensure work-life balance is being ignored by employers as they focus on layoffs, and reorganization, which puts even more pressure on employees. That in turn will actually have negative effects on employee productivity.Best practice organizations recognize that the most appreciated service they can provide their employees is the “gift of time.” In the CEB study, more than 60% identified flexible schedules as the most important work-life benefit their employees can provide.

During good economic times, attention to the issue of work-life balance became popular with many promising practices. Now during the economic downturn, the danger of employers putting its importance on the backburner may be at both the cost of productivity and family stability.

Follow me on Twitter: @raybwilliams

Read more:

Comments Off on Companies that invest in employee happiness do better

Companies that invest in employee happiness do better

Posted September 22nd, 2010 in Articles, Blogs by admin

As an employee, it’s easy to see how creating a great place to work would make a huge difference in the success of a business. Make me feel valued, so the thinking goes, and I will work hard for you – make sure your customers are happy. But for some reason, I see too many business owners who don’t acknowledge the correlation. Instead, their employees feel used and trapped in their jobs. And as a result, they’re reluctant to help the organization succeed.

In fact, a recent study by Hewitt Associates, conducted in late June, saw employee engagement drop to the lowest levels Hewitt has seen in 15 years.

Further, the Hewitt study found organizations with high levels of engagement (65 percent or greater) outperformed the total stock market index and posted total shareholder returns 19 percent higher than the average in 2009. On the other hand, companies with low engagement (40 percent or less) had a total shareholder return that was 44 percent lower than the average.

The study underscored what may be the big lesson of the recession: high employee engagement, customer satisfaction and financial performance are closely linked. The companies expanding, taking over competitors and shaping their industries are those with happy workers, smart CEOs and good fiscal management.