its on the importance and effectiveness of mindfulness at work

This paper is an US based paper on the effectiveness of mindfulness at work. The other day I looked at a 2013 report by WorkSafe Australia and found similar grounds to work related stress. A similar initiative taken by the federal or state-level Governments in Australia could bring long term solutions and risk mitigations to reported costs of over 14 billion a year to the Australian economy per year and an approximate over 10 billion annual direct costs to Australian employers! This is by the way taking into account 30% of those who claimed worker’s compensation due to work-related stress; apparently the other bulk of 70% have reported work related stress but have not claimed compensation! Imagine if they did! Call on Mindfulness practices at work I would say!

But would it work in India?…Maybe not in most parts where ‘any’ job is much coveted… and ‘work’ is a ‘magic wand’ that gets food in the stomach (sorry no ‘tables’ in most cases!) if not a roof overhead(I am suggesting for a rough estimated 80% population)! Or are people in the East more happy anyway because they can naturally ‘let go’ of an incessant barrage of everyday crises and of any dimensions? After all the new buzz measure of national happiness or the GNHI – ‘gross national happiness index’ reported in one study (can not recall off the cuff…ask Mr. Google!!!) is higher in the slums of Calcutta than many tinsel towns in the world! Certainly in political ‘wisdom’ makes sense to measure ‘happiness’ in lieu of repeatedly shameful red mark economic ‘gross national profit index’…  I think it is a fantastic political move, don’t you? Spot lights on ‘happiness’ please!

Good for some of ‘us’ happiness-researchers too! Gives ‘us’ something to do from ‘privileged’ happy places like Sydney! With a bit of honesty, who really cares about the topic-practicality and applicability in India? As long as happy places get more happier and can fund research to ‘order more’!

I say, lets get our dissertations done mindfully and similarly think how to publish! Oh, let us not forget to mindfully focus on your ‘here-and-now selfishness’ please!

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Tracking work-place happiness: Do happy managers perform more efficiently?

Workplace affect or emotions in the workplace appeared in the 1930s. Hersey (1932) first demonstrated a sure relationship between one’s emotional state and productivity at work. Simultaneously the Hawthorne studies (1939) also echoed that happy workers reported higher levels of job-related happiness, giving impetus to initiating the ‘happy-productive worker’ debate. Some sporadic interest in this ‘thesis’ since evinced some ‘mixed results’ though the research interest appeared to somewhat stagnate intermittently. Affect at work has been mostly conceptualised as job-satisfaction in literature. Judge et al. (2001) conducted a meta-analysis to find only a somewhat disappointing mean correlation of .30 between job-satisfaction and performance and the researchers recommended job-satisfaction be reconceptualised.
A revived avalanche of research exploring the impact of positive constructs like positive emotions, wellbeing, job satisfaction, job engagement and affective organizational commitment on performance appears in the onset of the twenty-first century. Refined conceptualization of happiness at work has since demonstrated greater support for the worker-affect-performance link and has recently expanded to explain leader efficiency. In a very recent paper for example, Hosie et al. (2012) explores the emerging concept of a happy performing manager and operationalizes manager-job-happiness dimensions into ‘affective well-being’ and ‘intrinsic job satisfaction’ respectively. In this paper, Hosie et al. recognises that in the ‘job satisfaction – job performance link’, job satisfaction needed to be differentiated into ‘intrinsic job satisfaction’ which focuses on one’s affect (disposition and mood), and ‘extrinsic job satisfaction’ that focuses on one’s cognitive appraisal of one’s job. The study supported the happy-performing manager proposition, in which managers with positive affective well-being performed their job more effectively especially those that required complex decision-making. The study helped to identify specific elements of affective well-being and intrinsic job satisfaction that must be taken into account to ensure increased levels of performance; further informed higher management and human resources on possible reasons for the upward or downward spiralling manager performance.
Hosie, P, Willemyns, M & Sevastos, P 2012, “The impact of happiness on managers’ contextual and task performance”, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, vol. 50, pp. 268-287.
Judge, TA, Thoresen, CJ, Bono, JE & Patton, GK, 2001, “The job satisfaction-job performance relationship: A quality and quantitative review”, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 127, no. 3, pp. 376-407.

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The Realise 2 strengths assessment and development tool

Interesting website and the model on strength types with indications for which ones to augment, lay cool or balance, was thought provoking. Much of this deliberation could have been eased and triggered by an adjunct example to each type. I am particularly encouraged to scavenge for comments from others on my ‘unrealized strengths’ – first though would be important to identify, be familiar with that ‘unknown’, accept them as strengths and consider the potential outcomes if we then put them to use! Wonder how and where well-being though could fit into the model? Does feeling good” and ”having a good life, either or both, mediate strengths and performance? relationship?

Road less travelled; SELF-DEVELOPMENT AT WORK

This week I’d like to focus on a strengths assessment and development tool, the Realise2 4M model . The model was developed by Dr Alex Linley and the team at Center for Applied Positive Psychology.

I briefly presented the REALISE2 4M model for you last week as an introduction and will this week explain it more in-depth. The model is shown below;

Realise 2 4M model

Firstly, the underlying definition of strengths is;

‘a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance’ (Linley 2008, p. 9)

The Realise2 4M model shown above is based on the definition by Alex Linley and colleagues and represents four combinations of using realized and unrealized strengths, learned behaviors and weaknesses (marked by separate quadrants).

Moreover the model examines the benefits and consequences of developing and/or focusing on each quadrant in terms…

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It is important to accept difficult feelings at work!

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Am I going to be permanently morose? Some studies have the answer!

Life-satisfaction, in other words how one in general feels and functions in life, has two facets, cognitive and affective. In life or domain specific satisfaction (like work), the cognitive component of subjective well-being appears stable, unlike  moods and feelings component. One’s feelings components are naturally affected by life crises; however a group of researchers proposed the ‘set-point’ theory, stating that with the passage of time, individuals adapt to their original ‘set-point’ of emotional disposition. In other words if one is morose, the theory indicates the negative state for life! Recent research however appears to contest the decade old ‘set-point theory of happiness’ which disallows any permanent shift in the level to which a person feels positive. In one study, Seligman (2005), and Sheldon and Lyubormirsky (2006) assessed effectiveness of five positive psychology interventions on an online convenience sample of 577 males and females. They encouraged respondents of the study to use ‘signature strengths in a new way’ or become ‘aware of one’s blessings’ and found that these ‘practices’ led to increases in reports of happiness and decrease in depression over 6 months. Further, positive effects of the ‘gratitude visit’ lasted a month. Heady (2008) reviewed the ‘set point theory’ and made strong arguments to be replaced. This was good news for researchers and practitioners alike! As not having a ‘set-point’ in feeling permanently doomed, meant that individuals’ well-being could be developed, intervened for the better and spiralled up, for them to feel good and do more (augmenting the’ happy-productive worker’ thesis), and further benefit individual and organizational outcomes. Giving some credit to what can not change and is permanent, but not the whole story, Lyubomirsky et al. proposed a sustainable happiness model in which the authors posits that happiness is the result of three possible sources, namely, a) genetic predisposition – that can not change; b) life circumstances – for what it is and therefore may not be changeable; and c) one’ intentional activities – which through habitual practice of appropriate strategies can create increased happiness. It is this last aspect in which one can intentionally engage in positive thoughts and actions and through repetition inculcate new heights of habitual happiness and well-being!

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Why personal well-being encourage helpful and compliance behaviours at work? Role of positive emotions!

Research has indicated that personal well-being is related to individual’s reporting relatively more positive emotions and less negative emotions (Argyle, 1987; Diener & Larsen, 1993; Larsen & Diener, 1992). In other words a person who reports positive emotions is likely to function effectively and productively in life. To this effect, Fredrickson’s Broaden –and-Build theory (2001, 2003) explains that a positive mood state (all well as any trait, state, emotions) “broaden” or expands an individual’s instantaneous available “thought-action repertoires” (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2001) and therefore makes him/ her more problem-solving, creative and efficient. This is quite the opposite way in which the human brain functions when experiencing emotional distress in which the person’s instinctive ‘fight and flight’ responses are triggered that narrows the thoughts and behaviors to the sole objective of the person to ‘run away’ or ‘stand-up a fight’! Fredrickson maintains that the effect of positive emotions on one’s thoughts and consequent behaviours are relatively spread-out. Such individuals are likely to feel good and function effectively, in other words, demonstrate and report high personal well-being.  

Fredrickson then goes on to theorize that these individuals who are high on well-being, having more adaptive thoughts and broadened actions in life,  over both practice and time, ‘builds’ into enduring personal resources or signature strengths, like resilience. It is this ‘build’ up of strengths and characteristics (Fredrickson, 2001, 2003; Wright & Cropanzano, 2007) that then help individuals thrive, grow and flourish; and also in turn, make them calm, less stressed (Myers & Diener, 1995) and proactive (Argyle, 1987).

Indications for the link between positive emotions and enhanced performance has been explored and justified in research by Luthans et.al. (2007, 2004) and Fredrickson (1998) too have emphasized from their research findings how these ‘individual level factors’ like positive emotion, facilitate organizational change through increased and spiraling attitudinal and behavioral positivity. In one recent study by Avey, Wernsing & Luthans (2008)  the aim was to investigate the role of positive emotion as a moderating variable between an aggregate of positive constructs called ‘Psychological Capital’ (which is an aggregate of four positive states, traits and emotions) and organizational citizenship. In this, I noticed the authors used a hierarchical regression statistical analysis with covariates of age, gender, tenure, job level and education in ‘Step 1’ followed by positive emotions in ‘Step 2’. Technically speaking, the outcome was significant in which positive emotions accounted for an incremental variance in each model and were positively related to citizenship behaviors’ (In Step 1 alpha =.242, p<.05; in Step 2 alpha=.394, p<.01).  Like any cross-sectional study, collecting data at one-point-in-time, there were methodological limitations of causality as it lacked  an experimental design. However to minimize the common source bias the researchers followed recommendations from a study by Podsakoff et.al. (2003), and they separated the data collection of the variables over time. In other words, Avey et al. collected the predictive data first and then on the same sample, gathered data on their dependent variables after a week!  This methodological approach was very clever and useful to minimize the common source bias which otherwise risk leading to inflated relationships between the study variables. The theoretical lens used by Avey et al. was that of the ‘broaden-and-built’ that suggested individuals who demonstrated a high ‘psychological capital’ which operationalised high positive well-being, felt positive and engaged in citizenship behaviors, i.e., helping others at work and in complying with the organizational rules and regulations.

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Some tips to work on personal sense of wellbeing!

A personal sense of ‘wellbeing’ evolves from an over-all and domain-specific ‘good’ and ‘pleasant’ life, yet often we neglect investing and nurturing it.  Needless to delineate and quite obviously imaginable, the costs of such neglect are exorbitant!

Here are some tips to work on that very essence of personal well-being Yes, it is putting aside regular work and time and only practice and repetition will eventually form an effective ‘habit of investing’ in ‘self’ and ‘those and what matters’! Work on the following points taking one at a time and mull over it for at least a week. Move on to the next point and so on. Create your own think-tank and review on the additional points that come to your mind to ensure personal happiness, effectiveness and efficiency in the various aspects of life…..

  1. List down your needs? Being in denial, minimising and intellectualising about how everything else is important ultimately makes you an unauthentic person!
  2. List what issues are unresolved and not addressed (talked) about in your significant relationships? Remember even at work you may get a few counselling sessions to get started! And they are confidential! Many prefer to fathom out a way themselves first though and that is fine too!
  3. List reasons why you avoid confronting these conflicts? Take some deliberated time to analyse how ‘bottling up’ is being helpful or unhelpful? Often I hear people say “What is the point of talking about the ‘issue’ as it will invariably lead to arguments?”  and they prefer to keep silent on issues that are problematic! 
  4. Finding other distractions(even the most perfect and legitimate ones like ‘work’  or ‘children’ does not resolve or help with the issue that leads to feelings of detachment and disconnection (unless one is seriously planning to become a recluse!). Have you noticed how some couples who lack intimacy only talk about their kids and at other available times focus either on their work or home responsibilities? Interestingly as a clinician , at work and in personal life, I have observed many engage in intellectual discourses, showcasing one’s depth of knowledge but may fail to make time to convey what is most hurting; or discuss ‘ways out of muddled and murky waters’ (problem solve); further some even deny the magic of a hug and a cuddle! The result? Quite obvious! 

Finally, I will end this post emphasising and offering two ideas that may increase one’s sense of personal well-being. In just one word, the ideas are condensed into ‘talk’ and ‘smile’….

  1. Talking about problems, conveying one’s needs and expectations, setting boundaries, negotiation skills, willing to take risks and trust again renew vigour and hope and in that allows self and others another chance! Also I find I have to alert myself from time to time to intentionally look into the ‘positives’ instead of only focussing on the ‘negatives’!
  2. Finally make a habit of smiling and controlling aversive and hurtful words and behaviours that come out of your mouth and actions. I think, If transgressions have occurred in any relationships, at home or at work,  one must make a habit of admitting compunction. Acknowledge the unhelpful ways of conveying your resentments (humans err, we all do! I certainly do!) and invite the ‘significant other’ person to discuss what makes you angry or sad, and mutually listen and discern what might be better ways of communicating these natural and valid emotions. Given, all problems cannot be ‘fixed’, but even being mutually ‘heard’ can make a lot of difference! And the precious smiles come free..wear it & flaunt it!
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“You’re Probably Wrong About Millennials” or ” Are we?”

The blog evaluates the ”likes’ and ‘dislikes’ of the Y-generation and appears to invite a global conversation around the need to understand and accept our young workforce / apprentices, especially keeping in view the future torch bearing responsibilities of these emerging vanguards in world economy, market and business!  Not resistance to the ‘manners’ of the Y-generation, but ‘understanding’ and reviewing ‘perceptions’ and ‘meanings’ of how one must think and act , appears imperative! In sync with the author of the blog, I concede that, if not embraced and their skills honed by the host or potential host organizations, they will indeed be lost to competitors!  

In relation to the ”happy worker-productive worker’ thesis, I am interested in the expectations of the generation Y from their employers and life; and explore how their personal traits, states, values and zeal for excellence shape their work-style and lifestyle; and how they might influence the remaking and development of new HR policies in Australia and cross the globe. As a sequel, another burning investigative query, coming from an ethnic background, nurtured most of my living years in a collectivist Indian society, and having adapted to an individualist Australian culture for the past 14 years, is an intent to examine  the respective  Y-generations,( of the collectivist-individualist divide) for their relative perceptions and criteria for ‘happiness’ or ‘well-being’ and its relation to individual and organizational outcomes. 

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Toying with the idea of ‘grit’- responding to Dr. Rose’s blog

I have been toying with some of the positive psychology concepts (part of my search for concepts that are worth explaining ‘what keeps us going despite adversities and brings out the best we can, at that point of time and space?’) and I stumbled upon the concept of ‘grit’ and an interesting blog (http://mappalicious.com/2013/08/26/grit-the-key-for-long-term-success/).  Since, I found this word ‘grit’ emerge in my mind like a relentless yoyo! So  I will borrow a description of ‘grit’ by the researcher Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania,and then through reflection argue on the key concepts proffered in the above mentioned blog…

Duckworth in her 2007 article wrote, “Grit is described as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” On this key concept the blogger Dr. Rose elaborates (see his blog) that some people are gritty and some may not be gritty at all (that is separate from intelligence and may be present or absent irrespective of having or not having intelligence). First I would argue that I cannot imagine some sort of emotional intelligence not being at play when persevering long-term life goals notwithstanding misfortunes; I come from the cognitive school of understanding human actions in which we must consciously or unconsciously perceive our life situations, make meaning and decide and ‘will’ to persevere! Grit is an action tendency, argued to be an emotion-cognitive attribute..therefore not free of one’s sensibilities, I contend, and that are influenced by one’s way of interpreting life situations. Second, and as important as the first point, I believe all human-beings have the potential for ‘grit’ ; some may have developed that innate ability – either, temperamentally they have been ‘gritty’ from the wake of life, or through life’s developmental stages and associated untoward experiences they have had a spiritual growth on ‘grit; or they may well have modelled significant personalities – ‘real-life’ or from ‘reading’ biographies and autobiographies of successful personalities, like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, to name a few. Finally, grit has to be supported by other virtues, like patience, tolerance, resilience, optimism a hope, would my reader agree? It is not an attribute that can function on its own!

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In pursuit of personal happiness…

Simple suggestions to improve personal happiness is often embedded in the word ‘balance’, which means to continue to adhere to diligent and fulfilling ‘work’, ‘parenting’ or/and ‘caring for disabled’/ ‘elderly parent’ (which individually, despite expected sources of satisfaction, can be serious hard work, stressful and even grim at times!), but also taking time out for self and forming closeness with ‘significant’ other’s.

Some specific ideas would be:

  1. List down your needs? Being in denial, minimising and intellectualising about how everything else is important ultimately makes you an unauthentic person!
  2. List what issues are unresolved and not addressed (talked) about in your close relationships? Analyse how is it helpful or unhelpful? You may get a few counselling sessions to get started! Many prefer to fathom out a way themselves before deciding on professional help and that is fine too! However you may consider telephone counselling. Now-a-days ‘Skype’ counselling is also available!
  3. List reasons why you avoid confronting these conflicts? Often I hear people say “What is the point of talking about the ‘issue’ as it will invariably lead to arguments; So I do not want to talk about it with ‘you’ (sounds condescending, doesn’t it!) anymore”; hence they prefer to keep silent on issues that are problematic and prefer to treat the ‘other’ as an imbecile!
  4. Finding other distractions(even the most perfect and legitimate ones like ‘work’  or ‘children’ does not resolve or help with the issue that leads to feelings of detachment and disconnection (unless one is seriously planning to become a recluse!). Have you noticed how some couples who lack intimacy only talk about their kids and at other available times focus either on their work or home responsibilities? Interestingly I have observed some engage in intellectual discourses, showcasing one’s depth of knowledge but may fail to make time to convey hurt, discuss ways out (problem solve) and even deny physical needs like the magic of a hug and a cuddle! The result? Quite obvious!
  5. Talking about problems, conveying one’s needs and expectations, setting boundaries, negotiation skills, willing to take risks and trust again if there is a history of enough demonstrated credits and evidence of positivity in the relationship – like specific examples to experiencing dependability, support, friendship, will renew vigour and hope to give intimacy another chance! Look into the positives instead of only focussing on the negatives!
  6. Finally make a habit of smiling and controlling aversive and hurtful words: If transgressions have occurred, make a habit of admitting compunction; acknowledge the unhelpful ways of conveying your resentments (humans err, we all do!) and invite the ‘significant other’ person to discuss what makes you angry or sad, and mutually listen and discern what might be better ways of communicating these natural and valid emotions. Given, all problems cannot be ‘fixed’, but being mutually ‘heard’ makes a lot of difference!
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