Archive for category Psychology of Performance

Psychology of Performance #61: National All is Ours Day Celebrating Appreciation of Nature!

“National ‘All Is Our’s Day’ can be looked at as a time to reflect on all of the beauty of nature and all the wonderful things in life.  All the natural wonders of the world are there for all to enjoy.  Become aware of all of the beauty in your surroundings.  All of these spectacular gifts we have been given are shared by all.” http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-all-is-ours-day-april-8/

This is a great time to reflect on the psychological and health benefits of being in nature. The benefits extend to our performance in all areas of life. There is research that suggests that walking in nature reduces stress, reduces the risk of cancer and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, reduces anxiety and depression symptoms, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and is linked to longevity. (Source: https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/about/programs/gsv/pdfs/health_and_wellness.pdf )

Furthermore, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation listed the following benefits:

  • Boosts immune system
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood
  • Increases ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increases energy level
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep (Source: dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html )

These studies mentioned are focused on trees and forests. However, many of the benefits accrue being outside regardless of environment or climate, including parks in urban areas (assuming air pollution is at a minimum).

To enhance your experience outside, there are several mindfulness exercises that you can practice while being outdoors. Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay as people know him, and many others have written about these exercises. I have provided a partial list for you to try.

  1. Mindful Walking: This is a wonderful meditation for moving and mindfulness in nature.
  1. Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms6EylTW-2o This is literally a video of one of his talks, so be patient and allow a couple of hours to watch it. Also, remember this is about mindfulness, not religion, just in case you have an initial reaction to it.
  1. ‘The interdependence of all of us and the earth’ meditation. Thay suggests we can meditate on the interconnections of ourselves and the earth through mindfulness. (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/zen-thich-naht-hanh-buddhidm-business-values ) “Breathe in, be aware of your body and look deeply into it, realize you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth.” (https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/realize-you-are-the-earth-thich-nhat-hanh/ )
  1. Nature Meditations: These meditations focus on the experience of nature, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. (http://www.meditationoasis.com/how-to-meditate/simple-meditations/nature-meditations/ )
  1. Mindful Eating Meditation: This meditation focuses on eating, food, and the interconnection of all required in nature and our lives for us to be able to practice the mindful experience of eating. http://www.gaiam.com/discover/412/article/zen-your-diet/

Mindfulness can enhance our experience of nature, which can enhance our health, which can enhance our performance in all areas of our daily lives. We only have this moment, be present with it…mindfully.

 

 

Have a day filled with mindfulness, the benefits of nature and extend kindness to all you meet.

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D. Chairman, and Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #60: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

3967455172_5b27628bae_bThere are many areas of life where body image and being thin are associated with performance. Certainly, more for women (a significantly higher percentage) than men, body image and eating disorders continue to be issues. Weight loss strategies, such as those used by individuals with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, compulsive overeating, and others), can detract from performance, by adding undue suffering on a psychological level and negatively impacting so many areas of their lives, their families’ lives, their employers’ and co-workers’ lives.

I started doing research and psychotherapy with individuals with eating disorders in 1980 when there were six articles on the treatment of bulimia. Since that time, research on treatment has evolved significantly. Unfortunately, societal pressures have not changed much; the incidence level has not changed and countless people continue to suffer. Each generation gets to cope with a misogynistic and sexually oriented culture, filled with distorted imagines in the media and body shaming on social media. However, with weeks like eating disorder awareness week, we can bring these disorders to the forefront. The good news is that there is help. People do recover from eating disorders. If you know someone or have an eating disorder yourself, please either encourage them to seek help (they may not be ready so don’t get discouraged) or get help for yourself.

There are several national resources and helplines, including:

http://nedawareness.org/get-help

http://www.anad.org/get-help/

https://oa.org/

 

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #59: Brady, Belichick, White, and the Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History

Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History!

Super Bowl 51 saw all time win records for Tom Brady (including an All Time MVP record) and Bill Belichick while James White set a record for receptions and touchdowns. How did all this happen? The psychology behind it may never be known, however, there is nothing like the laboratory of professional sports to get some hints and ideas.

As you may know by now, the Patriots overcame the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to set the records mentioned above. There were a number of psychology factors worth mentioning.

Group Dynamics and Managing Adversity

The psychology of group dynamics and managing adversity along with individual perceptions of adversity have to be considered. During the first half the Patriots were dominated by the Falcons on both offense and defense. In addition, the Patriots made errors in performance on their own. In the second half there was a major momentum change. What happened? Football is an interesting sport as the teams execute a play, regroup, and repeat. The Patriots appeared to be focused, one play at a time, not dwelling on the last play or earlier plays that did not go well. Brady never appeared to be rattled or distressed and neither did his teammates. Focus appeared to lead to better execution and communication in second half. Even when odd things such as a missed extra point occurred, the team did not let up.

Situational opportunities are part of resilience and subsequent performance. There were passes caught (Edelman with three Falcon defensive backs around him) that were the result of being in the right place, with the right preparation and skills, at the right time. A half-second earlier or later and it would have been incomplete rather than sustaining the drive. Later, a holding call after a sack on the Falcons’ quarterback took the Falcons out of field goal range. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference.

Preparation and Performance

Brady reported in an interview earlier this year that his self-preparation prior to the season has allowed him to perform better physically than five years earlier. At 39, one could argue Brady is in the best shape of his career. Psychologically, Brady had significant adversity and outside distractions. Any one of the setbacks suffered by the Patriots could have affected his focus and his performance. He had personal distractions as well including his mother who has been ill all season. The Super Bowl was the first game she came to all season. Additionally, he overcame the adversity of his 4 game suspension as did his team (going 3 and 1 while he was out). Brady has made adversity his personal challenge starting in college as a backup, then again when he entered the NFL as a backup. He reportedly approaches every practice doing his best assuming he could be beat out on any given day. Super Bowl Sunday he appeared centered and calm regardless of what was going on in the game. Was experience a factor? Again, it appeared to be so once the momentum started to change. The team did not give up. Atlanta appeared to tighten up to a degree. Mistakes were costly to both teams and Atlanta seemed unable to recover, while New England just kept moving past their own – adapting as the game went on.

Leadership

Belichick has earned the accolade of “greatest coach of all time.” What makes him such a great coach? The speculation will continue for a long time. He is focused on his job, and he demands high levels of performance from everyone in his organization. The team handrail this year was “do your job.” He has developed his system and his players each have their role to play. He holds people accountable.

It may take a while for accounts of what happened during half time, what adjustments were made, what was seen by the coaching staff, and what the players did regarding their own individual performance psychology factors, for us to have a better understanding of this unprecedented performance. Regardless of who anyone rooted for, there are significant psychology of performance lessons in this historic game. We can all look forward to learning what they may be over the next few months!

 

 

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist

 

List of records set or tied in Super Bowl LI between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons: http://dpo.st/2kLBfJN

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Psychology of Performance #57: 2016 Olympics

The Olympics have officially opened! This is a wonderful opportunity to get an in-depth look at a number of psychology of performance variables and factors in addition to the sheer joy of seeing individuals and teams at their peak performance. Who could ever forget the USA Dream Team’s performance to win the gold in basketball? Rulon Garner’s gold medal win over Alexander Karelin in wrestling. Larelin was the defending gold medalist and had not lost in 13 years. Michael Phelps winning 18 gold medals and 22 medals over his Olympic career and coming back again this year. Historic moments such as Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 games in Berlin. This was when Nazi Germany saw him as a lesser human being because of the color of his skin. Ethiopian runner, Abebe Bikila, won the marathon gold in 1960, barefoot. Emil Zatopek’s winning the 5,000 meter 10,000 meter, and marathon in the 1952 Helsinki games after being told not to compete due to a gland infection. He had never run a marathon before. Jim Thorpe winning the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm games. The first female Olympians in the 1900 Paris games.

The actual list of mind boggling performances is almost endless. Over the next few weeks, we will get to observe upsets when the favorites were viewed as unbeatable, persistence in the face of pain from injury, and compassion and generosity of spirit. A great example of compassion in the moment of competition came when Canadian sailor, Lawrence Lemieux was in position to medal and stopped to help capsized competitors who were injured. We will see records broken and participants happy just to be there.

All will get to face the stress of competing on a world stage where terrorism threats are a constant worry, Zika virus looms in the background, and personal health and safety may be compromised due to water sanitation or local crime.

How they respond will be related to a number of psychology of performance variables and factors such as their mental preparation and resilience (beliefs, visualization, problem solving), their training (finding that fine balance to peak in their events at this time versus burning out before), their social support network (how their coaches, teammates, friends, family, and loved ones add positive (support, encouragement, role modeling winning behavior and attitudes, affection)versus negative energy ( distractions and nonproductive criticism), how their nutrition holds up, and what is driving them to succeed.

The stories will be unfolding! I hope you get a chance to watch and learn.

Have a day filled with equanimity  and extend loving kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy to everyone you meet today.

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #56: Innovation and Maintenance

Man having an idea!

Our businesses and as us as individuals have expectations, beliefs, and assumptions that if we don’t innovate (or as individuals, have new achievements and personal bests) we will lose business, lose ground against the competition, lose our position, and just plain lose in life. Farnam Street (newsletter@farnamstreetblog.com) has many resources on this topic and how these beliefs and assumptions affect performance. This week it highlighted an article by Andrew Russell & Lee Vinsel called Hail the Maintainers.

https://aeon.co/essays/innovation-is-overvalued-maintenance-often-matters-more

This article is a wonderful resource and stimulated my thinking for this blog post.

The assumption is that if business does not innovate, disruptive events can occur that will reduce performance, up to and including, the end of the business. Russell and Vinsel noted that innovation has become what psychologists would call an embedded, unchallenged assumption.  They go on to state that innovation is a small percentage of the time and activity of most businesses. What is actually the case is that many aspects of performance are focused on maintenance. Those who do the maintenance, the day-to-day tasks, recalibration, and incremental improvements deliver consistent results for their customers and clients. They are able to continue and perform day after day. A key element is improvement versus innovation. What does improvement mean for your business performance?

On an individual performance level, it is important that we do our own personal maintenance. This involves getting adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and connecting moments. This also implies avoiding behavior patterns that detract from maintaining ourselves optimally such as smoking, over eating, working too much, and others.

On an individual performance level, we are faced everyday with maintenance and recalibration choices. Our self-talk related to these choices — our beliefs and judgments about these choices — influence our ability to stay within an optimal maintenance range. This is a complex range of behaviors and attitudes, not very amenable to all-or-none thinking. “Good enough,” “just show up,” “do your best, forget the rest,” and  “soft face, calm interior” are a few handrails that can be used to override thoughts and judgments that may interfere with individual performance.

My dear friend, colleague, and business partner, Dr. Richard T. Lindsey, used phone cords as his metaphor for the importance of maintenance. His mission was to straighten all the phone cords that were tangled as a picture of maintaining our tools and gifts for optimal performance. He has been so successful that most of our phones no longer even bother having cords! !

There are events such as new laws, new technology, and new delivery models that are innovative and affect performance of business and individuals in dramatic ways. These are game changers, however, they are often not category killers.  On the other hand, the majority of  businesses and individuals that deliver consistently good service and products continue to perform in their sectorsWhat are the high performance markers for your organization? These indicators would include: profit margin, cash reserves (how long is your runway if a disruptive event occurred?), debt, cash flow, positive culture, organizational life span challenges and resolutions, clear organizational structure with bench strength and lines of authority,  leadership that has clear vision and ability to execute, along with long range cognitive complexity, and finally the organizational ability to identify and make incremental changes as well as remove constraints in work processes and flow.

Individually, we also have high performance markers. What is your overall health level? Have you been healthier this year than last year? How is your daily energy? Is it improving or declining? What are your markers on endurance, strength, flexibility, and your immune system? Are your finances better or worse this year? How are your interpersonal relationships?

Whether organizationally or individually, noting the tension between innovation and maintenance can be an important awareness that allows for mindful and intentional management.

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #55: The Role of ADA, FMLA, Mental Health Accommodations and Employee Performance

Employee work performance can be impacted and/or affected by numerous variables. This blog focuses specifically on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the implications for employer accommodations for those with mental health diagnoses. There is still stigma and urban myth regarding employees with mental health diagnoses which lead to a number of problems for employees and employers alike.  Employers may not understand that an employee with a mental health diagnosis needs an accommodation, much less what that accommodation might be. Whether the employer understands this or not, the employer is legally obligated, unless it poses an undue hardship, to accommodate the employee so the employee can perform optimally. This blog does not address the myriad legal issues associated with the ADA and mental health accommodations. It focuses on providing a context for the complexity of mental health diagnoses and the need for understanding each employee’s needs and how the accommodation will enhance their work performance.

How does the employer determine what is a reasonable accommodation for a mental health ADA request?

This is particularly difficult given the variance in a diagnosis, much less across diagnoses. There are cognitive considerations, interpersonal considerations, physical space considerations, energy restoration elements, work group dynamics, HIPAA privacy concerns, employer limits on what can be requested and asked, threat to the individual’s health as well as to others.

In addition, how does the employer manage FMLA requests related to mental health illnesses?

  • What amounts of time are appropriate to be out of work?
  • What is the treatment plan to get back to work?
  • Does the employer have the expertise to even begin to evaluate the requests?

Psychological Assessment of Functioning and Performance

The array of broad psychological diagnostic categories that may require accommodations is large. The following broad categories include: depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive spectrum, trauma and stressor-related disorders, sleep wake disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, neurocognitive disorders, personality and personality disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance related disorders, and a number of others. Each of these may have specific symptoms of a particular intensity, frequency, or duration that may require an accommodation. For the purpose of this blog, depressive disorders will be the focus of discussion.

  • Depressive Disorders “include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder (including major depressive episode), persistent depressive disorder, (dysthymia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, substance/medication-induced depressive disorder, depressive disorder due to another medical condition, other specified depressive disorder, and unspecified depressive disorder” (p. 155, DSM-5)
  • The assessment must be related to job function. For example, in the case of depression, accommodations could be coming in later due to the impact of medication or because an early morning depressive feature gets better throughout the day; a nap that is medication related or sleep related; tools to improve cognitive functioning, which can be affected by depression (such as memory, concentration, complex problem solving) such as memory aids, quality assurance reviews. An accommodation may also be needed for time to see a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist.
  • Second opinions for ADA accommodation requests. It may be the case that a mental health professional signs a letter asking for an accommodation without any idea of the specific job functions that the employee is asking to be accommodated for. An employer should send the accommodation request back to the mental health professional with the job description and ask what accommodations may allow the employee to do the essential functions of the job. Accommodations may need to be permanent or just temporary while the employee heals.

Intense and/or Complex Case Management for Absence Management

Human Resources and management in all likelihood do not have the time or expertise to manage these types of accommodation requests or absence requests. Providing case management expertise to support the employee in getting good care and returning to work can expedite the entire process. The following are considerations for case management.

  • Intensive case management for all cases that have either a primary psychological diagnosis or co-morbid psychological diagnosis.
  • Adherence and relapse considerations related to treatment and return to work are central to this approach.
  • Communication among all providers, the employer, and the employee/employee’s family is essential for a timely return to work.
  • When the employee returns to work, what, if any, accommodations will be needed? In the area of psychological diagnosis, each case stands on its own merits related to frequency, intensity, and duration of symptoms. For example, a diagnosis of depression can range from mild to severe/treatment resistant. There are no cookie cutter accommodations that can be applied across the board. This is where consultation with the case manager, the provider, and the employer is crucial for the success of the employee and the department the employee is returning to.

Psychological Considerations in ADA and FMLA Accommodation Requests

  • What psychological functioning needs accommodation?
  • How many ways can this accommodation occur?
  • What is the impact of the accommodation on the work group/coworkers?
  • How best can this be addressed with the work group so everyone understands and is on the same page without violating the employee’s privacy?
  • Who best can assess the accommodation needs?

Psychologists, Psychiatrists & Other Mental Health Professionals

  • What are their methods?
  • What is the validity and reliability of their methods?
  • Do they assess the workplace as well or just rely on employee self-report?

Common barriers to carrying out this type of intense/complex case management and accommodation process

  • Timeliness of communication between the professional parties.
  • Assessment methodology of treating professional.
  • Adequacy of the treatment plan.
  • Vested interest by the employee not to get better if it is possible with their condition. Getting the releases of information in a timely manner.

Ways to overcome barriers

  • Have HR get the releases of information signed when the accommodation request or leave request comes in.
  • The case manager needs to join with the provider in a collaborative manner rather than an adversarial manner with the best interests of the employee and employer in mind. This can be communicated up front with the provider to ensure timely communication.
  • The case manager can ask for skill based assessment information. If the provider is not able to do so, second opinions should be sought out to allow for a more informed decision process related to the accommodation. The point of the accommodation is to optimize the employee’s success on the job.
  • If the condition is one that should show improvement with treatment and the employee is not getting better, the case manager needs to address this with the provider and determine if it is the correct treatment. Are there secondary gains for the employee to maintain the accommodations (e.g., working from home rather than commuting in when everyone else in the work group works at the office)?
  • If the case manager reviews the treatment plan and it does not look adequate, the case manager needs to confer with the provider to determine if the provider is able to enhance the treatment plans in a manner that more objectively show improvement and return the employee to work in a timely manner. The guideline is the longer employees are out of work, the lower the probability they will return to work.

The ADA allows employers to retain employees who work for them and can perform at high levels with some accommodations. There are several elements that need to be taken into account that when put into place help the employee to perform well, be self-sufficient, and contribute to the prosperity of the employer organization as well as their community.

 

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #54: Peyton Manning, John Elway, Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos, “The Big Game” and Organizational Psychology Aspects

The “Big Game” is a great observational laboratory for studying two highly-successful organizations, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Professional sports teams are transparent about a number of organizational issues such as succession planning, management strategies and tactics, leadership issues, toxic or impaired employees, employee turnover, team cohesiveness, customer loyalty and influence, leadership, social influence and modeling, focus and preparation, culture and identity, reliance, and expertise. This blog/article will focus on the Denver Broncos.

Culture and Culture Change

Two years ago the Denver Broncos were defeated soundly by the Seattle Seahawks. Executive Vice President and General Manager, John Elway, made significant numbers of personnel changes from the coaching staff to the majority of players. This was done to change the attitude of the team. Elway said “The team is tougher. “kicking and screaming” through mental toughness (http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_29414693/john-elway-sees-tougher-broncos-this-year-through). The Broncos’ have the number one defense in the NFL going into the “Big Game”. They are clearly tougher than last year and performed at a higher level. In addition, the NFL does a better job than many businesses and organizations regarding performance. If you don’t perform, you are benched and will likely lose your job. Culture is defined as a shared set of assumptions as to how we do business (Schein). The Broncos have noticeably changed how they do business.

Leadership

The executive team of the Broncos started out the year with an announcement that the owner, Mr. Pat Bowlen, had Alzheimer’s disease and would be stepping down from his executive role. This was a significant loss for the organization as he was well-known as a successful change management leader. The executive team re-organized roles and functions to continue the strategy and direction the organization was heading. The coaching staff was brand new with Gary Kubiak taking over as Head Coach and Wade Phillips coming in as the Defensive Coordinator. Together Kubiak and Phillips implemented a new offense and defense. This created a learning curve and inherent stress for those adapting to the new system. At the team captain level, Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, and David Bruton, Jr. were voted in by their peers. The team captains provide important peer leadership and are role models for the other players.  They are also significantly involved in the team chemistry and cohesiveness.  Then there are the informal leaders such as Von Miller, all-pro-defense, outside linebacker. He displays an enthusiasm and maturity that may have been underdeveloped earlier in his career when he received a four game suspension. This year he has consistently performed at an all-pro level, provided leadership, and found inspiration from DeMarcus Ware (http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_29454733/evolution-von-miller).

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning had significant professional challenges this year. He is known for his preparation, performance (holds countless records), and winning record. This year he had a sub-par season due to factors such as injury to his foot. He was relieved and benched, watched from the sidelines while he healed, was made the back-up, yet came into win a game from behind and lead the team to the AFC championship and onward to the “Big Game” once again. He also had other adversity this season with allegations about HGH (human growth hormone). Through it all he displayed a professional demeanor in the media, contributed to the team during the down period, and came back to help the team win the championship. This type of leadership, role modeling, and performance contributed to the culture and attitude of the team.  From an individual psychology of performance perspective, Manning exhibited an impressive degree of resilience as did a number of other injured players such as DeMarcus Ware, Chris Harris, Jr., and every other injured player this season who came back and performed admirably. What does it take to be resilient in your organization?

Focus and Preparation

Over and over in the media this season, various players were noted by their peers and coaches for their preparation and focus. The players were noted for staying late after practice to get more repetitions in, watching additional film, and rehabilitating their injuries so they could get back and contribute. If a starter became injured, the back-up player being ready to replace them and perform at a high level is imperative. Brock Osweiler was a good example of this on offense, coming in to replace Manning and lead the team to 5 wins and just 2 losses. He handled moving back into a second string role with professionalism and publically stated he wanted what the coach thought was best for the team.

Role of the Under Dog

The Broncos have reported feeling like they are not recognized as being as good as they are all season and have used that as motivation to prove everyone wrong. In the “Big Game” the odds-makers predict they will lose. What is interesting organizationally, and from a performance psychology perspective, is that the Broncos have set an NFL record for the most wins by 7 points or less (11 wins) (http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_29451542/broncos-underdogs-super-bowl-50). This relates to Elway’s comments earlier in this blog about being tougher. They have a depth of experience overcoming adversity that no other team in the NFL has this year. The Broncos have the experience and resilience that will allow them not to fold or give up if it is a close game.

Succession Planning

The “Big Game” is replete with examples of personnel management, personnel changes, succession planning, and development of personnel. In any organization, bench strength is important and when it is not there or developed, organizations falter. In professional sports it becomes glaringly obvious when a team has not drafted well or developed their younger players when a star is injured and the team starts losing. In business, it is just as important, yet sometimes not as obvious. Brock Osweiler stepped in and did a great job for the Broncos until Manning was ready to come back. Coach Kubiak did a masterful job of handling the public relations and internal team dynamics during this time. He managed expectations clearly when he announced Manning would be the starter for the playoffs, so that everyone could focus and prepare for their role.  Finally, pro sports also allow a window into the impact of toxic co-workers or impaired co-workers on the culture,  focus, and preparation of the organization (think distractions like your number one draft choice at quarterback spending a significant time last summer in “rehab” and then having social media pictures posted of him “partying” and then being benched by the coach. That team by the way, not in the “Big Game”).

Lessons Learned for Your Organization

  1. Culture is important. What are your rules of engagement? How do you do business?
  2. Expertise of personnel. What is the level of your personnel’s expertise in your organization? Do you need to train or upgrade? Are you assessing regularly? Keeping your “Superstars” fresh?
  3. Leadership, vision, and implementation. From your executive team down, is there alignment on the vision? Does your leadership inspire, model the behavior you want, and do they execute the plan?
  4. Informal leaders. Who are your informal leaders? Do they exhibit the behavior and messages you want your staff to follow?
  5. Role models. Do you have staff that are role models for the younger workers? Do they model what you want?
  6. Focus and preparation. Is your staff focused and prepared to execute your business plan every day?
  7. Group identity vs perception of the public. Does your organization have its own identity? Are your customers in alignment with the identity and support it?
  8. Resilience of team members. Are your leaders and staff members resilient? Do they bounce back from adversity in their professional or personal life? If not, do you have resources to help them bounce back such as employee assistance programs? If you have helped them and they are still under-performing can you help them “find their bliss elsewhere.”

 

To your Wellbeing,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

&

Daniel C. Kimilinger, Ph.D., MHA, SPHR, Human Resources and Organizational Psychology Leader

 

References:

Schien, E. H. (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership (2nd Edition).

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Psychology of Performance #53: Back to School – Adults as Lifelong Learners

It is that time of year when schools start up again, students are excited to go back to school, parents may be relieved, and educators are gearing up for a new round of teaching.  For adult learners and workers — even those retired — leaning is no longer a seasonal event. We all get to keep learning and adapting as we go through life. Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger, was a lifelong learning advocate. He said, “Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading, cultivate curiosity, and strive to become a little wiser every day.”

Why is this so important? The rate of new knowledge used to double every 100 years in 1900, by the end of WW2, it doubled every 25 years, then it was every five, now in an article by David Schilling, August 13, 2013, (Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours) it is every 12 months and estimates are that soon it will be every 12 hours! This is a pace that is only attainable through technology. From a human processing point of view, it is daunting. Think about how much technology has evolved in your lifetime. How much of your job today is contingent/dependent on technology and new information compared to five years ago? What about when you started your career?

Keeping up with changes in your field of work, the technology, and changes in everyday living requires self-directed learning.  It requires you to think about where you will find the information, how to learn it so it can be useful, and how to apply it. In your work, you may also need to develop more advanced thinking skills in areas of analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information.

With the pace of change, how do you even keep up? Regular and systematic reading, self-study schedules, looking at small amounts at a time so it is not overwhelming can all be useful strategies for making incremental progress. Some cognitive beliefs that can be helpful in your aim to become better with your lifelong learning goals are:

  • 10% of something is better than 90% of nothing
  • Do your best and forget the rest
  • Don’t give up because you can’t learn it all, keep up with it all, or be perfect at it all.

Set yourself up for success. There is no race, just perseverance. Be curious about topics and areas of knowledge. Search for the best sources of information synthesis, the best theories, the best models that allow you to succeed.

 

Here is to your wisdom! May it continue to grow.

Robert Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #52: Managerial Hierarchy, Accountability and Authority

I have blogged before about managerial hierarchy and accountability. It is worth another look at Elliot Jaques classic book, Requisite Organization, as new generations are coming into the workforce, technology has created the opportunity for virtual teams, and performance is still relevant for any organization to sustain itself. The following information comes directly from Dr. Jaques’ work. I encourage you to read his work in its entirety. This blog was generated out of the organizational psychology and human resources consulting MINES does with its clients. Time after time, accountability and authority are unclear in an organization’s structure. This often happens when marketing titles are given that imply authority when, in fact, there is none. Accountability for results may be unclear and personnel layoff decisions are made only to be repeated with the next employee group as the underlying system issue has not been clarified. This blog provides Jaques’ perspective and the results of over 50 years of his body of work.

Assumptions (Based on Organizational Theory of Managerial Hierarchy):

The basic business unit consists of a manager, one or more supervisors, and front-line producers.  In the discussion to follow, “manager” is used to describe the role, accountability, and authority of both the manager and supervisor (a subordinate’s boss).  In function, the manager is working on systems issues while the supervisor is working on quality assurance and work assignment(s). In the following discussion Manager and Supervisor are used interchangeable as the discussion is about hierarchy not role/level. Think about this discussion as related to an employee’s “direct boss.”  In reality, a manager has a longer decision time span than a supervisor and has different functions.

Manager-Subordinate Accountability System

Accountability and authority establishes where people stand with each other.  They determine who is able to say what to whom, and who under given circumstances must say what to whom.  They establish who can tell who to do what, especially, in the managerial hierarchy, if one person is being held accountable for what another person does or for the results of what the other person does.

Accountability and authority define the behaviors that are appropriate and necessary in the vertical relationships between managers and their subordinates, and in the horizontal cross-functional relationships between people.  The vertical relationships are those by means of which the work that needs to get done is assigned, resourced, and evaluated; and the cross-functional relationships are those by means of which the flow of work across functions gets processed and improved through time.

Key questions:

  • What are the accountabilities of managers, or of individual contributors?
  • What authority does a manager have in relation to subordinates?
  • What authorities do employees who work together have in relation to each other?

Managerial Accountability and Behavior

It is absolutely imperative that organizational leaders be clear not only about their own decision-making accountability, but they must also make it equally clear for each and every manager below them in the organization.  All of these managers must also meet regularly in two-way discussions about major issues with their immediate subordinates, in order to get their help in making decisions for which the manager alone must be accountable.  In discussions between managers and subordinates, it is always the manager that is ultimately accountable for decisions.  Even when the subordinate has more knowledge than his or her manager on a given matter and tells the manager what he or she thinks should be done; if the manager accepts the subordinate’s view then it becomes the manager’s decision. There will be times in an organization’s growth or life span when a manager may have multiple roles/levels that they are accountable for. The manager may be a level three, two, and one on a given day if the department or work group is small enough or does not have the resources to accommodate separate levels and roles. This is a situation referred to as “down in the weeds,” ”wearing many hats,” or “collapsed strata” (also known as time span within which one operates). This is not ideal; however, at times it may be the best we can do.

Who should be accountable for results?

Two basic principles:

First, all employees, including managers, must be held accountable for the continuous exercise of full commitment of capability (doing their very best) in carrying out the tasks assigned.

Second, managers must be held accountable for the results of the work and working behavior of immediate subordinates.

Definition of a Manager

A manager is the incumbent of a role in which s/he:

  1. Is assigned accountability for doing his/her best to use assigned financial, physical, and human resources (the human resources comprise subordinates under contract to do their best).
  2. Is accountable for deciding how best to get optimum short-, mid-, and long-term results from an assigned functional area (e.g., a production department, geographical area, or a customer category).
  3. Is accountable for maintaining a team of subordinates capable of doing the necessary work.
  4. Effectively applies all managerial leadership practices in relation to subordinates.
  5. Adds value to the subordinates’ work.
  6. Is accountable for providing necessary trainings, materials, and support to both supervisors and all subordinates.
  7. Says what they are going to do. They do what they say they would do and when they can’t (as infrequently as possible) they explain promptly.  They expect others to behave the same way.
  8. Creates clearly defined goals because without clarity it is difficult to be held accountable
  9. Keeps consistent priorities.
  10. Documents agreements.
  11. Creates performance measures and evaluates progress or lack thereof.

In addition to managerial hierarchy, cross-functional relationships also need to be clearly defined.

My hope is that this information will allow you to evaluate your role and function in your organization and if there is room for improvement, to have a blueprint to help you and your colleagues proceed.

 

Have a day filled with compassion!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance #51: Incivility & Bullying in the Workplace

Incivility and bullying at work can have a significant negative impact on work performance. It is still a significant problem in many organizations and in society at large. Just this morning in the Denver Post was an article about a number of junior varsity baseball players at Columbine High School,  of all places given its history, who allegedly video recorded a racist rap routine after beating East High school in a game. For those of you not familiar with East High School, it is known for its diversity. These players were suspended for a range of days.  As a concerning example, the Columbine shootings were in part related to bullying.

This is not related to high schools as a workplace, nor just to adolescents. It continues into adulthood. There is unfortunately too much data on the results of incivility and bullying in the workplace. It can range from rude comments and insensitive actions, to physical acts including assault and battery, as well as from thoughtless intent to malicious intent; all of which result in physical or psychological harm to the recipient. The following are a quick synopsis of impact variables.

Business and personal costs to the individual

  • Business work performance problems
  • Quitting Job and Starting Over Somewhere Else
  • Stress related health costs increase
    • Stress
    • Negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, hatred
    • Loss of productivity to concentration issues, preoccupation with the situation, lost work time, sick time, presenteeism,
  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Decreased motivation
  • Physical complaints
  • 82% of employees targeted by bullies leave the workplace.
  • 38% who leave, do so for health issues
  • 72% of disrespectful behavior is done by those in leadership positions
  • 57% of targets are women.
  • 45% of targets had stress-related health problems
  • 39% had debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression
  • 30% had post traumatic stress
  • Physical headaches, cardiac, aches, weight change, CFS, TMJ, skin, asthma/allergies, IBS, hair loss, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, ulcers, fatigue.
  • Targets have a 64% chance of losing their job for no reason.
  • Despite health harm, 40% of targets never report bullying. It is even higher here.

Business cost of incivility and bullying

  • High turnover
  • Low productivity
  • Absenteeism
  • Benefits misused
  • Low morale
  • Poor public image, reputation damaged
  • Lawsuits
  • Organization’s values and policies compromised and violated
  • Financial viability reduced

For those who think incivility and bullying are over stated and not a problem, open your eyes to the following graphic on the continuum of behavior.

The Incivility Continuum

 

If you are not personally convinced that your organization needs to pay attention to the impact of incivility and bullying in your workplace the following information may help convince you and your organization to look more deeply into the reasons for addressing it through good management practices, policy, and culture changes.

Business Case for the organization to have a civil and safe environment

  • Healthier employees
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Better financial viability

Business case for the individual

  • Safety
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Interaction effects with others
  • Career longevity
  • Job satisfaction
  • Positive morale

We all are interdependent with each other at all levels. Practically speaking, we all make our living together. What affects one of us, directly or indirectly affects all of us.

Remember to stay calm, centered and serene in your interactions with all those you meet today!

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist

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