5 What Can Classical Psychological Experiment Teach the Workplace Leader?
In the past 100 years, there has been a seismic change in the way we manage people at work.
In the early 20th century, management focused on workforce productivity. It was the age of Henry Ford during the 1936 comedy show, as the assembly line depicted by Charlie Chaplin worked for employees who were divided into departments like factory workers.
Skip a few generations and you can observe that the modern workspace is different from the scientific management era. This is the age of behavioral management, where productivity stems from understanding employee motivation.
In this information age, managers and leaders need to know a little about what individual employees are pointing at and can benefit from studying the following five classic psychological experiments in human behavior.
Standford Prison Experiment
In this highly controversial 1971 Stanford University study led by Standford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo, a research team replicated a prison environment where paid volunteers who were scanned as “psychologically stable” in the university basement were grouped into random prisoners and guards.
In a very short time, prisoners began to bow down to the guards who took on the role of bullying and sadistic. The experiment quickly got out of control and finished just 6 days later.
The illuminating aspect of this experiment is how quickly people get used to authority and subjugate it.
This is the same for management in companies. This controversial experiment reminds leaders and leaders’ leaders that leaders determine the culture and tone of the organization and that they must create a constructive and harmonious environment where their colleagues feel engaged and productive.
This 1968 experiment was conducted by two psychologists, Rosenthal and Jacobson, at Oak Primary School in South San Francisco.
The faculty members were reportedly given the “Affected Acquisition Harvard Test”, which measures “potential academic experts” to students .
The names of the highest 20 percent potential were revealed to the teachers. Unlike teachers, these tests failed to predict potential and 20 percent were randomly selected from the group.
This led to a self-fulfilling prophecy, where teachers focus their energies subconsciously on high performing children and set easier tasks for perceived low achievers.
These 20 percent randomly selected children were retested eight months later and scored significantly higher in the acquisition test.
In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, the story of the sculptor Pygmalion, who is in love with his own carving statue, is told. Apparently, teachers were enchanted when they saw that they were nurtured by academically gifted students and how expectations affect performance.
The average workplace varies with ability and potential relative to the high performers (or HiPos) who manage most of the attention and resources.
Leaders should check their assumptions about high performers, look outside the narrow leadership lines of sight, and understand that, given the right levels of encouragement, support, and “love”, everyone in the organization can perform to their potential.
Dov Frohman says “Leadership is Hard: Why Leadership Cannot Be Taught and How You Can Learn”, leaders are found in the strangest places.
It often turns out that the best candidates are people from outside the mainstream. – mismatches, critics, and sometimes opponents, who will never wait at first, will have leadership potential.
So be prepared to look for new leaders in unexpected places and give them the opportunity they need. ”
In 2009, Volkswagen conducted a simple experiment at the Odenplan subway in Stockholm. In the night, they turned the ladder next to the elevator into a giant keyboard used in the movie Big with Tom Hanks.
During the experiment, 66 percent of vehicles chose musical stairs instead of escalators, and showed that most people naturally choose entertaining environments.
Some leaders are hesitant to create a fun workplace, but research by Erin Fluegge Woolf from the University of Florida shows that a fun environment improves employee productivity and reduces absenteeism.
Maybe the piano stairs are a bit too much, but in order to be effective, leaders need to constantly explore creative ways to increase employee engagement.
Perhaps one of the most unethical psychological experiments of all time was the 1961 Milgram experiment at Yale University . Volunteers were told to watch a student perform a memory test and watch an electric shock if they gave an incorrect answer.
Two-thirds of volunteers applied electric shock to potentially lethal levels when instructed by the authority figure. In fact, he was a buyer actor and there was no electric shock, but volunteers were unaware of it and seemed to abandon his personal ethics depending on authority.
People do not execute their colleagues by electricity, but the principle of abandoning personal moral judgment in the workplace under the influence of a dominant authority figure is common in large organizations.
Some of the famous corporate misconduct, such as Enron and recently Volkswagen, included co-workers who conducted unethical practices against their conscience when instructed. Leaders should be aware of how power and authority play in the workplace.
Harvard graduates Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons invited the participants to focus on a simple task and counted the students passing the ball in a circle.
The study showed that during their intensive counts, most of the participants did not realize that a person dressed in a gorilla suit walked into the apartment, and how they missed important details when people overestimated their multitasking ability.
David Sanbonmatsu, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah , said, “When people multitask, they often do bad things.” Said.
This has very important consequences for the multitasking culture in the workplace.
Managers and leaders should not overwhelm their staff with more than one task and focus individuals on completing single tasks to limit distraction and maximize efficiency.
In this age of behavioral management, managers and leaders have a responsibility to learn some basic information in human behavior.
Psychological experiments are excellent resources for understanding specific patterns of human behavior, such as identifying the right leadership tone in the workplace, supporting colleagues, creating fun environments, strengthening ethical behavior, and helping colleagues to be more productive.