What employers need to do to protect workers from cyberbullying

What employers need to do to protect workers from cyberbullying

 

File 20180123 33538 ors9pi.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Research into workplace cyberbullying among nurses reveals that many also experience other forms of bullying.
from www.shutterstock.com, CC BY-ND

 

Natalia D’Souza, Massey University

Nurses are a target for bullies more often than any other healthcare workers, and the bullying can take many forms.

My research shows that nurses are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying by patients and their relatives, which can cross the boundary between the workplace and home. This highlights the need for employers to take cyberbullying seriously and to take active steps to protect employees from it.




Read more:
Like a ‘cancer’ of the workplace, bullying is a symptom of dysfunction


Cyberbullying can be especially damaging

Cyberbullying is a growing problem both in New Zealand and internationally. It
can take place in any workplace, but researchers have identified clear hotspots such as hospitals, schools and customer services.

Reporting of workplace cyberbullying varies dramatically because there is no consensus on how to define it. Generally, cyberbullying is more complex and insidious than traditional forms of workplace bullying.

It can be described as unwanted or aggressive behaviour(s), perpetrated through electronic media, that may harm, threaten or demoralise the recipient(s), and can occur beyond work time. Because workplace cyberbullying crosses the barrier between work and home, it can leave people feeling trapped and unable to cope.

Cyberbullying can take several forms, including harassment, cyberstalking, denigration and exclusion.

My research shows many nurses who experience cyberbullying are also confronted with other “face-to-face” forms of workplace bullying such as verbal abuse, aggressive and undermining behaviours, and even exclusion or isolation. Additionally, certain forms of cyberbullying can be more damaging than most traditional forms of bullying.

No escape

It is easy to imagine the threat people feel when they receive anonymous and unwanted texts, or the ongoing humiliation resulting from being abused on social media. In my study, nurses described the distress of not only having false allegations made about them on a public platform, but also of the potential repercussions on their reputation and career. One case of anonymous cyberbullying proved particularly difficult as there was little the organisation could do to intervene, with the abuse spanning several years.

Public forms of cyberbullying are also likely to have a much broader scope of harm – not only for the targets but also for the organisations involved. Customer or patient complaints on public forums may harm the target’s career as well as affecting the organisation’s reputation.

Likewise, the constant access provided by electronic devices is also likely to make targets of cyberbullying feel trapped. They have little chance of escaping the bullying at home or replenishing their coping resources.

Cyberbullying easily circumvents common safety measures used to protect nurses, such as security offers or trespass notices. It introduces a new vulnerability for nurses and employees in public roles.

Nurses have a responsibility to care for patients, which can make if difficult for them to block communication with relatives, even when they are being bullied, directly or via electronic channels. In one example, a patient’s mother would call to ask for help for her son, but then start abusing the nurse, who could not block the calls in case it was a genuine emergency.

How to approach prevention

Over time, cyberbullying can have a severe impact on the health of victims. They can reach a point where they feel forced to leave their place of work.

Organisations have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of employees. There are also substantial financial costs associated with not preventing workplace cyberbullying. Australia’s Productivity Commission estimated the cost at A$6 billion to A$36 billion per year.

Many organisations aren’t well equipped to deal with workplace cyberbullying. Few have a relevant policy in place. This can often unintentionally signal to employees that cyberbullying is an issue they have to deal with on their own.

There are several actions that organisations and industry need to take. They should clearly communicate what cyberbullying might look like within the workplace. They should adopt a clear policy, along with reporting channels and processes, to indicate to employees that the organisation takes cyberbullying seriously.

Any policies should include cyberbullying from sources outside the organisation, including customers, clients, students and patients. Finally, organisations must be prepared to take all reports and complaints of cyberbullying seriously, and support employees through this process.

At a much broader level, industry and professional bodies can address workplace cyberbullying in their current policies, codes of conduct and training resources. An industry-based approach to prevention and intervention is much more likely to be effective in addressing profession-specific risk factors such as those faced by health care workers.

The ConversationAt a national level, it is crucial that workplace cyberbullying – and traditional bullying, for that matter – are recognised in law as risks to employee health and safety.

Natalia D’Souza, Lecturer, School of Management, Massey University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How cyberbullies overtly and covertly target their victims

How cyberbullies overtly and covertly target their victims

 

File 20180131 38219 1ibo0ca.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Cyberbullying isn’t always the ‘trolling’ we hear about in the media.
from www.shutterstock.com

 

Larisa McLoughlin, University of the Sunshine Coast

We hear a lot about cyberbullying, but we hear less about what it actually constitutes. Cyberbullying is defined as an aggressive, intentional act using electronic forms, repeatedly and over time, against a victim who can’t easily defend against it.

As technology evolves continuously, cyberbullying originally was restricted to the sending of emails and texts. But now it can include image-sharing, online communities, blogs and forums, and sharing of personal information.

While cyberbullying is an iteration of traditional bullying, victims of cyberbullying often have worse outcomes than victims of traditional bullying. And a combination of traditional bullying and cyberbullying has the most severe negative impact on mental health.




Read more:
How can we protect young people from cyberbullying?


Cyberbullying can include both overt (name calling, mocking, shaming) or covert (exclusion, isolation) aspects.

Cyberbullying can involve written-verbal behaviours such as phone calls, text messages and comments on social media. Two specific examples of written forms of cyberbullying are the well-known “trolling” (purposefully posting hurtful comments to provoke a response), and flaming (an array of aggressive comments from one to another).

Other forms of cyberbullying involve:

  • visual behaviours: posting, sending or sharing pictures or videos, usually to cause embarrassment
  • exclusion: intentionally excluding someone from an online group or, in the case of online gaming, excluding a player from groups or teams
  • catfishing: falsifying online identities to trick the victim into romantic relationships
  • impersonation: using the victim’s name and account to damage the victim
  • stalking: for example sending multiple text messages to the victim to show the bully knows exactly what they are doing, where they have been
  • threatening violence: for example threatening some form of traditional bullying, such as a physical fight.



Read more:
Blocking kids from social media won’t solve the problem of cyberbullying


 

Cyberbullies can create fake accounts, or convince others to post content they don’t realise is hurtful to the cybervictim.
from www.shutterstock.com

 

These forms of cyberbullying occur in one of three ways: direct, by proxy, or by public post (to a wide audience).

Direct attacks are between the bully and victim only, and the identity of the former is known by the latter. Whereas “by proxy” attacks are indirect, and the bully typically tricks someone else into cyberbullying the victim. This means the bully convinces someone else to post something online about the victim, with that person not realising it’s intended to hurt or embarrass the victim.

Cyberbullying may also involve the posting of the above-mentioned behaviours to a wide audience via social media, a website or a blog. This can include creating a false social media account of another person.

Cyberbullying can occur on any number of platforms. It can occur via social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram, or through popular apps such as Snapchat. It can also occur through text messages and emails, or via question-and-answer type platforms such as askFM (an anonymous platform for asking people questions). There’s no way of knowing which platform could be used to cyberbully someone and there’s not always a preference.

Though direct and public cyberbullying are both very serious, young people perceive public cyberbullying to be worse than the private form, with anonymous attacks being more severe than non-anonymous.




Read more:
Social media can be bad for youth mental health, but there are ways it can help


Why do young people cyberbully eachother?

There are many reasons young people cyberbully each other. While traditional bullies lack empathy, technology tends to magnify this due to the anonymity it can provide, as well as the lack of an immediate visible response from the victim that is often evident in traditional bullying. So cyberbullying can often be considered “easier”, as the bully does not have to face the victim or see their response. In a sense, it may involve “less effort” than traditional bullying.

It’s well documented that victims of cyberbullying can have serious mental health concerns. Similarly, being a cyberbully is linked to more maladaptive behaviours (inability to cope with certain environments) and social anxiety problems.

But those who are categorised as cyberbully-victims (individuals who engage in cyberbullying both as victims and as bullies) experience the most severe problems, being more depressed and anxious than those who are solely cybervictims or cyberbullies, or not involved in cyberbullying.

The ConversationIt’s obvious cyberbullying among young people needs to be stamped out. While banning social media altogether is not a practical solution, educating young people about respectful behaviour towards others, and reminding them about the terrible consequences associated with cyberbullying, may one day sink in.

Larisa McLoughlin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Missing and found: understanding the privacy needs of missing people

Missing and found: understanding the privacy needs of missing people

 

348w77cm 1367816109.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

With social media site details routinely used in missing persons investigations, experts are asking: where is the line drawn on privacy needs?
Shutterstock

 

Sarah Wayland, University of New England

Media stories about missing people are as intriguing as they are common. As a community, we form our own opinions of the person who is absent by the details that the media shares with the public.

But often these very same details used to find a missing person are in direct conflict with the person’s privacy rights while they are away and when they return.

So how do we decide what to share?

Each year 35,000 reports are made to Australian police about the safety and wellbeing of a person whose whereabouts are unknown. This equates to one report every 15 minutes.

Of that figure almost half will be under 18 years old, but a high proportion will be absent due to concerns for their mental health – across all ages and genders. The figures are significant from a public health perspective, but the rates of location are high, with more than 95% of people returning home within one month of being reported missing. The implications of sharing details when we consider the privacy needs of those missing due to mental health challenges is not yet known.

The cases of missing children, feared abducted, are given heightened media attention due to the vulnerability of the circumstances in which they disappeared. Media reports reveal details of age, gender, and marital status and in many cases the medical and psychiatric history of the missing person.

It is not a crime to go missing in Australia. Investigative methods used by police include reviewing access to bank accounts, mobile phone records and in some cases the media, as well as social media platforms, to garner community assistance. Chief Inspector Paul Roussos of NSW Police Missing Persons Unit says that each case is treated sensitively, and indicates that:

…[the] release of information (to the media) is only done so with the permission of the missing persons family. A missing persons mental health will normally be covered with this general approach,“ adding that each case is treated sensitively.

Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia, a national mental health charity, acknowledges the space between location and confidentiality:

A balance needs to be struck between the missing person’s right to privacy and the need to discover their whereabouts if serious concerns exist regarding their health or safety. The stigma of mental illness can, unfortunately, negatively affect the public perception of the person who is missing, he explains.

Sarah Eagle lived in this space between wanting to find her brother Ben and wanting to respect his privacy:

During the search for him I remember thinking he’d be really embarrassed about all the fuss; the media, helicopters, sniffer dogs and the 300 people taking time out of their lives to search for him. Sadly he was never found, it was a remote area with little water, and he was suffering from a mental illness.

That embarrassment pales in comparison to an unfortunate and lonely mountain death, but I wasn’t the one with a serious mental illness, I couldn’t ever know how it was for Ben.

 

During missing persons investigations, police gain access to mobile phone records and social media platforms, like Facebook.
AAP/Australian Federal Police

 

Finding the middle ground between the need to locate and the need to respect a persons decision to walk away, places families in a challenging position. Without having the person in sight, families have little information as to what impact the revealing of private information might have on the missing person while they are away and when they return.

There is no organisation in Australia that represents the support needs of those who are located. To assist them in reengaging with their lives or to prevent them from going missing again. Significant research gaps need to be addressed to understand why people go missing and why they return, if we are going to lessen the rate of missing cases in Australia.

Internationally, the ESRC Geographies of Missing People Project is conducting research into returned missing people. Olivia Stevenson, a research fellow at Glasgow University, explains that there is limited understanding in exploring the ways in which adults disappear. Emerging research findings show that perceptions about missing people are built around a conversation that is only conducted between the police and the next of kin.

Stevenson explains that this understanding is:

…not neutral but establishes a series of interpretations and inferences about possible drivers for missing, where that person might be, who they might be with and how to locate them as quickly as possible.

The challenge is that decisions about the sharing of details has to occur without the missing persons consent, as well as the understanding about why they are missing or what they might need when they return.

Sarah Eagle argues that in broadening our discourse around missing persons in Australia we need to working in consultation with people who have returned from being missing, as they are key to understanding what it is really like to be desperate enough to vanish.

International Missing Children’s Day on May 25 focuses on the profiles of those children who are yet to be found. This is when we turn our attention to the children that are currently not here (and the people left behind), and hoping that there may also be room for placing the needs of adult missing persons into the conversation.

The ConversationWe need to know more about those that are found; about what brought them back and about how people reclaimed their lives – after going missing – in an attempt to understand what might stop them from disappearing again.

Sarah Wayland, PhD candidate , University of New England

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five warning flags that a business is failing

Five warning flags that a business is failing

 

Image 20150429 6263 qyjvb5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Spotting the problem before it’s too late.
Tom Wang/shutterstock.com

 

Morgen Witzel, University of Exeter

When companies fail, our first instinct is to start pointing fingers. Usually we point them at the people at the top – the chairman or chief executive. They were in charge, after all; the decisions that drove the company to the wall must have been made by them. Whatever went wrong is their fault. Change the leaders and the problem will go away.

But very often the problem does not go away – and this is because, in actual fact, leaders have only limited control over the organisations that they purport to lead. You can call yourself a leader and give all the orders you want, but if no one is willing to follow, then you are powerless. Euan Sutherland found this out to his cost, battering his head against the brick wall of the Co-operative’s long-established culture, and unable to make a dent.

Companies that fail very often have a culture that makes them more likely to fail. Culture is a set of established beliefs, values and ways of doing things – and the right kind of culture can be a very valuable asset to a business, or any other organisation come to that. But if the culture goes wrong – and many do – then it becomes a toxic culture, holding the company back and eventually dragging it down.

That’s not to say that the chairman and CEO have no responsibility for company failures. For a start, one of the key jobs of the leader is to manage their organisation’s culture and make sure toxic elements don’t creep in. The warning signs are easy to spot, if you know what they are and where to look for them. Here are five of the most common:

1. Complacency

The sin of complacency has killed many companies in the past, and has cost many others their market dominance and profits. Just because the firm has been successful in the past, it doesn’t mean it will go on being successful in the future. Think of Kodak. For generations it was the world leader in the camera market and paid little attention to the looming threat from digital photography until it was too late. Now, Kodak is no more.

Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School calls this the “innovator’s dilemma”. A company rises to prominence by doing something really well, better than anyone else. The company then becomes so proud of its technology and ideas that it rests on its laurels.

It stops innovating because it believes there is no need to carry on. We’ve won, the thinking goes; we’re on top, and no one can touch us. Then along comes a disruptive technology or business model, the game changes and the old certainties go out the window. When the company does try to shift and adapt, it is usually too late.

 

Kodak had its moment.
Insomnia cured here/flickr, CC BY-SA

 

2. An obsession with ‘winning’

Companies that boast about their revenues, their profits, their market share and other signs of growth as though these were the only things that matter are setting themselves up to fail. Growth is a mirage that has claimed the lives of many companies and the careers of many executives. Dutch company Royal Ahold set itself the goal of becoming the world’s largest supermarket group. Like the Monty Python character Mr Creosote, Royal Ahold gobbled up everything in its path – and then exploded.

Executives who talk about “winning” over their competitors have forgotten what business is for. The purpose of a business is not to win. It is to serve its customers.

3. Constant changes

If it ain’t broke it’s because you haven’t looked hard enough. Fix it anyway.

So said Tom Peters in his book on management, Thriving in Chaos. This belief that change is a constant and that any change is for the better is a popular view in many companies.

Restructuring, in particular, is a common response when no one can think of what else to do. Constant change and churn, constant turnover of people, constant restructuring, chaos and confusion also distract companies from their real goal, serving customers. An atmosphere of constant turbulence is a clear danger signal.

4. Errant executives

Another surprisingly frequent warning sign that a business is in danger is when executives make more headlines in the bedroom than in the boardroom. A couple of years ago, the Financial Times ran an article about (male) executives having testosterone injections to boost their confidence and make them more, well, more masculine. Bad idea. The problem in business today is too much testosterone, not too little.

Macho businesses should a thing of the past, but they are not. Sexual discrimination and harassment remain rife in many workplaces. Some senior executives still seem to think they can behave like Neanderthals and get away with it. These days, they can’t. The internet loves nothing more than sex, and stories of boardroom peccadilloes will go viral in a matter of hours.

This matters because once again these stories distract people from the real purpose of business – yes, serving customers. And partly because cultures where people are irresponsible about sex are also places where people are irresponsible about other things too. Trust, loyalty, transparency are all essential to good business.

5. Prioritising numbers over people

There is a prevalent idea in many businesses that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. But there are all sorts of things – trust, knowledge, initiative, entrepreneurship, and of course culture itself – that must be managed and yet cannot be effectively measured. Any company that chains itself to metrics and refuses to engage with the soft side of business is riding for a fall.

The ConversationThere are many more warning flags to look out for in a failing business, from “heroic” leaders surrounded by nodding dog executives to cynicism and lack of purpose. But these are five of the key ones which, if allowed to continue, will likely result in a business going bust.

Morgen Witzel, Fellow of the Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

<h1>Five warning flags that a business is failing</h1>
<figure>    <img src=”https://images.theconversation.com/files/79816/original/image-20150429-6263-qyjvb5.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip” alt=”Image 20150429 6263 qyjvb5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1″ />      <figcaption>        Spotting the problem before it’s too late.        <span class=”attribution”><a class=”source” href=”http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-172626641/stock-photo-businessman-hand-stop-dominoes-continuous-toppled.html?src=csl_recent_image-1″>Tom Wang/shutterstock.com</a></span>      </figcaption>  </figure>
<span><a href=”https://theconversation.com/profiles/morgen-witzel-115636″>Morgen Witzel</a>, <em><a href=”http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-exeter-1190″>University of Exeter</a></em></span>
<p>When companies fail, our first instinct is to start pointing fingers. Usually we point them at the people at the top – the chairman or chief executive. They were in charge, after all; the decisions that drove the company to the wall must have been made by them. Whatever went wrong is their fault. Change the leaders and the problem will go away.</p>
<p>But very often the problem does not go away – and this is because, in actual fact, leaders have <a href=”http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199547654.do”>only limited control</a> over the organisations that they purport to lead. You can call yourself a leader and give all the orders you want, but if no one is willing to follow, then you are powerless. Euan Sutherland found this out to his cost, battering his head against the brick wall of the Co-operative’s long-established culture, and <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26541443″>unable to make a dent</a>.</p>
<p>Companies that fail very often have a culture that <a href=”http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/managing-for-success-9781472904966/”>makes them more likely to fail</a>. Culture is a set of established beliefs, values and ways of doing things – and the right kind of culture can be a very valuable asset to a business, or any other organisation come to that. But if the culture goes wrong – and many do – then it becomes a toxic culture, holding the company back and eventually dragging it down.</p>
<p>That’s not to say that the chairman and CEO have no responsibility for company failures. For a start, one of the key jobs of the leader is to manage their organisation’s culture and make sure toxic elements don’t creep in. The warning signs are easy to spot, if you know what they are and where to look for them. Here are five of the most common:</p>
<h2>1. Complacency</h2>
<p>The sin of complacency has killed many companies in the past, and has cost many others their market dominance and profits. Just because the firm has been successful in the past, it doesn’t mean it will go on being successful in the future. Think of Kodak. For generations it was the world leader in the camera market and paid little attention to the looming threat from digital photography until it was too late. Now, Kodak is no more.</p>
<p>Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School calls this the <a href=”http://www.claytonchristensen.com/books/the-innovators-dilemma/”>“innovator’s dilemma”</a>. A company rises to prominence by doing something really well, better than anyone else. The company then becomes so proud of its technology and ideas that it rests on its laurels. </p>
<p>It stops innovating because it believes there is no need to carry on. We’ve won, the thinking goes; we’re on top, and no one can touch us. Then along comes a disruptive technology or business model, the game changes and the old certainties go out the window. When the company does try to shift and adapt, it is usually too late.</p>
<figure class=”align-center “>            <img alt=”" src=”https://images.theconversation.com/files/79806/original/image-20150429-6242-1x6ucgb.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip”>            <figcaption>              <span class=”caption”>Kodak had its moment.</span>              <span class=”attribution”><a class=”source” href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/1415318561/in/photolist-87z5Ro-5cqUcM-3a4SUa-6tN8M3-eDJb9U-5N3XMr-67rqvv-kBRQ1H-odBtYK-cUJugN-jEXwuE-q8ZktU-3a4SwF-fxgcz-5ACDyp-7B5gLR-qW3fxJ-oWEhRw-5cCrpZ-mG4Vz-cvH82A-bbUWgV-e6psAV-be6Lwc-qHMLW3-dXZ9Le-df4Vr4-bgkLhe-cwP91Q-fQ8j7p-5KPKeJ-5q6k4G-62mKdD-6hyfL-e8ZJnV-4QLmqb-62AjRj-dPJnh4-4MRzM-aaipn-q2rzH-4sqSMr-4K92Mm-6WzEN-q8C2Jh-dD3H3r-3a4TW6-kBRwDv-q2oCF-s6Y8v”>Insomnia cured here/flickr</a>, <a class=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/”>CC BY-SA</a></span>            </figcaption>          </figure>
<h2>2. An obsession with ‘winning’</h2>
<p>Companies that boast about their revenues, their profits, their market share and other signs of growth as though these were the only things that matter are setting themselves up to fail. Growth is a mirage that has claimed the lives of many companies and the careers of many executives. Dutch company Royal Ahold set itself the goal of becoming the world’s largest supermarket group. Like the Monty Python character Mr Creosote, Royal Ahold gobbled up everything in its path – and <a href=”http://www.economist.com/node/1610552″>then exploded</a>.</p>
<p>Executives who talk about “winning” over their competitors have forgotten what business is for. The purpose of a business is not to win. It is to serve its customers.</p>
<h2>3. Constant changes</h2>
<blockquote><p>If it ain’t broke it’s because you haven’t looked hard enough. Fix it anyway.</p></blockquote>
<p>So said Tom Peters in his book on management, Thriving in Chaos. This belief that change is a constant and that any change is for the better is a popular view in many companies. </p>
<p>Restructuring, in particular, is a common response when no one can think of what else to do. Constant change and churn, constant turnover of people, constant restructuring, chaos and confusion also distract companies from their real goal, serving customers. An atmosphere of constant turbulence is a clear danger signal.</p>
<h2>4. Errant executives</h2>
<p>Another surprisingly frequent warning sign that a business is in danger is when executives make more headlines in the bedroom than in the boardroom. A couple of years ago, the <a href=”http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/68015bb2-51b8-11e1-a99d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3YhiUaKUX”>Financial Times</a> ran an article about (male) executives having testosterone injections to boost their confidence and make them more, well, more masculine. Bad idea. The problem in business today is too much testosterone, not too little.</p>
<p>Macho businesses should a thing of the past, but they are not. Sexual discrimination and harassment remain <a href=”http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2013/oct/23/sexual-harassment-workplace-endemic-women”>rife in many workplaces</a>. Some senior executives still seem to think they can behave like Neanderthals and get away with it. These days, they can’t. The internet loves nothing more than sex, and stories of boardroom peccadilloes will go viral in a matter of hours.</p>
<p>This matters because once again these stories distract people from the real purpose of business – yes, serving customers. And partly because cultures where people are irresponsible about sex are also places where people are irresponsible about other things too. Trust, loyalty, transparency are all essential to good business. </p>
<h2>5. Prioritising numbers over people</h2>
<p>There is a prevalent idea in many businesses that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. But there are all sorts of things – trust, knowledge, initiative, entrepreneurship, and of course culture itself – that must be managed and yet cannot be effectively measured. Any company that chains itself to metrics and refuses to engage with the soft side of business is riding for a fall. </p>
<p><img src=”https://counter.theconversation.com/content/40980/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic” alt=”The Conversation” width=”1″ height=”1″ />There are many more warning flags to look out for in a failing business, from “heroic” leaders surrounded by nodding dog executives to cynicism and lack of purpose. But these are five of the key ones which, if allowed to continue, will likely result in a business going bust.</p>
<p><span><a href=”https://theconversation.com/profiles/morgen-witzel-115636″>Morgen Witzel</a>, Fellow of the Centre for Leadership Studies, <em><a href=”http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-exeter-1190″>University of Exeter</a></em></span></p>
<p>This article was originally published on <a href=”http://theconversation.com”>The Conversation</a>. Read the <a href=”https://theconversation.com/five-warning-flags-that-a-business-is-failing-40980″>original article</a>.</p>

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s why your gut instinct is wrong at work – and how to know when it isn’t

Here’s why your gut instinct is wrong at work – and how to know when it isn’t

 

Image 20170307 14957 14irhu6.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Should she trust her gut or her head?
Job interview via www.shutterstock.com

 

Gleb Tsipursky, The Ohio State University

Let’s say you’re interviewing a new applicant for a job and you feel something is off. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re a bit uncomfortable with this person. She says all the right things, her resume is great, she’d be a perfect hire for this job – except your gut tells you otherwise.

Should you go with your gut?

In such situations, your default reaction should be to be suspicious of your gut. Research shows that job candidate interviews are actually poor indicators of future job performance.

Unfortunately, most employers tend to trust their guts over their heads and give jobs to people they like and perceive as part of their in-group, rather than simply the most qualified applicant. In other situations, however, it actually does make sense to rely on gut instinct to make a decision.

Yet research on decision-making shows that most business leaders don’t know when to rely on their gut and when not to. While most studies have focused on executives and managers, research shows the same problem applies to doctors, therapists and other professionals.

This is the kind of challenge I encounter when I consult with companies on how to better handle workplace relationships. Research that I and others have conducted on decision-making offers some clues on when we should – and shouldn’t – listen to our guts.

The gut or the head

The reactions of our gut are rooted in the more primitive, emotional and intuitive part of our brains that ensured survival in our ancestral environment. Tribal loyalty and immediate recognition of friend or foe were especially useful for thriving in that environment.

In modern society, however, our survival is much less at risk, and our gut is more likely to compel us to focus on the wrong information to make workplace and other decisions.

For example, is the job candidate mentioned above similar to you in race, gender, socioeconomic background? Even seemingly minor things like clothing choices, speaking style and gesturing can make a big difference in determining how you evaluate another person. According to research on nonverbal communication, we like people who mimic our tone, body movements and word choices. Our guts automatically identify those people as belonging to our tribe and being friendly to us, raising their status in our eyes.

This quick, automatic reaction of our emotions represents the autopilot system of thinking, one of the two systems of thinking in our brains. It makes good decisions most of the time but also regularly makes certain systematic thinking errors that scholars refer to as cognitive biases.

The other thinking system, known as the intentional system, is deliberate and reflective. It takes effort to turn on but it can catch and override the thinking errors committed by our autopilots. This way, we can address the systematic mistakes made by our brains in our workplace relationships and other areas of life.

Keep in mind that the autopilot and intentional systems are only simplifications of more complex processes, and that there is debate about how they work in the scientific community. However, for everyday life, this systems-level approach is very useful in helping us manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

In regard to tribal loyalty, our brains tend to fall for the thinking error known as the “halo effect,” which causes some characteristics we like and identify with to cast a positive “halo” on the rest of the person, and its opposite the “horns effect,” in which one or two negative traits change how we view the whole. Psychologists call this “anchoring,” meaning we judge this person through the anchor of our initial impressions.

Overriding the gut

Now let’s go back to our job interview example.

Say that the person went to the same college you did. You are more likely to hit it off. Yet, just because a person is similar to you does not mean she will do a good job. Likewise, just because someone is skilled at conveying friendliness does not mean she will do well at tasks that require technical skills rather than people skills.

The research is clear that our intuitions don’t always serve us well in making the best decisions (and, for a business person, bringing in the most profit). Scholars call intuition a troublesome decision tool that requires adjustments to function properly. Such reliance on intuition is especially harmful to workplace diversity and paves the path to bias in hiring, including in terms of race, disability, gender and sex.

Despite the numerous studies showing that structured interventions are needed to overcome bias in hiring, unfortunately business leaders and HR personnel tend to over-rely on unstructured interviews and other intuitive decision-making practices. Due to the autopilot system’s overconfidence bias, a tendency to evaluate our decision-making abilities as better than they are, leaders often go with their guts on hires and other business decisions rather than use analytical decision-making tools that have demonstrably better outcomes.

A good fix is to use your intentional system to override your tribal sensibilities to make a more rational, less biased choice that will more likely result in the best hire. You could note ways in which the applicant is different from you – and give them “positive points” for it – or create structured interviews with a set of standardized questions asked in the same order to every applicant.

So if your goal is to make the best decisions, avoid such emotional reasoning, a mental process in which you conclude that what you feel is true, regardless of the actual reality.

When your gut may be right

Let’s take a different situation. Say you’ve known someone in your work for many years, collaborated with her on a wide variety of projects and have an established relationship. You already have certain stable feelings about that person, so you have a good baseline.

Imagine yourself having a conversation with her about a potential collaboration. For some reason, you feel less comfortable than usual. It’s not you – you’re in a good mood, well-rested, feeling fine. You’re not sure why you’re not feeling good about the interaction since there’s nothing obviously wrong. What’s going on?

Most likely, your intuitions are picking up subtle cues about something being off. Perhaps that person is squinting and not looking you in the eye or smiling less than usual. Our guts are good at picking up such signals, as they are fine-tuned to pick up signs of being excluded from the tribe.

Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe that person is having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep the night before. However, that person may also be trying to pull the wool over your eyes. When people lie, they behave in ways that are similar to other indicators of discomfort, anxiety and rejection, and it’s really hard to tell what’s causing these signals.

Overall, this is a good time to take your gut reaction into account and be more suspicious than usual.

The ConversationThe gut is vital in our decision-making to help us notice when something might be amiss. Yet in most situations when we face significant decisions about workplace relationships, we need to trust our head more than our gut in order to make the best decisions.

Gleb Tsipursky, Assistant Professor of History, The Ohio State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment