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Showing posts from February, 2016

5 Reasons to abolish pay-for-performance for top managers

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In a new article in Harvard Business Review Dan Cable and Freek Vermeulen, both professors of organizational behavior and strategic management, argue for the complete abolishment of contingent pay for top managers. They offer the following 5 arguments:

How the fixed mindset makes the consequences of rejection worse

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Since long, it has been known that how we interpret events in our lives has a strong influence on our feelings and behavior and, because of that, also on future events in our lives. An example of an event which can have a strong emotional impact is to get personally rejected. As new research by Howe & Dweck (2016) shows, the degree to which people can recover from personal rejection depends on how they think about personality.

5 steps to harness the progress principle

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Coert Visser, September 6, 2013 In their large-scale study, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have discovered that making progress in meaningful work is a main contributor to a positive work life and to good performance (Read more about this study, here ). Here are a few practical suggestions to harness the power of meaningful progress.

Discuss progress with each other

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Coert Visser, September 12, 2013 By focusing on progress in meaningful work, your work experience and your performance are stimulated . It is useful to make explicit what progress you have achieved, for example by keeping a progress diary . If you don’t make progress explicit it may well be that you are not aware of the progress you are actually making. This is because progress can remain largely invisible if you don’t consciously focus on it. The reason for this is that we usually focus our conscious attention mainly on what has gone wrong and on what we still have to do. Progress which you have already made is thus easily overlooked.

Remove obstacles

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Coert Visser, September 9, 2013 Making progress in meaningful work is one of the most motivating factors for employees. Therefore, it is important to talk about and to describe desired and achieved progress, frequently. But did you know that negative occurrences such as setbacks and failures can have a 2 to 3 times stronger (negative) effect on motivation than positive factors? This was shown in a study by Amabile and Kramer .

Define ‘meaningful’

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Coert Visser, September 7, 2013 In 5 steps to harness the progress principle I mentioned the research finding that progress in meaningful work is extremely motivating. In other words, the more you think that your work contributes to what is valuable to you, the more motivating it will be for you to achieve progress in this work. To speak of meaningful work, means to go beyond a simple task or results focus. To do meaningful work means that, as an employee, you have the feeling that completing the task or achieving the results is linked to an underlying purpose that is valuable to you. Here is an example.

The Progress Principle

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Coert Visser, Juli 1, 2012 In 2011, Teresa Amabile, a professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Steven Kramer, a developmental psychologist published the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work which is one of the most compelling cases yet for focusing on progress in work. In the book they report on a large scale study into worker performance and motivation. One thing Amabile and Kramer did was to survey more than 600 managers from dozens of companies, asking them to rank the impact on employee motivation and emotions of five workplace factors: recognition for good work, incentives, interpersonal support, making progress and clear goals. The majority of these managers, chose “recognition for good work”. But a multiyear study which tracked day-to-day activities of 238 people in 26 project teams in 7 companies in 3 industries showed that these managers were not right about this. The study exami

Feigning anger is an unwise tactic

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In progress focused work we argue for positive, goal oriented ways of communicating. As much as possible we try to avoid negative expressions such as anger or blame because these generally needlessly threaten both the issue and the relationship. Sometimes people ask whether such negative communication might be effective or even necessary in certain situations. They argue that these negative expressions might create a sense of urgency and pressure in your conversation partner to go along with your expectations. Based on this idea they may even argue that feigning anger is a good way to get people to go along with your expectations. This tactic, according to them, could be applied in conflict situations, negotiations and in conversations in which performance expectations need to be clarified.

Saving capitalism (Robert Reich)

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Some time ago I wrote about economist Richard Wolff's book Democracy at work. A cure for capitalism in which he argued that capitalism is inherently threatening to democracy and that a fundamental change is needed in the direction of Worker Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDEs) which would be an alternative to capitalism ( read my explanation of this argument here ). While I found the book interesting, I wasn't convinced that capitalism should be replaced. Now, there is a book by another economist, also one who is very critical about current day capitalism and concerned for the protection of the democracy, Robert Reich . The book is called Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and it argues not for the replacement of capitalism but for its rescue.

Is it possible to prevent and reverse presbyopia?

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Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain to keep developing throughout life. Over the last decade or so more information has become available about how great this capability of the brain is. In this post I write about how important neuroplasticity's role can be in healing diseases and in this post I discuss some skeptical views on neuroplasticity. Since I started reading about neuroplasticity, about 10 years ago, I began to wonder how far the possibilities of brain training could go. One of the questions which interested me in particular was the question of to which degree age-related problems can be prevented or reversed. A topic about which I was specifically curious is presbyopia, the condition in which aging people are progressively less able to focus. This condition usually starts around age 40 and, from what I read, from age 50 nearly everybody is so affected by it that reading glasses are necessary in order to read.

The steady rise of Radical Enlightenment ideals

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Recently I have referred to the influence on modern societies of ideas and values from the Enlightenment. Here I call Enlightenment values an important basis for the progress which has happened in the Western world over the last two centuries and suggest that the rest of the world can benefit from them as much (which is actually happening more and more).

From level-thinking to progress-thinking

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I'd like to introduce two concepts: level-thinking and progress-thinking. Below, I will explain what I mean with these two terms and argue for putting less emphasis on level-thinking and more on progress-thinking. Level-thinking is a way of thinking in which people, when they assess other people or themselves and when they set goals, emphasize the achieved level and desired level.  Progress-thinking is a way of thinking in which people, when they assess or set goals, emphasize achieved and desired progress. These two ways of thinking have a number of different characteristics and consequences which I will describe below.

Should teachers focus on performance differences between students or within students?

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Teachers’ perceptions and actions can have a great impact on students’ beliefs, motivation, effort and performance. One way in which teachers affect their students is in the way they evaluate students’ performance. Falko Rheinberg (1980) showed that some teachers tend to compare students with each other – this is called a social reference norm orientation (social RNO) – while other teachers tend to compare a student’s current learning outcomes with his or her previous performance – this is called an individual reference norm orientation (individual RNO).