Managers Aren’t Doing Enough to Train Employees for the Future

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As topics like automation, artificial intelligence, and skills retraining dominate conversations about the future of work, some predict catastrophic job loss and a dystopian future where legions of unskilled workers languish unemployable in the margins. Others, like O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly, aren’t so pessimistic. They remind us that we’ve been here before and that, rather than simply increasing efficiency and cutting costs, emerging technologies can be used to augment our work and raise the quality of life for the population as a whole.

Regardless of which view prevails, navigating this terrain requires a workforce that can adapt to changing environments and acquire the skills necessary to be successful in the future. And that’s where we are falling short. In the surveys of the U.S. workforce that we conduct at the American Psychological Association, training and development consistently emerges as one of the areas employees are least satisfied with and lack of opportunity for growth, and advancement is second only to low pay

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The Common Traps of Working in Your Family’s Business

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“What’s wrong — is the company going bankrupt? Are we being sold?”

For Charlie, who had joined his family’s bakery business two years after getting his MBA and earning his stripes at another company, this question from the plant manager came out of the blue.

He was eager to earn his colleagues’ respect, rather than relying on his family name to provide it. So he went to great lengths to be just “one of the gang” in every possible way. This included parking in the back of the building and walking through the production plant, rather than zipping into the reserved space he’d been provided near the executive offices in the front. Most days he would stop and chat on his walk through the factory, getting to know his colleagues and learning more about the operations. But one day, after his morning walkthrough, the plant manager

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To Build Connection on Your Team, Skip Icebreakers and Talk About Photography

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Imagine looking at a photo of a single shoe on the sidewalk, or two people embracing, or a person walking alone into a cemetery. All these images instantly ignite emotions and associations — without a written or spoken word. And because the reaction is physiological, it happens in seconds.

As a facilitator, I’ve found that photos can create connections between people faster — and more profoundly — than any other icebreaker or team-building activity I’ve ever used. And because the response photos evoke is natural, leaders with no facilitation experience can use photos to turn many team interactions into an opportunity to create connection and accelerate collaboration.

Why does a photo create a feeling of connection? Thank biology. And hormones.

Human communication has existed for more than 30,000 years, but written communication has been around for only 3,700. As a result, our brains had a lot of

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Sex, Power, and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein

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When I first heard accounts of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior, my mind devised punishments fitting for Renaissance Europe or the film A Clockwork Orange: Cover his face with a shame mask widely used centuries ago in Germany; shock his frontal lobes so that he’d start empathizing with the women he’s preyed on. When we learn of injustice, it’s only human to focus on how to eliminate or punish the person responsible.

But my research into the social psychology of power suggests that — without exculpating corrupt individuals — we also need to take a hard look at the social systems in which they commit their abuses.

For 25 years, I and other social scientists have documented how feeling powerful can change how ordinary citizens behave — what might be called the banality of the abuses of power. In experiments in which one group of people is randomly assigned to a condition of

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Sex, Power, and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein

oct17-13-E013700-Stockbyte
Stockbyte/Getty Images

When I first heard accounts of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior, my mind devised punishments fitting for Renaissance Europe or the film A Clockwork Orange: Cover his face with a shame mask widely used centuries ago in Germany; shock his frontal lobes so that he’d start empathizing with the women he’s preyed on. When we learn of injustice, it’s only human to focus on how to eliminate or punish the person responsible.

But my research into the social psychology of power suggests that — without exculpating corrupt individuals — we also need to take a hard look at the social systems in which they commit their abuses.

For 25 years, I and other social scientists have documented how feeling powerful can change how ordinary citizens behave — what might be called the banality of the abuses of power. In experiments in which one group of people is randomly assigned to a condition of

Continue reading "Sex, Power, and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein"

When Employees Think the Boss Is Unfair, They’re More Likely to Disengage and Leave

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Corporate America is spending enormous sums of money on unconscious bias awareness training. But there’s little evidence that these training programs succeed in reducing bias — perhaps because there’s little evidence that unconscious bias correlates with actual biased behavior. And despite the “boom” in bias awareness, women and minorities remain underrepresented in management, especially compared to their educational accomplishments. It’s impossible to know when managers act on unconscious biases. But it is possible to ascertain when an individual perceives bias against them. In gathering research for our report Disrupt Bias, Drive Value, we decided to take a different approach to studying bias. Rather than looking at managers’ actions, we focused our attention on the employees — particularly, their experiences. When examining employee experience, perception is reality. Managers and supervisors make spot judgments about their direct reports every day, and employees sense whether those decisions are unfair. “People pick up
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