Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Management Style

There are many types of management styles discussed throughout management literature. However, the majority of empirically supported research focuses on two dimensions of management people orientation verses task orientation. There are many names that have been used for these two dimensions including warmth, consideration and supporting. The people orientation aspect reflects the extent to which an individual is likely to have relationships with direct reports, peers and supervisors characterized by trust and respect. A high people orientation score would indicate a good relationship filled with two-way communication. Task or structure orientation reflects the extent to which an individual is likely to focus of the duties and tasks of employees, direct and tell others, plan ahead, schedule and criticize. A high score would indicate that employees would be results driven. Individual information about one’s management style can illustrate patterns and provide feedback at an early stage of management. This type of information has been proven useful in courses ranging from first-line supervisory training to executive development.

People orientation and task orientation are independent variables illustrating that an employee can be high or low on both axis. For example, an employee low on both would be submissive and passive aggressive while an employee high in both would be collaborative, coaching and results orientated.

Several studies have illustrated that mangers that are low in both consideration and structure are more likely to be bypassed by direct reports and may not be perceived as a functional manager (Fleishman, 1973). Mangers with high structure and low consideration are more likely to have greater turnover, dissatisfaction and stress among direct reports (Fleishman, 1973). However, research results indicate that managers high in consideration and high in structure do not have these adverse effects. Three of the four quadrants correlate significantly with positive aspects of job performance (ex. Low turnover, good attitudes, and low stress). However, low consideration/low structure did not show significant correlations with any positive outcomes.
Research has indicated that employees whom are people and task orientated are the strongest managers. Thau, Bennett, Mitchell and Marrs (2009) recently found that management style can change the strength and direction (i.e., moderate) of the relationship between abusive supervision and workplace deviance. Results illustrated that direct reports were more deviant when managers had a highly task orientated style and a low people orientation (Thau et al., 2009). Bass (1958, 1956) and Parker (1963) empirically illustrated that consideration was related to performance ratings (r = .32), attitudes toward supervision (r = .51) , and goal achievement (r = .24). Structure was significantly related to favorable attitudes toward supervision (r = .22) and errors (r = .23; Parker, 1963). It is evident that management style is predictive of followers behaviors and attitudes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborqne is a great book for executive teams to start working on an innovative strategic plan. The book discusses that blue oceans are organizational strategies that go beyond the current competition. Blue ocean strategies have identified what the customer really wants and gets rid of the fluff. Red Oceans are strategic plans that are just trying to survive. They focus on the keeping up with the competition but not finding innovative and creative ways to get ahead.
Key Questions to Ask Your Team
1. What factors can be eliminated that the industry has taken for granted?
2. What factors can be reduces well below the industry’s standard?
3. What factors can be raised well above the industry’s standard?
4. What factors can be created that the industry has never offered?

This is a good read for any executive! Pick it up today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Will-do vs. Can-do (self-efficacy)

Self-efficacy is defined as “the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals” (Bandura, 1982, p. 122). Self-efficacy has been linked to the length of time an individual will work on a task, how they will cope with issues and how much effort they will put toward the task (Bandura, 1986). Furthermore, self-efficacy has been related to work-performance measures such as adaptability (Hill, Smith & Mann, 1987), coping with career related events (Stumpf, Brief & Hartman, 1987), managerial idea generating (Gist, 1989), managerial performance (Wood, Bandurea & Bailey, 1990), and skill acquisition (Mitchell, Hopper, Daniels, George-Falvy, 1990). All of these relationships illustrate the importance of self-efficacy as a determinate of managerial performance and success. Stajkovic and Luthan’s (1998) meta-analysis empirically illustrates the strength of these relationships as r = .38 between self-efficacy and task related performance.

Managers with high self-efficacy can influence the work attitudes (i.e., commitment, job satisfaction) of their subordinates (Walumbwa et al., 2005). Recent empirical research has illustrated that efficacy beliefs are positively related to followers’ work-related attitudes (Walumbwa et al., 2005). Self-efficacy influences the strength and direction of the relationship between neuroticism, extroversion and conscientiousness with manager effectiveness (Ng, Ang, & Chan, 2008). More specifically, self-efficacy influences the neuroticism/conscientiousness relationship with effectiveness when managers had low job demands; and extraversion, regardless of a manager’s job demands (Ng, Ang, & Chan, 2008).

Finally, self-efficacy is one of the factors that can indicate if a skilled worker is prepared for occupational change. Workers with a high self-efficacy are more prepared for occupational change in different stages of transitions (i.e., prior to, during, and after; Schyns, 2004).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I just attended a seminar on Creating Writing Assignments. You may think…”What does this have to do with psychology in the workplace?” Well, it has a lot to do with psych in the workplace. Writing is a fundamental building block of creative thinking. The seminar discussed the differences between experienced writers and inexperienced writers.

More specifically we discussed why and how each of these groups writes. It was interesting to see just how different the two groups behavior and think. Here are some of our responses to the previously asked questions;

Why do you write? For fun, to convey information, to communication, to share knowledge, to express feelings, thoughts and emotions, to summarize information, to discover, to organize thoughts, to get better

How do you write? Outline, structures, process orientated, explosive, with others

What are the main differences between experts and amateur writers?

Inexperienced Writers: 1). Writing is a onetime process, 2). Revision is rewording, 3). Solitary activity, 4). Focus on rules, formula, correctness, 5). Prioritize style change/editing

Experienced Writers: 1). Writing is an evolving process, 2). Revision is rethinking, 3). Bounce ideas off others, 4). Focus on arguments, readers, dissonance, 5). Prioritize ideas and structure then stylistic concerns.

Tips for Engaging Writing
1). Process (break it down)
2). Feedback
3). Quantity
4). Pacing
5). Assign a lot of writing
6). Problem-based tasks
7). Authenticity

More broadly, this seminar made me think about writing in general and reading in general. It made me appreciate all of the articles and books I have read again and again to gain a deeper knowledge of them (this is in contradiction to most individuals one time through approach to reading), the feedback process, and the writing process. This seminar made my think about the importance of reading and writing and that we all should encourage more reading and writing at home, at school and in the office. Individuals, students and employees should be encouraged to read in their expertise area, write to communicate with others and expand their skills. Just think about what we could create and share if we all (but students more specifically) stopped striving to meet the bare minimum and strived to break through the ceiling.
Why do you write? What is your process?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Conflict Resolution

Whether it is in the workplace or at home conflict arises everywhere. Conflict is stressful and can cause employee burnout and decrease job satisfaction. Psychological Associates offers a crash course in overcoming conflict in this free webinar. Psychological Associates’ Working Through Conflict gives participants the insights and techniques needed to resolve disagreements without being disagreeable. They offer a one day workshop you can sign up for if you like the webinar. In this one-day workshop, attendees learn an effective process for dealing with the most persistent conflicts so that the people involved can address issues and explore resolutions they may not have thought possible.

I really enjoyed this webinar because it can be easily applied to many areas of work and life. Check it out, download the workbook and see how many conflicts you can overcome today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Comprehensive Exams

FYI I passed my comps! Now I am abd (all but dissertation).

Teaching in a New World

Anthropologist Michael Welsh visited Saint Louis University today to discuss teaching in the new world of technology. Welsh, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University utilizes blogs, chat rooms, viral video and online networking to foster exploration in his classes. Welsh is an eloquent speaker that excites his audience by showing funny and catchy you tube videos that push home his point. WE NEED TO GET STUDENTS ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS! Welsh stresses that students should not be asking "what is on the test?", but instead asking "what do I need to success in the future?"

Check out more on Welsh at

Friday, September 25, 2009

Leadership Development

Last week I attended an amazing leadership development program called Leadership Through People Skills. I a graduate student I really didn't think there was going to be must I could really learn from a bunch of consultants turning theory into practice but wow was I wrong. I learned a great deal about profiling peers, direct reports and bosses behavioral tendencies and them using different techniques to get them to work more effectively with me. All the of the information is based on Psychological Associates Dimensional Model of Management.

It was also an extraordinary networking opportunity because there were employees from all over the nation. My group alone was east coast, west coast and Midwest. I also could not believe that we could all get such great constructive feedback from team members after only working three days together. But again I was wrong. Participants were extremely open to participating and giving it all.

I would recommend this program to any employee looking to enhance their performance as a leader or just as peer.

Check it out at www.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Critical Issues for Corporate Board Rooms

This AOM session was conducted by some of the successful business authors and consultants of today including Jay Conger (Claremount McKenna College), Dan Dalton(Indiana University), Edward Lawler (USC) , Richard Leblanc (York University) and Michael Useem (Wharton).

The major issues included: 1). The separation of CEO and Chairman (usually they are the same person), 2). Selection of Directors, and 3). The evaluation of Directors.

1). There were conflicting views concerning the separation of CEO and Chairman. View A argued that the Chairman should be an outsider because they will be less conflicted and have an unbiased perspective when it comes to making decisions and setting compensation. This should be a genuine outsider not the former CEO or connected member of the community. Then the outside Chairman and current CEO should work closely to make decisions and guide the board of directors. View B argued that this separation will lead to a disconnect in thought and ideas. The outside Chairman would not be able to obtain a sufficient amount of information to adequately guide the board. Dan Dalton discussed this view and stated that there needs to be a unified front.

2). All agreed that there should be a list of all of the needed competencies for a board. That list of competencies should then be matched to the current directors. Competencies lacking directors representation should illustrate selection criteria for new directors. I thought this sounded all good and great until I talked with the current CEO of a international retail organization who told me that they did just that. According to best practices this should have produced the best and most effective board. However, it did not. The board is less effective because ever issue is argued upon. There future plans involved maintaining some diversity while reducing the total size of the board. This goes to show that best practices don’t always work in the real world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AOM Conference

While in Chicago I attended several symposiums, paper sessions and discussions concerning research and practice in organizations. Some of the sessions are not worth talking about because they were too uninteresting to even sit through (although I did).
Moral Self and Spiritual Attributes:

This session was extremely interesting because it focused on two major topics in today’s business world. First, the authors discussed ethical leadership and values orientated workers. With all of the current scandals taking place throughout our nation I found this extremely relevant. Denise Daniels from Seattle Pacific University presented empirical research examining why some people seem to find ethical tension in many situations while others don’t. She modified the criteria from Richard Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture” to examine how people viewed God in the real world. Her results illustrated that moral identity moderates the relationship between moral self and ethical sensitivity. So, if you view that the world is good and you experience good around you will be less sensitive to ethical issues than if you view the world as good but experience lots of ethical issues.

James Westerman of Appalachian State investigated if the type of God you believe in impacts the workplace. You could have a view that God is engaging and supporting or God is judging. The results illustrated that if you view God as engaging and supporting than you were more conscientious with your work and performed better than if you viewed God as judging. Further results illustrated that if you viewed God as benevolent you would have a low external locus of control and a view of an authoritarian God elicited the most unethical behavior among all views of God. I thought this was really interesting because we as Americans are always trying to be so politically correct and separate work from religion. This research empirically illustrates that we can’t separate the two and more importantly our views of God affects our work and our employees work.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surprises around every corner!

I had a great day interning today. The boss started me on a great project reviving and developing an additional product that they want to add to their tool box. One of the PhDs met with me to introduce the project. I had not met this PhD yet and it was great. Were we so engaged in idea generation and discussion that we caught ourselves in this meeting for 2 hours. Plus the surprise was that this man started working here sense I was born and when he laughed his mouth and sound reminded me of my grandma (God bless you soul). It was wonderful because he laughed a lot during our discussion and each time I was reminded of her. I think it is so surprising because I can’t even describe my grandmother’s laugh or smile or teeth but there I was seeing it in him. It immediately made me like everything he said.

So go forth and look for surprises in people and maybe you’ll surprise yourself in the processes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Peter Senge Speaks Out

The concepts of organizational learning and the “Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge was originally brought to many of our student’s attention when Dr. Edward Sabin first started integrating Senge’s popular psychology into the classroom. On earth day, Peter Senge himself visited the Saint Louis University campus to discuss the integration of organizational learning and environmental sustainability. Senge as well as other guest speakers presented numerous examples of the collaboration between student innovation, educators and businesses to produce tangible environmental solutions across the world. Educators, CEOs and students from the St. Louis area were in attendance to discuss new perspective and build new collaborations. This half day conference was just one example of science in action right here on our SLU campus.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comps II

YEAH!! I found some really great comps advice that I think is going to help.

Today went a little better with the constant studying.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Waking up each morning and reading is fun!? I have been studying for comps for 2 1/2 weeks now and it is not fun. I enjoy reviewing all the material but it is endless. I feel incredible amounts of guilt everytime I read a book for pleasure or go workout. It is difficult to just sit and read for hours and hours without feeling like there is no end in sight.

All that said I have finally put together my outline. I am trying to cover 1 or 2 topics each week. At least I am giving myself little goals to meet each week.

Does anyone have suggestions for making this experience more enjoyable?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Helping Others

Through the holidays I have had the opportunity to help others. Specifically young, homeless and pregnant women. It is remarkable that these women push through difficult struggles to give life to others. This experience started to make me think about how luck we are as psychologists to learn new information and educate others. All too often psychologists are driven by money (specifically in my field of IO psychology). Consultants often create a pop version of a theory. When we are driven by theory and exploration instead of money we often fail to make the theories applicable.

After I started thinking more and more about giving back I was given a book called the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. This book will change your life no matter what field you are in. The first half of the book is a little extreme but by the end of the book you will be able to see how YOU can give back and make a real difference in the world.

As psychologists we need to make theories more and more applicable to communities and more specifically communities that need our help. Application of theories should be made popular and available for those communities and individuals that can't afford consultants. We need to start to use the knowledge we acquire as students and dive into the communities that need us. We need to out our PhD labels aside and learn from the communities and individuals we are trying to help. More likely than not we will become the students.

If you are aware of any psychologists or organizations that are helping others with their psychology skills please let me know.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy New Years!