Tag Archives: Jennifer George

Managing Workplace Interruptions

Edward Sykes

Edward Sykes

Most office workers spend an average of two hours a day doing unplanned tasks, according to Sheridan Institute’s Edward Sykes.
These work interruptions are associated with:

Unplanned tasks decrease productivity and are characterized by:

  • Intrusions – Unplanned interactions initiated by others: Synchronous communication including instant message, phone call, or a coworkers visiting to talk,
  • Distractions – Unplanned focus change from a task to environmental conditions like other conversations,
  • Breaks – Unscheduled task stoppage to rest, visit the restroom, have a meal,
  • Discrepancy Detection – Unplanned task stoppage to correct errors or redirect work effort toward a revised objective.

Unplanned workplace interruptions are increasingly prevalent due to rising incidence of:

  • Open and collaborative workspaces,
  • Technological interruptions,
  • Meetings.
Sheldon Cohen

Sheldon Cohen

Open space floor plans increase unplanned interruptions, perceived stress, and “cognitive fatigue,” due to greater noise levels and reduced privacy for employees.
These factors also reduce employees’ job satisfaction, found Carnegie Mellon’s Sheldon Cohen and E. M. De Croon and team of University of Amsterdam.

Julie Renneker

Julie Renneker

Synchronous communications are more disruptive than asynchronous communications, which allow response at a convenient time and mitigate the negative impact of task-shifting on cognitive load and stress level, noted University of Texas’s Julie Rennecker and Lindsey Godwin, now of Champlain College.

Greg Oldham

Greg Oldham

Strategies to mitigate the impact of work disruptions include time management and boundary setting, according to Tulane’s Greg Oldham, Carol Kulik of University of South Australia and Florida State University’s Lee Stepina.
 They suggested that employees:

Carol Kulik

Carol Kulik

-“Batch” communication to check email and returning phone calls at specified intervals,

-Block technology pop-ups, alerts, sounds to avoid startling interruptions,

James Tyler

James Tyler

-Organize tasks around energy peaks, with tasks requiring the most effort and concentration earlier in the workday and after a break, also advocated by Purdue’s James Tyler and Kathleen Burns of University of Wisconsin,

Kathleen Burns

Kathleen Burns

-Take active breaks, such as walking outside to breathe outdoor air,

John Aiello

John Aiello

-Schedule interruption-free intervals, to increase perceived control over interruptions and reduce stress, also cited by Duke’s Andrew Carton and John Aiello of Rutgers,

-Create “work-arounds” for open space floor plans by:
.Installing higher cubicle dividers,
.Providing noise-cancelling headphones,
.Offering white noise machines to reduce ambient notice,
.Designating reservable private work rooms for audio privacy,

-Reduce meeting frequency to focus on issues that require group discussion, consensus, commitment.

Quintus Jett

Quintus Jett

A counterpoint argument is that task interruptions provide benefits, proposed by Rutgers’s Quintus Jett, and Jennifer George of Rice University.
The argued that unplanned and planned interruptions :

  • Jennifer George

    Jennifer George

    Prevent widespread rework when employees alert colleagues to a work discrepancy or error,

  • Increase productivity during repetitive or well-learned tasks that may lead to boredom, errors, or lost task focus.

-*How do you reduce the negative impact of workplace interruptions?

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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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