Archive for October, 2011

Motivation-Key to Success

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behavior. It causes us to act whether it is getting a glass of water to quench thirst or reading a book to acquire knowledge.
Huczynski defined motivation from 3 perspectives: in terms of the goals towards which human behavior is directed, as the process through which goals are pursued and achieved, and the social factors involved.
Motivation may be extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation arises from outside of an individual and involves rewards such as trophy, money , praise. Intrinsic motivations arise from within the individual such as solving crossword puzzle purely for personal gratification of solving a problem.
Depending upon the nature of work organization should understand the type of motivation employee is looking for and accordingly motivate to bring out the best of an individual.
Organizations where working hours are long should concentrate on accurate timing and zero absenteeism. People coming on time, people present on all working days should be rewarded. This motivates people to be more dedicated to their work place.
Call Centres where employee has to be patient even while handling irate customers should be rewarded based on quality of call taken by them whether there was customer orientation, query resolution and sympathy towards the customer. Thus employees are motivated towards bringing out the very best out of them.
But in some other cases like print media, where creativity and innovation goes hand in hand most employee wants appreciation for hard work in order to be highly motivated. Here personal rewards hardly makes any difference. Appreciation for hard work motivates them to bring out their creative potential.
Thus identifying the right type of motivation employee is looking for helps bringing out the best from each individual and creates a sense of belonging towards the company among themselves.


Cognitive Dissonance

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflict with another or previously held belief? It can lead to confirmation bias, the denial of disconfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.

‘Cognitive Dissonance’ is the term used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs or feelings or ideas simultaneously. Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

Dissonance normally occurs:

when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions
• when one idea implies the opposite of another
• when there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors

The “ideas” or “cognitions” in question may include attitudes and beliefs, the awareness of one’s behavior, and facts. Now something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.

When people’s ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of harmony, or consonance. If cognitions are unrelated, they are categorized as irrelevant to each other and do not lead to dissonance.

But a powerful cause of dissonance is an idea in conflict with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as “I am a good person” or “I made the right decision.” The anxiety that comes with the possibility of having made a bad decision can lead to rationalization, the tendency to create additional reasons or justifications to support one’s choices.

A person who just spent too much money on a new car might decide that the new vehicle is much less likely to break down than his or her old car. This belief may or may not be true, but it would likely reduce dissonance and make the person feel better.

In the following diagrams we see arousal of dissonance and how an individual channelises one’s thought / behaviour.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Thus the theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This plays a role in many value judgments, decisions and evaluations. Becoming aware of how conflicting beliefs impact the decision-making process is a great way to improve your ability to make faster and more accurate choices.

Cognitive dissonance can occur in many areas of life, but it is particularly evident in situations where an individual’s behaviour conflicts with beliefs that are integral to his or her self-identity.

Dissonance increases with:

The importance of the subject to us.
• How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
• Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts.

To release the tension we can take one of three actions:

Change our behavior.
• Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
• Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

For example, consider a situation in which a woman who values financial security is in a relationship with a man who is financially irresponsible.
The conflict:
• It is important for her to be financially secure.
• She is dating a man who is financially unstable.
In order to reduce this dissonance between belief and behavior, she can either leave the relationship or reduce her emphasis on financial security. In the case of the second option, dissonance could be further minimized by emphasizing the positive qualities of her significant other rather than focusing on his perceived flaws.
Again, a belief in animal rights could be interpreted as inconsistent with eating meat or wearing fur.

Noticing the contradiction would lead to dissonance, which could be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states.

Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our self-image. Feelings of foolishness, immorality and so on (including internal projections during decision-making) are dissonance in action.

If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs. If beliefs are moved, then the dissonance appears during decision-making, forcing us to take actions we would not have taken before.

There are three key strategies to reduce or minimize cognitive dissonance:
Focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant belief or behavior.
• Reduce the importance of the conflicting belief.
• Change the conflicting belief so that it is consistent with other beliefs or behaviors.

To conclude Cognitive dissonance appears in virtually all evaluations and decisions and is the central mechanism by which we experience new differences in the world. When we see other people behave differently to our images of them, when we hold any conflicting thoughts, we experience dissonance which increases with the importance and impact of the decision, along with the difficulty of reversing it.


Employee Retention: Management Tricks

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Employee Retention plays a key role in any organization. It is the responsibility of the concerned management team and the HR manager to take adequate steps to retain their most valued employees for the long term success and future prospect of business gains. It forms a critical and important part in any organization. This is mainly done to ensure the consistent growth in product sales figures, effective and its proper implementation along with organizational knowledge. To give result to all these, first and foremost thing that one needs to do is to identify the problem areas and figure out the right potential in the deserving candidate thereby sorting out the non-deserving ones. It is really a matter to worry about for most organizations as they do not know how to retain their best employees who can offer you satisfactory job results.

Tips On How To Retain The Best Employees In An Organization

1. The first thing that one needs to do in the process of employee retention is the screening or the selection of the right candidate on the basis of great working attitude, professional competency, skill and experience required for the profile he has been selected for. He should be a person with a positive bent of mind, willing to perform and go that extra bit to take up professional challenges.

2. Attractive and competitive salary package along with other lucrative benefits as per industry standards, life insurance, provident fund and flexible work hours will motivate and promote the employee in working harder to give his best to the organization.

3. Yearly appraisal or monthly performance bonus plays a very important role retaining an employee in organization. It acts as a gesture of appreciation or way of rewarding an employee on the basis of performance. It not only helps in increasing the productivity of an employee and retaining at the same time.

4. Providing equal opportunities to all employees without being biased or partial to any particular employee as a whole. Promote a healthy working environment which supports the sharing of knowledge through various training programs, presentations, assigning responsibilities related to team assignment. This is to allow an employee to indulge more in the work procedure and feel more responsible towards the organization he has been working for. This will indirectly help in retaining an employee.

5. Giving value to the employees who work for your organization and respecting their ideas and concept forms an important part of employee retention technique.

6. Make sure that the employees do not get bored at workplace and there are enough provisions for fun activities for refreshing their minds and thereby increasing the productivity level to the maximum to retain their interest in work. This will help in keeping an employee in an organization.

7. Scope to bring out that creative skill and talent in an individual is also a deciding factor in this regard.

8. Provision for future studies while working in the organization itself can not only help in adding value to the self growth of an individual but also further help in retaining an employee.

9. Allowing the employee to strike the right balance between professional work and personal life.

10. Giving recognition to an individual’s performance, celebrating the success and other organizational traditions are the other ways and tips that work in favor of Employee Retention in an organization.

Prarthana Majumdar

Eyes Wide Shut

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Interesting article from Economic Times – Useful in theories related to Communication and Human Behaviour.

Anthropologists say two adults never look at each other directly for more than three seconds – unless they’re about to fight or have sex. (Actually, they put it more memorably by using alliteration.) Perhaps that’s an oversimplification but, generally, grownups are unable to hold a mutual gaze except fleetingly because their upbringing and culture frowns on it.

From a very young age, children are taught that staring is bad. When they grow a little older; parents warn them against making eye contact with strangers. In many societies, brides must have downcast eyes. Looking back at seniors in college or the workplace almost tantamounts to talking back, while in the armed forces, it can be construed as insubordination. And, ofcourse, inside elevator, one ends up concentrating on the floor, roof or the door.

Yet, as infants, we crave eye contact. Studies with new borns show that while they follow the outline of a face, they follow even more if the face has multiple eyes, with six eliciting the most response! This is hardly surprising since psychologists have found that visual interaction is an extremely important component in mother-child bonding. No wonder toddlers and small kids have no problem gaping at each other. In fact, its often a preferred activity.

But as we grow older, we gradually start closing these windows to the soul and shutting the world out. The fear is they can reveal a lot about us and show personal involvement because, deep down, we know mutual gaze narrows the gap between humans. Being grown-up means three seconds in the limit.

Hope you found it interesting..

Sunil Pareek

Human Engineering at work

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The term ‘Ergonomics’ comes from the Greek words “ergos” meaning work, and “nomos” meaning natural laws of.  Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities.

In the workplace, ergonomic knowledge is used to improve workplace conditions, job demands and the working environment to make jobs better, safer, easier and performed with less error.

Office Ergonomics is the branch of ergonomics dealing specifically with the office environment.

Due to increased computer usage, injuries associated with it have also amplified in leaps and bounds. Out of 3Ps’, People are one of the most crucial part of any organization. So when the dedicated employees start getting injured, it does not only hit the cost of insurance claims but also reduces work effectiveness due to absenteeism.

The diagram below shows the types of Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders(WMSD).

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders typically develop over a long period of time. The earlier that employees report symptoms and have them attended to, the better the chance of preventing a serious injury. Often, making simple changes to their work practices or workstation will reduce the symptoms to a level where injury is no longer a concern.

Worksite Analysis helps to obtain solutions for WMSDs’. There are various kinds of analysis. Among which the basic ones are:

Workstation Analysis looks at the physical components of the workstation, such as monitor and keyboard location, work surfaces, and chair adjustments. Each of these components is measured relative to the individual employee.

Environmental Analysis examines the area surrounding the individual workstations, looking at factors such as lighting and glare, temperature, humidity and noise, all of which affect employee comfort and performance.

Organizational Analysis deals with issues at the department, such as staffing levels, assignment of responsibilities, work schedules, overtime policies and other aspects of what are typically considered “working conditions.”

Elaborate analysis will definitely give us long-term benefit. But to start initially, three steps can be followed to reinforce a safer work environment.

1. Spot the Ergonomic Hazard

There are various kinds of ergonomic hazards. Few among office ergonomic hazards are:

  • continuous leaning and stooping
  • far reaching
  • awkward lifting and material handling
  • awkward body postures
  • forceful efforts and non-optimal gripping
  • sitting with inadequate back or foot support
  • constrained or static postures for long durations

2. Assess the risk

The key to assessing ergonomic hazards to see if it’s associated with an increased risk of injury is to look at it from several different perspectives. Employees should be actively involved in this process. Employees who perform the job are the best persons to assess ergonomic discomfort.

3. Find a safer way

Next step is to find the most practical and reasonable solution. Ergonomic solutions are not always costly. Simple modifications can provide surprisingly good results.

These are the few things which we can follow to avoid physical discomfort. Avoid awkward positions such as:

Reaching forward to use the mouse

Hunching one shoulder to cradle the phone

Looking down at papers laying flat on the desk

Apart from these, few more precautions can be taken to avoid hazards.

1. The monitor height should be near the line of sight of the employee when their head and neck are in a neutral position*

2. Proper use of mouse which includes a light grip, a neutral(straight) wrist position, moved with mostly the upper arm and positioned as close to the keyboard as possible.

3. Office chairs with lumbar support keeping in mind individual requirement

4. Adequate foot support while sitting or standing for prolonged period of time.

5. Sitting posture should involve feet positioned in front of the knee and the knee should not be lower than the hip in terms of vertical height.

*Neutral Posture: Comfortable working posture that reduces the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The joints are naturally aligned with elbows at the side of the body and wrists straight.

Sudipta Panja