Charley Morrow, assessment guru, opens his new blog with a brilliant analysis of one of the biggest issues in today's workplace: Employment Handcuffs (my term–don't blame Charley).

More than at almost any other time, today's workers feel stuck where they are. Figuratively, they are handcuffed to their current companies, positions, and bosses.

Charley's got hard data on this, but I've seen this too. I've seen people who hate their bosses who just can't find a job when they are competing with five other applicants (there are six applicants for every job available in the United States).

Employment Handcuffs leads to depression, anger, sabotage, lack of effort, productivity decline, etc.

These handcuffs also puts managers further into the dark then they already are.

Management Blindness Worse Than Ever

Managers are always in the dark about their own leadership performance. The only people that can tell them how well they are doing as leaders are the people they're leading, their direct reports—and their direct reports are scared/inhibited/hesitant to tell the truth about their boss's leadership performance.

But now it's worse than ever. Workers are scared to death of losing their jobs. They've seen their friends and colleagues out of work for months or years. They've seen friends, family, or neighbors' houses go into foreclosure. They've heard stories about how people lose their health care insurance after the Cobra has unwound itself. 

These smart workers won't do anything to upset their bosses—the people who are most likely to fire them.

How this Hurts Organizational Performance

This hurts manager performance and hurts the productivity and performance of all the employees who have bosses. It's a spiraling down effect.

From a CLO's perspective, you better be doing something to improve your managers' performance in this time of employment handcuffing!! Contact me here for consulting advice.

How Managers Can See the Light

  1. Managers have to ask for feedback from a place of authenticity. They have to want to improve their own performance. Ya just can't fake it.
  2. Managers have to listen to any feedback they get.
  3. Managers have to make changes/improvements in what they do.
  4. Managers have to avoid being defensive—even when the feedback is harsh, cutting, or wrong.
  5. Managers have to thank those who give them feedback.
  6. Managers have to be patient. Your folks don't trust that you're not going to retaliate. It will take time to build that trust.
  7. Managers have to ask for feedback routinely, not just at performance-review time.
  8. Managers have to be available. So many managers are just too busy to be available. Stop going to all those meetings with folks senior to you!! Your job is to get work done through your direct reports—you need to be there for them.
  9. Managers may benefit from multi-rater 360-degree assessments or other assessment-like interactions. Ask Charley about this stuff.

And again, Charley's great blog post is worth the read.

Thanks Charley!! And welcome to the Blogosphere!! Glad you're here.

Michael Lewis's new book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, sounds fascinating—and important.

Brad Pitt bought the movie rights, so it's clearly got an interesting story to tell.

Michael Lewis tells the story of the folks who first figured out that the financial disaster was coming (the one that caused our current Great Recession). Lewis shows how these oddball stock traders figured out how Wall Street was making huge mistakes—when no one else could see it coming.

The following two interviews are must reading if you want to know how we got into the economic mess we are in. They're also riveting storytelling for the most part.

Learning professionals should listen to the interviews—and read the book too—for two themes: (1) How do people's mental models make it hard for them to understand the changing landscape, (2) How attempts at persuasion often fail in the face of these mental models. You might also find it fun to consider how you would "train" the citizenry to have a better understanding of how its government and Wall Street tycoons failed, how financial markets work, etc. Finally, note how Michael Lewis (and the interviewers) set up the dialogue to make a very difficult topic understandable. Great stuff!!

Interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Aire
About 40 minutes.

Interview with All Things Considered
About 9 minutes.

Nice review of Diane Ravitch's new book on schools, schooling, and the importance of good teachers.

Seems like it shows just how hard it is to find easy answers.

I'm thinking some of us bloggers ought to learn from journalists.

Here's a whole group dedicated to citizen journalism. AND, they have a book available to help us learn how to do it.

Great article in the Economist on the Information Explosion.

This has huge implications for human learning and performance.

Here's what Bob Cialdini wrote in his masterful book, "Influence: Science and Practice."

More and more frequently, we will find ourselves in the position of the lower animals—with a mental apparatus that is unequipped to deal thoroughly with the intricacy and richness of the outside environment…The consequence of our new deficiency is the same as that of the animals' long-standing one: when making a decision, we will less frequently engage in a fully considered analysis of the total situation. In response to this "paralysis of analysis," we will revert increasingly to a focus on a single, usually reliable feature of the situation…The problem comes when something causes the normally trustworthy cues to counsel us poorly, to lead us to erroneous actions and wrongheaded decisions. (p. 232)

As learning professionals, our clients—our fellow workers—will be more and more confused and duped by information overload. To be successful, we'll have to figure out ways to help them fight their way through the accelerating storm of information.

Again, read the Economist article.

Great article on How to Create Great Teachers. It's focused on K-12 education primarily, but there is wisdom in the discussion relevant to workplace learning.

Here's the major points I take away:

  1. Great teachers need deep content knowledge.
  2. Great teachers need good classroom-management verbalization skills.
  3. Great teachers need their content knowledge to be fluently available to them in the context of typical classroom situations. To get this fluency, they need to practice in such situations—and practice linking actions (especially their verbal utterances) to specific classroom situations.

Cammy Bean interviews me in regard to the three most important e-learning design flaws in today's e-learning. I discussed three—and then two more!! Five design flaws in all.

How's your e-learning?

Check out the interview here.

You can also download the segments as podcasts.

The Displacement Hypothesis says that one activity can displace another activity.

In the following research by Robert Weis and Brittany Cerankosky, boys given video games (1) did worse in school, (2) spent less time in other after-school activities, (3) had more behavioral problems, and (4) had lower reading and writing scores.

Abstract of the Research Article:

Young boys who did not own video games were promised a video-game system and child-appropriate games in exchange for participating in an “ongoing study of child development.” After baseline assessment of boys’ academic achievement and parent- and teacher-reported behavior, boys were randomly assigned to receive the video-game system immediately or to receive the video-game system after follow-up assessment, 4 months later. Boys who received the system immediately spent more time playing video games and less time engaged in after-school academic activities than comparison children. Boys who received the system immediately also had lower reading and writing scores and greater teacher-reported academic problems at follow-up than comparison children. Amount of video-game play mediated the relationship between video-game ownership and academic outcomes. Results provide experimental evidence that video games may displace after-school activities that have educational value and may interfere with the development of reading and writing skills in some children.

Analogs in Adult Learning

Are there analogs in adult learning? In a quick database review I couldn’t uncover any research on the displacement hypothesis with adults, but here are some learning events that may displace other learning events:

  1. Twitter
  2. Social Networking
  3. Web Surfing
  4. Blogs
  5. RSS following
  6. Gaming

Postscript:

When I asked the lead author if he knew of any studies on adults regarding the displacement hypothesis, he said “no,” but he pointed me to this article on college students.

Thanks to Bill Ellet, editor of the unbiased Training Media Review, writes about the awards in our industry and how hopelessly biased and corrupt they are.

Click to read Bill's excellent article.