Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage

We are often told to follow our passion.  Even if we determine our passion, some things hold us back from pursuing our natural sense of curiosity.  Curiosity has been called a sort of mental itch.  There are surprisingly few studies about curiosity because it is difficult to study.  Some people are more naturally curious than others. It can be important to have curiosity hardwired into us because it helps us grow and develop.  There are factors like stress, aging, drugs, genetics, etc. that could impact our level of curiosity.  Outside of medical issues or lack of financial capabilities, I have found four major things that hold people’s curiosity hostage including fear, the way things have always been done, parental/family/peer influence, and technology.

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Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences

How do we know how others would like to be treated if we only look at things from our perspective?  Understanding personality and generational preferences is so important because we learn about opposing or differing perspectives.  To improve some of the key challenges in the workplace requires this understanding.  These challenges include poor soft skills, low emotional intelligence, lack of engagement, and a negative culture.  Many articles address how these problem stem from Boomer and Millennial conflict. Continue reading “Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences”

Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values

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Millennials are one of the most misunderstood generations, which has led to frustration in the workplace.  With so many generations working together, it is not unusual that there would be some conflict. The biggest issues have revolved around the clash between Boomers and Millennials.  With varying views on political and leadership issues, as well as differences in the frequency at which they embrace technology, conflict management has become a top concern for many leaders.  Part of learning to manage this unique generation includes understanding and embracing their values. Continue reading “Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

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Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

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Attend any leadership conference, and someone likely will bring up startling statistics regarding how employees and leaders lack something they refer to as soft skills. This term is used to describe many qualities that include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other personality-based issues. The problem that many organizations have experienced is that people are hired for their hard skills, or in other words, for what they know (knowledge). Then later, are often fired for their lack of soft skills, or what they do (behaviors). If employers recognize the importance of soft skills, they can avoid costly hiring and training mistakes, improve turnover, and boost productivity. Continue reading “Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success”

Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques

I have worked with educators in schools and universities across the United States since 2006.  My experience includes teaching, speaking, mentoring, training, program review, and curriculum design.  My goal is to help educators succeed and make a difference in the lives of students.  As a successful educator, coach, national trainer, and speaker, I promise to motivate and inspire educators through my on-site school training and district keynotes.  I share practical, proven strategies for immediate use in classrooms. Continue reading “Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques”

Millennial Student Entitlement Issues

 

The word Millennials is used to describe adults born between the years of 1980 and 2000.  They are also known as Generation Y.  Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me explained Millennials tend to be more self-focused and may expect to receive a lot of recognition. Sixty Minutes aired an interesting story titled The Millennials are Coming.  In this show, they explained how this younger generation expects good things and expects them with little effort. I have noticed that this sense of entitlement has carried into the online classroom setting.

Most of my students are very respectful. They follow directions.  They ask questions with the proper tone.  However, there are a few that are more demanding.  Although I have not formally studied the age group of the students who demonstrate issues with entitlement, I have noticed that my older Baby Boomer students seem to demonstrate more respect.

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Changing the Way Students Perform Online Research

 

Google and other search engines have changed the way people locate information.  The problem is that online students think of Google as a proper tool to use to perform research for assignments.  Google Scholar may provide access to some scholarly research.  However, most online schools prefer that students use the school’s library search feature.  It is important that students consider the reliability of the type of content that is available on traditional websites.

Pew reported that the majority of students are not able to recognize bias in online content.  This has become frustrating for professors because these skills should be taught in first-year college courses.  Turnitin’s white paper titled What’s Wrong with Wikipedia, reported that in over 37 million papers submitted by students, there were 156 million matches to content found from the Internet.  This means that students use sites like Google Books, May Clinic, Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia, etc.  These are unacceptable sources to use for college-level courses.

According to Turnitin’s research, the following problems exist with student’s research behavior:

  • Problem: Students value immediacy over quality – Students use sites like Wikipedia to find quick answers.  Wikipedia may offer some valuable resources at the bottom of their site to support the content. Solution:  These sources are usually available through the school’s library search feature.  Schools’ search engines are quite easy to use. They access some of the best material available for free.  Students can easily mark a box for peer-reviewed studies.  This will ensure that their research contains quality information.
  • Problem:  Students often use cheat sites – Students may find sites that offer to write their papers for a fee.  Most of these papers are captured within Turnitin’s plagiarism detecting software. Therefore when students buy the paper and submit as their own, the software will detect it as plagiarized.  Solution:  The time it takes to find and buy a paper on the Internet could have been used to simply write an original paper.  Nothing is gained from submitted plagiarized work.  Students risk getting expelled.  Most assignments are not that long or difficult.  The point of writing them is to gain knowledge.  Students who attend school just to obtain a piece of paper will not be prepared for the working world.  They will spend money on a degree that will not help them if they have not learned the information.
  • Problem:  Research is not synonymous with search – Students may put a lot of faith in the information found on the Internet.  Just because a site allows people to ask and answer questions, does not mean that the answers are correct. Searching for answers on the Internet does not mean that the answers are based on actual research.  Solution:  Using peer-reviewed sources that are available through the school’s library ensures that the information in the article has been reviewed by the author’s peers.  These studies are actual research.

There are times when assignments allow for students to use websites like Apple.com, or other corporate or news sites.  If this is allowed by the instructor, students must be able to recognize if the site is highly regarded. An example might be The New York Times.  If students are in doubt, they should direct questions to their instructor for guidance.

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Online Student Safety and Behavioral Issues

The online classroom may make it easier for students with personality problems or even mental health issues to go undetected.  It may provide a false sense of security for some students who make friends with other students who may appear to be well.  However, in any online situation, it is wise to look for some behavioral signals that may indicate some problems.

I have had students who ignore netiquette, aka rules of proper behavior in the online classroom. I have had a few students who concerned me to the point that I believed, for safety reasons, I had to report them.  Although I have not had this happen often, it can be frightening for innocent students who get bullied or are provoked by these behaviorally-challenged students.

I recently had a student send me a note that she felt uncomfortable by certain wording that another student used in class.  She asked me to ask the student to refrain from using what she considered profanity.  Although this “profanity” may have seemed very mild to some of the other students, it bothered her.  It is important for students to realize that everyone may not be comfortable with certain words.

In the Wall Street Journal article When Social Skills are a Warning, the author explained that it may be important to look for social skills that may indicate a warning of behavioral issues. Instructors and fellow students might be able to detect some early signs that are symptoms of problems like social indifference, lack of empathy, and inappropriate behavior.  Some students do not recognize when to “back off” in discussions.  In the article, the author explained how our brains are set up differently. “Some networks act as emotional brakes and others as the gas.  Everyone has a different balance of these networks, which contributes to our personalities, emotions and behaviors.”

When students notice something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should report it to their professor or counselor.  Many students are harmless and just do not realize how they may come across to others.  The problem is that there have been incidents that make the news that scare people.  These past tragedies may help to make people more aware of the importance of recognizing behavior.

Just because there is a computer screen between students, does not mean there is no danger.  Some students connect in online chat rooms.  Sometimes they exchange email and telephone numbers.  Just because a student is in an online college classroom, it does not ensure that this person is harmless.  In online, just as in traditional courses, there will be some students who have behavioral problems.  It is important that students do not let their guard down too far due to a possible incorrect assumption that all students must be normal.  I do not want to squelch the college connection experience. It is just important to remember that people may have issues whether they are in a traditional or online location.  Students should be just as vigilant about their safety in an online class as they would be in any other situation.

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Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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