Monthly Archives: October 2012

Glow at work Masterclass: The Value of Difference – Prof. Binna Kandola, 25th October 2012

What a privilege to engage with Binna Kandola and professional colleagues on issues of diversity and inclusion in a wonderful evening masterclass on 25th October at the well chosen Queen’s Club venue near Earl’s Court in London.

Harpal Dhatt and her Glow at work colleagues created and sustained a positive, inclusive, and welcoming environment across the evening. The networking was warm, thoughtful, and stimulating with positive, prompt, and valuable follow through after the event. Binna Kandola provided a masterful presentation of the challenges of valuing difference at work and how to respond to these challenges using evidence-based approaches and tools. This included attention to the dynamics and effects of unconscious bias and in-group and out-group categorization and stereotyping.

Binna created an ongoing dialogue with the range of seasoned practitioners in the room. This enabled sharing of experience and discussion of challenges and of tools to address these. There was a high level of energy and engagement throughout. Binna concluded with a simple, practical, and powerful action agenda that summarised his fundamental points: accept that each of us is biased; create the right environment for valuing differences; and be mindful and reflective evidence-based practitioners!

Overall the event was brilliant: well organized, welcoming, and fruitful. A big thank you to Harpal and her colleagues, and especially to Binna Kandola for a hugely useful masterclass. The return trip from Peterborough to London was definitely worthwhile.  Thanks Harpal for a really useful and enjoyable evening.

Every best wish,

Dr David Beech Chartered Psychologist Director of Programmes Cambridge Leadership Development.

CLD is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Leadership Organization Ltd. A CLD website is due to launch later in 2012. In the meantime the TLO website is: www.theleadershiporganization.com

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Glowing because you’re Flowing: The predisposing factors of ‘Flow’

The concept of Flow is an extremely interesting and idyllic one. It’s a state in which we experience a subjective high or enjoyment, extreme concentration and loss of self-awareness, but with an effortless feeling (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). Being in our Flow is truly working ‘in the zone’. I believe we have all, at some point or other experienced this feeling of being wholly absorbed and immersed in our work, leisure or human interactions. Time flies and we instinctively swat away distractions with only the completion, involvement or progress of a particular task or interaction in mind.  But for most of us, this state of Flow just doesn’t occur enough.  At Glow at work, we believe that achieving this state is a matter or surrounding yourself with the right people, stimulating work experiences and opportunities to get your Glow through Flow.

But interesting research has also highlighted that perhaps there are factors involved in achieving Flow which we are not in control of. As Psychologists, objectively, this is something which we must be aware of too. Personality is one of these factors. If one buys into the construct of innate personality traits, a link between these traits and Flow proneness would predispose certain personalities to achieving this optimal state. Research by Ullen et al (2012) did in fact find that there was a negative association between Neuroticism and flow proneness, stemming from the fact that High N’s typically exhibit high negative affectivity, which directly combats the Flow state. Additionally, Consciousness was associated with Flow proneness, suggesting that High C’s are more capable of switching into ‘the zone’. This was attributed to active problem coping, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and positive affect.  Genetic influences were further investigated by Mosing et al (2012), who found ‘moderate’ heritabilities (0.29 – 0.35) for Flow across various domains including work, maintenance and leisure. There was conclusive evidence that the same genes influence Flow proneness independently of context. They accredit some of this genetic proneness to personality traits. But importantly, a majority of the Flow proneness is non-genetic. More interestingly, environmental influence seems to differ between domains. Hence, we must emphasise the importance of a specific, targeted approach to unleashing Flow within work and within our personal lives.

An interesting finding in Ullen’s study was that intelligence did not have any influence over Flow proneness. This is encouraging as there may well be some factors which are beyond our control,  but there is a large amount of influence we can have when it comes to creating an optimal state of work and life productivity, enjoyment and fulfilment. This reinforces what we believe in at Glow at work. The power of our cognitions and behaviours in transforming ourselves and our organisations is immense. Changing our mindset and in turn changing our behaviours can go a long way to achieving our state of Flow. And so, we can begin to enjoy and be better at what we do, every single day.

Blog by Raj Chopra, Trainee Occupational Psychologist, Glow at work. Follow me on Twitter – @Raj_Glowatwork.

References

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. (1988). Optimal experience. Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge Univ Press.

Mosing, M.A. et al (2012) Heritability of proneness for psychological flow experiences. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 699-704.

Ullen, F. Et al (2012). Proneness for psychological flow in everyday life: Associations with personality and intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 167-172.

Glow at Work September Masterclass – “Managing changing teams in a changing environment” with Mark Gilroy

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”

This powerful quote, most commonly attributed or misattributed, as some would argue to Charles Darwin perfectly reflects the underlying theme of the 2nd instalment from the Glow at work masterclass series. Whether it was in fact Charles Darwin who said this, or a paraphrase gone wrong by Dr Meggison of Louisiana State University*, it’s rather ironic that I had to do exactly what the quote suggests in order to ‘survive’. Or allow this blog post to survive that is. And that is adapting to change (new information in this case). I write this introduction in an attempt to appease both parties, those who argue that Darwin did say this and those who argue against it. Trivial (or simply pedantic) though it may seem, it demonstrates the importance of change, and managing it carefully and consciously. Instant application, I know Mark would be proud! But this is particularly important when change is all around us, whether we want it or not. And organisations in today’s knowledge-based, increasingly online economy have important choices to make about how adaptable they want to be.

This was the message Mark Gilroy successfully delivered in his charismatic, personable and very engaging style. As a master-certified trainer in the full suite of Margerison-McCann Team Management Systems development tools, Mark shared with us the practical tools available to help safely navigate teams through the minefield of changes that face them. Change can of course be enforced upon us, and so we are being reactive in dealing with it. But the key is foresight, and being proactive to anticipated change. Mark described a formula for successful change, which illustrates this forward focus:

Change = a next step + wider vision + degree of discomfort (in the current situation).

Mark then took us through the extensive repertoire of tools available to help teams achieve success, in whichever way they define it. He broke down these tools into a useful framework for identifying levels of human behaviour. The first level represents ‘preferences’, or the styles in which we prefer to work. The Team Management Profile, based on a combination of work activities and working behaviours, identifies 1 of 8 possible major types of work we prefer to do. With the full complement of these 8 preferences of working covered, highly functioning teams can be created. The next level is ‘Risk orientation’. Pretty self-explanatory. However, it’s still a multi-faceted construct, as shown by the QO2 tool which measures ‘moving towards goals’, ‘multi-pathways’, ‘optimism’, ‘fault-finding’ & ‘time-focus’. Collectively, these five factors determine the risk orientation of individuals, and hence how comfortable one is in a high risk, change-orientated organisation or team. Finally, at the core of our behaviours lie our values. The real reason, or the ‘why?’ behind our actions. Based around two dimensions, values can be measured on a continuum of organisational constraint (i.e. compliance & conformity) to organisational freedom (empowerment and independence) and self focus (individualism) to group focus (collectivism). A very important implication of values is the fact that if personal values don’t overlap with organisational ones, employees and therefore teams will not be motivated to perform. This congruency is at a fundamental level, the trigger for successful change, as the desire to create a successful organisation stems from a deep personal level of values. Using the appropriate level of tool, Mark has been transforming the performance of teams in a whole range of organisations, across many sectors for a number of years. He offered a very practical approach for all of the attendees, who could take away useful tips and techniques to apply in their own teams and work places.

This blog must finish with some words of wisdom from Mark which really hit home for me… The golden rule – treat others the way you wish to be treated – is not greater than the platinum rule – treat others the way they want to be treated. This highlights the importance of sensitivity for individual differences within work and life. We are all unique personalities, with individual aspirations, strengths and ‘developmental areas’ and this should be recognised by the people we connect with each and every day. The key is realising the true potential that exists in each person, rather than creating an army of robots. Understanding human capital must be high on the agenda of organisations, as in this changing world, the importance and potential of human innovation and talent cannot be overstated.

Posted by Raj Chopra, Trainee Occupational Psychologist at Glow at work. Follow me on twitter – @Raj_Glowatwork

*The Darwin Correspondence Project: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/six-things-darwin-never-said

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