Positive Leadership has also been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Snowstorm Study: A Classic Study of Employee Commitment

With the UK gripped in the midst of another winter freeze, consider this fascinating piece of research!

Behavioural scientists do many studies, including controlled experiments, which entail massive advanced planning. But some of the most interesting studies happen when something strange or unplanned unfolds, and the researcher capitalises on serendipity. Consider a little study done in the late 1970’s by industrial psychologist Frank J. Smith, who had collected employee attitude data from about 3000 employees at Sears’ headquarters in Chicago. Smith found that employee attitudes towards their jobs and their supervisors weren’t especially useful predictors of which employees were absent from work UNTIL the day a crippling snowstorm hit. Employees had a good excuse to stay home, so they had considerable discretion over whether to make the tough trip in or not. That day, employees who were more satisfied with their supervision and other parts of their jobs were far more likely to make the trip in than those who were dissatisfied.  In particular, whether or not they were satisfied with their supervision was among the strongest predictors of attendance.

Since then, many other researchers have shown that when people feel mistreated and dissatisfied with their jobs, they are unwilling to expend “discretionary effort.”  It makes sense.  When you are stuck working for, or with, people you don’t admire, you don’t go out of your way to help. But when you  admire your bosses and peers, you will go to extreme lengths to help –- and it is clear that most people feel and act the same way.


Chinese, Indian Workers Give Bosses Top Marks

Workers in Japan gave their bosses low marks while managers in China and India won kudos in a recent survey. Only 35% of employees in Japan rated their company's senior management highly on a set of five attributes—such as their commitment to high-quality products and their people management skills. Globally, 55% of employees rated their senior managers highly, and in the U.S., 56% of employees did.

The survey was conducted earlier this year by the Kenexa Research Institute, and included 29,000 respondents from companies with at least 100 workers.

Separately, Kenexa's research has found that employees at higher-performing companies tend to rate their leaders more highly than employees at lower-performing companies do. In the U.S., Americans gave the highest scores to senior managers' commitment to high quality products and services, and the lowest marks to the confidence they inspired. Among industries, only 46% of government workers believed that their senior managers were effective, according to the report. In contrast, 64% of workers in high-tech manufacturing rated them highly.