Archive for the ‘Law Office Management’ Category
We’re unsure if this strategy would work for women but it seems to work for men—at least in medical schools and teaching hospitals. We do presume those male leaders with mustaches do not have the sort of mustache illustrating this post but what do we know? We also tend to believe that if a woman were to grow this sort of mustache, she would also not be selected to advance as a leader. But, we digress. On to the real point of this blog post.
Each year, the British Medical Journal publishes a Christmas issue where they offer a more light-hearted look at important issues of the day. We posted about one of their articles on Christmas Day. Here is another important paper that (alas) reflects what women know all too well when it comes to women in leadership. These researchers (two medical residents, a professor of law ,and a professor of dermatology) examined (carefully and presumably visually) “clinical department leaders (n=1018) at the top 50 US medical schools funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)” to see if they were male or female and whether they had mustaches. None of the women in the sample had a mustache. The researchers defined a mustache in the following way: “the visible presence of hair on the upper cutaneous lip” and they included the presence of both standalone mustaches and mustaches in combination with other facial hair. They specifically did not include facial hair such as “mutton chops” or “chin curtains” as mustaches.
According to the researchers women accounted for only 13% of department leaders in the sample (137 women out of 1,018 department leaders).
Leaders with mustaches (none of them, as mentioned earlier, women) accounted for 19% of the sample (190/1,018 total leaders). And according to them, less than 15% of men in the country have mustaches so mustached men are over-represented among medical department leadership. .
The proportion of female leaders ranged from 0% to 26% across institutions and from 0% to 36% across specialties.
Only seven specific institutions and five specialties had more than 20% of female department leaders.
The researchers developed a novel unit of measure called the mustache index. (Essentially this is computed by looking at the number of mustached leaders versus the number of female leaders.) “The overall mustache index of all academic medical departments studied was 0.72 (p<.004). In other words, a medical department is much more likely to be led by a man with a mustache than by a woman. Only six of 20 separate medical specialties had “more women than mustaches” (for a mustache index > 1).
The researchers recommend that “mustachioed” individuals should number less than the number of women in medical department leadership (and they state they clearly do not mean a “no mustache” policy). They want to call attention to the disparity in these leadership positions between men and women—hence the tongue-in-cheek “mustache index”. They offer a number of suggestions to help increase the number of women in leadership positions that revolve around developing job criteria prior to evaluating candidates, flexible work schedules as well as increased personal control over work time and cite the high levels of satisfaction among women physicians in specialties that allow “controllable lifestyle” such as dermatology and anesthesiology.
From a litigation perspective, this really applies most to law office management and we’ve written before about the importance of hiring practices that do not discriminate against applicants by gender or race and ethnicity (as well as other descriptive characteristics). You can see all those posts by looking at our blog category on law office management. Do a quick count in your own office. Do leaders with mustaches outnumber leaders who are women?
Wehner MR, Nead KT, Linos K, & Linos E (2015). Plenty of moustaches but not enough women: cross sectional study of medical leaders. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 351 PMID: 26673637
“Illusory truth” and the repeated falsehood
Back in 2009, we wrote a post called I never knew Hitler had three testicles which was all about how, if you hear something often enough, it begins to see true to you. It is sometimes called “familiarity breeds belief” and new research tells us it is still true in 2015. If something sounds plausible, most of us don’t want to do the work of considering whether it may be untrue (despite how familiar it seems). So—how do you make lies appear truthful? You repeat them repeatedly and voila! Truth becomes illusory. This truism is never more relevant than in the midst of an election cycle…
Web only surveys (whose responses are we missing?)
We like Pew Research Center’s no-nonsense approach to reporting poll and survey data. Internet surveys are becoming increasingly popular,and there are times we need to think about how “doing it easier” can result in big holes in our data. Here’s a brief 4 point Pew summary of what you need to be concerned about and aware of as you ponder the costs and benefits of internet surveys.
There’s an evidence-based supplement for that…
Here’s a newly updated and visually impressive infographic on the ailments for which supplements and herbal products have been found useful. There is a filter you can use to search the database for specific medical conditions and you can see the data on which the decisions in the infographic are based with a single mouse click. While not perfect, it is a wonderfully easy tool to use to facilitate further research on alternative treatments for various medical conditions.
Did you hear about pig-to-human organ transplants?
It isn’t a joke—or one of those illusory truths written about earlier in this post. It’s true. Scientists have discovered that with gene editing using a new technique called CRISPR, they can make this far-fetched idea a reality: “Pigs and humans share a number of physiological and anatomical similarities, but pigs also carry harmful viruses in their genome making pig-to-human transplants dangerous. Now, researchers say, they can simply remove the viruses native to pig cells, reviving the idea of xenotransplantation — using animal organs in humans.”
Do you know what’s expected of you at work?
According to a new poll released by Gallup, many employees do not know what is expected of them at work! While it is a manager’s responsibility to communicate expectations, many do not “own” this task according to the Gallup people. They offer a plain language approach to how to help employees set and achieve performance goals and therefore, not only know what is expected of them but to actually meet those expectations.
Fazio LK, Brashier NM, Payne BK, & Marsh EJ (2015). Knowledge does not protect against illusory truth. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 144 (5), 993-1002 PMID: 26301795
While you may not have heard the term “counterproductive work behaviors” if you are not in the habit of reading organizational behavior research, you certainly will recognize the behaviors when you see them: absenteeism, lateness, rudeness and incivility. This is an interesting study because rather than studying counter-productive work behaviors (aka “bad behavior”) they wanted to see if there were character traits that were most correlated with good behavior and bad behavior in the workplace. And guess what? There are those traits and it would be pretty simple to assess them in an interview or while checking references. You will be happy to know that the assessment of perseverance requires neither a fMRI nor expensive administrations of tests to show unconscious bias. Instead, it’s a simple matter of questioning the candidate and former employers as we’ll specify later in this post.
First the researchers reviewed the literature on good and bad behavior at work as it relates to various personality characteristics. They touch briefly on the work that has shown (for years now) that conscientiousness is consistently associated with good work performance and good behavior at work. As it happens, say the researchers, perseverance and conscientiousness are highly correlated and so they wanted to see if perseverance was also a predictor of good work behavior and performance. They also thought that perseverance would be most strongly linked to good workplace behavior and performance when the work was seen as meaningful and as a career or a calling rather than “just a job”.
Participants were recruited at the Values In Action website where they completed a survey online [with perseverance being one of the assessed traits] and were then invited to participate in a study of the “character strengths of working individuals”. Participants included 686 working people (553 women, 133 men; 84.1% were full-time employed and 4.5% were employed part-time and 11.4% were self-employed; 82% had university degrees while 12% had completed some college coursework and 6% had high school educations; average age was 41.29 years; the majority were Caucasian (479), 58 were Latino, 58 were Asian, and 31 were African-American with fewer than 1% reporting other ethnic identification). The participants completed brief questionnaires on work performance, counterproductive work behaviors, meaningfulness of their work, and their sense of whether they saw their job as a job, a career or as a calling.
Overall, the researchers found that when you perceive your work to be meaningful and see it as a career or a calling—you are less likely to engage in negative work behaviors.
Perseverance was most indicative of good work performance and least indicative of engaging in counterproductive work behaviors (i.e., bad workplace behaviors).
The researchers say that perseverance plus the passion inherent in seeing one’s work as a calling or a career—is what one might call “grit”. They point to some research from 2007 coining the term “grit” and say grit is a “personal quality shared by the most prominent leaders in every field”. The researchers behind today’s work say that those with perseverance and “grit” are likely to work harder and longer without switching their objectives and goals.
From a hiring perspective, assessing perseverance during employment interviews (or reference checks) would be a relatively straightforward thing to do.
Simply ask the candidate during the interview how they demonstrated perseverance in past positions and ask references if they can give examples of the candidate showing perseverance during their employment.
After hiring, make sure your workplace offers meaningful work and that you model working with passion, purpose and a sense of meaning. And allow mistakes but learn from them. Perseverance doesn’t mean you get it right the first time. It just means you keep trying when it doesn’t work out by learning from past mistakes and getting it right next time. Allow your employees to make mistakes but create an environment where mistakes are discussed and where employee learning occurs so the same mistakes are not made repeatedly.
Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2015). Going the Extra Mile: Perseverance as a Key Character Strength at Work Journal of Career Assessment DOI: 10.1177/1069072715580322
Here’s another collection of interesting tidbits that don’t rate an entire blog post on their own but that we think worthy of mention. Think of them as our contribution to your conversational contributions over dinner, drinks, or to fill that awkward silence that pops up unexpectedly.
Be thin, White and attractive for crowdfunding success!
It’s disappointing to read the research on leadership and find that still, in 2015, people think the best leaders are “tall men”. While I understood that finding back in the late 1970s, the idea that it still works today is disturbing. But that isn’t all! Crowdfunding is a big deal now and, if you are like me, some of you may have contributed to various crowdfunding projects to see worthy projects become a reality. So if you have a good idea and want to try crowdfunding—we have information on how you can succeed! Just be thin, White and attractive! How easy is that?! (And how sad.) The good news is that when only experienced investors are examined on crowdfunding sites, you don’t see this sort of biased financial support to the thin, White and attractive. Otherwise, it seems to track with a high school popularity poll.
Pupil mimicry: Yes, it’s a thing (and it leads to increased trust)
You know all that psychological research where they show that if you mimic someone’s posture or facial expressions you are seen as more likable and trustworthy? Well, here’s another one although it’s a bit odd. New research shows that if you mimic someone else’s pupil dilation (now how in the world can you do that intentionally?) during an investment game, they will trust you more. But! And this is a big but. It only works if you are both part of the same ethnic group. A check of the actual article (cited below) tells us the researchers think we mimic pupil size unconsciously/unintentionally which is a relief since we had no idea how to do it on purpose. On the other hand, if we mimic pupil size only to those of our own ethnicity—what does that say about our implicit bias toward those different from us? We imagine you can see how this is oddly intriguing, but not worth dwelling on.
Tough love performance reviews (in 10 minutes)
Some estimates place the improvement in performance following a typical performance review at about 3-5%. So here’s an idea from the Harvard Business Review blogs on how to increase the effectiveness of performance reviews (and perhaps shorten the time you spend on them). This article presents a 10 minute breakdown of the entire (tough love) performance review and it is never mean-spirited. The author says it has changed team dynamics, helped individuals understand how their behavior could keep them from being truly effective, and ultimately, helped the financial bottom line. This is well worth a read if you are interested in making your performance reviews more useful.
If you are often cold in the office, you are likely a woman
“Why?” you say? Because office cooling systems are designed for men who have higher metabolisms and generate more heat than do women. According to a recent article in Vox—
“The formulas used to design and calibrate most heating and cooling systems are based on a single estimate of the metabolic activity of a 40-year-old, 155-pound male.This formula for the human body’s level of comfort, created in the 1960s, made no attempt to take women or people of different sizes or ages into account — and hasn’t been touched for decades.”
A recent study in Nature found that if you use real women’s metabolic output (based on skin temperature) to program the air conditioning system, they were much more comfortable in their office building. (Of course, the men were likely wondering if the air conditioning was malfunctioning.)
Does your smartphone maybe know a little too much about you?
New smartphones have a lot of sensors and they can, if you have not carefully shut the sensors all off, they track how active you are physically, how much you sleep, and where you go on an average day. By comparing that data over time, your smart phone could know if you are depressed as a reflection of your behavior changes. Wow—really? You may lose interest in activities, sleep more or less, withdraw socially, and more. A new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (who knew there was such a journal?) examined whether smartphones could identify your behavioral changes and conclude you were depressed. Sure enough! People who were more depressed had more irregular movement patterns (going to work at a different time each day while those who were not depressed left at about the same time each day). They also were less mobile and changed locations less. And in an odd twist, people who are depressed use their phones more often and for longer periods of time—not to make phone calls but to text, play games, read, or something similar. It’s something Louis CK knows all about based on this video from the Conan O’Brien show.
Kret ME, Fischer AH, & De Dreu CK (2015). Pupil Mimicry Correlates With Trust in In-Group Partners With Dilating Pupils. Psychological science PMID: 26231910