What makes for effective and resilient teams is something that interests many leaders and organisations. I have spoken about some of these aspects in other articles, particularly on team composition. But some new research gives some insights into the leaders themselves and how they influence effectiveness and resilience in the face of unexpected situations. Something that is of particular interest with the pandemic which has raised the importance of resilience.
Research into 48 teams from 5 Canadian startups by Brykman and King showed that those leaders who encouraged on-the-job-learning, and of note, also enabled and encouraged employees to speak up…
Old logic sees punishment as motivation. Good ‘ole school systems used this: strict rules and give anyone who diverges of the righteous path a good beating. That will see them right. I grew up in Britain which still had the cane (a thin stick) as a punishment in schools — it was finally abolished when I was 14, but not before my brother and been given a good whipping at school. …
Isn’t the saying “old habits die hard”?
It is indeed. That is why this recently published research is interesting.
Are you suggesting that old habits help change habits?
Kind of. It is counter-intuitive, I know.
These researchers, Smith et al. from Mount Sinai Medical School, found that a part of the brain that has thus far been associated with storage and carrying out of habits was involved in learning new habits. There are two neighbouring regions in a part of the brain called the striatum which are involved in action learning (stuff to do with movement).
So is rudeness a problem in the workplace?
Well, according to Park and Martinez, it seems to be on the rise. Lack of interpersonal face-to-face relationships and interactions seems to be making people ruder, or incivil, as they call it.
So, a bit like social media threads that spiral out of control really quickly?
And how did they research this — by being rude to people in the office?
No, this was a meta analysis of 76 different studies into incivility including 35,344 workers.
And what did they find?
Lots of things, but some of the interesting findings are that…
You’ve written previously on gut bacteria and the brain — what’s new here?
This latest piece of research looks at brain development in early born babies and that gut bacteria at this age has such a strong effect is surprising!
Oh, wow, that sounds fascinating. Pray tell me more…
Indeed, pre-term babies are at high risk of brain damage and other neurological disorders so this research out of the University of Vienna by Seki et al. is important. …
Be real! Can we really de-bias the brain?
Well, as you know I’ve been involved in a lot of unconscious bias training and we know how little an impact this often has. In fact, standard unconscious bias training seems to be spectacularly unsuccessful!
So can we de-bias the brain?
Well, no we can’t de-bias the brain but we can make it better at dealing with biases. This is another piece of research that shows a surprising way to do this.
And what was that?
In this study from earlier in the year by Yoon et al. of City University London they…
Ok, first off can you explain what the researchers mean by imposters?
Yes, there is well-known term in psychology called Imposter Syndrome. This is when individuals feel that they don’t deserve the credit they get and feel like frauds. They often feel like they are going to be found out. This is common in professional scenarios and often in academic scenarios.
And, women feel this more often then?
Well, other research does point in this direction but this latest research out of New York University by Muradoglu et al. …
Are you saying there is a dark side to helping our coworkers?
Well, I’m not saying that but a study I stumbled across from a few years ago is.
So, don’t help coworkers, that’s it!
No, actually it’s much more nuanced. There are all sorts of very good reasons to help coworkers, ranging from improved team productivity, better atmosphere, bonding, etc., etc.
I’m confused. When should I help my coworkers?
Well, what the study found, which is interesting, is that particularly when fatigued that helping coworkers in the morning could backfire. …
So screen time must coddle the brains of our kids, surely?!
Well, no. In fact barely.
I don’t believe it! Vegetating away, and scrolling infinitudes of brainless social media just has to be bad for your kids’ brains!
Well, no, as I said, and I’ll say it again, no. This piece of research tracking almost 12,000 kids, yes 12'000 kids, found only very mild links to behavioural and attention problems.
Are you sure?
Yes, you can read it for yourself from Katie Paulich et al. from the University of Boulder, Colorado. And they note that compared to other factors shaping these…
That just sounds like an excuse to have more breaks!
Could be, but you did read the term MICRObreaks didn’t you?
Ahh, so very short breaks are good for you then?
Yup, but this particularly study out of North Carolina State University by Sooyeol Kim et al. looked at what workers do when they’re tired at work. This followed 98 workers in the USA and 222 in South Korea.
And what did they find?
What they found is that workers who are tired tended to naturally have more microbreaks and this contributed to managing energy resources and productivity.