Cooperative Inquiry Groups

In any area of management, you will hear phrases like being “on team” and “singing from the same hymn sheet” practically every day. The concept is simple and logical enough – managers and their reports are, or at least should be, working toward common goals and with the same interests. This is essentially what cooperative […]

The toxic effects of high-pressure cultures (Part One)

Surviving in competitive markets is a question of building high-pressure cultures focussed on bottom line results. Encouraging people to be cut throat and take-no-prisoners to ensure financial success. Right? As you might expect from the way I phrased it, this is wrong and there is a lot of evidence to demonstrate that cultures like this damage employees and […]

From ego to eco: a new approach to boosting employee engagement

A recent article by Ashridge Business School researcher Patricia Hind opens with this discomforting observation: “Surveys consistently report that work is more often dread and drudgery rather than passion and purpose. Research shows that only 13 per cent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, productivity is at an all-time low and stress levels among […]

Appreciative Inquiry and Cooperrider’s Three Circles of Strength, Part Two

Last time, we began our tour of David Cooperrider’s “Three Circles of Strength” framework: if Circle 1 involves elevating strengths, Circle 2 progresses to multiplying them into – in Cooperrider’s words – “macro combinations and configurations.” Let’s look at an example cited by Professor Cooperrider: a $4 billion trucking company had unwittingly starved itself and […]

Respond with compassion, it works better than toughness when employees err

Most managers will have encountered a situation in which an employee has made a grave mistake that could seriously damage a critical project and reflect badly on the manager and the organisation. What’s the best way of reacting? A frustrated manager may decide to reprimand the employee. This vents frustration and is intended to teach […]

All change for employee behaviour at M&S

Saved from financial collapse a few years ago by good management, M&S is one of the UK’s most successful retailers and now it’s about to embark on an interesting new initiative. M&S has decided to try and halve its energy use over the next five years – largely by changing employee behaviour. Can changes like […]

Why the psychology of perception is key to motivation

Can employees be engaged and motivated by reward systems they don’t actually perceive as rewarding? You don’t have to be a genius to work out the answer to that question. A new study from the CIPD contains some important insights into why rewards systems fail and how behavioural psychology can make them work. Perception is […]

Why resistance to change is not the enemy of employee engagement

Organisational change is unavoidable, but what enables people to support change, and what leads them to resist it? How do leaders and managers keep employees engaged during a change process? A principle from Gestalt psychology is crucial: don’t pathologize employee resistance. It’s all too easy to see resistance as the dragon that needs to be […]