Posts

Asking for meaningful progress in job interviews

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Last week I met Dick Wever in a session on progress-focused working. He is a team leader at an educational institution, and he said he recently interviewed applicants for his school. He was not completely satisfied with the approach to the job interviews as they were conducted at school. That is why he tried out a new, progress-focused question in the interviews: the question of what meaningful progress the applicant had recently made. I didn't have much time to ask more about his experiences, but I found it so interesting that I kept thinking about it.

Enabling learning from mistakes

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During a recent training, in which we covered the topic of mindset, a participant came up to me afterwards. He said: “You just talked about 'learning from mistakes' but can we really learn from mistakes?”. He referred to a book that stated that it is difficult to learn from mistakes (that was this book ). Coincidentally, a n ew article has just been published by the same author, Ayelet Fishbach, together with Ryan Carlson. In this article, the authors explore the psychology behind failure and learning from it. The article offers interesting insights for anyone interested in personal development, education, or management. Below I will discuss the main themes of the article.

Progress contexts as a basis for performance, well-being and growth

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When I was trained as a psychologist in the 1980s, the dominant way of thinking about intelligence and personality tended towards what we now call a fixed mindset . Broadly speaking, we were taught that both intelligence and personality can hardly be developed after a certain age (say, 18). Personality was broadly defined as the set of stable behavioral tendencies of individuals. Individual differences in personality were thought to be relatively unchangeable and also meaningful for how we should organize our lives (think of career choices, for example). The word 'stable' meant two things. First, personality traits were thought to be stable across situations. In other words, we behave in approximately the same way in different types of situations because of our personality traits. Second, personality traits were thought to be stable over time. This meant that personality traits do not (or cannot) change much over the course of a person's life.

Theory X in practice: distrustful manager demotivates employees

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During an informal occasion, I met Mats. At one point during our conversation, he told me that he really enjoyed his work but that his manager's attitude frustrated him. What he told me reminded me of Douglas McGregor's influential insights that he described in his book The Human Side of Enterprise.

Cultures of growth: the many benefits of growth mindset cultures

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Mary Murphy , professor of psychology at Indiana University, has published the book Cultures of Growth . In 2006, she was a student of Carol Dweck , the founder of mindset theory. Dweck's previous work showed that people with a growth mindset are more likely to take on challenges, learn from mistakes, and achieve more in the long run than people with a fixed mindset. Murphy suggested that not only individuals but also environments embody a mindset. Nearly two decades later, Murphy and her colleagues have conducted extensive research in numerous organizations. Cultures of Growth reports on this.

How the bottom line mentality fails in companies

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CEOs regularly emphasize the importance of achieving profits, shareholder value, market share and other results. Wu and Shen (2024) conducted a study to identify the detrimental influence of executives' bottom-line mentality (BLM) on employee creativity.

Ending global hunger and protecting the world’s wildlife

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In a new article , Max Roser of Our World in Data argues that it is possible to end global hunger and protect the world's wildlife. He suggests that by increasing agricultural productivity and consuming strategically, we can combat hunger and restore natural habitats without causing further damage to nature.

To involve or not to involve employees in leadership choice

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Peter, a reader, responded to my article on workplace democracy. He informed me that there was unrest within his department after the previous manager, who was not functioning well, had to leave quickly. The management started a recruitment procedure, and Peter and his colleagues noticed that they were not involved.

Workplace democracy: no good reasons not to start

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Antoinette Weibel has sparked an interesting discussion on LinkedIn about the feasibility and utility of workplace democracy. In her post, she refers to an article by Roberto Frega and colleagues, in which the pros and cons of this concept are discussed.

The Inherence Bias in Preschoolers: How Do They Explain Performance Differences?

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  A recent study by Renoux et al. (2024) sheds interesting light on how preschoolers think about differences in school performance. This study, conducted among 610 French preschoolers, reveals that children tend to pointed to inherent factors (such as intelligence) rather than extrinsic factors (such as access to educational resources) as explanations for why some children perform better at school than others. Read more about what this inherence bias means and what its consequences are.

Gradeless Learning: Better Learning, Less Performance Pressure

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In the current education system, where grades often dominate, concerns about the mental health of students are growing. The emphasis on performance has led to an increase in stress and a competitive atmosphere that can undermine students' intrinsic motivation and well-being. Gradeless learning , an approach that focuses on the learning process rather than numerical assessments, may provide a solution to these problems.

The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Psychology of Favors

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Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was not only a scientist and politician, but also an observer of human nature. One of his insights concerns the psychology of doing favors, a phenomenon known as the Benjamin Franklin effect . In this article I discuss the Benjamin Franklin effect, the phenomenon that people like others more after they have done them a favor.

The Continuing Decline of American Democracy

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In October 2020, I wrote Save American Democracy , in which I said that American democracy has been in decline for decades, with Trump accelerating this process. The gap between citizens and politicians is significant, with citizens having little influence on policy. Causes include the electoral system, the Senate, money in politics, the Electoral College, and gerrymandering, making the U.S. vulnerable to tyranny. Has it gotten better or worse? 

The Cell Phone Ban in Schools: Two Teachers, Two Approaches

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From 2024, cell phones, tablets and smartwatches are be banned in Dutch classrooms due to distraction and negative impact on learning performance; schools develop their own policy with exceptions. Of course, both students and teachers have to get used to this new situation. I heard about a conversation between two high school teachers, Ashley and Emily.

Dominance vs. Prestige in Leadership: Ethics and Risk

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Leadership in organizations is important. But not all leadership styles have the same impact. Two prominent styles, dominance-based leadership and prestige-based leadership, have recently been examined to understand their effects on ethics and behavior within organizations. These studies shed new light on how different approaches to leadership not only shape the culture within a company, but also how they can influence the moral behavior of both leaders and their subordinates. The results of these studies provide valuable insights for organizations that strive for a healthy and ethical work environment.

The 3xA approach: Agree, Ask, Answer (or: Agree, Challenge, Explain)

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Having conversations about sensitive topics can be challenging. Emotions run high, and disagreements can escalate quickly. I came across an approach with the YouTuber Debug Your Brain that he calls: Agree-Ask-Answer. You could also call it the 3xA approach.

The Misplaced Trust in the Compliment Sandwich

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Many people understand that giving feedback can be useful and necessary. But they often struggle with how to provide feedback effectively.  A popular way of giving feedback is called the compliment sandwich. In this conversational approach, you start with a sincere compliment, then provide constructive criticism, and end the conversation with a heartfelt compliment again. Does that sound good and logical? In a new article , psychologist Adam Grant explains why this approach doesn’t work.

Social Progress Index 2024: Global Social Progress Recession

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The Social Progress Index is an important tool, providing a lucid picture of global social progress and highlighting areas where nations need to improve. This year’s index, a prodigious collection of social and environmental data, offers a unique lens to evaluate the non-economic dimensions of social performance across the globe. We look at the key findings of the 2024 Social Progress Index, with a special focus on the United Kingdom and the United States.

You Know What You Lose, But Not What You Find

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The New Year's Eve comedy show on Dutch national television was performed by Micha Wertheim . True to his style, it was complex, confusing, and surprising. At the end, he sang the song "You Know What You Lose, But Not What You Find." This song resonates with the times we live in, a period of increasing change and uncertainty.

Flipped learning in education

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Flipped learning (FL) is an innovative educational model that inverts the traditional classroom structure. In this model, students prepare at home with study materials, such as video lectures and reading materials, and then use classroom time for in-depth exploration of the topics. This method stimulates intrinsic motivation (IM) and independent learning, leading to a deeper and more meaningful learning process. Many in education are already somewhat familiar with FL and its benefits. Yet FL could be applied more.

Why Vegan?

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Sometimes people ask me why I am vegan. In our conversations they may bring forward worries and counterarguments. In my view, these are usually based on misunderstandings. In this article, I will first discuss my reasons for being vegan. Then, I will address several common misconceptions.

Breaks as Performance Boosters: New Insights

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The quest for productivity at work often leads to the idea that working more equals better results. This perspective, supplemented with anecdotes about CEOs who wake up early and work weekends, dominates the popular literature. But what if the key to both wellness and performance actually lies in taking breaks? This line of thinking was explored in a systematic review of more than 80 studies on taking breaks in the workplace, conducted by  Lyubykh & Gulseren (2023) .

From authoritarian to progress-focused leadership

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This week, someone wrote the following: "‘You should just do what I say even if you disagree with it’ is really no longer acceptable." I agree with her. Managers who speak like this exhibit an authoritarian attitude that says, "You must do what I say, and I don't care about your opinion." Such an approach to management undermines the relationship between the manager and employee and the quality of the employee’s motivation.” Let’s move from authoritarian to progress-focused leadership.

Progress-focused advice: consultation between an HR advisor and a manager

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Below you can read three conversations between an HR advisor and a manager. The manager's approach is not effective in the first three conversations, but it is in the fourth conversation. In the first two conversations the HR advisor's approach is not effective, but in the third conversation, an example of progress-focused advice, it is.

The PFP-approach Progress-focused Future-projection Questions

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The PFP-approach is a powerful progress-focused tool. PFP stands for Progress-focused Future-projection Questions. This methodology uses a series of five strategically chosen questions that help individuals or teams visualize their future goals and identify the necessary steps to achieve these goals. The power of PFP lies in its simplicity and effectiveness, making it a valuable tool in team and organizational development.