Stressed? Just Smile!

What Stress?
What Stress?

I just finished The Economic Naturalist by Robert H Frank a couple of days back and one of the questions was why managers who believed in achieving improvements in performance of subordinates through threats and reprimand rather than praise and reward were more likely to be able to prove that they are right.

Professor Frank suggests that it was because the performance of people usually varies with time but stays the same on average without special effort to improve or skive. That means that when a person perform badly it could just be his particularly down period and after getting scolded from the manager his performance tend to return towards the mean and result in the improved performance the manager was hoping for. On the contrary, a person may perform exceptionally on an especially good day and get praised for his work only to have his performance return to its mean, which means poorer than before the manager’s rewards/praise. A manager who believes praise and reward yields better returns would thus have little means of proving he is right and so is unfairly proven wrong.

The truth seems more complex than just that. As this article from Harvard Business Review suggests, sensitivity to the anger or happiness of the manager or boss depends partly to the stress levels experienced. So from the perspective of the employer or manager, it is wise to inject more praise and rewards during high stress periods. Never mind the low stress periods when employers are slacking around.

Human behaviours and the motivations behind them are great subjects to study. This gives me the chance to introduce the publication, Psychology Today, which recently featured something really useful for people working in the business world (and perhaps even in academia). Confidence in yourself and your ideas really counts when it comes to presentations. So you will really have to work on yourself to get your ideas accepted. Check out the publication site for more of such tips to help discipline, aid and make sense of your mind.

New Mail

More Boxes!
More Boxes!

This week’s package of video, audio and reads is a little more on the lighter side, starting with a short 3-minute talk by Dr Laura Trice about asking for praise. After that you might like to listen to Dan Ariely‘s talk on our buggy moral code, a topic I’ve always been interested in.

In news, you might be encouraged to understand that Genius and talent is overrated and social forces can manipulate the motivations to create genius sheerly through encouragement as argued by Steven Levitt in SuperFreakonomics.

I’ll like to take the chance to introduce Knowledge@Wharton, which offers high quality content as well as podcast on economics and business issues of the day. You might like to listen about questions posed on Net Neutrality.

Once again, enjoy your weekends!

Snoopy the Turkey

Another nice anecdote from The Difference Maker; John C Maxwell was quoting from a Peanuts Cartoon.

It was Thanksgiving and everyone were feasting on a turkey while Snoopy was given dog food. Snoopy thought, “Just because I’m born a dog, I’m given dog food while others are eating turkey for dinner”. Then he walked back to his kernel and climb to the top; as he thought through it for a while, he realised, “It could have been worst. I might have been born a turkey.”

Yea, so count your blessings and appreciate your status.