Category Archives: Change Management

Change Management

“Emotional Contagion” in the Workplace through Social Observation, Social Media

Emotions can be “contagious” between individuals, and can affect work group dynamics.

Douglas Pugh

Douglas Pugh

Emotional contagion is characterized by replicating emotions displayed by others.
Contagion differs from empathy, which enables understanding another’s emotional experience without actually experiencing it, according to Virginia Commonwealth University’s S. Douglas Pugh.

Adam D I Kramer

Adam D I Kramer

“Viral emotions” can be transmitted through social media platforms without observing nonverbal cues, according to Facebook’s Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guillory of University of California, San Francisco and Cornell University’s Jeffrey T. Hancock.
This suggests that social media can have a significant impact on workplace interpersonal relations and productivity.

Jeffrey Hancock

Jeffrey Hancock

Kramer’s team found that when positive emotional expressions in Facebook News Feeds were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts.
In contrast, when negative emotional expressions were reduced, people reduced negative posts, indicating that others’ emotional expressions influence bystanders’ emotions and behaviors.

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade

People in performance situations are influenced by observing others’ emotions.   
When participants observed positive emotions in a decision task, they were more likely to cooperate and perform better in groups, found Wharton’s  Sigal Barsade.

Individuals who were more influenced by others’ emotions on R. William Doherty’s Emotional Contagion Scale also reported greater:

  • Reactivity,
  • Emotionality,
  • Sensitivity to others,
  • Social functioning,
  • Self-esteem,
  • Emotional empathy.

They also reported lower:

  • Alienation,
  • Self-assertiveness,
  • Emotional stability.
Stanley Schachter

Stanley Schachter

People are more likely to be influenced by others’ emotions when they feel threatened, because this elicits increased affiliation with others, according to Stanley Schachter‘s emotional similarity hypothesis.

Brooks B Gump

Brooks B Gump

Likewise, when people believe that others are threatened, they are more likely to mimic others’ emotions, found Syracuse University’s Brooks B. Gump and James A. Kulik of University of California, San Diego.

Elaine Hatfield

Elaine Hatfield

Women reported greater contagion of both positive and negative emotions on Doherty’s Emotional Contagion Scale.
Observers also rated these women as experiencing greater emotional contagion than men in research by Doherty with University of Hawaii colleagues Lisa Orimoto, Elaine Hatfield, Janine Hebb, and Theodore M. Singelis of California State University-Chico.

James Laird

James Laird

People who are more likely to “catch” emotions from other are also more likely to actually feel emotions associated with facial expressions they adopt, reported Clark University’s James D. Laird, Tammy Alibozak, Dava Davainis, Katherine Deignan, Katherine Fontanella, Jennifer Hong, Brett Levy, and Christine Pacheco.
This finding suggests that those with greater susceptibility to emotional contagion are convincing actors – to themselves and others.

Christopher K. Hsee

Christopher K. Hsee

Contrary to expectation, people with greater power notice and adopt emotions of people with less power, found University of Hawaii’s Christopher K. Hsee, Hatfield, and John G. Carlson with Claude Chemtob of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Participants assumed the role of “teacher” or “learner” to simulate role-based power differentials, then viewed a videotape of a fictitious participant discussing an emotional experience.
Volunteers then described their emotions as they watched the confederate describe a “happiest” and “saddest” life event.
People in higher power roles were more attuned to followers’ emotions than previously anticipated.

The service industry capitalizes on emotional contagion by training staff members to model positive emotions, intended to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

James Kulik

James Kulik

However, customer satisfaction measures were more influenced by service quality than employees’ positive emotion, according to Bowling Green State’s Patricia B. Barger and Alicia A. Grandey of Pennsylvania State University.

Emotions can positively or negatively resonate through work organizations with measurable impact on measures of employee attitude, morale, engagement, customer service, safety, and innovation.

-*How do you intentionally model and convey emotions to individuals and group members?
-*What strategies do you use to manage susceptibility to “emotional contagion”?

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Costs of Workplace Incivility

Christine Pearson

A single incident of incivility in the workplace can result in significant operational costs, reported Christine Pearson of Thunderbird School of Global Management and Christine Porath of Georgetown University.
They cited consequences including:

  • Intentional decrease in work effort due to disengagement,

    Christine Porath

    Christine Porath

  • Intentional decrease time at work to reduce contact with perpetrator,
  • Lost work time due to worrying about the incident,
  • Lost work productivity due to avoiding the perpetrator,
  • Reduced commitment to the organization after the incident,
  • Attrition.

Less tangible organizational symptoms include:

  • Increased consumer complaints,
  • Cultural and communications barriers,
  • Lack of confidence in leadership,
  • Inability to adapt effectively to change,
  • Lack of individual accountability.

Workplace incivility behaviors are typically “rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others,” noted Pearson and Lynne Andersson, then of St. Joseph’s University.
Specific behaviors deemed “uncivil”, acceptable, and violent were enumerated in The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study by Johns Hopkins’ P.M. Forni and Daniel L. Buccino with David Stevens and Treva Stack of University of Baltimore.

 P.M. Forni

P.M. Forni

Respondents agreed that unacceptable, “uncivil” behaviors include:

      • Refusing to collaborate on a team project,
      • Shifting blame for an error to a co-worker,
      • Reading another’s mail,
      • Neglecting to say “please,” “thank you”,
      • Taking a co-worker’s food from the office refrigerator without asking.

Respondents classified the following unacceptable behaviors as “violent”:

  • Pushing a co-worker during an argument,
  • Yelling at a co-worker,
  • Firing a subordinate during a disagreement,
  • Criticizing a subordinate in public,
  • Using foul language in the workplace.

Gary Namie

Workplace bullying was also included in the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying  report by Gary Namie.
He defined bullying as “the deliberate repeated, hurtful verbal mistreatment of a person (target) by a cruel perpetrator (bully).

His survey of more than 1300 respondents found that:

  • More than one-third of respondents observed bullying in the previous two years,
  • More than 80% of perpetrators were workplace supervisors,
  • Women bullied as frequently as men,
  • Women were targets of bullying 75% of the time,
  • Few bullies were punished, transferred, or terminated from jobs.

Quantifiable costs of health-related symptoms experienced by bullying targets included:

  • Depression,
  • Sleep loss, anxiety, inability to concentrate, which reduced work productivity,
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among 31% of women and 21% of men,
  • Frequent rumination about past bullying, leading to inattention, poor concentration, and reduced productivity.

Choosing Civility
Widespread prevalence of workplace incivility was noted by Forni, who offered specific suggestions to improve workplace interactions and inclusion:

  • Assume that others have positive intentions,
  • Pay attention, listen,
  • Be agreeable, inclusive,
  • Speak kindly, avoid complaints,
  • Acknowledge others, accept and give praise,
  • Respect others’ opinions, time, space, indirect refusals,
  • Embrace silence, avoid personal questions, be selective in asking for favors,
  • Apologize earnestly,
  • Assert yourself, provide criticism constructively,
  • Respect others by attending to grooming, health, environment,
  • Accept responsibility and blame, if deserved.

More than 95% of respondents in The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study suggested an aspirational and sometimes challenging intervention: “Keep stress and fatigue at manageable levels.”

Structural and process change recommendations include:

  • Instituting a grievance process to investigate and address complaints of incivility,
  • Selecting prospective employees with effective interpersonal skills,
  • Clear, written policy on interpersonal conduct,
  • Adopting flexibility in scheduling, assignments, and work-life issues.

-*How do you handle workplace incivility when you observe or experience it?

©Kathryn Welds

Career “Planning” = Career “Improvisation”

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Planning is most suited to relatively certain circumstances in which processes and decisions are typically linear, argued Stanford’s Kathleen Eisenhardt and Behnam Tabrizi in their analysis of global computer product innovation.

In contrast, frequently-changing or uncertain conditions with many iterative modifications require improvisation coupled with frequent testing.

Behnam Tabrizi

In “VUCA world,” described by the U.S. Army War College as volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous environments, current career “planning” occurs under rapidly-shifting conditions more appropriate for an agile strategy.
As a result, it is increasingly difficult to meaningfully respond to the frequently-asked interview question: “What are your career plans for the next five years?

Iterative exploration, rapid prototyping/experimentation, and testing characteristic of agile development and design thinking are more suited for rapid changes in economic, political, and technology changes that affect known career paths.

Alison Maitland

University of London’s Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson forecast Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive In the New World of Work,
and related books by Deloitte’s Cathy BenkoMolly Anderson, with Anne Weisberg of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP considerThe Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Workand Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace with Today’s Nontraditional Workforce.

-*When have you found it more useful to “improvise” instead of “plan” your career?
-*What are the benefits and drawbacks of career “improvisation”?

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Consequences of “Facades of Conformity”

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Employees, especially minority group members, adopt Façades of conformity (FOC) when they “act as if” they embrace an organization’s values to remain employed or to succeed in that organization, found Georgetown University’s Patricia Hewlin.

Facades of Conformity can lead to employees developing “rationalizations” that enable them to carry out distasteful or even assignments, found University of Alberta’s Flora Stormer and Kay Devine of Athabasca University.

Jerome Kerviel

Jerome Kerviel

This may explain Jerome Kerviels experience at Societe General.
He was branded as a “rogue trader,” though he seemed not to personally benefit from unauthorized trades.

He and others explained his motivation to please his managers and to earn a bonus based on his trades, in the context of his “outsider status” as someone who had not attended elite universities and was not considered a “star.”

-*In what organizational contexts have you observed “Facades of Conformity” and their consequences?

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Managerial Gender Bias in Granting Flex Time, Backlash Against Men Flex-Time Seekers

Managers hold gender biases in granting flex time requests, and most employees inaccurately anticipate managers’ likelihood of approving these proposals, found Yale’s Victoria Brescoll with Jennifer Glass of University of Texas-Austin and Harvard’s Alexandra Sedlovskaya.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Men across job levels were more likely than women to receive flex time to pursue career advancement or to address family issues, found their survey of 76 managers.

Jennifer Glass

Jennifer Glass

Men in high-status jobs were more likely receive approval for career development, and men in low-level jobs tended to get flex time for family issues.
Both groups were more likely than women to receive requested work schedule accommodations.

Women in low-status jobs with childcare requirements were among the least likely to receive accommodations from their managers.
In addition, all employees tended to overestimate the likelihood of receiving a flexible work schedule and underestimate “backlash” after the request.

Women in high-status jobs requesting flextime for career advancement were most likely to expect their requests would be granted, yet they had a lower approval rate than men in high-status jobs.
Conversely, these schedule-accommodated men were least likely to believe they would receive flextime for career development reasons, yet they often received approval.

Brescoll suggested that men in high-status positions who are granted flex time to pursue career development achieve more rapid career advancement.
In contrast, women in high-status roles who request flex time for the same purpose may “…be suspected of hiding the true reason for their request, or they may be viewed as less deserving of further training because it’s assumed that they’ll leave their jobs in the future.”

Women in the workplace encounter a “gendered wall of resistance” (schedule accommodation denials due to gender), whereas men face “status-specific resistance” (objections based on reason for flex time request), according to Brescoll.

Employees’ lack of awareness of managerial bias in granting flextime coupled with realistic concern about negative consequences of workplace accommodation requests can lead to lower productivity, unnecessary turnover and persistent social problems like child poverty and lack of upward mobility for low-wage workers.

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

In fact, volunteers attributed more “feminine” traits (weakness, uncertainty) and fewer “masculine” traits (competitiveness, ambition) to male leave requestors, found Laurie Rudman and Kris Mescher of Rutgers University.

Kris Mescher

Kris Mescher

Rudman and Mescher asked volunteers of both genders and diverse ethnic backgrounds to evaluate fictional vignettes concerning men who requested a 12-week family leave to care for a sick child or an ailing mother.

Participants attributed poor organizational citizenship (“bad worker stigma”) to men who requested family leave and recommended organizational penalties (e.g., demotion, layoff, ineligibility for bonus) for them.

When men were viewed with the “feminine stigma” of “weakness” and other traditionally-feminine characteristics, they were more likely to incur organizational penalties.

Joseph Vandello

Joseph Vandello

Jennifer Bosson

Jennifer Bosson

The impact of these stigmas on men seeking flexible work arrangements was confirmed in related research by University of South Florida’s Joseph Vandello, Vanessa Hettinger, Jennifer  Bosson, and Jasmine Siddiqi.

Their experimental study found that volunteers assigned lower job evaluations, less masculine and more feminine traits to employees who requested flex time than those with traditional work arrangements.

Jasmine Siddiqi

Jasmine Siddiqi

However, evaluators judged requestors as “warmer” and more “moral,” suggesting that flexibility-seeking employees may be more well-liked and judged as a desirable work colleague.

-*How do you counteract implicit biases in approving workplace flexibility arrangements?

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Recalling Supportive Relationships Can Reduce Dislike of Outsiders

Animosity toward perceived outsiders remains a powerful driver of political attitudes and aggressive behavior toward out-groups, even in diverse societies.

Muniba Saleem

Muniba Saleem

However, intergroup discord can be reduced by recalling times of connection to supportive others, found University of Michigan’s Muniba Saleem collaborating with Sara Prot, Ben C. P. Lam and Craig A. Anderson of Iowa State, plus Harvard’s Mina Cikara and Margareta Jelic University of Zagreb.

John Bowlby

John Bowlby

Their study is based on observations by John Bowlby of London’s Child Guidance clinic and his protégée, University of Virginia’s Mary Ainsworth, that healthy social and emotional functioning depends on healthy attachment to at least one reliably supportive person in childhood.

Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth

Saleem’s team confirmed that evoking early positive memories of attachment can modify aggressive thoughts and behaviors based on fear and insecurity, particularly among those strongly identified with their in-group.

Muzafer Sherif

Muzafer Sherif

This approach proved more effective than earlier prejudice-reduction techniques requiring different groups to work together on shared goals such as in Muzafer Sherif’s Robber’s Cave experiment with University of Oklahoma colleagues O. J. Harvey, B. Jack White, William R. Hood, and Carolyn W. Sherif.
Saleem’s intervention produced more robust attitude change because it  reduced fear that can lead to aggression.

Muzafer Sherif - Robber's Cave

Team Tasks at Robber’s Cave

In Team Saleem’s experiments, more than 275 people from University of Michigan had the opportunity to undermine counterparts from a rival school, Ohio State, with no negative personal consequences.

Sara Prot

Sara Prot

Participants completed surveys of their propensity for attachment anxiety and avoidance of close relationships.
Then, half described someone “who loves and accepts you in times of need” while the remaining volunteers described a person “who lives in your neighborhood, but you do not know well.”

Craig Anderson

Craig Anderson

Next, University of Michigan participants assigned 11 puzzles of varying difficulty to an Ohio State student, who could win a $25 gift card by completing all the puzzles within 10 minutes.
University of Michigan volunteers could reduce the likelihood of the OSU student winning the gift card by assigning more challenging puzzles.

Mina Cikara

Mina Cikara

Those who strongly identified with University of Michigan and who were primed to think about the close, loving personal relationship were significantly less likely to assign difficult puzzles.
This result suggests that the positive emotional memory reduced the impulse to undermine a rival’s positive outcome even with a strong in-group preference.

In a related study, more than 260 Americans recalled one of several situations:

  • Someone close was available, supportive, and loving,
  • Typical, uneventful workday,”
  • When you accomplished a meaningful goal.”
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Saleem’s team tested related scenarios closer to current geo-political concerns:  Volunteers in the US reported their reactions to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Their descriptions included “angry,” “disgusted,” and “fearful.”

Finally, participants indicated their degree of support for “militaristic and aggressive policies intended to counter terrorism,” such as “I think it is OK to bomb an entire country if it is known to harbor ISIS terrorists.”

Gordon Moskowitz

Gordon Moskowitz

Volunteers prompted to recall a secure attachment were less likely to support military and aggressive measures against ISIS members and demonstrated significantly reduced negative stereotypes and negative emotions.

This effect was not due to increase positive mood because participants who recalled the positive experience of accomplishing an important goal responded significantly more aggressively.

Irmak Olcaysoy Okten

Irmak Olcaysoy Okten

Though promising, the impact of this work may be limited to those who have the advantage of experiencing close, secure relationships.
People who have missed these experiences are more likely to express prejudice, lack of remorse for aggression toward others.
In addition, cross-school rivalry and fears of terrorists are at least partially condoned, whereas racial and cultural prejudices are socially unacceptable to many.

As a result of social disapproval, some prejudices becomes implicit or unconscious.
They can be detected only through indirect measures such as the Implicit Association Test, and more recently, by evidence of biased time perception accompanying racial prejudice.

Cynthia Gooch

Cynthia Gooch

For example, White people who were concerned about appearing racially prejudiced were asked to judge the length of time they viewed faces of White men and Black men.
These White volunteers thought that time passed 10% more slowly than measured by clock time: They reported viewing faces of Black men for longer than they actually had, found Lehigh University’s Gordon B. Moskowitz and Irmak Olcaysoy Okten with Cynthia M. Gooch of Temple University.

Perceptual bias about time is also relevant to high stakes situations including perceived duration of job interviews for candidates of a different race than the interviewer, and physicians’ perception of the length of medical encounters.

This intergroup perceptual bias also can have significant consequences when white police officers’ estimate the duration of an encounter with a suspect of another race, and when they determine lethal force should be initiated.

First Person Shooter Task

First Person Shooter Task

This research reinforces the importance of early and later supportive relationships in reducing bias, subtle undermining, and over aggression toward other groups

-*How do you reduce prejudice and aggression across work teams?

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Managing Collective Emotions Affects Leader Reputation, Impact

Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon

People in groups and crowds demonstrate collective affect, according to Gustave Le Bon, who asserted that individuals in these contexts collectively act with “impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of sentiments…” even if these are not their usual individual behaviors.

Adolph Hitler

Adolph Hitler

Well before the rise of charismatic leader Adolph Hitler, Le Bon claimed that “…an individual immersed for some length of time in a crowd soon finds himself…. in a special state, which much resembles the state of fascination in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer.

One way to evaluate individual and collective affect is through facial expressions because they provide information about how others understand people and events.
As a result, these non-verbal cues enable people to tailor responses to individuals and groups they encounter.

Peter Salovey

Peter Salovey

Tailoring interaction style based on observing others is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, described by Yale’s Peter Salovey and Daisy Grewal as accurately perceiving others’ emotional states and effectively responding with emotionally-charged interpersonal situations.

Daisy Grewal

Daisy Grewal

This is also an essential leadership skill because it enables awareness of sentiments that may be out of others’ awareness or that they may consciously try to suppress to align with prevailing organizational cultures — particularly those that do not encourage emotional awareness and expression.

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Consequently, accurate perception of others’ emotions is related to effectively managing interpersonal relationships according to University of California, Berkeley’s Hillary Elfenbein and to subordinates’ ratings of managers as transformational leaders in research by Depaul University’s Robert S. Rubin, David C. Munz of Saint Louis University and Cleveland State University’s William H. Bommer.

However, accurate perception of group sentiment is difficult because many people narrow attention to a few individuals and to focus in detail on them, leading to perceptual bias of collective “tunnel vision.”

Takahiko Masuda

Takahiko Masuda

As a result, much information in social context, including the group’s prevailing emotional tone, may be filtered out, noted University of Alberta’s Takahiko Masuda, Phoebe C. Ellsworth of University of Michigan, Wake Forest University’s Batja Mesquita, Janxin Leu of University of Washington, Hokkaido University’s Shigehito Tanida, and Ellen Van de Veerdonk of University of Amsterdam.

Executives and leaders must decode and attend to collective emotions because they often cannot develop individual relationships with each of their many stakeholders and when addressing group emotions including:

Phoebe Ellsworth

Phoebe Ellsworth

  • Employees’ collective anxiety about corporate restructuring, mergers, divestitures, and reductions in force,
  • Consumers’ collective anger,
  • Board of Directors members’ lack of support.
Jennifer George

Jennifer George

Positive collective emotions tend to be over-estimated, and linked to greater customer service and lower absenteeism, reported Texas A & M’s Jennifer George.
In contrast, negative collective emotions like envy are easily under-estimated, and associated with lower group performance and satisfaction by reducing group potency and cohesion in research by University of Kentucky’s Michelle Duffy and Jason Shaw.

Michelle Duffy

Michelle Duffy

A leader’s ability to respond effectively to patterns of shared emotions during strategic organizational change and other emotionally turbulent organizational processes depends on the leader’s ability to widen the “emotional aperture.”

Emotional Aperture 1Like a camera’s aperture adjustment for increased depth of field, emotional aperture refers to ability to recognize the mix of positive and negative emotional experiences in a team, workgroup or business unit.

This “setting change” can bring into focus both nearby individuals and more distantly scattered groups of people.
Likewise, adjusting the emotional aperture involves moving an information-processing focus from individual emotional experiences to a group’s collective emotional composition.

David Matsumoto

David Matsumoto

Although ability to recognize individual emotional expression has been measured by instruments like the Brief Affect Recognition Testthis tool doesn’t evaluate perception and recognition of collective affect.

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burkes

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burkes

To address this limitationUniversity of Michigan’s Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Caroline A. Bartel of University of Texas collaborating with Vanderbilt University’s Laura Rees and Quy Huy of INSEAD developed an Emotional Aperture Measure (EAM).

EAM analyzes a person’s ability to accurately perceive a group’s collective emotions in short video clips of employee groups before and after an organizational event.
Next, participants estimate the proportion of rapid individual positive and negative reactions among group members.
Feedback from this instrument can increase perceiver accuracy through heightened awareness.

Caroline Bartel

Caroline Bartel

Sanchez-Burks contacted direct reports of a global sample of high-ranking managers and requested online evaluations of the manager’s leadership performance.
Three studies demonstrated that collective affect recognition requires a distinct information processing style, differing from perceiving individual emotion.

Laura Rees

Laura Rees

Managers’ EAM performance was significantly correlated with direct reports’ perception of managers’ “transformational leadership” behaviors, suggesting that this ability to accurately perceive group emotion can significantly influence stakeholder impressions and opinions.

People can open their emotional aperture through attention to collective emotions, and may influence prevailing negative group affect by asking the positive minority to share optimistic sentiments with the skeptical majority.
This dialog can increase trust and shared perspectives that may move negative sentiment to become more positive.

Quy Huy

Quy Huy

Leaders who increase the range of their “emotional aperture” can increase followers’ alignment with strategic direction to increase the likelihood to effective execution and change impact.

Try the Emotional Aperture Measure to see your results.Emotional Aperture Measure

-*How do you read the “emotional tone” of a group?

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