Why Boards Should Worry about Executives’ Off-the-Job Behavior

In the mid 2000s the United States was reeling from a wave of corporate scandals: Think of WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, and AIG. For Aiyesha Dey, then an assistant professor of accounting at the University of Chicago, those episodes fueled a question: Did leaders’ lifestyles affect outcomes for their firms, and if so, how? “There were all these articles about how executives at those companies were throwing parties for millions of dollars,” Dey recalls. So she and colleagues embarked on a series of studies linking leaders’ off-the-job behavior with their actions at work.

In deciding what behaviors to focus on, the researchers drew on findings in psychology and criminology. They settled on two: a propensity to break the law, which is tied to an overall lack of self-control and a disregard for rules, and materialism, which is associated with an insensitivity to how one’s actions affect others and the environment.

Across four studies, Dey—now an associate professor at Harvard Business School—and her coauthors examined correlations between one or both of those behaviors and five on-the-job issues.

Insider trading.
In their most recent paper, the researchers looked at whether executives’ personal legal records—everything from traffic tickets to driving under the influence and assault—had any relation to their tendency to execute trades on the basis of confidential inside information. Using U.S. federal and state crime databases, criminal background checks, and private investigators, they identified firms that had simultaneously employed at least one executive with a record and at least one without a record during the period from 1986 to 2017. This yielded a sample of nearly 1,500 executives, including 503 CEOs. Examining executive trades of company stock, they found that those were more profitable for executives with a record than for others, suggesting that the former had made use of privileged information. The effect was greatest among executives with multiple offenses and those with serious violations (anything worse than a traffic ticket).

Could governance measures curb such activity? Many firms have “blackout” policies to deter improper trading. Because the existence of those policies is hard to determine (few companies publish data on them), the researchers used a common proxy: whether the bulk of trades by a firm’s officers occurred within 21 days after an earnings announcement (generally considered an allowable window). They compared the trades of executives with a record at companies with and without blackout policies, with sobering results: Although the policies mitigated abnormally profitable trades among traffic violators, they had no effect on the trades of serious offenders. The latter were likelier than others to trade during blackouts and to miss SEC reporting deadlines. They were also likelier to buy or sell before major announcements, such as of earnings or M&A, and in the three years before their companies went bankrupt—evidence similarly suggesting they had profited from inside information. “While strong governance can discipline minor offenders, it appears to be largely ineffective for executives with more-serious criminal infractions,” the researchers write.

All this led Dey and her coauthors to wonder: Why do boards hire—or fail to fire—executives who have broken the law? To that end, they more closely analyzed the CEOs in their sample. It didn’t appear that companies where the CEO had a record had fewer independent directors, or that the directors had legal records themselves. Nor did those CEOs generate superior returns. Noting that most committed their first offense after taking office, Dey says, “It could be they’re not monitored as much if they came up from within the firm and are doing an OK job—not better than average, but not worse.” In informal conversations, some senior executives and directors told her, “I don’t care what they did, especially if it was a long time ago.”

Fraudulent reporting.
In an earlier study, Dey and her coauthors identified 109 firms that had submitted fraudulent financial statements to the SEC. Comparing those companies’ CEOs with the heads of comparable firms that had clean reporting slates, they found that far more leaders in the fraud group had a legal record: 20.2%, versus just 4.6% of those in the control group.

Firmwide reporting risk.
The same study looked at whether executives other than the CEO submitted fraudulent financial statements or made unintentional reporting errors. It turned out that CEOs’ legal histories had no effect on this measure—but their materialism did. Leaders with lavish personal consumption habits (the researchers used property and tax records to identify CEOs who, relative to their peers, owned unusually expensive homes, cars, or boats) ran lax operations in which reporting errors of both kinds were prevalent. This often worsened during their tenures, as they made cultural changes associated with higher fraud risk: appointing materialistic CFOs, increasing equity-based incentives, and relaxing board monitoring.

A propensity to take chances.
In a study focused on banks, Dey and her coauthors found that materialistic CEOs took more risks: Their institutions had higher outstanding loans, more noninterest income (which could reflect greater trading activity), and more mortgage-backed securities (known for their riskiness) as a proportion of assets. Using a standard index composed of factors such as whether the firm had a chief risk officer, they found that banks helmed by materialistic CEOs had weaker risk management than others. And cultural indicators, such as whether other executives in the firm reaped abnormally high returns from trades during the Great Recession’s bank bailouts, indicated that materialistic CEOs were likelier than others to run loose ships in this regard, too.

Corporate social responsibility.
Psychologists have shown that people who prioritize material goods are less concerned about others and less likely to engage in environmentally responsible behaviors. The researchers expected this to be true of materialistic CEOs, and they were right: Those leaders got lower overall CSR scores than other chief executives and had fewer CSR strengths and more weaknesses.

Source : https://hbr.org/2020/01/why-boards-should-worry-about-executives-off-the-job-behavior


A slingshot generates a lot of energy with the pullback that propels an object forward. I want people to envision that kind of forward propulsion for their career development, too. Instead of making linear and incremental progress on the largely outmoded slow climb up the career ladder, a professional step back can position people for an exponential explosion of growth. Rapid, even exponential development, of human resources fuels organizations.

Recently, author and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain was a guest on my Disrupt Yourself podcast. A long-time advocate of the value of the internet, Shlain admits that she never envisioned what we see today: people ignoring each other as they focus on their smartphones. To combat this reality, Shlain and her family step back one day a week by taking a “tech Shabbat.” They unplug from their devices to recharge as individuals and a family. They’ve been doing it for a decade. It allows them to be “really present with each other” and facilitates “reflection and big-picture thinking.” Creativity and productivity the other six days of the week are enhanced by the rest, refresh and reset.

Interval training is a comparable strategy for physical fitness and conditioning. Flat-out exercise interspersed with brief periods of lower-intensity exertion, like Shlain’s tech Shabbat, demonstrates at a micro level the advantages a step back—the lower-intensity period in the exercise analogy—can bring to a career at the macro level.

Simply put, no one can perform their best when they’re constantly overexerting themselves, moving forward at a speed that’s difficult to maintain and accelerate. However, a slow-down period, such as a step back or sideways in a career, can free up some of the mental and physical energy required to stay afloat in a high-intensity environment, thus providing a springboard of new experiences, learning and growth.

Unfortunately, most people still find such moves counterintuitive. Our default belief is that progress always means moving up or forward. HR professionals can contribute to organizational growth by incorporating steps back as part of a talent development strategy. Here are some ideas to consider:

Be Open to the Unconventional
To keep pace—much less lead the pack—in a world of rapid change and innovation, organizations can’t limit themselves to positioning employees based solely on their education or prior experience. What an individual has done in the past is not the only predictor of what they might do—or what you might need them to do—in the future. They may contribute more to your organization by learning an entirely new discipline. Allow, encourage and facilitate people to “start over” in unconventional ways. If an employee shows interest in a department or field they have no prior experience in, give them an opportunity to try it out, especially if they’ve already proven themselves to be a hard worker in another discipline.

Make Ongoing Training and Learning a Top Priority
The human brain functions best when challenged. Feel-good chemicals like dopamine lubricate the mental works as we learn, and learning contributes to engagement and productivity. It may seem that people will do their best work when they’ve fully mastered its requirements; instead, they often stagnate from boredom and disengage as they exhaust the learning curve associated with their role. A mental “Shabbat” to refresh and reset their brains is needed? for most people every three to four years. All employees need avenues to continually update their skills with emerging technologies.

Invest in Incentives for the Step Back
Most people feel that their next role should involve a step up in compensation. But steps back or sideways for growth don’t readily accommodate that expectation. It may not be possible to financially incentivize them, which calls for creative thinking. Is there a specific learning opportunity associated with a step back? Can an employee anticipate the opportunity to work on a desirable project or with a senior employee as a mentor? What can HR highlight as the advantages of a step back? This requires forethought and conversations with individuals about their desired career trajectory. Know what motivates them.

Some employees will envision and embrace a step back or sideways career strategy for themselves and will need help from HR to bring it to fruition. Others may need the vision to come from HR, and a nudge in a new direction. Recognizing the growth potential for organizations when we focus on the growth potential of individuals should guide us in making the development of our valuable human resources our top priority.

Source : https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/rework/career-development-employees-need-step-back-spring-forward

Reality check: The learning pro’s primer on AR, VR tech

Virtual reality and related technologies are gaining momentum in the employee learning field. Trainers love these tools for their ability to create an authentic learning experience in a safe, controlled environment and employees say they’re on board, too.

But what exactly are these technologies? What do they do and how can you make use of them in your workplace? For many, understanding the tech is the first step toward implementation.

Alphabet soup

All together, these tools fall under the umbrella of XR — extended reality — according to Jack Makhlouf, Talespin’s VP of sales and licensing, enterprise learning.

Within XR is VR and AR, virtual reality and augmented reality. To add to the confusion, AR is sometimes called MR, or mixed reality, Makhlouf told HR Dive in an email.

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Essentially, VR is a simulated experience that transports the user to a virtual environment that can be similar to or completely different from a real-world scenario. AR is an interactive experience where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated information.


VR and AR have many real-world applications, according to Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director, talent management at Willis Towers Watson. “VR and AR have gotten increasingly popular for training people on scenarios that don’t occur often (e.g., a store manager being taught how to deal with an armed customer) and for training people on things that require significant practice (operating a complex piece of machinery),” he told HR Dive via email.

As a result, they’re fast becoming a safety training must-have, especially for distributed workforces. These tools can be used to familiarize workers with a risky procedure or process before they attempt it in real life, Concept3D’s CEO Gordon Boyes wrote to HR Dive. For location training, staff can learn safety procedures or the locations of exits, eyewash stations or fire extinguishers. “We use AR or mixed reality for remote locations,” Boyes said, “and can overlay relevant data or information in its correct location without having someone needing to go to the remote site.”

VR training scenarios also are particularly useful for practicing workplace conversations, Makhlouf noted. Workers can test run negotiations or customer interactions. “People generally don’t get enough real-time practice engaging in difficult conversations so it takes much longer to build competency,” he said; these tools can allow trainees to practice scenarios where soft skills are critical before being thrown into real-life situations.

Moreover, trainees are free to fail, get feedback, retry and improve with little judgment or consequence, Makhlouf said: “They are free to stretch their skills and gain a higher level of learning — that is the real power of this technology.”


While costly, Jesuthasan said, VR and AR have major benefits. For one, the speed of training on highly complex topics is unprecedented.

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Additionally, the tech boosts knowledge retention because people are visual learners, Boyes said. “An employee’s ability to learn and retain information is greatly enhanced with the addition of immersive media.” The self-directed nature of the training can result in a cost savings, too, Boyes added.

XR training programs tend to be scalable as well, Makhlouf said, which can make it more cost-efficient. But ultimately, employees seem to like them, and that’s perhaps the best return on investment an employer could hope for. After all, if you can’t get employees to complete training, there’s no ROI at all. “[W]e believe training should effective, cost-efficient, and measurable,” Makhlouf said, “but most of all, fun.”

Source: https://www.hrdive.com/news/reality-check-the-learning-pros-primer-on-ar-vr-tech/568730/

The New Analytics of Culture

business’s culture can catalyze or undermine success. Yet the tools available for measuring it—namely, employee surveys and questionnaires—have significant shortcomings. Employee self-reports are often unreliable. The values and beliefs that people say are important to them, for example, are often not reflected in how they actually behave. Moreover, surveys provide static, or at best episodic, snapshots of organizations that are constantly evolving. And they’re limited by researchers’ tendency to assume that distinctive and idiosyncratic cultures can be neatly categorized into a few common types.

Our research focuses on a new method for assessing and measuring organizational culture. We used big-data processing to mine the ubiquitous “digital traces” of culture in electronic communications, such as emails, Slack messages, and Glassdoor reviews. By studying the language employees use in these communications, we can measure how culture actually influences their thoughts and behavior at work.

In one study, two of us partnered with a midsize technology company to assess the degree of cultural fit between employees and their colleagues on the basis of similarity of linguistic style expressed in internal email messages. In a separate study, two of us analyzed the content of Slack messages exchanged among members of nearly 120 software development teams. We examined the diversity of thoughts, ideas, and meaning expressed by team members and then measured whether it was beneficial or detrimental to team performance. We also partnered with employer-review website Glassdoor to analyze how employees talk about their organizations’ culture in anonymous reviews to examine the effects of cultural diversity on organizational efficiency and innovation.

Jean-Pierre Attal/Courtesy of Galerie Olivier Waltman
The explosion of digital trace data such as emails and Slack communications—together with the availability of computational methods that are faster, cheaper, and easier to use—has ushered in a new scientific approach to measuring culture. Our computational-lingustics approach is challenging prevailing assumptions in the field of people analytics and revealing novel insights about how managers can harness culture as a strategic resource. We believe that with appropriate measures to safeguard employee privacy and minimize algorithmic bias it holds great promise as a tool for managers grappling with culture issues in their firms.

The Studies
Our recent studies have focused on cultural fit versus adaptability, the pros and cons of fitting in, cognitive diversity, and the effects of diversity on organizational performance. Let’s look at each in detail.

Fit versus adaptability.
When managers think about hiring for cultural fit, they focus almost exclusively on whether candidates reflect the values, norms, and behaviors of the team or organization as it currently exists. They often fail to consider cultural adaptability—the ability to rapidly learn and conform to organizational cultural norms as they change over time. In a recent study two of us conducted with Stanford’s V. Govind Manian and Christopher Potts, we analyzed how cultural fit and cultural adaptability affected individual performance at a high-tech company by comparing linguistic styles expressed in more than 10 million internal email messages exchanged over five years among 601 employees. For example, we looked at the extent to which an employee used swear words when communicating with colleagues who themselves cursed frequently or used personal pronouns (“we” or “I”) that matched those used by her peer group. We also tracked how employees adapted to their peers’ cultural conventions over time.

We found, as expected, that a high level of cultural fit led to more promotions, more-favorable performance evaluations, higher bonuses, and fewer involuntary departures. Cultural adaptability, however, turned out to be even more important for success. Employees who could quickly adapt to cultural norms as they changed over time were more successful than employees who exhibited high cultural fit when first hired. These cultural “adapters” were better able to maintain fit when cultural norms changed or evolved, which is common in organizations operating in fast-moving, dynamic environments.

These results suggest that the process of cultural alignment does not end at the point of hire. Indeed, our study also found that employees followed distinct enculturation trajectories—at certain times in their tenure demonstrating more cultural fit with colleagues and at other times less. Most eventually adapted to the behavioral norms of their peers, and those who stayed at their company exhibited increasing cultural fit over time. Employees who were eventually terminated were those who had been unable to adapt to the culture. Employees who left voluntarily were the most fascinating: They quickly adapted culturally early in their tenures but drifted out of step later on and were likely to leave the firm once they became cultural outsiders.

To further assess how cultural fit and adaptability affect performance, Berkeley’s Jennifer Chatman and Richard Lu and two of us surveyed employees at the same high-tech company to measure value congruence (the extent to which employees’ core values and beliefs about a desirable workplace fit with their peers) and perceptual congruence (how well employees can read the “cultural code” by accurately reporting the values held by peers). We found that value congruence is predictive of retention—employees with it are less likely to voluntarily leave the company—but is unrelated to job performance. We found that the opposite is true of perceptual congruence: It is predictive of higher job performance but unrelated to retention. These results suggest that companies striving to foster a stable and committed workforce should focus on hiring candidates who share similar values with current employees. Employers needing people who can quickly assimilate and be productive should pay greater attention to candidates who demonstrate the ability to adapt to new cultural contexts.

The benefits of not fitting in.
When might it better to hire a cultural misfit? People who see the world differently and have diverse ideas and perspectives often bring creativity and innovation to an organization. But because of their outsider status, they may struggle to have their ideas recognized by colleagues as legitimate. In a recent study two of us conducted with V. Govind Manian, Christopher Potts, and William Monroe, we compared employees’ levels of cultural fit with the extent to which they served as a bridge between otherwise disconnected groups in the firm’s internal communication network. For instance, an employee might have connections with colleagues that bridge both the engineering and sales departments, allowing her to access and pass on a greater variety of information and ideas.

Consistent with prior work, we found that cultural fit was, on average, positively associated with career success. The benefits of fitting in culturally were especially great for individuals who served as network bridges. When traversing the boundary between engineering and sales, for example, they could hold their own in technical banter with the former and in customer-oriented discourse with the latter. People who attempted to span boundaries but could not display cultural ambidexterity were especially penalized: They were seen as both cultural outsiders and social outsiders without clear membership in any particular social clique. However, we also identified a set of individuals who benefited from being cultural misfits: those who did not have networks spanning disparate groups but instead had strong connections within a defined social clique. By building trusting social bonds with colleagues, they were able to overcome their outsider status and leverage their distinctiveness. These results suggest that an effective hiring strategy should strive for a portfolio of both conformists—or at least those who can rapidly adapt to a company’s changing culture—and cultural misfits.

Cognitive diversity.
Proponents of cultural diversity in teams presume that it leads to cognitive diversity; that is, diversity in thoughts and ideas. But the findings about whether cognitive diversity helps or hinders team performance are inconclusive. Part of the problem is that these studies use imperfect proxies for cognitive diversity, such as diversity in demographics, personalities, or self-reported beliefs and values. Moreover, this line of research has rarely looked at how diversity is actually expressed in communications and interactions, which is problematic given that team members are sometimes reluctant to share their real feelings and opinions. Finally, cognitive diversity is often assumed to be static, even though we know team dynamics frequently change over a project’s life cycle.

In a new study, which two of us conducted with Stanford researchers Katharina Lix and Melissa Valentine, we overcame these challenges by analyzing the content of Slack messages exchanged among team members of 117 remote software-development teams. We identified instances when team members discussing similar topics used diverse meanings, perspectives, and styles, and then analyzed the impact of that diversity on performance. For example, in discussions of customer requirements, different interpretations of the desired look and feel of the user interface in some cases led developers to talk past one another and fail to coordinate but in other cases sparked creative new ideas.

Our results indicate that the performance consequences of cognitive diversity vary as a function of project milestone stages. In the early stages, when the team is defining the problem at hand, diversity lowers the chances of successfully meeting milestones. During middle stages, when the team is most likely to be engaged in ideation, diversity increases the likelihood of team success. Diversity becomes an obstacle again toward the end of a project, when the team is deep into execution.

Cultural diversity and the organization as a whole.
We’ve seen that there are trade-offs associated with diversity in teams, but how does it affect the performance of entire organizations? Conventional wisdom holds that firms must choose between a homogeneous, efficient culture and a diverse, innovative culture. A homogeneous culture improves efficiency and coordination, the theory goes, because employees agree about the norms and beliefs guiding work, but the benefits come at the expense of fewer novel ideas about how to accomplish tasks. In contrast, a heterogeneous culture sacrifices the benefits of consensus in favor of healthy disagreement among employees that can promote adaptability and innovation. The evidence supporting this thinking, however, is scant and inconclusive.

In a recent study, we analyzed the language that employees used when describing their organization’s culture (for example, “our culture is collaborative,” “our culture is entrepreneurial,” and so on) in anonymous reviews of nearly 500 publicly traded companies on Glassdoor. We first measured the level of interpersonal cultural diversity, or disagreement among employees about the norms and beliefs characterizing the organization. We found that interpersonal cultural diversity makes it difficult for employees to coordinate with one another and reduces the organization’s efficiency as measured by return on assets.

We then measured the organizations’ level of intrapersonal cultural diversity. Those with high intrapersonal cultural diversity had employees with a large number of cultural ideas and beliefs about how to accomplish tasks within the company (measured as the average number of cultural topics that employees discussed in their Glassdoor reviews). For instance, employees at Netflix conceptualized the work culture in terms of autonomy, responsibility, collaboration, and intense internal competition. We found that organizations with greater intrapersonal cultural diversity had higher market valuations and produced more and higher-quality intellectual property via patenting, evidence that their employees’ diverse ideas about how to do work led them to be more creative and innovative.

Jean-Pierre Attal/Courtesy of Galerie Olivier Waltman
About the art: In his project Cells, photographer Jean-Pierre Attal explores the social urban archaeology of modern office towers, revealing the recurrence of patterns and postures found inside.
This suggests that organizations may be able to resolve the assumed trade-off between efficiency and innovation by encouraging diverse cultural ideas while fostering agreement among employees about the importance of a common set of organizational norms and beliefs. Again, consider Netflix: Although “multicultural” employees contributed to the company’s diverse culture and drove innovation, the culture was nonetheless anchored by core shared beliefs, such as the importance of radical transparency and accountability, which help employees coordinate and work efficiently.

Implications for Practice
How can these findings inform leaders’ understanding of culture as a tool for improving the performance of employees, teams, and the broader organization?

First, managers can increase retention by hiring candidates whose core values and beliefs about a desirable workplace align well with those of current employees. However, too much emphasis on cultural fit can stifle diversity and cause managers to overlook promising candidates with unique perspectives. Hiring managers should look for candidates who demonstrate cultural adaptability, as these employees may be better able to adjust to the inevitable cultural changes that occur as organizations navigate increasingly dynamic markets and an evolving workforce.

Hiring managers should also not overlook cultural misfits. They can be wellsprings of creativity and innovation. But to make sure they flourish inside the organization, managers should consider assigning them to roles in which they are likely to develop strong connections within particular social groups. That’s because misfits need the trust and support of colleagues to be seen as quirky innovators rather than outlandish outsiders.

Second, leaders should be mindful that the expression of diverse perspectives in teams needs to be managed. Cognitive diversity is essential for generating novel, innovative solutions to complex problems, especially during the planning and ideation phases of a project. However, the expression of diverse perspectives can quickly become a liability when the team needs to focus on execution and meet looming deadlines. It is during these times that team members have to unify around a common interpretation of the problem and come to agreement about what needs to get done to solve it. Leaders must be adept at switching back and forth, learning when and how to promote the expression of divergent opinions and meanings and when to create a context for convergence.

An important distinction is warranted here. The term “diversity” is often used to connote variation in the demographic makeup of a firm’s workforce. This has been particularly the case in recent years, as companies have tackled pernicious problems such as the underrepresentation of women and minorities in decision-making positions in organizations. In our work, we use “cultural diversity” to refer to variation in people’s beliefs and normative expectations, irrespective of their demographic composition. As we pointed out earlier, demographic and cultural diversity are related, but a demographically homogenous group may be culturally diverse, and vice versa. Our research on cultural diversity is relevant to but ultimately independent of efforts to increase gender, race, and ethnic diversity in firms.

Third, leaders should foster a culture that is diverse yet consensual in order to promote both innovation and efficiency. Such a culture is composed of multicultural employees who each subscribe to a variety of norms and beliefs about how to do work. These diverse ideas help employees excel at complex tasks, such as dreaming up the next groundbreaking innovation. Managers should encourage employees to experiment with different ways of working—extensive collaboration for some tasks, for example, and intense competition for others. At the same time, a culture should also be consensual in that employees agree on a common set of cultural norms—shared understandings—that helps them successfully coordinate with one another. Leaders can signal the importance of these norms during onboarding and in everyday interactions, just as leaders at Netflix do by rewarding employees for sharing their mistakes with colleagues in order to promote beliefs about the value of transparency.

A New Management Tool
Many of the tools we used in these studies are off-the-shelf products, and there is great potential for managers to use them to help solve practical challenges inside organizations. For instance, Stanford PhD candidate Anjali Bhatt is working with two of us to demonstrate how language-based culture measures can be used to anticipate the pain points of postmerger integration. We are studying the merger of three retail banks, and analysis of emails has revealed stark differences in the rates of cultural assimilation among individuals. Such tools can be used diagnostically to assess the cultural alignment between firms during premerger due diligence, as well as prescriptively during integration to identify where and how to focus managerial interventions.

Yet the accessibility of these tools also raises important ethical concerns. In our work, we maintain strict employee confidentiality, meaning that neither we nor the organization is able to link any employee to any specific communication used in our studies. We also strongly advise against using these tools to select, reward, or punish individual employees and teams, for at least four reasons: Accurately predicting individual and team performance is considerably more challenging than estimating average effects for broad types of individuals and teams; culture is only one of many factors influencing individual and team performance in organizations; algorithmic predictions often create a false sense of certainty in managers; and finally, giving any algorithm undue weight can have unintended consequences—for instance, exacerbating human biases that negatively affect women and members of underrepresented social groups.

Algorithms make estimates, but it is ultimately humans’ responsibility to make informed judgments using them. Managers must be vigilant about keeping metadata anonymous and must regularly audit algorithmic decision-making for bias to ensure that the use of language-based tools does not have unintended adverse consequences on culture itself—for instance, by breeding employee distrust.

These important ethical questions notwithstanding, we believe that these tools will continue to generate insights that allow managers to finally manage the culture as a strategic resource, and ultimately lead to more culturally diverse and inclusive teams and organizations.

Source : https://hbr.org/2020/01/the-new-analytics-of-culture

HR – Make Some Noise!

We as talking to a CHRO recently and he was talking about the perception that people in their organisation had about HR. He went on to say “if you want to be thanked for what you do at work, don’t go into HR!” He went on to say that people in HR need to “get over the fact that they won’t get a lot of recognition and that if they think that they are going to be thrown flowers and gifts for their work in HR then they should get out of the function now.”

In simple terms what HR does is very personal to each employee and it’s always going to be hard to ‘please everyone all of the time’. If the Business Development function fails to meet its’ targets, it focuses on what it can change and makes sure it hits the target next month and if Marketing gets the messaging ‘not quite right’ it will simply redesign the campaign. However, if HR makes a mistake, it will probably impact upon an employees’ life, their motivation and their feeling about the organisation – in other words it’s very personal to them!

HR Work is Important
When managers are well trained and effective in their people management capabilities they are able to explain the rationale behind the people systems and to explain coherently why something can or cannot happen. However, even if managers are trained and developed, the less competent or less confident managers will usually advise an employee that their issue is “because of HR” as HR determines pay, job titles and grading, the disciplinary process etc. and so it automatically becomes HR’s fault!

It made me think that HR leaders often echo this same sentiment that their efforts frequently go unnoticed unless something goes wrong; in fact most aspects of the Head Office functions that support an organisation achieve its’ success (such as Marketing, IT, Procurement, HR etc.) are not alone in this regard. This just seems to be the reality for most of these support functions.

If you think about it if you work in an IT department, the business doesn’t think about what you do until the IT system crashes and other departments are unable to do their work effectively! There are many elements of HR that are only noticed if things or events go pear-shaped – that’s the reality! Whilst appreciating how any function operates the view of many CHRO’s that I have met suggests that compliments shouldn’t be expected. Having said this, many corporate initiatives and smaller scale achievements have been realized through HR and organisations will reap the benefits of the functions hard work albeit that HR will not be at the forefront of the successes.

So why is that? HR needs to start letting people working in their organisation know what they are doing and how they are impacting upon the ‘bottom line’ – if an HR function can’t demonstrate that in the current climate then it’s no surprise that the efforts of HR will be forgotten about. Start your influence process by understanding the key individuals you are trying to influence. Start with the CEO and the senior management team. They didn’t get to the top without being 100% focused on what needs to be done and without developing their own agenda and if HR is truly going to help them accomplish their goals, HR has to first understand what gets their attention. This is difficult, but still possible, even if you are in a perceived ‘low profile’ department like HR. One key aspect is that HR has to start talking the language of the business; that doesn’t mean talking about HR policies and procedures but start talking about the commercial challenges (increased profitability, improved efficiency or service etc.) and how HR can support those issues those its’ insights into talent, people capability etc.

To the senior management team, almost every decision requires a “business case” and because they have learned to think in analytical terms and to quantify everything, HR has to do the same. I have found that the prime reason that so many HR departments are constantly being cut by financially driven initiatives is not wholly because HR hasn’t proved its’ value but because firstly HR does not “show off what it has done” and market itself internally. Secondly, HR fails to provide quantifiable proof of their strategic value in a manner and language that the senior management team understand; namely financially based savings and income benefits. This is why the whole people analytics debate is so important because instead of just trusting HR to do the right things, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate in financial performance terms why certain programmes work and why certain approaches don’t work. Sure, that needs courage because numbers can go up as well as down but that’s the dilemma that all business managers face every day!

In Summation
There are many HR professionals who hate the idea of self-promotion. The reality is that all support services and professionals need to be on the front foot and say “look what we have done for your business. You now have a commercial competitive advantage because of the clever stuff we have done” …or words to that effect. I’m not saying that sound HR thinking and practices aren’t valued but the time has come for HR to confidently make some noise – what harm can it do you? If you are afraid that it will place the focus upon you and your function moving forward, then perhaps HR isn’t for you because the scrutiny and commercial rigor has only just begun – wait until the analytics revolution hits your organisation!

Source : https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/shared-services/columns/hr-make-some-noise

5 Tenets Of Leadership For 2020 And Beyond

I can’t believe how fast time has passed and that we are now just weeks away from 2020! As we approach a new decade it’s time to think about leadership trends for the next era, and what the biggest drivers of business over the next 10 years will be. Below are a few tenets of leadership that are top of mind for me—and although I developed these concepts as part of my team’s planning for TiVo, a tech company with a strong innovation agenda, I believe that these leadership principles can be applicable to all organizations.

1. Future-proof Your Business
The future is coming whether you like it or not. A catchphrase I’ve been hearing about business leadership over the past 10 years has been “disrupt or be disrupted”—which is the idea that companies needed to take a proactive approach to introducing innovation, even if it means up-ending their own established business model. The same concept will hold true for the next 10 years, but in a slightly different form; companies will need to keep pushing forward, being inventive, and looking around corners. But, instead of “disruption,” the new emphasis will be on collaboration.

Future-proofing is not just about disrupting the status quo, it’s also about building a collaborative ecosystem that can provide your company with long-term competitive advantages like building strategic partnerships, anticipating market evolution and shifting customer demand before it happens, and developing a culture of innovation. The most successful leaders of the next decade will not fear the future or the changes that come with it. Rather, they will embrace it. They will make their organizations future-facing, adaptable, and open to change.
2. Make Your Company Culture a Driving Economic Force
Too often in business leadership discourse, organizational culture is treated as just an accidental byproduct, or only a matter for concern when talking about talent recruitment and retention. But ignoring or downplaying culture is a massive mistake. Culture is way too important to be relegated to a sideshow; culture will be at the center of your organization’s success or failure over the next 10 years.

Why? First of all, we are in a war for talent, and culture matters for talent management. It’s more important than ever to make an organization’s culture so appealing that people are eager to work there and stay there. A winning culture is a magnet for top talent. But beyond the talent management aspect, your company culture can drive results in other ways, especially if you create a culture of innovation.

Research shows that the most innovative companies have a process-driven innovation strategy, get input from diverse stakeholders, and welcome the contributions of dozens or even hundreds of collaborators. Don’t assume that innovation just happens or that innovation can only come from a few people. Innovation is a team effort and great ideas can come from anywhere. It all starts with the foundation of a strong, supportive company culture.
3. Create a Balanced Portfolio of Revenue Opportunities
The first rule of investing is to diversify, diversify, diversify. Just as you wouldn’t want to put your life savings into a single company’s stock, your organization shouldn’t invest all of its business development resources into a few markets, sales channels, or partnerships. Part of becoming a more innovative and agile organization means embracing multiple opportunities and building a diversified portfolio of investments for future growth—while striking a balance between immediate-term, medium-term, and long-term possibilities.

The exact details of this diversified portfolio strategy might look different for each organization, but the principle is the same; look for ways to spread your risk around. Be open to different types of opportunities. Experiment with new sales channels, new partnerships, and various business models.
4. Brand Building Is a Choice
Don’t let the market dictate who you are and what your company stands for. You need to take proactive steps to control the message, signal your intentions, and make meaningful promises to build credibility. Like innovation, building a strong brand doesn’t just happen, it’s a process-driven choice. It might seem more challenging than ever before in today’s cacophony of 24-7 news and social media, but brand strategy and brand communications are still crucial to your company’s success. You need to convey disciplined messaging about what your company stands for, what your mission is, and what your company intends to deliver to your customers and key stakeholders. And even more importantly, you need to keep your promises to both.
5. Unlock Your Organization’s Potential with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a passion of mine. I practice meditation in my personal life, and I find that it helps me to feel re-centered and focused and to then be more productive at work. Mindfulness will be a popular leadership strategy for successful organizations over the next decade. There are a few ways that your organization can improve productivity with mindfulness, such as reducing the number of meetings and interruptions in the workday, encouraging employees to take little breaks for walks or to stretch, and practicing a calmer, more patient and empathetic style of management. I really believe that mindfulness is the new frontier of leadership; we are just barely starting to see the many ways that mindfulness can make work (and life) better for everyone!

I am excited about what we will see over the next decade. I hope you’ll join me in sharing and practicing these leadership concepts that will help everyone embrace the opportunities ahead with smart strategies, openness to change, and people-centered leadership. These leadership concepts and practices will help us all build a more collaborative, welcoming, and mindful culture in which everyone can do their best work and be their best selves.

Source: https://www.hr.com/en/magazines/leadership_excellence_essentials/december_2019_leadership/5-tenets-of-leadership-for-2020-and-beyond_k3o626iw.html

Why Great Companies Struggle to Build Great Employee Experience

Today’s leaders know that employee experience (EX) matters. As reported by Deloitte, nearly 80 percent of executives consider EX “important” or “very important.” Yet only 22 percent believe their companies excel at it. What’s responsible for this gap? If leaders are committed to putting “people over profits,” why aren’t they confident in the experience they’re providing for their people?

Why a Great EX Is Elusive
In a nutshell, the answer is that world-class EX doesn’t come from the top down—not anymore. Office snacks and annual holiday parties are the new normal, so “perks” are no longer enough to attract, retain, and get maximum value from top talent.

Today’s high-value employees aren’t interested in free candy. They’re interested in a more comprehensive experience, which means:

They want to feel valued and heard.
They want their work to be meaningful.
They want to contribute in creative ways that may extend beyond their roles.
Above all, they want leaders to take action based on what they report from the front lines.

From the c-suite’s perspective, this is an abstract problem with no turnkey solution, which is why some great companies are struggling to build a great EX and turning to HR leaders in their organizations to help.

Learn more: Employee Experience: Greater Than The Sum of Its Parts

The Three Building Blocks of a Great EX
Good news: For HR leaders who are willing to take the wheel, there is a clear, gimmick-free path to outstanding EX. It’s all about 2 main things – one being (efficiently) crowdsourcing employee ideas, then taking action based on those ideas and the second being consistently understanding where employees are in their career journey with the organization.

We’ve boiled this process down to three actionable steps, outlined below. The best part of this approach is that it’s neither abstract nor theoretical. Instead, we rely on existing intuitive and elegant tools that companies can use to accomplish all of this at any scale.

Building Block #1: Obtain Constant and Consistent Feedback
Although annual employee surveys are common, the leading practice is to hear employees’ voices much more frequently. That’s because annual surveys are simply too infrequent to capture everyday pain points. If the survey takes place in October, an operational problem that took three weeks to resolve back in April is probably not going to be reported.

The result, somewhat paradoxically, is that annual surveys are more likely to reflect employees’ moods on the day of the survey than their experiences over the course of a year. This, in turn, means that only a fraction of the feedback collected is truly actionable. Employees are also wise to this, so they don’t perceive annual surveys as an opportunity to make any real change or feel like they are being truly he.

Comcast, for example, has an effective model for continuous employee engagement, in which employee pain points are uncovered via regular team “huddles.” During these huddles, team members review and discuss internal NPS scores, comments, shout-outs, and “Elevations” (ideas for action).

Once an Elevation is submitted following a huddle, its progress is tracked transparently. While Elevations are often low-tech, simple fixes, these minor tweaks have major benefits not only for employees but also for customers. Thanks to this system, Comcast can continuously improve both EX and customer experience (CX) at the same time.

Building Block #2: Track Employee Journeys
Marketing teams track customer journeys, but most HR teams don’t track employee journeys. This is puzzling. Isn’t it true that every company needs loyal, passionate employees just as much as it needs loyal, passionate customers?

For every HR team, understanding employees’ journeys — and the inevitable weak spots along the way — is a strategic necessity. Without an understanding of the employee lifecycle, it’s difficult to build a strong strategy for EX.

Below are the most universal stages of an employee journey. Collecting employee feedback via surveys at these key moments in their journeys is an effective way to improve hiring, onboarding, training, and management practices.

To identify deep patterns, you’ll want to look at this employee journey feedback side by side with employee turnover data. For example, if the majority of your employee turnover occurs within the third or fourth year of employment, that may indicate a lack of internal career advancement opportunities. In that case, you’ll want to explore your company’s promotion process in more detail. Qualitative survey responses will come in handy for that.

By pairing turnover data with employees’ feedback on their journeys, you can gain powerful and directly actionable insights into your EX.

Building Block #3: Act on Employees’ Best Ideas
When mapping the first two building blocks above, we discussed effective ways to listen to employees. That’s the first part of great EX. The second part, equally important, is action. You need to act on employee ideas to show that you value their feedback. However, some employee ideas are better than others. You need to make sure that your system empowers you to act on employees’ best ideas efficiently.

At scale, there are two ways to make sure you’re acting on employees’ best ideas, and you can use one or both.

1. Data Analytics
Hopefully, you’re collecting employees’ unspoken feedback digitally (and not re-purposing a Kleenex box into a “suggestion box”). From there, text analytics makes it possible to continuously identify and prioritize the most pressing problems with the help of machine intelligence.

To improve your recruiting and retention strategy and process based on employee journey data, it’s helpful to segment employees by age group, office location, and other attributes that may differentiate their EX. You can use embedded analytics to do this effortlessly.

2. Decentralized Collaboration
Typically, around 87 percent of employees connect on Facebook. This means that they want their collegial relationships to extend beyond the water cooler.

At some companies, it can be fruitful to encourage employees on different teams to break away from their silos and collaborate. Especially if you want to encourage creativity and innovation, consider establishing an internal digital community among your employees using a crowdsourcing technology platform. These systems make it possible for employees to blur hierarchies and interact with each other as a community of people, which can be a powerful driver of employee retention and happiness.

Using Technology to Make a Company More Human, Not Less
At scale, company leaders need some kind of technology to collect, analyze, and act upon employees’ voices to improve their EX efficiently. What we’ve learned at Medallia is that the same tech that helps companies build better, more human CX can also help build better, more human EX.

In other words, the same tools that companies use to reduce churn and turn detractors into loyal brand lovers can be applied to reduce employee turnover and turn employees into brand ambassadors. The same tools that help employees exemplify company values to customers can also reinforce company values internally.

In short, we as business leaders can show tremendous value to our employees in many of the same ways that we show our love to customers: by connecting with them regularly, checking in at significant moments, and taking action when they come to use with good ideas.

Source : https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/employee-engagement/why-great-companies-struggle-to-build-great-employee-experience/

HR Roundtable: What HR Should Stop, Start And Continue Doing In 2020

The July HR (Cincinnati) Roundtable had a unique facet about it because it marked the beginning of the 20th year of me being the facilitator of the forum. What started as a group of 15 people around a few, sparse tables has turned into a monthly gathering of 125+ people discussing various relevant and “hot” topics. To commemorate this next year, the July Roundtable was discussing – What should HR look like in 2020?

Now, we’re only a few months out from this new decade, but there’s still time to share thoughts and ideas. So, I posed the following questions to get the conversations started.
What should HR stop doing?
What should HR continue doing?
What should HR start doing?
People couldn’t wait to have their thoughts and opinions captured about how to reshape human resources. It was fun to see everyone so engaged. When the large group reconvened, here’s what they had to share.
What Should HR STOP Doing?
Stop being “Policy First, People Second” — We honestly could stop the summary with this statement alone. The days of HR leading with policy first should disappear. It’s antiquated and has never been effective. This isn’t a call for policies to not exist. You need structure and parameters for people. They just shouldn’t be the leading factor for you when you’re in the midst of employee situations.

Stop fearing external partners — Vendors and HR exist in the same space. We can either approach this as adversaries or partners. That is true for both HR and vendors. The more we realize that we complement each other, the more effective we can be for both our organization and our vendor’s company. We need to work on how this looks as mutual partners and stop approaching it as a product/purchase interaction.

Stop being the company police — We have to realize that people want to perform and do well. We should assume positive intent instead of thinking we control others. Control is a myth. Just think how HR would be viewed if the expectation is to help people thrive and perform versus all of our time being spent on confinement and following rules.

Stop talking about people — and start talking TO people. Gossip and idle conversations about people are destructive. You may not be doing this as HR (and I hope you aren’t), but we also allow it to occur at all levels of the company. If there are concerns about someone, then do this. Listen to everyone involved, assess the situation and then address folks directly. Stop talking around situations and people. It’s never worked.

Stop keeping HR inside HR — HR shouldn’t be a department that exists on the fringes of an organization that is only used when and if it’s needed. You don’t want to keep being the people that are only sought after in dire emergencies or dumpster fires. It’s another example of being irrelevant as a function personally, professionally and organizationally. HR needs to be present, visible and fully integrated throughout every nook and cranny of a company!
What Should HR CONTINUE Doing?
Continue listening — People inside organizations needs someone who is consistent, safe and approachable. You can be this if you are someone who truly listens and focuses on people when you encounter them. This could be for serious interventions/situations as well as when you’re out mingling with people. Listening is an on-going skill. It’s not only for situations that are “serious.”

Continue coaching — HR practitioners connect dots. Those dots are usually people. Every time you encounter someone is an opportunity to coach. When you take this approach, then you are more likely to look forward to conversations with employees regardless of their role, level or title. People want to have others who will interact, listen and coach them. It’s far more effective when it’s informal.

Continue being “in the moment” — Steve shared a lesson he learned from someone years earlier when it came to being in the moment. The person shared that you should always “Be there when they’re there.” In other words, remove the distractions that so easily pull us in far too many directions. Be present for others when you interact with them. Get off your phone, your email and your other work. All of those things will still be there after you pay attention to the people who are with you.

Continue removing barriers and obstacles — For some, this may be a “start” activity while others are already in the practice of removing barriers. HR has the ability to remove obstacles for people so they can do their jobs better. This generally involves clearing up lines of communication and clearly defining nuances. That is a phenomenal skill to use with more regularity.
What Should HR START Doing?
Start being a CEO whisperer — HR can’t keep wishing about being at some piece of furniture in order for it to feel that it has credibility. Our role is to make every person succeed including the CEO and senior management. Instead of waiting for them to come to you on a project and/or issue, go to them intentionally and on a regular basis. When you remember that CEO’s and senior managers are employees, then you have a healthier framework to work from. Don’t elevate someone because of a title. Respect it and express that you can help them succeed just as you do for others.

Start shepherding the culture — HR can “lead” the culture by being the rudder on a ship. The company is the ship and you can help shape and maneuver key behaviors such as how people should treat each other, how we should assume the best in others and how we can interact positively. You can also help organizations by shepherding people through conflict and/or crisis.

Start allowing people to be themselves — There are countless posters and employee handbooks that state that people can bring their entire self to work. It isn’t true. We are afraid of what that looks like and assume the worst. This needs to change. You can do this by expressing the norms and parameters for working at your company. Then allow people to bring themselves to work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amazing people who have been waiting to not have a work face and a life face. Try it and see the positive outcomes. You’ll have a culture that others from outside your company will want to join.

Start having fun! — It’s unfortunate that this has to continue to be stated. HR is fun and so are people. Yes, employees are messy, but they are also wonderful. Also, you need to remember that YOU are an employee as well. Set a new standard by enjoying your work and the others around you. You’ll be astonished at how much of a genuine differentiator this is.

The feedback from the group gave everyone a great framework to review and implement as we head into a brand-new decade next year. Let’s hope that we use the Stop/Start/Continue model on a regular basis as a tool to do some solid reflection about our profession and how we practice HR.

Source: https://www.hr.com/en/magazines/hr_strategy/october_2019_hr_strategy_planning/hr-roundtable-what-hr-should-stop-start-and-contin_k23j5ymo.html

What is Integrity, and Why Does it Matter?

Many organizations use the word ‘integrity’ in their list of company values. But what does it actually mean? And how can HR detect a lack of integrity in workers? Lars Pedersen, CEO of Questionmark, explains.

What is integrity? While it’s a common component of companies’ mission statements, it can be hard to pin down precisely what integrity means to employees in their everyday routine. For some industries, there are established codes which give some insight into what ‘integrity’ might mean in daily business. For instance, FINRA Rule 2010 requires that workers in the financial sector “observe high standards of commercial honor”. Similarly, the UK General Medical Council requires doctors to “always be honest about [their] experience, qualifications, and current role.” From these, we can surmise that integrity is about choosing the honest, moral choice whenever possible.

Measuring ‘integrity’
How do you find a maladroit employee before they do serious damage to the business or its reputation? Cheating on an exam is a good benchmark of a lack of integrity. In the accounting world, both the AICPA and the CIMA include ‘integrity’ in their code of conduct and ban or sanction members who are caught cheating on tests. Many industries even have compliance exams to ensure that all employees are aware of the latest regulations and cheating on these can land the company with a stiff fine.

Cheating is taken as a sign of a lack of integrity, and treated so seriously, because a person who is willing to cut corners on a test may be willing to ignore other rules. This is unacceptable, in the finance industry where they are working with someone else’s money, and other industries, where it can potentially have fatal consequences. In a more positive light, a company with a culture of integrity is better for employees to work, likely makes better products, and is probably more secure in the long term.

Learn more: Why Businesses Need Ethics to Survive Disruption

Justification and rationalization
The question of ‘why good people choose to do bad things’ is one to leave to the philosophers, but needless to say, the real world isn’t a purely black and white, moral and immoral place. There are plenty of complexities, and people have an incredible ability for justifying and rationalizing morally gray behavior to themselves. ‘I know I shouldn’t take this shortcut, but it’s been a long day,’ or ‘I know I shouldn’t cheat on this test, but I already know the information and I’m really busy.’

However, in addition to stating their code of ethics, a company’s actions also dictate how its employees should behave. For example. An unmonitored, self-marked test can tempt even the most upstanding people to cut corners, perhaps in the belief that taking the test is simply a formality. However, a well-secured test makes it clear to employees that cheating is unacceptable. Employees who persist in trying to cheat on a serious test are demonstrating a genuine shortfall of integrity.

Challenging the cheaters
There are some concrete measures that a company can take when it comes to making their testing more secure. Supervision or proctoring, whether in the room or over the internet, dramatically reduces cheating, for example. So, does using a secure cloud platform and locked down web browser. However, if the problem is systemic, a company might need to root out the causes of a lack of integrity. Do employees feel undervalued? Are they unclear on the ethical requirements of their work? What is compelling them to act in a way that is unbecoming of their roles?

Companies can proactively make their definition of integrity clear to their employees in several ways. To start, a company should establish a clear code of conduct which is respected and regularly revisited. Organizations should encourage honest reflection as an alternative to breaking the rules or taking shortcuts. If an employee is having a hard time and can’t complete their workload, or hasn’t had time to study for a test, the company is better served by supporting them than taking a hard line. These sorts of initiatives to create an open, supportive workplace obviate the need for a lot of bad behavior and can go a long way to ensuring that employees always conduct themselves with integrity.

Ultimately, when it comes to business integrity, it’s all about creating a workplace that encourages integrity rather than trying to force employees to behave well. By merely creating hurdles to make bad behavior more difficult, and off-ramps for people who might be tempted, businesses can make it easier for employees to choose to behave with integrity. Companies should work to build an engaged, trusted workforce that has integrity and doesn’t feel the need to, for example, cheat in workplace exams.

Source : https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/culture/what-is-integrity-and-why-does-it-matter/

Is There A Case For Faking Happiness At Work?

Wellbeing is big business, and a growing number of employers seem as preoccupied with the promotion of happiness as they are with performance or productivity. That is good news, as a significant proportion of the workforce still battles with high levels of anxiety, burnout, and stress, even when they are privileged enough to have desirable jobs and careers. As Daniel Markovits notes in his excellent recent book, The Meritocracy Trap, top jobs seem to increase not just income but also misery.

So what should you do when work is making you miserable? One logical answer is to quit and find another one. Yet this is easier said than done, and not always compatible with your long-term ambitions. There is usually a cost to switching jobs or careers, even when the potential gain may be happiness. And there is no guarantee you will find a job that makes you happy anyway. Conversely, there are at least three good reason for faking happiness:

It helps you get promoted: Psychological research links happiness to higher levels of job performance and career success. One of the reasons is that managers tend to prefer employees who are positive, likable, and rewarding to deal with, even when they are less competent and hard-working. By the same token, unhappy employees are often perceived as difficult and high maintenance, which irritates bosses. This is of course unfair. In an ideal world, employees would be rewarded and promoted for what they actually contribute, rather than whether they have a feel-good attitude. Alas, in the real world, some of the most valuable and creative employees are often punished or mistreated just because they are difficult to manage. Happy people are also more engaged, even when their higher engagement and enthusiasm is merely a reflection of their personality and doesn’t translate into higher levels of productivity. The implications of this are clear: make an effort to manage your reputation and come across as positive, optimistic, and stress-free, and it will impact favorably in your performance evaluations. In fact, this is probably the best explanation for the consistent positive correlation between people’s emotional stability and their job performance ratings: managers are favorably biased towards happy employees, and they generally prefer to be surrounded by cheerful people.

It helps you be a better boss: You probably heard that managers with higher levels of emotional intelligence are significantly more competent and effective than their less calm, friendly, and considerate counterparts, in large because they are better able to engage their employees. Unsurprisingly, employees do appear to prefer working for managers who are positive, stable, and resilient, rather than negative, volatile, and stress prone. What you may not know is that these preferred leadership qualities are virtually identical to the personality characteristics that underpin happiness, or that they account for almost half of the variability between individuals’ happiness levels. This is why your internal state of happiness is hard to change, even with the pursuit or avoidance of external circumstances, including objective life accomplishments (e.g., getting a better job, finding a better spouse, or buying a better car). But there’s some good news: if you can emulate the behavior of people who seem happy at work, you will probably improve the image you have as a boss, as scientific reviews have highlighted a positive link between managers’ happiness and their performance. For example, learn to remain composed in the presence of negative events, and to appear enthusiastic and optimistic even when you are not. It will instill a positive outlook on others and keep team morale high, especially in stressful times. Another aspect to emulate is to spend more time interacting with your employees, and to ditch small talk in favor of more substantive conversations. Finally, happy bosses are more likely to see their job as meaningful and aligned with their personal values, so if you can persuade your team that you care about what you do, they will be more likely to care about it, too.
Most alternatives are probably worse: If you are unconvinced about the benefits of faking happiness, just consider the alternatives. One, namely genuine happiness, is arguably preferable, except it hard to achieve. Some people seem biologically prewired for happiness, but many are clearly not. Forcing someone with a negative or pessimistic mindset to see the world through rose-colored glasses is unreasonable and backfires, leading to feelings of guilt and anxiety. It is also clear that not many people are lucky enough to enjoy a job or career that elicits true happiness. As I argue in my latest book, the main reason for this is that too many people are traumatized by their boss. So, when true happiness is not an option at work, faking it may be your best bet. To be sure, it is a far better approach for being liked by your colleagues, bosses, and employees than showcasing your genuine grumpiness or negativity. Or than faking unhappiness.
There is, it seems, a genuine case for faking happiness. But there is a caveat: you will need to fool other people into thinking that you are being authentic. In that sense, happiness is no different from anything else people attempt to fake (e.g., art, compliments, or a strong poker hand). We live in a world that embraces spontaneity and authenticity. It is one of the hallmarks of our consumer society, and a symptom of the narcissistic culture we live in: “be yourself, no matter what”, “don’t worry about what other people think of you”, “if you think you are great, you are”, etc. Clearly, there are huge psychological and career benefits to being truthful to your values, and it is probably impossible to have a reputation for being an ethical person when you don’t practice what you preach. Consistency between one’s words and actions is the core foundation of integrity. That said, the real value of authenticity comes from seeming authentic to others, and that requires a considerable amount of impression management and faking good. Ironically, it’s when people stop pretending that they no longer come across as authentic. Authenticity, like any other meaningful trait, is in the eye of the beholder. In sum, you are better off failing to display your genuine unhappiness, than being authentically miserable.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomaspremuzic/2019/12/15/is-there-a-case-for-faking-happiness-at-work/#4d2d3ffd3032