Center for Business, Industry & Labor
Birds, Employees, and Rewards
Recently, the world of behavioral science lost one of its most interesting and remarkable subjects. An African Grey parrot named Alex, who had learned to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, and quantities up to and including 6 died unexpectedly at the age of 31. Alex taught the scientific community a great deal about avian intelligence and sparked some heated debate regarding the concept of language. But, as important as any of this, the experiments with Alex taught us how to elicit appropriate behaviors.
Organizational success, in a large part, depends on its ability to elicit appropriate behaviors from employees on a regular basis. So, what can organizations learn about shaping the behavior of its employees from the incredible life of Alex the African Grey parrot? Plenty. Here are a few lessons from Alex that can help you develop an effective Employee Rewards Program:
One of the great lessons the science of psychology has taught us during its history is that although we seem much different from animals, we react and behave in a similar manner. If we are rewarded for a behavior, we tend to do it again. When we want to influence our dog’s behavior (to sit), we find ways to reinforce that behavior (doggie treats), just as when we want to influence our child’s behavior (make the bed), we find ways to reinforce that behavior (video game). So whether you are setting up an Employee Rewards Program, or teaching your bird to talk, you can benefit from the lessons learned from Alex the African Grey Parrot.
More info on Alex: click here
Emotional Intelligence at Work
most successful people in business are often some of the most intelligent,
well-educated and hard-working individuals in their respective fields.
However, studies indicate that in addition to these qualities, most of them
share a genial nature, resilient approach and an optimistic temperament.
Exactly what is Emotional Intelligence?
The term encompasses the following five characteristics and abilities:
People who lead in organizations need a high EQ because they are often the "face of the organization." How they react in interpersonal situations has an impact on how the organization is viewed. As an extreme example is the leader of a company that manufactures temporary housing who fails to recognize the emotional impact of a natural disaster may make a mistake in expressing his/her excitement at the business opportunities that arise from such an occurrence. In lower level leadership, EQ remains an important success factor due to the interactions first line supervisors have with employees on a daily basis. Having an ability to read the mood and level of interests of others and then being able to choose a course of action to lift and motivate them will almost always improve performance. Additionally, having the self-awareness to recognize and control emotional reactions combined with strong conflict resolution skills helps maintain a stable, appropriately focused working environment.
It is easy to see how EQ can impact performance as an individual contributor. Considering the increasing importance of teams in today's working world, it is obvious that any role that requires teamwork relies heavily on interpersonal insight and proficiency. Even the smartest, most experienced workers can have a negative impact on team performance if they fail to find ways to get along with others. In a more solitary role like sales, individuals still need to demonstrate high EQ to recognize how a potential customer is feeling. Success often depends on the ability to identify the customer's needs. The salesperson is constantly asking, "Is it time to push for a sale or would it be smarter to step back and continue to probe for concerns and build the relationship?" Even in the case of an assembly line worker in an industrial setting who may have little interpersonal contact, the benefits of high EQ can be easily demonstrated. Those better equipped to deal with frustration and pressure may be less likely to make mistakes or become injured through poor decision making.
Teaching Emotional Strength
Many organizations are beginning to realize the importance of EQ and have started to measure and build this important set of attributes. Because patterns of emotional intelligence are not fixed, it is possible to target and improve aspects of EQ through assessment and training. Many of the competencies that make up EQ are easily tapped through a number of personality assessments, allowing organizations to provide individuals with important developmental feedback that can be used to improve overall performance and leadership potential.
While traditional IQ is relatively fixed over time, with the proper motivation and tools, EQ can be developed and improved. Many organizations work to identify the aspects of EQ that are most essential to success. Once this is done, they are able to use formal assessment tools to identify strong candidates and to target areas for development. Working with an executive coach, for example, an individual who has trouble controlling anger can learn to identify the emotion more effectively and develop mechanisms that prevent counter-productive outbursts. An individual who has trouble demonstrating empathy can learn to build trust by learning active listening techniques and skill in appropriately expressing concern for others.
What Does It All Mean?
None of this is meant to minimize the importance of cognitive ability. If one lacks the cognitive ability to perform the necessary functions of a position, all of the emotional intelligence in the world will not make up for that deficiency. However, cognitive ability alone may not be enough to ensure success. Both research and the experiences of successful organizations continue to build the case that it may be at least as important for employers to consider the personality and emotional skills necessary for success in a given position, along with the necessary cognitive requirements.
The good news for both individuals and organizations is that EQ can be developed through coaching and training.
The Importance of Cultural Fit
When it comes to sizing up job candidates, cultural fit is just as important to consider as qualifications.
That's why hiring managers must use their heart and not just their head during the selection process. Your company should use insight to assess how the job candidate's character and personality -- not just skills -- will fit into the corporate culture.
People are your company's best, most important investment. This is especially true for executives and others in key positions that have the greatest potential to impact your bottom line.
Whether you need a senior-level executive or a department manager, you cannot afford to hire the wrong person. If you do, you could encounter a negative hiring experience, which can cost valuable time and money. Poor hiring situations can equate to lost production and business -- not to mention other tangible costs related to interviewing, placement fees, relocation, and training. Minimum figures for executive turnover are reportedly four to five times the annual salary.
By definition, corporate culture is "the act of developing intellectual and moral faculties, especially through education." But in a broader sense, it's "the moral, social, and behavioral norms of an organization based on the beliefs, attitudes, and priorities of its members."
Every organization has its own ideals, which are often based on the values of the founders or top management. At Atlanta-based Home Depot, for example, keeping all employees interested in the business is a top priority. All new employees -- even executives -- spend two weeks working on the sales floor, learning what customers want and need, and receiving a ground-zero view of the company's core business.
Your culture, for instance, might emphasize respecting others and working as a team. If that's the case, you should focus on hiring people who have demonstrated these characteristics in their previous work experiences.
How To Choose The Best Candidate For Your Culture
So exactly how do you determine if a prospect is the best match for your organization? Although some companies rely on culture and personality assessments, there's no scientific formula for hiring success. A positive employment experience requires a combination of background research, assessment and pure instinct.
First, you must clearly define, clarify and understand your company's core values. Review the ideals that are expressed in your organization's employee handbook, training sessions, marketing materials, and mission, vision, and goal statements. This will give you a "measuring stick" for weighing the behaviors required for success in your corporate culture with the prospective employee's character.
Next, thoroughly investigate the job candidate's work performance and relationships from previous positions to ensure you have an accurate sense of his or her personality. Then simply factor in experience, education and other important considerations to determine which candidate best fits the position and your culture.
Article Content from: 123-Character-education.com
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